Cairns is the heart of the Tropical North, and as such provides an ideal base for exploring and enjoying the rich, varied pleasures of this region. The Cairns International Airport, a short ride from the city centre, acts as a gateway to the city and a primary access point to the Great Barrier Reef.
Founded in 1876 as the port for inland goldfields, Cairns has matured from flighty frontier town to friendly international metropolis and has become the most welcoming of all Queensland cities.
In 1995 it was named Australia’s most liveable regional centre, which is reflected in its growing population of nearly 100,000 residents. Almost a century of architecture, from traditional Queensland hi-set to modern high rise, blend on the tree lined streets. Much of the holiday accommodation is close to shops, restaurants, theatres, galleries, nightclubs and the two exciting new venues – the glass-domed Reef Hotel Casino and the 2,400 seat Cairns Convention Centre.
One of the pleasant surprises is how close and accessible everything is in Cairns. The airport is only a few minutes drive from the city centre and visiting cruise liners and yachts moor at a marina and wharves only a block from the main city centre.
The Esplanade is a major focal point of the city, and invites you to stroll, fly a kite, relax on the grass under a shady tree, or share a barbecue or picnic with friends.
At any time of the year, you’ll see the flocks of different birds which migrate annually from around the world to feed on the tidal mudflats, much to the delight of the world’s birdwatchers who pack cameras and binoculars and follow them here.
Excellent swimming beaches being just north of the city, and most holiday accommodation has a pool. Each day, over 600 sea, air and land tours depart from Cairns to nearly every pick-up and return to holiday accommodation. City shops and duty free stores are well stocked with souvenirs and luxury goods from top Australian and overseas designers. Two large leisure retail centres, one at the Pier and another at Cairns Central, have a great deal to offer visiting shoppers. There are large shopping centres in the suburbs and at Smithfield, Earlville and Westcourt and buyers and browsers will find much to choose from amidst the city’s many arcades, plazas and malls.
Cairns by night Cairns’ recently opened Regional Art Gallery has permanent and special exhibitions and private galleries sell original works by resident artists. Restaurants, bistros, cafes, coffee shops and food halls open from early morning to late evening. Menus range from genuine Australian bush tucker to the tastes of home for overseas visitors.
On the city’s northern fringe, within walking distance of each other, are the Tanks Art Centre, the Royal Flying Doctor base, and the century-old Botanic Gardens which include spectacular walks through the Mt Whitfield rainforest and relaxing Centenary Lakes.