Located on the coastal strip between the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range, Cairns is the stepping-off point to the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforests in Queensland’s north. It is a tropical city of over 150,00 residents and a hub for tourism to northern Queensland and the Outback.
Located about 1700 kilometres north of Brisbane, Cairns has two basic seasons – the wet (Nov – April) averages close to 400mm of rain per month while the dry (May – Oct) averages closer to 35mm. Average temperatures flow between 17-31+ degrees C so it is a balmy, tropical city, ideal for outdoor activities. There are many high-quality restaurants, hotels and bars and seafood is always fresh and available.
Cairns has been a rail head and port city for many years, located on Trinity Bay, to which sugar cane, beef and other agricultural products, and minerals and precious metals have travelled for export.
However, tourism is now its largest industry because of its climate and its proximity to the Reef, the rainforests and other sites of great natural beauty. The city is 52km from north to south and is served by a good public transport network that reaches most parts of the city and relies largely on buses, though rail has become a feature of forward planning in recent years. Taxis are also available. Cairns is also served by an international airport that was upgraded in 1984 to accommodate the growing influx of tourists that began around 1980.
Cairns sees itself as a modern, sophisticated city with much to offer – from its climate and location to its culture, arts and entertainment and its outdoor activities such as deep-sea fishing, whitewater rafting and wilderness adventures, it is a provincial city well-placed to provide a relaxed, diverse and enjoyable way of life to those wanting something apart from big city living.
Cairns is lain up north on the east coast and it plays both a tourism and business key role in Australia. In 2003 Cairns was given enough cosmetic surgery to rival the population of Hollywood. The Pier Marketplace is in the middle of the city and there are mudflats surrounding with a glorious swimming lagoon, thick grassy parkland and a boardwalk. The Reef Fleet Terminal on the port is the main departure point for tours to the Reef and islands off Cairns. Cairns is a fabulous base for exploring the Reef, Atherton Tableland, around Port Douglas and a popular place to catch up with friends. The train station of Cairns is hidden inside Cairns Central Shopping Centre on McLeod St.
The “Tjapukai Cultural Park” features the Creation Legend, told using giant holograms and there are boomerang- and spear throwing demonstrations. You can buy authentic didgeridoos in the retail gallery.
A 4000 sqm saltwater swimming lagoon is on the “Cairns Foreshore Promenade”, which has also a “Esplanade Walking Trail”. The “Undersea World” offers a great family activity. You can watch the sharks being hand-fed at 10am, noon, 1.30pm and 3pm. 22km from Cairns are the “Cascade Falls” with series of beautiful swimming holes. Plenty of dive courses starting from Cairns, it is called the scuba-diving capital of the Barrier Reef.
Down the Barron, Tully, Russell and North Johnstone River are exciting white-water raftings. There are plenty of hostels in and around Cairns. Recommended and with pool are “Global Palace” and “Calypso Inn” with A$ 23 and A$ 18 per night and dorm. The “Cairns Girls Hostel” is one of the cheapest and cleanest hostels in the city centre. The costs for a night in a dorm are A$ 16.
The best time to visit Cainrs
The best time to visit Cairns, from past experience, would be the winter seasons (June, July, August). Although it may be muggy and humid, the temperatures are definitely more preferable than the scorching summers.
Cairns is a great base to visit other features of tropical North Queensland. From Cairns, the small town of Port Douglas sits 70km to the North and is a very popular destination for tourists and holidaymakers. This in mainly due to its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and laid back beach town atmosphere. Drive another 10km north and you’ll find Mossman gorge and the Daintree National Park, a lush rainforest perfect for camping, walking, and cycling.
Cairns is not without its unique wildlife, either.
In 1935, Cane toads were brought over from Hawaii and released into Northern Queensland, in an attempt to eliminate the sugar cane beetles, which were ruining the sugar cane plants. Since then, Cane toads have over populated significantly and are now considered a pest. These unattractive amphibians and can be found all over Northern Queensland. Other, more appealing animals, which can be found in this region, include The Green Tree Frogs, Dingoes, Koalas, Kangaroos, plus many more.
Wondering what you might need to pack for the unusual Cairns climate?
Here’s a list of the top five must-have items to make sure you pack!
- Sunscreen. The Australian sun is very strong, with Skin Cancer and Melanoma’s a leading killer in Australia. For this reason, you’ll want to pack a good SPF 30+
- Thongs. Yes, the type for your feet. Thongs are a very popular trend in Australia, and in hot climate usually the preferable type of footwear.
- Swimwear. The best way to cool of after a hot and humid day is definitely swimming. Whether in the Ocean or a pool, bathers are a must!
- Insect repellent. ‘Mozzies’, more commonly known as mosquitoes, love the warm weather and usually come out around dusk. Without some sort of repellent you’ll wake up the next morning covered in bites, and very itchy.
- Water Bottle. In the heat you can get dehydrated quickly, its recommended that you have a reliable water bottle with you when you leave the house.
Hat and Sunnies. Both of these are equally important, to protect from the Aussie sun. The last thing you want on your holiday is to get burnt, so taking all the necessary precautions to avoid too much sun exposure will optimize you’re stay in Cairns.