Population: 100,000,  
Height above sea level: Coastal,  
Latitude: 16.55.00,   Longitude: 145.45.00
Location:   1,720km north of Brisbane
Highway: Bruce Hwy (1) 
Nearest Major Town: Cairns
Nearest Airport: Cairns
Touring Area: Tropical North

Cairns Library - Courtesy of Tourism Queensland


Cairns is Australia's unofficial northern capital. Located between the crystal clear waters of the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range and the World Heritage rainforest area of the Daintree Forest it is superbly situated for adventure holidays with a difference.
Cairns began in 1876 as a port for inland goldfields and developed into one of Australia's most cosmopolitan cities. Wide streets and plenty of parks and gardens and a tropical environment with palms and tropical fruit trees growing beside the road, give it an unique, laid-back atmosphere which belies the enthusiasm of its residents. It is among the fastest growing cities in Australia and the wealth of natural attractions which surround it, and their promotion by the local tourism operators, have seen a ballooning in visitors to the region.
As the gateway to the Cape York Peninsula, Cairns opens up a host of things to see and do. Giant anthills, waterfalls, billabongs and wildlife are everywhere. The rivers and streams are home to the Australian delicacy the 'Barramundi' a delicious eating fish, and to salt water crocodiles. If you intend to camp near, or swim in these rivers be careful and seek advice locally. The magnificent Daintree Forest area of Cape Yorke Peninsula was declared a World Heritage area in 1988
The Great Barrier Reef was listed earlier in 1981. The reef is the largest expanse of living coral on earth and stretches from the Tropic of Capricorn at Rockhampton to north of the Cape York Peninsula. The underwater reefs, the islands and cays and the golden beaches make it one of the world's premier natural attractions. Reef tour operators provide every opportunity to explore every facet of the reef. Snorkelling, diving, glass-bottom boat cruises and helicopter or small plane flights show the extent and diverse attraction of the reef.
Behind Cairns, in the Great Dividing Range are the Atherton Tablelands and the beautiful towns of Atherton and Kuranda. Set high in the rainforest Kuranda was linked to Cairns by rail over a century ago. The train still meanders through tunnels and across stilted bridges over ravines to Kuranda and has become one of the great railway journeys of the world. The markets at Kuranda are famous for their diversity and value of local art, craft, fashion and produce. The area around Kuranda is rich in aboriginal culture and traditional legends and stories are told in dance and song in a theatre owned and run by aboriginals. The spectacular Barron Falls nearby are a must for photographers and a cruiser operates on the Barron River.
Cooktown, north of Cairns is a tropical town with a big history. It was the first place in Australia settled, albeit temporarily, by Europeans. It was here in 1770 that Captain James Cook stayed for 48 days after holing his ship, the 'Endeavour', on the reef. Officially founded in 1873 as a port for a goldrush to the Palmer River, it celebrates two foundation days.


Tourism Tropical North Queensland Visitor Information Centre
51 The Esplanade, Cairns QLD, 4870
Ph: 07 4051 3588 Fax: 07 4051 0127

  • Cairns is the northern end of the Bruce Hwy (1) from Brisbane
  • A railway runs between Brisbane and Cairns
  • Coaches run to Cairns
  • Cairns is an international and domestic airport.

© Copyright Peter W. Wilkins