Cairns Travel Guide

Introduction to Cairns

Considered by many to be the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the city of Cairns is a tourist hotspot located in Queensland’s tropical north. There is more to this place than snorkelling and diving, though – from Aboriginal culture to thick interior rainforests, there is much to see, do, and experience here.

Cultural Attractions to Cairns

Learn about how pioneers adapted to life in the tropics centuries ago by visiting the Cairns Museum. It wasn’t the all-inclusive experience most of us are used to in these modern times – the typical day of an average immigrant here was filled with sweat, mosquito bites, and encounters with malaria.

This institution’s interesting displays will show you what life was like during this region’s initial gold rush, how the First and Second World War impacted people here, and how the regrettable White Australia policy of the mid-20th century affected this community’s fabric.

Want to take home a creation of this region’s First Nations people? Doongal Aboriginal Art has a comprehensive collection of art pieces, crafts, and other objects of interest, all made by local artisans.

Its boomerangs, didgeridoos, and paintings are all available for sale, but even if you aren’t in the market for these pieces, you can still view this stunning collection of rainforest and desert aboriginal art pieces without shelling out a dime.

If you are interested in bringing home an exceptionally large item, the store can organize shipping on your behalf, so go ahead and buy whatever strikes your fancy.

Get a better idea how Aborigines lived in this tropical land for aeons by spending a day at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Here, you will learn about the traditions held by a people whose lineage is said to go back as far as 40,000 years into the past.

The best part about this park: the interactivity. You don’t just get to see how an Aborigine throws a boomerang or a spear – you’ll get to try it as well (with some expert coaching, of course). You’ll also get lessons on how to play the didgeridoo, and you’ll have a chance to get your face painted like a warrior. Don’t miss the dinner show, as the food is as brilliant as its performers.

Other Attractions in Cairns

If you spent the better part of a week making your way up the coast from Brisbane to Cairns, chances are you won’t be satisfied with your trip until you get a chance to dive or snorkel along the Great Barrier Reef.

As the world’s longest and largest coral reef system, there is no shortage of sites where you can check out a wide variety of colourful fish and sea turtles. Most cruises offer at least lunch – depending on how much you pay, it can get quite luxurious, so if you are looking for a peak experience while in Cairns, don’t miss out on this essential day trip.

There is more to do in the Cairns area than head out to the Great Barrier Reef. Inland, there are lush forests, which are home to plenty of amazing fauna and flora.

You’ll find the greatest concentration of these species within the protective boundaries of Daintree National Park. Located about 100 kilometres north of Cairns, it is where the rainforests of tropical Queensland meets the Great Barrier Reef.

While the wild beaches here look tempting, respect the signs and stay out of the rivers and the ocean, as they are infested with crocodiles. Instead, go on a hike through the rainforest, or board a river cruise, the latter of which will give you a chance to spot one of these toothy predators.

Want to cool off safely while in Cairns? Head down to the Esplanade Boardwalk. While it is a favoured place for the people of this city to go for a run or to hang out on a beautiful day, it is the purpose-built 4,800 square metre saltwater lagoon which draws most people down to this area.

With the lack of a suitable natural beach within city limits, and a high degree of danger from box jellyfish, sharks, and saltwater crocs at the ones out of town, this pool gives locals and tourists alike a place to cool off on hot days in this tropical city.

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