Cairns (/ˈkɛərnz/, locally /ˈkænz/ (listen)) [note 1] is a city in Queensland, Australia,[4] on the tropical north east coast of Far North Queensland. The population in June 2019 was 153,952, having grown on average 1.02% annually over the preceding five years.[1][5][6] The city is the 5th-most-populous in Queensland, and 15th in Australia.

From top down, left to right: panorama view, city centre, sea side and Cairns Esplanade
Coordinates16.92°S 145.78°E / -16.92; 145.78 (Cairns (town centre))
Population153,951 (2019)[1] (15th)
 • Density605.39/km2 (1,567.96/sq mi)
Elevation7 m (23 ft)
Area254.3 km2 (98.2 sq mi)
Time zoneAEST (UTC+10:00)
LGA(s)Cairns Region
State electorate(s)
Federal division(s)
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
29.4 °C
85 °F
21.0 °C
70 °F
1,981.5 mm
78 in

The city was founded in 1876 and named after Sir William Wellington Cairns, following the discovery of gold in the Hodgkinson river.[7] Throughout the late 19th century, Cairns prospered from the settlement of Chinese immigrants who helped develop the region's agriculture. Cairns also served as a port for blackbirding ships, bringing slaves and indentured labourers to the sugar plantations of Innisfail.[8] During World War II, the city became a staging ground for the Allied Forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea. By the late 20th century the city had become a centre of international tourism, and in the early 21st century has developed into a major metropolitan city.

Cairns is a popular tourist destination because of its tropical climate and access to tropical rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.


Prior to British settlement, the Cairns area was inhabited by the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people,[9][10] who still claim their native title rights.[11] Yidinji (also known as Yidinj, Yidiny, and Idindji) is an Australian Aboriginal language. Its traditional language region is within the local government areas of Cairns Region and Tablelands Region, in such localities as Cairns, Gordonvale, and the Mulgrave River, and the southern part of the Atherton Tableland including Atherton and Kairi. The area in which the city is located is known in the local Yidiny language as Gimuy,[9] and the clan who inhabited the region before colonisation are the Gimuy-walubarra clan.[10]

1874 map showing native wells situated within the future site of Cairns

From 1770 to the early 1870s the area was known to the British simply as Trinity Bay. The arrival of beche de mer fishermen from the late 1860s saw the first European presence in the area. On the site of the modern-day Cairns foreshore, there was a large native well which was used by these fishermen. A violent confrontation occurred in 1872 between local Yidinji people and Phillip Garland, a beche de mer fisherman, over the use of this well. The area from this date was subsequently called Battle Camp.[12] In 1876, hastened by the need to export gold mined from the Hodgkinson goldfields on the tablelands to the west, closer investigation by several official expeditions established its potential for development into a port. Brinsley G. Sheridan surveyed the area and selected a place further up Trinity Inlet known to the diggers as Smith's Landing for a settlement which he renamed Thornton.[13][14] However, after Native Police officers Alexander Douglas-Douglas and Robert Arthur Johnstone opened a new track from the goldfields to Battle Camp, this more coastal site became preferable.[15] Battle Camp was renamed Cairns in late 1876 in honour of the then Governor of Queensland, William Cairns. The site was predominantly mangrove swamps and sand ridges. Labourers gradually cleared the swamps, and the sand ridges were filled with dried mud, sawdust from local sawmills, and ballast from a quarry at Edge Hill.

The Cairns Parish of the Roman Catholic Vicariate Apostolic of Cooktown (now the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cairns) was established in 1884.[16]

Farm in Cairns in 1897
Cairns War Memorial, c.1936

Debris from the construction of a railway to Herberton on the Atherton Tableland, a project which started in 1886, was also used. The railway opened up land later used for agriculture on the lowlands (sugar cane, corn, rice, bananas, pineapples), and for fruit and dairy production on the Tableland. The success of local agriculture helped establish Cairns as a port, and the creation of a harbour board in 1906 supported its robust economic future.[17][18]

The Wharf Estate Cairns went on sale in Brisbane via auction on 19 February 1889 by John Macnamara & Co. Land Auctioneers. The land was part of the place known as the Railway Reserve. The sale was described by the Auctioneers as the 'largest ever yet held in Northern Queensland'.[19][20][21]

On 25 April 1926 (ANZAC Day), the Cairns Sailors and Soldiers War Memorial was unveiled by Alexander Frederick Draper, the mayor of the City of Cairns.[22][23]

During World War II, the Allied Forces used Cairns as a staging base for operations in the Pacific,[24] with United States Army Air Forces and Royal Australian Air Force operational bases (now the airport), as well as a major military seaplane base, Naval Base Cairns, in Trinity Inlet, and United States Navy and Royal Australian Navy bases near the current wharf. Combat missions were flown out of Cairns in support of the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942. Edmonton and White Rock south of Cairns were major military supply areas and U.S. Paratroopers trained at Gordonvale and the Goldsborough Valley. A Special Forces training base was established at the old "Fairview" homestead on Munro's Hill, Mooroobool. This base was officially known as the Z Experimental Station,[25] but referred to informally as "The House on the Hill".

After World War II, Cairns gradually developed into a centre for tourism. The opening of the Cairns International Airport in 1984 helped establish the city as a desirable destination for international tourism.

In the 2016 census the urban area of Cairns had a population of 144,730 people.[26]

The population in June 2019 was 153,951.[1]


According to the 2016 census of population, there were 144,787 people in Cairns (Significant Urban Area).

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 8.9% of the population.
  • 67.9% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 4.0%, New Zealand 3.1%, Papua New Guinea 1.5%, Philippines 1.2% and Japan 1.1%.
  • 76.9% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Japanese 1.6%, Mandarin 0.8%, Italian 0.7%, Korean 0.7% and German 0.6%.
  • The most common responses for religion were No Religion 32.1%, Catholic 22.4%, Anglican 13.2%, Not stated 12.2%, Uniting Church: 3.6%.[27]


The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway goes over the rainforest and is one of the city's main tourist attractions.
The Mulgrave River running through the Goldsbrough Valley to the south of Gordonvale.
Fruit bats hanging from a mango tree, central Cairns

Cairns is located on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula on a coastal strip between the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range. The northern part of the city is located on Trinity Bay and the city centre is located on Trinity Inlet. To the south of the Trinity Inlet lies the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah. Some of the city's suburbs are located on flood plains. The Mulgrave River and Barron River flow within the greater Cairns area but not through the Cairns CBD. The city's centre foreshore is located on a mud flat.

Urban layout

City centre of Cairns

Cairns is a provincial city, with a linear urban layout that runs from the south at Edmonton to the north at Ellis Beach. The city is approximately 52 km (32 mi) from north to south; it has experienced a recent urban sprawl, with suburbs occupying land once used for sugar cane farming.

The Northern Beaches consist of a number of beach communities extending north along the coast. In general, each beach suburb is at the end of a spur road extending from the Captain Cook Highway. From south to north, these are Machans Beach, Holloways Beach, Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Park, Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach, Clifton Beach, Palm Cove, and Ellis Beach.

The suburb of Smithfield is inland against the mountains of the Great Dividing Range, between Yorkeys Knob and Trinity Park. It serves as the main hub for the Northern Beaches, with a modern shopping arcade, called Smithfield Shopping Centre.

South of Smithfield and inland from the Northern Beaches along the edge of the Barron River flood plain are the suburbs of Caravonica, Kamerunga, Freshwater, and Stratford. This area is sometimes referred to as Freshwater Valley, though it is actually the lower part of Redlynch Valley; further up the valley are the suburbs of Redlynch, on the western side of Redlynch Valley, and Brinsmead on the eastern side. Stratford, Freshwater, and Brinsmead are separated from Cairns city by Mount Whitfield (elevation 365 m (1,198 ft)) and Whitfield Range. Crystal Cascades and Copperlode Falls Dam are also behind this range. (Kuranda, a town on the Barron River on the western side of the Macalister Range, forms part of the Cairns economic catchment but is in the Tablelands local government area and is not part of the Cairns urban area.)

The city centre of Cairns is adjacent to the suburbs of Cairns North, and Parramatta Park, Bungalow, Portsmith, and close to Westcourt, Manunda, Manoora, Edge Hill, Whitfield, Kanimbla, City View, Mooroobool, Earlville, Woree and Bayview Heights. The small suburb of Aeroglen is pressed between Mount Whitfield and the airport, on the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns North and Stratford.

Southside Cairns, situated in a narrow area between Trinity Inlet to the east and Lamb Range to the west, includes the suburbs of White Rock, Mount Sheridan, Bentley Park and Edmonton. The townships of Goldsborough, Little Mulgrave, and Aloomba are near Gordonvale, on the Mulgrave River. This area is serviced by the Bruce Highway. Several other small towns and communities within Cairns' jurisdiction are sparsely located along the Bruce Highway, the furthest being Bramston Beach, 81 km (50 mi) south of the Cairns CBD; the largest of these townships is Babinda, about 60 km (37 mi) from the city.


Tropical beach in Cairns
Cairns Airport, Queensland, Australia
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Cairns experiences a tropical climate, specifically a tropical monsoon climate (Am) under the Köppen climate classification.[28][29] A wet season with heavy monsoonal downpours runs from November to May, with a relatively dry season from June to October, though light showers occur during this period.[30] Cairns' mean annual rainfall is just under 2,000 millimetres (79 in), although monthly totals in the wet season from December to April can exceed 1,000 mm (39 in), with the highest monthly rainfall being recorded in January 1981, when over 1,417.4 mm (55.80 in) of rain fell.[31] In contrast, as little as 721 millimetres or 28.39 inches fell in the record dry calendar year of 2002.

Babinda, a town to the south of the city, is Australia's wettest town, recording an annual rainfall of over 4,200 mm (170 in).

Cairns has hot, humid summers and very warm winters.[30] Mean maximum temperatures vary from 26.2 °C (79.2 °F) in July to 31.7 °C (89.1 °F) in January. Monsoonal activity during the wet season occasionally causes major flooding of the Barron and Mulgrave Rivers, cutting off-road and rail access to the city. Cairns has 97.0 clear days, annually. Dewpoint in the wet season (summer) averages at 23 °C (73 °F). The average temperature of the sea ranges from 23.8 °C (74.8 °F) in July to 29.4 °C (84.9 °F) in January.[32]

Climate data for Cairns Airport, Queensland, Australia (1991-2020 normals, extremes 1941-present); 2 m AMSL
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 40.4
Mean maximum °C (°F) 33.6
Average high °C (°F) 31.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 27.9
Average low °C (°F) 24.0
Mean minimum °C (°F) 22.1
Record low °C (°F) 18.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 388.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 15.8 15.4 14.6 14.2 9.9 7.1 5.7 4.5 4.2 6.0 8.3 10.6 116.3
Average relative humidity (%) 71.0 74.5 70.5 70.5 68.5 66.5 63.5 62.0 60.0 60.5 63.5 67.0 66.5
Average dew point °C (°F) 22.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 213.9 175.2 204.6 210.0 220.1 210.0 232.5 251.1 270.0 279.0 258.0 241.8 2,766.2
Mean daily sunshine hours 6.9 6.2 6.6 7.0 7.1 7.0 7.5 8.1 9.0 9.0 8.6 7.8 7.6
Percent possible sunshine 54 50 55 61 63 63 67 69 74 73 67 60 63
Source 1: Australian Bureau of Meteorology (1991-2020 normals)[33]
Source 2: Australian Bureau of Meteorology (1941-present extremes)[34]

Tropical cyclones

Like most of North and Far North Queensland, Cairns is prone to tropical cyclones, usually forming between November and May.

Notable cyclones that have affected the Cairns region include:


The City Library, operated by the Cairns Regional Council, opened in 1979[35] and is situated at 151 Abbott Street.[36] A major refurbishment was undertaken in 1999 and a further minor refurbishment was implemented in 2011.[35] Public accessible wifi is available.[36] Current Library services and collections can be accessed from the Cairns Libraries website.[37]

Heritage listings

Cairns has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:

  • Cairns-to-Kuranda railway line[38]
  • Abbott Street: Dr EA Koch Memorial[39]
  • Abbott Street: Barrier Reef Hotel[40]
  • Abbott Street: Bishop's House[41]
  • Abbott Street: St Monica's High School Administration Building[42]
  • 6A-8A Abbott Street: former Cairns Customs House[43]
  • 38 – 40 Abbott Street: Cairns Court House[44]
  • 151 Abbott Street: Cairns City Council Chambers[45]
  • 179 Abbott Street: St Joseph's Convent[46]
  • 183 Abbott Street: St Monica's War Memorial Cathedral[47]
  • Collins Avenue, Edge Hill: Flecker Botanical Gardens
  • Collins Avenue, Edge Hill: WWII RAN Fuel Installation[48]
  • Grafton Street: Cairns Control Room, World War II Volunteer Defence Corps[49]
  • 99 Grafton Street: former Cairns Chinatown[50]
  • 28D Grove Street, Parramatta Park: Grove Street Pensioners' Cottages[51]
  • Lake Street: Bolands Centre[52]
  • 37 Lake Street: former Adelaide Steamship Co Ltd Building[53]
  • 39 – 49 Lake Street: former Central Hotel[54]
  • 87 Lake Street: Hides Hotel[55]
  • 93–105 Lake Street: former School of Arts[56]
  • 399 Kamerunga Road, Redlynch: Xavier and Sadie Herbert's Cottage[57]
  • 127–145 McLeod Street, Cairns North: McLeod Street Pioneer Cemetery[58]
  • 180 McLeod, Cairns North: Herries Private Hospital[59]
  • Minnie Street: St Monica's Old Cathedral[60]
  • 8 Minnie Street: Cairns Masonic Temple[61]
  • Sheridan Street, Cairns North: Cairns Technical College and High School Building[62]
  • The Esplanade: Cairns War Memorial[63]
  • 51 The Esplanade: former Mulgrave Shire Council Chambers[64]
  • 183–185 The Esplanade, Cairns North: Floriana[65]
  • Wharf Street: Cairns Wharf Complex[66]
  • 29 Wharf Street: former Jack and Newell Building[67]


The Lagoon on the Cairns Esplanade on the left, separated by the boardwalk from the ocean on the right, at low tide

Cairns is part of the Cairns Region local government area which is governed by a Regional Council. The Council consists of a directly elected mayor and 10 councillors, elected from 10 single-member divisions (or wards) using an optional preferential voting system. Elections are held every four years.

The Cairns Region consists of three former local government areas. The first was the original City of Cairns, consisting of the Cairns City region as listed above. The second, which was amalgamated in 1995, was the Shire of Mulgrave (comprising the other areas, namely the Northern Beaches, Redlynch Valley and Southside). The town of Gordonvale was once called Nelson. The third area is the Shire of Douglas, which amalgamated in 2008 during major statewide local government reforms.

At the time of the 1995 amalgamation, Cairns City had a population of approximately 40,000 and Mulgrave Shire had a population of approximately 60,000. Both local government authorities had chambers in the Cairns CBD. The old Cairns City Council chambers has been converted into a new city library. In a controversial decision,[68] new Council chambers were constructed on previously contaminated land in the mainly industrial suburb of Portsmith.

Cairns has three representatives in the Queensland Parliament, from the electoral districts of Barron River, Cairns and Mulgrave. The city is represented in the Federal Parliament by representatives elected from the districts of Leichhardt and Kennedy.


Cairns at night; the wharves. The casino's dome can be seen in the background.
Cairns Pier

Cairns serves as the major commercial centre for the Far North Queensland and Cape York Peninsula Regions. It is a base for the regional offices of various government departments.


Tourism plays a major part in the Cairns economy. According to Tourism Australia, the Cairns region is the fourth-most-popular destination for international tourists in Australia after Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.[71] While the city does not rank amongst Australia's top 10 destinations for domestic tourism, it attracts a significant number of Australian holiday makers despite its distance from major capitals.[72] There is also a growing interest in Cairns from the Chinese leisure market with regular scheduled direct flights from Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou. During the 2013 Chinese Lunar New Year period alone, Cairns saw 20,000 Chinese holidaymakers flying in on chartered flights.[73]

The city is near the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics of Queensland, and the Atherton Tableland. Great Barrier Reef tours that operate from Cairns are very popular and hence Cairns is also considered as the gateway to Great Barrier Reef.

The Cairns esplanade includes a swimming lagoon with adjoining barbecue areas. In May 2003, the then Cairns Mayor Kevin Byrne declared that topless sunbathing is permitted here.[74][75] Many leisure activities are conducted in this area, including flea market, sports classes and many more.


Several shopping centres of various sizes are located throughout Cairns. The largest of these are Cairns Central shopping centre, located in the central business district (CBD), and Stockland Cairns, located in the suburb of Earlville. In Westcourt, one of the city's oldest shopping centres has been refurbished, with the city's first DFO.[76][77] To service the needs of suburbs further from the city centre, shopping complexes are also located at Mount Sheridan, Redlynch, Smithfield, and Clifton Beach.

In 2010, the state government opened the second stage of William McCormack Place, an A$80 million office building credited as the first 6-star green star-rated building in the city.[78]


The Cairns Post is a daily newspaper published in the city; a weekly paper, The Cairns Sun, is also published. The Courier-Mail is a daily Queensland-wide newspaper published in Brisbane. The Australian newspaper also circulates widely. The Cairns Bulletin is an independent newspaper in circulation in the Cairns area.

Cairns is served by five television stations, three commercial television stations (WIN Television, Seven Queensland and Southern Cross 10) which are regional affiliates of the three Australian commercial television networks (10, Seven and Nine), and public broadcasters the ABC and SBS[79] services.

All three main commercial networks produce local news coverage - Seven Queensland and WIN Television both air 30-minute local news bulletins at 6pm each weeknight, produced from newsrooms in the city but broadcast from studios in Maroochydore and Wollongong respectively. Southern Cross 10 airs a regional Queensland news updates of 10 News First.

Cairns radio stations include a number of public, commercial and community broadcasters. The ABC broadcasts ABC Far North, ABC Radio National, ABC NewsRadio, ABC Classic FM and the Triple J youth network. Commercial radio stations include Star 102.7, 4CA 846 AM, Hot FM, Sea FM and 104.3 4TAB sports radio, while the community radio stations are 4CCR-FM, 101.9 Coast FM, Orbit FM 88.0FM & 87.8FM and 4CIM 98.7FM.

Industry and agriculture

The land around Cairns is still used for sugar cane farming, although this land is increasingly under pressure from new suburbs as the city grows. The Mulgrave Sugar Mill is located in Gordonvale (17.0929°S 145.7889°E / -17.0929; 145.7889 (Mulgrave Sugar Mill)).[80][81]

The Barron Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station is located nearby on the lower Barron River, and provides green power.


Cairns is an important transport hub in the Far North Queensland region. Located at the base of Cape York Peninsula, it provides important transport links between the Peninsula and Gulf of Carpentaria regions, and the areas to the south of the state. Cairns International Airport is essential to the viability of the area's tourism industry.


The Bruce Highway in Cairns southern suburbs at morning peak hour.

The Bruce Highway runs for 1,700 km (1,056 mi) from Bald Hills on the City of Brisbane's northern boundary, and terminates in Woree, a southern suburb in Cairns. The Captain Cook Highway (also referred as the Cook Highway) commences at Aeroglen, a northern suburb of Cairns, and runs for approximately 76 km (47 mi) northwest to Mossman.[82]

A need for future upgrades to the Bruce Highway to motorway standards through the southern suburbs to Gordonvale has been identified in regional planning strategies to cope with increasing congestion from rapid population growth. This will result in overpasses at all major intersections from Woree to Gordonvale. The motorway will divert from Bentley Park to Gordonvale, bypassing Edmonton to reduce the effects of road noise on residential areas.[83]

The Kennedy Highway commences at Smithfield on the Barron River flood plain north of Cairns, and ascends the Macalister Range to the township of Kuranda. The highway then extends to the town of Mareeba on the Atherton Tableland, and continues to communities of Cape York Peninsula.

The Gillies Highway commences at the township of Gordonvale, and ascends the Gillies Range (part of the Great Dividing Range) to the town of Atherton on the Atherton Tableland, passing through the township of Yungaburra on the way.

The controversial private road, Quaid Road, was constructed in 1989 through what is now a Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, and links Wangetti, on the coast just north of Cairns, to Southedge, just south of Mount Molloy. The road is not open to the public and is not used for general traffic.


A public bus transit network exists within the city, with two transit hubs located within the CBD: the Cairns Central Railway Station precinct, and the Cairns City Bus Station located within the Lake street and Shield street area, through which all bus lines operate and provide linkage to taxi, ride share and intercity rail services.[84] The transit network includes most parts of the city, from Palm Cove in the north, Gordonvale in the south and Redlynch to the west. It is managed throughout the city by Translink: through a service contract with the Sunbus Cairns company, however the Go Card ticketing system has not been implemented in the region. A smaller shuttle bus service, Jon's Kuranda Bus runs between Cairns and Kuranda alongside other private coach services. The main bus hubs in the Cairns CBD are the Cairns City bus station, opened in 2014,[85] and at Cairns Central, the former servicing almost all bus lines in Cairns.[86]

Cairns is served by long-distance coaches to Brisbane, and regional cities to the south. Coaches also operate west to Mount Isa via Townsville, and to Alice Springs and Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Taxis and transportation network companies

Cairns also has a major taxi company, Cairns Taxis, which services the Cairns region. Uber was introduced to the region in March 2017,[87] servicing the greater region.[88] Ola launched in February 2020.[89]


Railway workers on the Cairns Railway with a view of Glacier Rock in the background, c.1891.[90]

Cairns railway station is the terminus for Queensland's North Coast railway line, which follows the eastern seaboard from Brisbane. Services are operated by Queensland Rail (QR) and include the high-speed Diesel Tilt Train. Freight trains also operate along the route, with a QR Freight handling facility located at Portsmith.

Pacific National Queensland (a division of Pacific National, owned by Asciano Limited) operates a rail siding at Woree. It runs private trains on the rail network owned by the Queensland State Government and managed by QR's Network Division.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway operates from Cairns. The tourist railway ascends the Macalister Range and is not used for commuter services. It passes through the suburbs of Stratford, Freshwater (stopping at Freshwater Station) and Redlynch before reaching Kuranda.

Freight services to Forsayth were discontinued in the mid-1990s. These were mixed freight and passenger services that served the semi-remote towns west of the Great Dividing Range. There is now a weekly passenger-only service, The Savannahlander, that leaves Cairns on Wednesday mornings. The Savannahlander is run by a private company, Cairns Kuranda Steam Trains.

Cairns is served by a narrow gauge cane railway (or cane train) network that hauls harvested sugar cane to the Mulgrave Sugar Mill located in Gordonvale. The pressure of urban sprawl on land previously cultivated by cane farmers has seen this network reduced over recent years.[91]


Cairns International Airport is 7 km (4 mi) north of Cairns City between the CBD and the Northern Beaches. The domestic terminal at Cairns Airport underwent an extensive redevelopment which began in 2007 and was completed in 2010.

The airport has a domestic terminal, an international terminal, and a general aviation area. The airport handles international flights, and flights to major Australian cities, tourist destinations, and regional destinations throughout North Queensland. It is an important base for general aviation serving the Cape York Peninsula and Gulf of Carpentaria communities. The Cairns airport is also a base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.


Cairns Marina

The Cairns Seaport, located on Trinity Inlet, is operated by the Cairns Port Authority.[92] It serves as an important port for tourist operators providing daily reef trips. These consist of large catamarans capable of carrying over 300 passengers, as well as smaller operators that may take as few as 12 tourists. Cairns Port is also a port of call for cruise ships, such as Captain Cook Cruises, cruising the South Pacific Ocean. It also provides freight services to coastal townships on Cape York Peninsula, the Torres Strait and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Yearly cargo through the port totals 1.13 million tonnes. Almost 90% of the trade is bulk cargoes[93] – including petroleum, sugar, molasses, fertiliser and LP gas. A large number of fishing trawlers are also located at the port. There is also a marina that houses private yachts and boats used for tourist operations.

The Trinity Wharf has recently been the subject of a major redevelopment to improve the area for tourist and cruise ship operations. The freight wharves are located to the south of Trinity Wharf further up Trinity Inlet.

Defence facilities

The Royal Australian Navy has a base in Cairns (HMAS Cairns).[94] The base has a complement of 900 personnel, and supports nine vessels, including:

Four ships of the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Service.

Previously four of the six Balikpapan-class landing craft where based before their decommissioning[94]

Porton Barracks, in the outlying suburb of Edmonton, is home to the Australian Army's 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment. Delta Company from the Townsville based 31st/42nd Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment is also based here. Both units are components of the Australian Army Reserve.

Sister cities

A selection of memorabilia and artefacts relating to Cairns Sister Cities is displayed at Cairns City Library.[95]


Cairns has numerous primary and secondary schools. Separate systems of private and public schools operate in Queensland. There are 20 state primary schools and 16 state high schools operated by the Queensland state government Department of Education within the Cairns City Council area, including 6 schools in the predominantly rural areas south of Gordonvale.

Catholic schools are operated by Catholic Education Cairns. The Catholic system encompasses nineteen primary schools, six secondary colleges and one P-12 college.[96] The oldest Marist Brothers college in Cairns is St Augustine's, which is a secondary college.[97] As of 2014 there were almost 6,700 primary students and 4,000 secondary students enrolled in the Roman Catholic school system.[98]

There are also four other independent schools – Peace Lutheran College, Trinity Anglican School, Freshwater Christian College and Redlynch State College.

There is also Hinterland Cairns Steiner School, which is independent.

The Cairns Campus of James Cook University is located at Smithfield. CQUniversity Australia has established a study centre in Cairns.[99] The city also hosts a TAFE college, and a School of the Air base, both located in the inner suburb of Manunda.


The Cairns Hospital from the air facing south.

The Cairns Hospital is situated on the Cairns Esplanade and is the major hospital for the Cape York Peninsula area. The smaller Cairns Private Hospital is located nearby. A new building was completed in 2015 to provide up to 168 more beds.[100]

Cairns is a base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which operates clinics and provides emergency evacuations in remote communities throughout the region.

Sport and recreation

Soccer, Australian rules football, and rugby

Cairns is home to Far North Queensland Heat, who play in the 2nd tier of soccer in Australia. They compete in the NPL Queensland which is one tier under the A-League. The team has represented the city nationally previously at the 2014 FFA Cup. The team competes at Barlow Park. The Cairns region has a large soccer community with a local competition which spans from Port Douglas to Innisfail and west to Dimbulah. Notable soccer players from the region include Socceroos Frank Farina, Steve Corica, Shane Stefanutto and Michael Thwaite.

Cairns has a seven-team Australian rules football competition between teams from the Cairns and Port Douglas region. AFL Cairns currently hosts one AFL game each season. There is also an AFL Masters team that is based in Cairns, they are known as the Cairns Stingers.

The Northern Pride Queensland Cup rugby league team played their first season in 2008, and act as a feeder team to the North Queensland Cowboys who play in the National Rugby League. Cairns is represented by 11 Senior clubs, most notably Brothers Cairns, Ivanhoes Knights, Cairns Kangaroos, Edmonton Storm and Southern Suburbs Cockatoos in the Cairns District Rugby League. Cairns also hosts growing bases for Rugby union.

Cazaly's Stadium

Other sports

There is a baseball league at Trinity Beach.[101] Cairns also has a National Basketball League (NBL) team, the Cairns Taipans whose home court is the Cairns Convention Centre, known as The Snakepit during Taipans home games.

In 1965 the City of Cairns Open, a professional golf tournament, was inaugurated. Significant golfers like Randall Vines and Vic Bennetts won the event. In the mid-1970s it evolved into an amateur event. In modern times, the week-long event encompasses four tournaments, including a mixed team event and separate men's and women's tournaments.[102]

Cairns is a major international destination for water sports and scuba diving due to its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. Other recreational activities popular with tourists include whitewater rafting, skydiving, hang gliding, kitesurfing and snorkelling.

Sporting facilities

Cairns Museum

Notable sporting grounds include Barlow Park, Parramatta Park, Cazaly's Stadium, the Cairns Convention Centre, and the Cairns Hockey Centre. The Cairns Showground is used for sports as well, as the Cairns Show and funfairs.[103]


Established in 1978, the Cairns & District Chinese Association is an arts and heritage organisation seeking to preserve the Chinese culture and heritage of Cairns and North Queensland and enriching the contemporary cultural, social and economic diversity of the community. The society organises events such as the Chinese New Year Festival, organises Lion dancers and dragon boat racing, maintains the Lit Sung Goong Temple, and offers Chinese language classes and social group activities.[104]

Established in 1989, the Cairns and District Family History Society maintains a library of world-wide genealogy material at 271 Gatton Street, Westcourt. The society publishes new genealogical resources based on collecting and indexing family information relating to Far North Queensland.[105]

The Cairns Historical Society operates the Cairns Museum and Cairns Historical Society Resource Centre at the former Cairns School of Arts building on the corner of Lake and Shields Streets in Cairns City.[106]

The Cairns branch of the Queensland Country Women's Association meets at 264 Grafton Street, Cairns North.[107]

St Monica's Catholic Cathedral is at 183 Abbott Street. It is within the Cairns Cathedral Parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cairns.[16]

Indigenous languages and representation

The Yidiny language is a prominent language of the Cairns area.[108]

Irukandji language (also known as Yirrgay, Yurrgay, Yirrgandji, Djabuganjdji and Yirgay) is a language of Far North Queensland, particularly the area around the Kuranda Range and Lower Barron River. The Irukandji language region includes the landscape within Cairns Regional Council.[108]

Yumplatok (also known as Torres Strait Creole and Broken) is a contemporary Torres Strait Island language originating in the Torres Strait. The contact with missionaries and others since the 1800s has led to the development of a pidgin language, which transitioned into a creole language and now has its own distinctive sound system, grammar, vocabulary, usage and meaning. Torres Strait Creole is spoken by most Torres Strait Islanders and is a mixture of Standard Australian English and traditional languages. It is an English-based creole; however, each island has its own version of creole. Torres Strait Creole is also spoken on the Australian mainland, including Northern Peninsula Area Region and coastal communities such as Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Brisbane.[108]

There are four traditional owner groups representing the rights and interests of the peoples of the Cairns region. The Dawul Wuru (Yirrganydji) Aboriginal Corporation represents traditional owners in the area between Cairns and Port Douglas. Native title rights have been granted to the Djabugay people over land and waters within the Barron Gorge National Park near Kuranda. The Gunggandji people hold rights over more than 7,500 ha (19,000 acres) on the Yarrabah Peninsula. The fourth group represents the Yidinji clans, and comprises Gimuy Walubara Yidinji, Dulabed Malanbarra and Yidinji, Mandingalbay Yidinji and Wadjanbarra Tableland Yidinji.[109]

Notable people

See also


  1. In non-Australian dialects, the city is usually pronounced as /ˈkɛərnz/,[2][3] however, most Australians consider it erroneous and rather pronounce it /ˈkænz/ (listen) when referring to the city.


  1. "Regional Population: Population estimates by Significant Urban Area, 2009 to 2019". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 30 March 2021. Retrieved 3 November 2020. Estimated resident population, 30 June 2019.
  2. Macquarie Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2005). Melbourne, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-876429-14-3.
  3. "Cairns". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
  4. "Cairns – city (entry 5683)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  5. "Facts, figures & history". Cairns Regional Council. 31 May 2016. Archived from the original on 3 September 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  6. "Facts, figures & history - Cairns Regional Council". 4 February 2020. Archived from the original on 25 February 2020. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  7. "THE ELECTORAL ROLLS". The Telegraph (Brisbane). No. 1, 246. Queensland, Australia. 9 October 1876. p. 3. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "The Coastal History Blog 34: A Pacific Blackbirding Narrative". Port Towns & Urban Cultures. 4 January 2016. Archived from the original on 11 April 2021. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  9. Dixon, R. M. W. (1977). "A grammar of Yidiny". Cambridge Studies in Linguistics. Cambridge University Press. p. 19. ISBN 0-521-14242-3.
  10. "Indigenous culture and history". Cairns Regional Council. Archived from the original on 9 April 2020. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  11. "Native Title in the News – April 2013" (PDF). Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 April 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  12. "SKETCHER". The Queenslander. No. 2021. Queensland, Australia. 3 December 1904. p. 8. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "TRINITY BAY". Mackay Mercury And South Kennedy Advertiser. No. 550. Queensland, Australia. 28 October 1876. p. 2. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  14. "THORNTON". The Telegraph. No. 1, 246. Queensland, Australia. 9 October 1876. p. 3. Retrieved 5 September 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  15. "HODGKINSON GOLD-FIELD TO TRINITY BAY". The Telegraph. No. 1, 234. Queensland, Australia. 25 September 1876. p. 3. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  16. "Cairns Cathedral Parish". Roman Catholic Diocese of Cairns. Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  17. "History of Murray & Lyons Solicitors – Cairns Legal Practice". Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  18. "Ports North – Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal – History". Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  19. "Auction Sales". 16 February 1889. Archived from the original on 25 December 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  20. "Auction Sales". 26 April 1889. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  21. "The Wharf Estate, Cairns". 19 February 1889. hdl:10462/deriv/253188. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. "Memorial unveiled at Cairns". The Brisbane Courier. 27 April 1926. p. 8. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  23. "Sailors and Soldiers War Memorial". Monument Australia. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  24. "Cairns". RAAF Museum. Royal Australian Air Force. Archived from the original on 8 April 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  25. McKie, Ronald (1960). The Heroes. Sydney: Angus & Robertson Ltd. p. 9. ISBN 0-207-12133-8.
  26. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Cairns (UCL)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  27. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Cairns (Significant Urban Area)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 14 October 2021. Material was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  28. Tapper, Andrew; Tapper, Nigel (1996). Gray, Kathleen (ed.). The weather and climate of Australia and New Zealand (First ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press. p. 300. ISBN 0-19-553393-3.
  29. Linacre, Edward; Geerts, Bart (1997). Climates and Weather Explained. London: Routledge. p. 379. ISBN 0-415-12519-7. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  30. "Climate of Cairns". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  31. "Climate statistics for Cairns Aero AWS". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  32. "Cairns Sea Temperature | Australia Water Temperatures". Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  33. "Cairns Aero, QLD Climate (1991-2020 normals)". Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 14 July 2022. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  34. "Cairns Aero, QLD Climate (1941-present extremes)". Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  35. "Queensland Public Library Statistical Bulletin 2016–17" (PDF). Public Library Connect. November 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 January 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  36. "City Library". Public Libraries Connect. 25 March 2015. Archived from the original on 19 January 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  37. "Cairns Libraries homepage". Cairns Library. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  38. "Cairns Railway, Section from Redlynch to Crooked Creek Bridge (entry 600755)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  39. "Dr EA Koch Memorial (entry 601681)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  40. "Barrier Reef Hotel (entry 601608)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  41. "Bishop's House (entry 601747)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  42. "St Monica's High School Administration Building (entry 601748)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  43. "Cairns Customs House (former) (entry 600377)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  44. "Cairns Court House Complex (entry 600376)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  45. "Cairns City Council Chambers (entry 601576)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  46. "St Joseph's Convent (entry 601749)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  47. "St Monica's War Memorial Cathedral (entry 601961)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  48. "WWII RAN Fuel Installation (entry 602605)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  49. "World War II Volunteer Defence Corps, Cairns Control Room (entry 602744)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  50. "99 Grafton St (entry 602511)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  51. "602832". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  52. "Bolands Centre (entry 602536)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  53. "Adelaide Steamship Co Ltd (former) (entry 600381)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  54. "Central Court (entry 600379)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  55. "Hides Hotel (entry 600382)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  56. "School of Arts, Cairns (former) (entry 600380)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  57. "Xavier and Sadie Herbert's Cottage (former) (entry 601739)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  58. "McLeod Street Pioneer Cemetery (entry 600383)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  59. "Herries Private Hospital (entry 602137)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  60. "St Monica's Old Cathedral (entry 601750)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  61. "Cairns Masonic Temple (entry 601539)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  62. "Cairns Technical College and High School Building (entry 602834)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  63. "Cairns War Memorial (entry 600378)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  64. "Mulgrave Shire Council Chambers (former) (entry 601913)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  65. "Floriana (entry 602738)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  66. "Cairns Wharf Complex (entry 601790)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  67. "Jack and Newell Building (former) (entry 601610)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  68. "Land Row". The Cairns Post. News Limited. 19 July 2001. p. 1.
  69. "Cairns Regional Council Mayor and Councilors". Archived from the original on 17 July 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  70. 2015 Queensland State Election Results Archived 25 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  71. "International Market Tourism Facts" (PDF). Tourism Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2008.
  72. "Research & Stats". Tourism Australia. Archived from the original on 14 October 2006.
  73. "Chinese groups head for Cairns". TTGmice. Archived from the original on 5 June 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  74. "Backpacker Boobs Cause Stir". Sydney Morning Herald. 23 May 2003. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2008.
  75. "Cairns Esplanade Redevelopment Progress – Topless Sunbathing". Archived from the original on 28 October 2007.
  76. "Direct Factory Outlets". Archived from the original on 1 November 2008.
  77. "Direct Benefit". The Cairns Post. News Limited. 3 December 2008. Archived from the original on 24 October 2009.
  78. "William McCormack Place, Stage Two, Cairns" (PDF). Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. Queensland Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 April 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  79. Regional digital TV timetable Archived 16 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Australian Government
  80. "Msf Sugar". Archived from the original on 20 November 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  81. "Mulgrave Mill | Msf Sugar". Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  82. "Queensland Globe". State of Queensland. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  83. "FNQ Regional Plan – Supporting Technical Documents – Integrated Transport". February 2000: 41–43. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  84. "Keeping Our CBD Inviting (factsheet)" (PDF). March 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  85. Bateman, Daniel (7 July 2014). "Cairns Sunbus drivers don't want to leave temporary Esplanade terminal". Cairns Post. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  86. Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (24 February 2020). "Cairns bus network map" (PDF) (Map). TransLink. Queensland Government. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 October 2020. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  87. "Cairns Post". Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  88. "Drive or Ride with Uber in Cairns". Uber. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  89. "We're coming to even more towns soon!". Ola. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  90. The Cairns Range Railway was built to connect the mining centre of Herberton with Cairns. Work began on 10 May 1886; the first sod was turned in Cairns by Samuel Griffith, Premier of Queensland, and the first train arrived in Herberton on 20 October 1910 (Information taken from: A.D. Broughton, A pictorial history of the construction of the Cairns Range Railway, 1886–1891, 1991).
  91. "Cairns Transport Network: Concept Design Report" (PDF). Department of Transport & Main Roads. Queensland Government. p. 5.42. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  92. "Cairns Port Authority". Archived from the original on 1 July 2005.
  93. "Cairns Port Authority 2005/6 Annual Report". Archived from the original on 30 December 2012.
  94. "HMAS Cairns". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 15 September 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2008.
  95. Sister cities – Cairns Regional Council Archived 20 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 16 July 2013.
  96. "Catholic Education Services Cairns". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014.
  97. "St Augustine's Cairns". St Augustine's College. Archived from the original on 17 November 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  98. "Catholic Education in the Cairns Diocese". Archived from the original on 17 May 2014.
  99. A hub of higher learning for Cairns Archived 8 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  100. "Cairns Hospital redevelopment - home page". Archived from the original on 28 January 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  101. Cairns Baseball League Archived 25 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Cairns Baseball League (23 July 2012). Retrieved on 16 July 2013.
  102. "City of Cairns Amateur Golf Week - Cairns Golf Club". Archived from the original on 15 July 2022. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  103. Cairns Show Events Archived 7 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  104. "Cairns & District Chinese Association Inc". Archived from the original on 21 September 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  105. "About us". Cairns and District Family History Society Inc. Archived from the original on 12 June 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  106. "About Us". Cairns Historical Society. Archived from the original on 14 March 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  107. "Branch Locations". Queensland Country Women's Association. Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  108. This Wikipedia article incorporates CC-BY-4.0 licensed text from: "Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages map". State Library of Queensland. State Library of Queensland. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  109. "Local Traditional Owners From The Cairns Region, Far North Queensland". Wet Tropics Plan. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  110. "Christine Anu – Biography". Archived from the original on 7 July 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  111. "Christine Anu". Who Do You Think You Are?. Season 2. Episode 4. 18 October 2009. 3:55 minutes in. Special Broadcasting Service. SBS One.
  112. McDougall, Russell. "Biography – Albert Francis Xavier Herbert". Australian National University. Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  113. Boys, Larry (6 June 1973). "Can't help lovin that gal from Cairns". The Australian Women's Weekly. Archived from the original on 6 May 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2016 via National Library of Australia.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.