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As the Managing Director of Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises and Cairns Harbour & Sunset Cruises, Paula Wallace has certainly seen many changes in the Far North Queensland cruising industry over the years.

Travel NQ recently caught up with Paula Wallace to talk about Big Cat Cruises, her love of Far North Queensland and her favourite holiday spots.

TNQ: How did you get into the North Queensland cruising industry?

view from cairns sunset cruiseMy parents, Jim and Jo Wallace, started running day trip cruises to the Low Isles off Port Douglas back in 1979 and not long after started up Quicksilver Connections in 1982.

They were the first to introduce daily cruises to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, which really changed the face of the cruising industry.

Then in 1989 they sold Quicksilver Connections and bought Big Cat a year later. I started managing Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises the following year in 1991.

TNQ: What do you think sets each of your cruises apart?

We believe the attitude of our staff and the fact that we are a family owned business sets us apart.

We are very fortunate to be able to run cruises to such an iconic destination as Green Island and now with our Harbour & Sunset cruises, we have another side to the business which we enjoy offering and it is great for our staff to have some variety in their job.

picture of trinity inlet cairnsTNQ: What sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices has Big Cat put in place?

The environment, and having as little impact as possible, is very important to our business and wherever possible we are looking at ways to protect it.

We have Advanced Eco Accreditation with Eco Tourism Australia and Climate Action Australia.

We also believe its very important for us to educate all our passengers about the environment they are entering and how to best protect it.

TNQ: Have you always lived here? And what do you love about North Queensland?

I was born in Sydney and moved to Port Douglas at the age of 10. Port Douglas was an amazing place to grow up – a lot of freedom in a nice safe environment. We didn’t even have to wear shoes to school! I love the pace of life in Cairns, the size of the community and the fantastic tourism industry.

TNQ: Where are your favourite holiday spots in North Queensland?

We really enjoy camping on the beautiful rivers and lakes around the Cairns Tablelands such as Lake Tinaroo.

aerial view of Green IslandTNQ: Favourite Day Trips?

In addition to Green Island, I still love visiting the Low Isles off Port Douglas.

TNQ: Your top tip for travellers to North Queensland?

A Great Barrier Reef Cruise and a trip to Green Island are obviously a must but if you’ve got time I’d also recommend going inland to places like Undara Lava Tubes in the Outback.

There’s so much diversity in this region that’s really worth exploring.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]travel nq fast facts:[/headline]

  • Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises run daily to Green Island three times a day at 9am, 11am and 1pm and offer half day or full day cruises
  • Cairns Habitat Cruises run daily at 1.30pm
  • Sunset Cruises run daily up Trinity Inlet at 5.30pm and offer a complimentary drink and nibbles