Go next (Further out)
and Fitzroy Island, both resort islands that welcome day trips, are within 45 minutes of Cairns by ferry.
is around 3 hours north along the coast from Cairns, and has history, national parks and beaches to explore.
about an hour south west of Cairns. Lake Tinaroo is great for swimming, water sports, bush walking, fishing and camping.
has direct flights from Cairns (in addition to Sydney). If you are doing an Australian tour, then Cairns is a good hopping off point to the red centre.
town in Queensland
town in Queensland, Australia
town in Queensland
city in Queensland, Australia
The Cairns area was historically inhabited by the indigenous Walubarra Yidinji people. Mapped by James Cook and named Trinity Bay in 1770, it was officially founded in 1876 as an export port for gold and renamed after the then-Governor of Queensland. Commonly mispronounced as cans, the actual pronunciation of Cairns is somewhat closer to kare-nz, with a non-silent "r".
The main industry for the city is tourism, with focus on the European, Japanese and increasingly Chinese markets. There are a plethora of clubs and coffee shops, all overflowing with international tourists. Cairns is also supported by agricultural businesses which include sugar cane, bananas, coffee, tea and the world's first tropical fruit wine region.
Peak season in Cairns is during the more comfortable winter months of June–August, especially compared to the hotter and stickier summer months. A particularly busy time occurs in the first two weeks of July during school holidays.
There is no swimming beach to speak of in central Cairns, although there are many choices just north and south of the city. A large outdoor, lagoon-style pool is in the centre of the Cairns City area, which is very popular throughout the year with tourists and locals alike. For a beach side resort holiday, there are several resorts a short drive north of Cairns.
- Cairns Tourism Office 51 The Esplanade ☎ toll-free: 1800 093 300 fax: M-F 8:30AM-6PM, weekends & public holidays 10AM-6PM Official Cairns and tropical Northern Queensland tourism office at the Esplanade.
Go next (Kuranda)
This small town nestled in the rainforest-covered mountains just north of Cairns draws thousands of tourists each week and is perhaps the most popular daytrip from the city. Kuranda (elevation 330 m) is 25 km from Cairns via the Kennedy Highway, which snakes its way over the Macalister Range. However, most visitors reach the town by taking the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or Kuranda Railroad, both of which offer transfers to Cairns and package deals with Kuranda attractions. Skyrail travels above the rainforest with stations along the route to explore the rainforest environment and view the Barron River Falls. The Kuranda Railway makes a scenic trip through Barron Gorge National Park. The town itself offers plenty of shopping and is home to several wildlife parks.
Go next (Further out)
- Mareeba, the edge of the outback, where the sun shines 300 days a year, and they produce 80% of Australia's coffee crop. Tours from Cairns available.
- Mossman Gorge 70 min north of Cairns is a good place to cool off. Avoid arriving at the same time as the tour coaches, and take great care swimming as the currents are very strong.
- The Daintree rain forest which is officially the world's oldest rainforest is located an hour and a half north. Here you can see Australia's largest variety of flora and fauna as well as ride one of the top tourist attractions - Jungle Surfing.
- Mission Beach a lovely tropical beach is about an hour and a half drive south. It is the gateway to Dunk and Bedarra Islands. Mission Beach is one of the few places you might see the very rare and endangered Cassowary bird.
- Port Douglas a seaside resort town is an hour north along one of the nicest drives in Australia. Port Douglas is another gateway along with Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
- Lake Tinaroo is on the Atherton Tablelands about an hour south west of Cairns. Lake Tinaroo is great for swimming, water sports, bush walking, fishing and camping.