City description

To the north, Daintree National Park and the Wet Tropics. To the east, the Great Barrier Reef. Whatever the direction taken, adventure and awe-inspiring sights are never far from Cairns. The capital city of Far North Queensland has a reputation for fun. It is, after all, at the epicentre of Australia’s natural playground – one of the most untouched regions left on earth. The city’s prime location and festive atmosphere have made it a hub for pleasure-seekers from all walks of life.

Adrenaline addicts have more than their fair share of heart-pounding options during a visit to Cairns. Intrepid adventurers can swim with the whales in Trinity Bay or fly through the rainforest on an exhilarating ride down a series of zip lines. Those looking for thrills within the city itself will not be disappointed. At the Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome, visitors take to the tropical treetops in the heart of the CBD. Sounds tame? The crocodiles snapping away beneath the challenging rope course ensure it’s not.

Of course, a love of risk is not necessary to thoroughly enjoy a stay in Cairns and make the most of all the region has to offer. Motor boats line the harbour waiting to take passengers on a cruise of the reef or to neighbouring islands. Excursions inland take visitors on a discovery tour of the flora and fauna of this immensely rich part of the world – its World Heritage parks, tropical rainforests and rugged tablelands. If the zip line seems extreme, another way of taking in Far North Queensland’s sights is by skimming across the rainforest canopy in the Skyrail, a cable car that spans 7.5km. Round-trip tickets are available, but it’s a good idea to head back into town via the Kuranda Scenic Railway for further breathtaking views of plunging ravines, cascading waterfalls and dense jungle landscapes.

It can get pretty hot in Cairns, so the city has created the perfect antidote to high temperatures: the Esplanade Swimming Lagoon. Silvery sculptures of flying fish catch the eye as you gaze over the magnificent landscape that surrounds this 4,800sqm saltwater pool. Deep enough for a good swim, yet shallow enough for parents’ peace of mind, it’s understandably one of the city’s star attractions. The nearby Esplanade Boardwalk stretches along 3km of reclaimed foreshore and embodies the city’s passion for sport and fun. The playgrounds here aren’t just for kids (although the ones that are are simply delightful). Skate ramps and fitness stations share the scene with volleyball courts, picnic areas, birdwatching points and more.

The motto of Cairns’ Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park says it all: Where Australia begins. The popular attraction invites visitors to gain a deeper insight into the Aboriginal heritage that dates back over 40,000 years. Whether learning about hunting methods, medicinal plants or traditional dance moves, guests experience ancient traditions immersively through workshops, activities and festive events.

When the sun goes down, there are entertainment options aplenty in Cairns. A gentle stroll down the Esplanade boardwalk after a meal in one of the city’s many outstanding restaurants… A night out with live music or the latest up-and-coming DJ… A sophisticated evening of wine tasting… Or even a nighttime adventure excursion, to see the sights in a different light.

This former mining settlement has come along way since its humble beginnings, largely thanks to its position as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Yet, to come here just for the coral would be to miss out on the plethora of other pleasures that Cairns has to offer.
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