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Featured Wildlife Journeys

  • Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo

  • Ulysses Butterfly

  • Southern Cassowary

  • Saltwater Crocodile

  • Boyd's Forest Dragon

FNQ Nature Tours

FNQ Nature Tours

After ten years of guiding nature and wildlife safaris in Northern Australia, James Boettcher established FNQ Nature Tours in 2015, with a firm belief that tourism is the key to the protection and conservation of this World Heritage area.

The company offers tours across the Daintree Rainforest National Park, Atherton Tablelands, Crater Lakes and Cape Tribulation regions, designed for nature minded travellers desiring a personal, educational and interactive guided experience. Boasting the oldest tropical rainforests in the world, the region’s ecosystems are of profound importance, providing living examples of some of the earliest flowering plants and a fascinating insight into the diversity, evolution and survival of many rainforest species.

Small groups of up to seven guests, allow visitors to enjoy a more intimate setting and explore numerous hidden locations across the Wet Tropics area. With an amazing 2800 plant species and 663 vertebrate animal species, FNQ Nature Tours takes pride in providing in-depth interpretation across numerous wildlife categories including birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and marsupials, including nocturnal species.

As part of our commitment to sustainability we have developed a Code Of Practice relating to our wildlife interactions which is available for your reference. Our river affiliates are using only solar powers vessels, clean, quiet and zero impact on the environment during wildlife cruises. 

As our way of contributing to the local wildlife community, we are heavily involved with FNQ Wildlife Rescue. Our organisation attends rescues and is active in sharing stories that may help educate our guests on safe and helpful practises for supporting injured or orphaned wildlife. 

Recent Awards

WINNER TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2018 • 2017 


Speciality areas

  • Birds
  • Fish & Marine Invertebrates
  • Land Mammals & Marsupials
  • Reptiles & Amphibians
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About the region

Cairns

Cairns and Tropical North Queensland

Cairns is the gateway to the amazing Far North Queensland region, a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise and the only place in the world where two World Heritage Listed areas exist side by side (Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef). The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is extremely rich in biodiversity, with 2800 plant species and 663 vertebrate animal species, including 65 percent of Australia’s fern species, 30 percent of Australia’s orchid species and 35 per cent of Australia’s mammals.

The region provides access to the oldest tropical rainforest in the world, with landscapes that provide living examples of some of the earliest flowering plants and a fascinating insight into the diversity, evolution and survival of many rainforest species.

This is the area where the world’s songbirds emerged, currently home to forty percent of Australia’s bird species including bowerbirds, kingfishers, riflebirds, fruit doves and the endangered Southern Cassowary. Boasting the highest diversity of rainforest mammals in Australia, the Bennett's and Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo, Spectacled Flying-fox, Daintree River Ringtail Possum, Northern Long-nosed Bandicoot are popular sightings.

The Daintree and Tablelands boasts spectacular landscapes to observe reptiles, amphibians, monotremes and butterflies, including the Platypus, Saltwater Crocodile, Boyd’s Forest Dragon, White-lipped Tree Frog, Green-eyed Tree Frog, Snapping Turtle, Leaf-tailed Gecko and electric blue Ulysses butterfly.

Cairns Tour & Surrounds Highlights

  • The Daintree National Park represents the single largest mass of tropical rainforest in Australia. It is one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet and the oldest continually surviving rainforest, estimated to be 180 million years old.
  • The landscapes across this region are simply breath-taking, featuring a combination of waterfalls, mountain ranges, idyllic streams, deep gorges, white sandy beaches and dense rainforest.
  • The Atherton Tableland is part of the Great Dividing Range; a series of mountain ranges, plateaus and escarpments. Tours to the region include a visit to the Cathedral Fig Tree, a gigantic 500 year old strangler tree, is one of the region’s iconic flora attractions located in the nearby Danbulla State Forest. 
  • Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine are two notable geological attractions, formed when rising lava was pushed against ground water, resulting in explosions from the heating of these underground streams. The resulting craters of Lakes Eacham and Lake Barrine were formed around 10,000 years ago and reach a depth of 65 metres.
  • Cape Tribulation is a section of the Daintree National Park, representing Australia’s last range of lowland rainforest and access to the Great Barrier Reef very close to the coast.
  • Tours from Cairns provide access to an amazing 162 species of reptiles, 36 bats, 41 marsupials including two species of tree kangaroo.
  • Birding Tours provide the opportunity to spot half of Australia’s bird count including the Southern Cassowary

Tours around Cairns offered by FNQ Nature Tours are small group in nature, with primary encounters with reptiles, marsupials, amphibians including the endemic Boyd’s Forest Dragon, Green-eyed Tree Frog, countless bird species and Saltwater Crocodiles. 

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“Frequently people say ‘what is your favourite place in the world?’ and I start off saying home,’’ he said. “But if I’m not home, I usually say, on many occasions, actually North Queensland. “It’s got mountains, it’s got tropical rainforest, it’s got the Barrier Reef. It’s got wonderful creatures that occur nowhere else. It’s a great place.”
David Attenborough

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Meet our guides

  • Meet our guides

    James Boettcher

    Owner and nature guide James Boettcher fell in love with guiding in his early twenties. The prospect of sharing and interpreting what he loves most, nature, was an unrivalled opportunity. James has guided wildlife and nature safaris in Northern Australia for over 10 years and has been based in Cairns since 1998. His passion and enthusiasm for the region is highly contagious. With a particular interest in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, James most enjoys interpreting the evolutionary history of the tropical rainforest and its invaluable story. Join James...

    Meet our guides

    James Boettcher

    Owner and nature guide James Boettcher fell in love with guiding in his early twenties. The prospect of sharing and interpreting what he loves most, nature, was an unrivalled opportunity. James has guided wildlife and nature safaris in Northern Australia for over 10 years and has been based in Cairns since 1998. His passion and enthusiasm for the region is highly contagious. With a particular interest in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, James most enjoys interpreting the evolutionary history of the tropical rainforest and its invaluable story. Join James on one of our overnight tours to Cape Tribulation where you’ll find him sitting on the beach by the fire playing the famous didgeridoo.
  • Meet our guides

    Mark Essenhigh

    Mark refers to himself as an addicted tour guide and with nearly 30 years on the road it is an apt description. Originally involved in outdoor recreation he was offered a position conducting 35 day 4WD safaris through some of the most remote areas of Australia, a role that sealed his future path. Moving from NSW to Hervey Bay, in Queensland, he worked for ten years full time on Fraser Island driving some of Australia’s largest 4WD buses. A chance encounter with another Fraser Island guide led to the...

    Meet our guides

    Mark Essenhigh

    Mark refers to himself as an addicted tour guide and with nearly 30 years on the road it is an apt description. Originally involved in outdoor recreation he was offered a position conducting 35 day 4WD safaris through some of the most remote areas of Australia, a role that sealed his future path. Moving from NSW to Hervey Bay, in Queensland, he worked for ten years full time on Fraser Island driving some of Australia’s largest 4WD buses. A chance encounter with another Fraser Island guide led to the purchase of an established Cape York tour operation which he has conducted for the last 10 years. Outside of the Cape York season Mark took on a number of contract roles which had him once again travelling to far flung places throughout the country while still conducting tours on Fraser Island. A permanent move to FNQ in the middle of 2018 saw Mark conducting Daintree Tours before eventually joining FNQ Nature Tours. Mark shares James’s beliefs and philosophy of interpretive tour guiding. We provide highly immersive nature and wildlife encounters that give us, as guide, the opportunity to best showcase our beautiful region. Mark lives in the mountains of Kuranda with his wife and son, surrounded by rainforest and abundant wildlife.
  • Meet our guides

    Matt Cornish

    Growing up on the NSW Central Coast Matt’s Wildlife journey started off at a young age. Living on rural property Matt immediately became fascinated by the local Wildlife and their behaviours. From watching Satin and Regent Bowerbirds creating their bowers to Rosella’s and Parrots communicating in groups, Matt realised this is where his passion lied. At the age of 15 he began his career as a Zoo keeper, volunteering at the local Australian Reptile Park, a place where he felt more at home than anywhere else. In 2009...

    Meet our guides

    Matt Cornish

    Growing up on the NSW Central Coast Matt’s Wildlife journey started off at a young age. Living on rural property Matt immediately became fascinated by the local Wildlife and their behaviours. From watching Satin and Regent Bowerbirds creating their bowers to Rosella’s and Parrots communicating in groups, Matt realised this is where his passion lied. At the age of 15 he began his career as a Zoo keeper, volunteering at the local Australian Reptile Park, a place where he felt more at home than anywhere else. In 2009 Matt moved to Far North Queensland as he developed his professional captive animal career. Focusing on Reptiles, Matt’s passion for Crocodiles and venomous snakes sky rocketed as he learned first hand the complexities of such misunderstood creatures. Over the past 5 years Matt has focused his attention to conservation focused Wildlife Education, working as a Wildlife presenter and educator Matt has travelled around the country speaking about Crocodilian behaviour and how better to manage the human/crocodile conflict in Far North Queensland. Calling Far North Queensland home there are few places Matt hasn’t explored, this passion of Matt’s has quickly turned into an obsession to understand and be at one with nature. Matt has now shifted his career to Tour Guiding, an opportunity where he can share his ‘Backyard’ with people from all over the world. You can find Matt trekking, cruising and climbing his way through some of the most unique natural places in the world as he attempts to find some of the world’s most fascinating creatures.