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Cairns City Guide

Cairns is a vibrant, eclectic city framed by the spectacular twin backdrops of rainforest mountain ranges and the sparkling Coral Sea.

Whether Cairns is your intended destination or just a brief stopover on the way to your new home, we have compiled this guide to help you get your bearings on arrival. To obtain more details about the city check out the websites listed at the end of this profile.


Cairns has a resident population of 130,594 (June 2005 estimate), representing 3.3 per cent of Queensland's total population.


The city is located in the tropical north in Queensland, about 1720 kilometres north of Brisbane and about 2500 kilometres from Sydney. Originally settled in 1876, Cairns is named after the formal governor of Queensland William Wellington Cairns. 


The Tropical Far North Queensland region has experienced consistent economic growth for many years, which is expected to remain solid in the immediate future. The economy is based on a developed nation, western style democracy and political stability. It's driven by sophisticated institutions, a safe environment and high standards of service delivery. 

The economy has been primarily built on primary industries and tourism. Tourism has been the fastest growing industry in the past decade. Tourism activities have been primarily concentrated in Cairns and the Port Douglas area but are beginning to expand throughout the region. Primary industries are well distributed throughout the region and include agriculture, horticulture, grazing, dairy, fishing, aquaculture, mining and forestry.

Cairns City is the economic hub for Far North Queensland with a high proportion of the region's economic activities and employment opportunities outside of the primary industry sector concentrated there. Cairns City is also the major commercial, business and service centre for the region and accommodates key regional infrastructure elements such as the Cairns International Airport, Cairns Seaport and the James Cook University.

Local Transport

A public transport network is operated throughout the city by Sunbus. A transit mall is located in the CBD through which all services operate. Services include most parts of the city, from Palm Cove on the Northern Beaches to Gordonvale in the south, all travelling via the CBD.  The Cairns International Airport is located 7 kilometres north of Cairns City between the CBD and the Northern Beaches, and is Australia’s sixth busiest in terms of international and domestic passenger movements.

Dining Out

Cairns is blessed with an abundance of local delicacies; fresh seafood from the oceans and rivers, tempting exotic tropical fruits from the hinterland plantations, and the piquant flavours of native Australian cuisine. The world class restaurants of the city and its surrounding regions reflect the cosmopolitan nature of both its residents and visitors, with nearly all making a special point of presenting their own variation of local delicacies such as succulent prawns, delicate barramundi, mud crabs, reef species like the famed coral trout and red emperor, and the subtle indigenous flavours of kangaroo, emu and crocodile.

Lifestyle and Outdoor Recreation

The majestic coral structures that make up the Great Barrier Reef extend over 1,500 kilometres, and are home to the greatest variety of flora and fauna species found in any one location in the world. The scope of the reef is magnificent, encompassing some 21,900 individual reefs and an area of 348,000 square kilometres larger than the combined total area of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Great Barrier Reef, now a national marine park, provides superb recreational activities such as snorkelling, diving, swimming, semi-submersibles, coral viewing and fishing, and offers a unique environment for scientific research.

The rainforests of the Wet Tropics, a 'living museum' of flora and fauna, were placed on the World Heritage List in 1988 and cover an area of nearly 900,000 hectares of rainforest and tropical vegetation. Here, pockets of primitive plants have remained undisturbed for millions of years, and rare, even previously unidentified species of birds, insects and mammals have emerged to delight biologists and nature lovers.

Cairns is an adventure-lovers paradise with numerous tours and adrenalin activities on offer. From white water rafting to bungee jumping and skydiving, you’ll find the perfect activity to suit.


Cairns has numerous primary, secondary and high schools. Separate systems of private and public schools operate in Queensland. Catholic schools are operated by Catholic Education Cairns. The Catholic system encompasses nineteen primary schools, six secondary colleges and one college. The Cairns Campus of James Cook University is located at Smithfield. The city is also home to a TAFE (Technical and Further Education) college, and a School of Air base, both located in the inner suburb of Manunda.

Cairns on the Net

Cairns City Council

Cairns Tourism


Average maximum temperature in Summer

Average maximum temperature in Winter

Bright daily average sunshine hours

Mean annual rainfall

31.4  Degrees Celsius

25.7 Degrees Celsius


2001.5 mm


Cairns operates on Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT.


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