All About Cairns

All About Cairns

All About Cairns Reviews

Cairns is a coastal city in Far North Queensland, Australia. The area is known by the traditional owners, in the local Yidinji language as Gimuy. However, in colonial history, the city was discovered by the English in 1876 and named after Sir William Wellington Cairns. Today the city is the 5th biggest in Queensland, and 14th in Australia.

If one were asked what Cairns is best known for, the first two things mentioned would be the Great Barrier Reef and the Tropical Heritage Listed Rainforest.

Where is Cairns on the Map?

What to do in Cairns

There is a lot to do in Cairns, especially if you are interested in the arts, the environment or relaxing on the Cairns Esplanade.

Arts and Recreation

The city has many tropical gardens and parks. However, it also has a vibrant arts scene, with the Tanks Arts Centre and the Art Gallery.

Cairns Art Gallery in the heart of the CBD displays exhibitions from contemporary through to classic styles and offering a variety of classes for both adults and children.

NorthSite offers a cache of homewares, jewellery, fashion and artworks. Chic and cutting edge, it’s a strong person who walks out empty-handed. In addition you can find more contemporary works at the artist-owned Underart Gallery and an eclectic calendar of exhibitions at Bulmba-ja arts centre.

Cairns is a great city to enjoy. While public transport remains a ‘work in progress’, the region has developed a pedestrian and cycle network for all to enjoy. There are also numerous bush trails that are popular with walkers and mountain bike riders.

Cairns Esplanade

The section of the Cairns waterfront known as the Esplanade, stretches from Fogarty Park in the south all the way past the Hospital in Cairns North.

The local council has added sand to the northern end of the Esplanade, which they replenish from time to time. However, the mudflats remain as distinctive as ever.

Along the Esplanade there are green expanses, as well as many picnic benches, BBQs, exercise equipment and even a skate park. Indeed there have been numerous improvements to the Esplanade over the years.

However, the most significant and well patronised of all improvement to the area is the Cairns Lagoon. As a result, the lagoon is popular with locals and tourists alike and has good disability access located at the southern end of the facility.

Cairns Environment

This tropical city experiences torrential downpours and high humidity during the summer. Consequently, part of the city is flood prone and highly vulnerable to sea-level rise from climate change.

The city is a popular base for tourists to visit the region. Indeed the region is home to the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

Wildlife in the area include taipans (a deadly snake) and crocodiles, so be careful where you wander. After all, you would not like to come into contact with either of these nasty customers.

Tropical Gardens

Located in the heart of the tropics, the area has many beautiful gardens. The Cairns Botanical Gardens is certainly worth a visit as is the nearby Centenary Lakes precinct.

It is possible to grow many tropical fruits and vegetables in Cairns. Indeed, the city is the tropical gardening capital of Northern Australia. Some European vegetables will only grow during the winter or dry season, but there are many interesting tropical fruits and tropical vegetables that thrive all year around.


Cairns was established in 1876 to service the goldfields of Far North Queensland by providing a port to transport goods to and from the region.

Here we link to a number of pages and posts concerning Cairns history. Consequently this includes the history of European invasion, class struggle and the politics of the town. Indeed, looked at collectively, the images we have posted constitute a pictorial history. Hence, some of these images create feelings of dispossession for some and feelings of warmness and nostalgia for others.

All About Cairns First People and Diversity

Cairns or Gimuy is the home of the Yidinji people. Indeed, the Yidinji are the traditional owners of the land from the Barron River to the south, including the southern suburbs. Today the city is home to not just the Yidinji, but many people from Australia’s two oldest cultures (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people).

Gimuy is also home to many new arrivals from overseas. Indeed Cairns was known from the start for the influx of a diverse range of migrants that settled in the area largely due to the initial discovery of mineral wealth and subsequently due to developing industries.

Most recently this includes members of refugee communities from around the world, including Bhutan and Africa. 22.3% of the population was born overseas compared to 18.4% born in Regional QLD.


Cairns lies on a narrow coastal plain at the base of the Great Dividing Range, specifically the Whitfield Range and the Lamb Range. The CBD is on the flat western shores of Trinity Inlet, where deep water provides a safe anchorage for ships.

As with most modern cities, there are a number of areas in Cairns. These include South, West, North and Central. Furthermore, there are a number of suburbs within these areas and we have attempted to cover them all extensively. You will see links at the bottom of this page.

In terms of geographical features, we look at some of the creeks and waterways. We also look at other local parks and precincts and we hope you find our coverage of interest. In addition we provide many other useful facts, with everything from the city’s parks and waterways to postcodes, latitude and longitude.

Cairns Population

The current population is 172,272 people. The city is growing quickly, particularly in the south. Consequently, the council has prepared a priority infrastructure plan for the new area of Mount Peter, which is one of the fastest growing areas in regional Australia.

Climate change has emerged as the cities greatest challenge. The city experiences torrential downpours every wet season. When these are combined with sea level rise and storm surge, the city is highly vulnerable to flooding.

Like many cities Cairns has developed a ‘retreat or defend’ policy. This involves assessing low-lying areas and deciding whether to defend them (using engineering solutions such as levies) or to simply abandon them.

The Council has developed a coastal hazard adaption plan and a detailed climate policy. In this plan council has committed to zero net emissions by 2030.

The city is home to Rob Pyne. In addition to his posts all about Cairns, Rob writes on tropical gardening, climate change and the politics and people of Far North Queensland. The former MP and Councillor continues to pump out content, despite the limitations imposed by his disability.

Things to do in Cairns for free

Cairns, located in Far North Queensland, is a vibrant city offering a variety of free activities that showcase its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and community spirit. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, here are some great things to do in Cairns for free:

  1. Cairns Esplanade and Lagoon
    Cairns Esplanade: Enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride along the picturesque Cairns Esplanade. This waterfront promenade offers stunning views of the Coral Sea, public artworks, and recreational facilities.
    Cairns Lagoon: Swim and relax at the Cairns Lagoon, a large, free public swimming pool situated on the Esplanade. It’s safe, well-maintained, and perfect for cooling off.
  2. Cairns Botanic Gardens
    Explore the lush Cairns Botanic Gardens, which feature a diverse range of tropical plants, themed gardens, and walking trails. Highlights include the Flecker Garden, the Rainforest Boardwalk, and the Centenary Lakes.
  3. Mount Whitfield Conservation Park
    Hike the trails at Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, which offers scenic walks through tropical rainforest and stunning views over Cairns and the Coral Sea. The Red Arrow and Blue Arrow tracks are popular choices.
  4. Rusty’s Market
    Visit Rusty’s Market (Friday to Sunday) to experience the vibrant atmosphere, browse fresh local produce, and enjoy the lively community vibe. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a great place to soak up the local culture.
  5. Cairns Art Gallery
    Explore the Cairns Art Gallery, which hosts a variety of free exhibitions showcasing local, national, and international artists. The gallery is housed in a beautiful heritage building in the city center.
  6. Muddy’s Playground
    If you’re traveling with children, Muddy’s Playground on the Esplanade is a fantastic free spot. It features water play areas, climbing frames, and plenty of shaded spots for picnics.
  7. Cairns Night Markets
    Wander through the Cairns Night Markets, open every evening. While purchasing items costs money, browsing the stalls and enjoying the vibrant atmosphere is free. There are often free entertainment and street performers as well.
  8. Beach Day at Holloways Beach
    Spend a day at Holloways Beach, a short drive from Cairns. It’s a quieter beach compared to others, perfect for a relaxing day by the sea with free parking available.
  9. Crystal Cascades
    Visit Crystal Cascades, a series of freshwater swimming holes and waterfalls located in a rainforest setting. It’s a beautiful spot for swimming, picnicking, and enjoying nature.
  10. Goomboora Park
    Enjoy the expansive Goomboora Park, which offers large open spaces, a playground, walking and cycling tracks, and BBQ facilities. It’s a great place for families and groups.
  11. Red Arrow Walking Track
    Take the Red Arrow Walking Track, a popular short hike that provides panoramic views of Cairns, Trinity Inlet, and the surrounding mountains. It’s a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the natural beauty.
  12. Free Fitness Classes on the Esplanade
    Participate in free fitness classes offered on the Esplanade, including yoga, Zumba, and pilates. Check the Cairns Regional Council website for the latest schedule.
  13. Visit St Monica’s Cathedral
    Admire the stunning stained-glass windows at St Monica’s Cathedral, known for its beautiful “Creation Windows” depicting the creation story.
  14. Explore Cairns Libraries
    Visit the Cairns City Library for a quiet place to read, access free Wi-Fi, and enjoy various community events and exhibitions.
  15. Lookouts and Scenic Drives
    Drive to some of the local lookouts for breathtaking views of Cairns and the surrounding areas. Popular spots include the Copperlode Dam lookout and the Kuranda Range lookout.

Cairns offers a wealth of free activities that allow you to enjoy its natural beauty, cultural sites, and community events without spending a dime. From exploring lush gardens and hiking trails to enjoying the vibrant Esplanade and swimming in the lagoon, there’s something for everyone to enjoy for free in this tropical paradise.

Cairns Central

Central Cairns for our purposes includes the CBD and the nearby suburbs of Portsmith, Bungalow and Parramatta Park.

Cairns West

This area is a long established part of our region. It has a diverse population, with a high percentage of Aboriginal and Islander people.

South Cairns

I was born and raised in the South Cairns townships of Gordonvale and Edmonton in Far North Queensland.

North Cairns

The North Cairns area includes the suburbs of Aeroglen, Cairns North, Brinsmead and Stratford.

Cairns History

This page has some of the very best links to the finest accounts of our history. It also has cool pics from Cairns past and some useful links.

Mount Whitfield

Mount Whitfield Conservation Park is a forested range surrounded by Cairns suburbs

Cairns Parks

The region is known for its tropical green parks.

Cairns Creeks

Cairns Creeks and waterways are a big part of life in the far north.

Cairns Facts

Facts about Cairns. The home of the aboriginal Yidinji people, the traditional owners of country.

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