Situated on the eastern coast of North Queensland, Australia, the city of Cairns is famous as the gateway to one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef. Once known for gold mining, the present Cairns is a sprawling urban township and a major port for the export of Australia’s natural wealth. From a tourism point of view, Cairns is at the epitome when it comes to geographical features- barrier reef, rainforest, wildlife, Aboriginal life, mountains and sea, Cairns has all. Besides getting an exquisite scope to explore all of these, Cairns has a wide array of urban luxuries to offer, so for your next vacation, Cairns can certainly be on the cards! Here are the top 12 things one should eye at.
Great Barrier Reef
Certainly needs no introduction, as the largest structure made by natural beings (mesmerizing corals and polyps) on earth which is visible from the space, it is one of the most celebrated among the seven natural wonders of the world. Being one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, most of the part of the reef is protected and kept away from all sorts of anthropological activity, some parts along the coast of Cairns is accessible for tourists and is a hotspot for scuba divers. Talking of ‘once in a lifetime experience’- the Great Barrier Reef should be on your bucket list!
Another natural attraction at Cairns, the Palm Cove is a stretch of Palm Forest along the shore of the Arlington reef. The clear, shallow and calm water of the Coral Sea sheltered by the reef presents majestic geography. Bordered by the Macalister National Park, rocky headland, and pristine beaches, the place is a must-visit for tourists! Some of the finest beach resorts located here will certainly greet a visitor with an all luxurious holiday experience!
Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
The most unique culture park of the world will offer you with an everlasting experience of the world’s oldest living Aboriginal culture. From tribal hunting techniques to learning boomerang throw, from bush food trail to making own cultural souvenirs with aboriginal style and resources; this place will serve you with an experience like never before! Tribal dance, festivities, foods, mystical stories, fire ceremony and so on, Tjapukai Cultural park will take you on a transcendence with Australia’s diverse Aboriginal and Islander heritage!
Crystal Cascade Cairns
Adding to the natural spots at Cairns, the Crystal cascade, gives stunning access to the fringes of the rainforest. The small river gorge, shallow running water, swimming holes, and waterfalls will offer a perfect playtime to your family! For couples, there are paved walking tracks between the peaceful woods and the waterfalls. There are many rest halts with sitting areas for a picnic as well.
Kuranda Scenic Railway
Kuranda Rainforest is among the UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Kuranda Scenic railway is a fascinating ride through the beautiful seafront, rocky headlands, and pristine rainforest. It has stops at Butterfly Sanctuary, Australia’s largest aviary, Koala Wildlife Park and so on. One might visit the Palmagiri aboriginal area with a local guide for a memorable forest tribal insight. One might choose to halt at eateries with local cuisines as well.
Located 29 km offshore from Cairns, one might take a high-speed ferry for a pristine island experience. One of the most maintained, naturally rich islands, Fitzroy has amazing walking trails along the mangroves, rainforests and coral beaches. There are various activities for tourists like hiking, sea kayaking, viewing the reef from glass-bottomed ferry trips, ocean trampoline, etc. One can even choose to spend a lazy, peaceful and luxurious time at Fitzroy island resort or go for a day trip on Cruise along the barrier reef.
Cairns Botanic Gardens
It is a perfect destination to explore the beauty of tropical vegetation and learn about tropical fauna. It also has remarkable species which exhibits the richness of tropical horticulture. The Cairns Botanic Gardens houses significant centers of tourism significance like the Flecker Garden Saltwater and Freshwater Centenary Lakes, Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, Rainforest Boardwalk, the Gondwanan Heritage Garden. You should feel free (no entry fee) to explore the unseen tropical paradise at the Cairns Botanic Gardens!
Another all-inclusive island tour from Cairns, the Green Island is a magnificent green stretch amidst the outer fringe of the reef. One can enjoy the amazing underwater life through rides with semi-submarines and glass-bottomed boats. Turtles, colorful fishes, and corals add to the beauty. There are well-guided facilities for sea bathing, sunbathing, seashore lounging, etc. There are beach restaurants as well to present with some of the authentic Australian and American delicacies on a platter.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Cairns
It works in complementation with the Kuranda Scenic railway ride and covers the unvisited trails of the Kuranda rainforest. A truly exceptional experience as one soars above the canopy of the tropical rainforest with a serene view of majestic flora and fauna of the rainforest. With the Great Barrier Reef and Rocky upland in the backdrop, the place adds more to the tranquillity. One might choose to halt at the tribal village and/or Nature Park as well.
Finally an urban destination, the Esplanade is a stretch along the seafront with well attributed urban facilities for a lavish drive or walking experience. One will find joggers, skateboard ramps or workers having a lazy nap on the grasses. There are luxurious hotels, restaurants and shopping stores along this stretch where tourists can avail all amenities according to their needs. It is the city center where many events and activities are organized all year round.
Barron Gorge National Park
Located along the Barron Gorge, this is another spectacular natural destination at Cairns. One can reach this destination by the Kuranda scenic railway and stop at the Barron falls or simply it can be viewed from the cable car. One can also go for the well-made boardwalk along the national park. Diverse Tropical vegetation marks the serenity of the national park. Koalas and other indigenous animals can be found here.
Cairns Tropical Zoo
It is a perfect destination to get up close with Australian wildlife. The zoo is although small but houses amazing wild animals with utmost care. Crocodiles, koalas, birds and other small animals are present here. There are shows like crocodile feeding, an open bird show, and the best part is to get close with Koalas and cuddle them. Certainly, the zoo will present with an all gala family time for the visitors.
Just So You Know:
- The city was founded and named after its first governor John Wellington Cairns (1876)
- The Great Barrier Reef, the main tourist attraction, alone attracts tourism revenue of A$6-7 billion annually.
- Cairns is a major export center of Australia’s sugarcane, minerals, gold and agricultural products from the local Atherton tableland region.
- Cairns has a tropical monsoon type of climate. The average maximum temperature is 26˚C (78˚F) during July and 32˚C (90˚F) in January. Cairns experience rainfall almost all the year with a mean annual rainfall of 2000 mm (hence pack your bags accordingly!).
Get Some Culture:
- The Cairns District Chinese Association, an art and heritage organization aimed at preservation of Chinese heritage in Queensland, organizes gala events such Chinese New Year Festival, roadshows with Lion Dancers, Dragon Boat racing, etc. during Chinese festive seasons.
- The District Cultural and Art galleries at Cairns organizes shows, stage performances and exhibitions regularly.
Grab A Bite:
- C’est Bon Restaurant Francais is one of the highest-rated destinations for fine family dining with delicacies from the Mediterranean, European (French recommended) cuisines and especially mouth-watering vegetarian dishes.
- Cravings for fast food will take you to Snoogies and Cairns Burger Cafe, the highest-rated quick bite eateries. They serve American and Australian dishes. They also have a wide range of vegan options and gluten-free dishes.
- Dundee’s will greet its visitors with the spectacular dining experience of authentic Australian delicacies with a backdrop of Cairns giant Aquarium having colorful underwater life.