Cairns

City Profile : Cairns

Cairns

 

Cairns is a city in tropical north Queensland and is a major tourism destination for both Australians and Internationals.  We were here for around 7 months and really got to know Cairns – we even got to meet a fellow blogger, Kate Richards (AdventureMumma).

 

Outdoor fitness is a big focus in Cairns, with a timetable of free activities on offer along the Esplanade, like yoga, Zumba and tai chi.  The Lagoon is also popular with everyone.  Many locals also run along the Promenade or work out at one of the fitness stations.

 

Cairns 2014-10-17 003

 

One thing you’ll notice about Cairns is the smelly bats.  They hang around in the trees near the library and Cairns City bus terminal during the day and once the sun starts to set, they get active and take flight to find their dinner.  If you’re looking for a car park and don’t mind a bit of poop on your car, there is usually a spot or two available next to the library.

 

Cairns 2015-03-06 002sm

 

Fast Facts

  • Cairns is one of the fastest growing towns in Queensland, with a population of over 151,000 people and is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
  • Over 2 million Aussie and international tourists visit Cairns every year.
  • The region is home to the world’s most dangerous bird – the cassowary – and the world’s largest moth – the Hercules moth.
  • Queensland’s highest mountain Mount Bartle Frere (1622m) is 51km to the south.
  • Cairns has the highest youth unemployment rate in Queensland with over 21% of 15 to 24 year olds not working (December 2014)

 

History

Cairns, like many other towns in Australia, was founded after the discovery of gold.  The city was named after Sir William Wellington Cairns, an Irish fellow who was appointed the governor of Queensland in 1875, one year before Cairns was founded.

 

Cairns started off as an uninhabitable swamp with nothing much to offer until a railway was built to connect the coast to the Tablelands.  After nearly 30 years of settlement, Cairns finally became a town in 1903 with a population of 3,500.  Once the gold rush died down, the railway was used for agricultural purposes to transport fruit and dairy to the coastal flats, where the sugar cane grew and still grows to this day.

 

Being in the tropics isn’t all sunshine and coconuts – cyclones can sweep through at any time during the wet season and cause some serious damage.  Cairns met Cyclone Willis in 1927 and Cyclone Agnes in 1956, and while both were fairly destructive, Cairns recovered.

 

Tourism in Cairns became a major industry in the 1980s with the opening of the international airport and listing of World Heritage areas in the surrounding rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.  It is still a major tourism city that attracts visitors from all over the world who want to see the reef and explore the Daintree.

 

Great Barrier Reef - Justine snorkling

 

Places of Interest

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

This awesome place is located in the dome on top of the Casino.  Meet some cute Aussie animals and brave the zip line and rope course above, all in one day!

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

The Esplanade & Marina

Cairns may be a major tourism centre but for the locals, outdoor fitness and activities make up a big part of the culture.  The Esplanade is reclaimed land that has been renovated into a wonderful outdoor venue for everyone.  Have a picnic on the grass, go for a run along the promenade, or have a splash in the lagoon.  There are free fitness activities on every week, like yoga, volleyball or Zumba, and there is also a Saturday morning market.

 

The marina is just around the corner and is a great place to buy some fresh seafood straight from the fishing boats.  The Pier Shopping Centre nearby has a variety of bars, restaurants and retail shops.

 

 

Rusty’s Markets

Rusty’s is open on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, but the best time to go for cheap fruit and vegetable is between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday.  There’s a huge variety of tropical fruits, Asian greens and unusual produce.  There’s also a few food trucks and stalls selling bags, bibs and bobs.

 

The Night Markets

On every night from 4:30pm, the night markets are accessible from the Esplanade and feature a variety of stalls from jewellery and lanolin creams to massage and souvenirs galore.  The food court on the Esplanade side is a good place for a cheap feed.  For $14.90, purchase an extra large tub and fill it with ALL THE FOODS – octopus, battered fish, fried prawns, omelette, everything…

 

Centenary Lakes Botanic Garden

A few clicks out of town you’ll find the Cairns botanic gardens.  There is a beautiful rainforest section, bamboo gardens, lakes with turtles and a variety of birds and for the fabulously fit, the Red Arrow Walk will reward you with great views over the airport.

 

Nearby is the Tanks Art Centre, which holds monthly markets during the dry season, and the Flecker Gardens display a diverse range of tropical plants and pretty flowers – keep your eyes open for the White Bat Flower – amazing.

 

Cairns Botanic Gardens

 

Palm Cove

About 27km north of Cairns is Palm Cove – a little beach community that is popular with holiday makers and weddings.  The esplanade is choc-a-block with fancy and award-winning restaurants, hotels and tourist outlets that are built around old Melaleuca trees, while the long white beach lined with palm trees is perfect for wedding photos or a great holiday snap.

 

We rocked up to Palm Cove just in time for the Reef Feast festival, and sampled some of the food on offer from some of the best restaurants in the village.

 

Palm Cove, Cairns

 

Behana Gorge & Walsh’s Pyramid

Walsh’s Pyramid is visible from the top of the Casino in Cairns, but it is about 28km south along the A1 highway.  At 922m, it is believed to be the highest freestanding pyramid in the world, and is a part of the same mountain range as Queensland’s two highest mountains, Mount Bartle Frere (1622 m) and Mount Bellenden Ker (1593 m).

 

Nestled in between the peaks is Behana Gorge.  Be prepared for the long walk but it’s worth it once you get to explore the gorge and cool off in the waters that make up Cairns’ water supply.

 

Behana Gorge Cairns

 

Crystal Cascades

A little closer to town is a secluded swimming hole that is quite the local hotspot.  Crystal Cascades is about 5km south of Redlynch and is popular during the summer months as visitors cool off in the fresh water pools.

 

Cairns 2014-11-17 057

 

Big Captain Cook & Big Marlin

Cairns has two Big Things – one can be seen as you drive along the Cook Highway while the other is near Stockland Shopping Centre in Earlville.

 

Food & Drink

Our first visit to Cairns started with a pub crawl through town, and from that venture, we can say that the Union Jack and the Courthouse Hotel are great pubs for a Sunday sesh, while the Croc Bar at the Grand Hotel is a sight to see.  If you prefer to party, check out Gilligan’s.

 

 

We also went to a few trivia nights throughout the week.  Thursday nights was at the Salthouse – meals and drinks are expensive but the pork belly pizza is delicious, and there are plenty of prizes to be won.  Sunday nights at the Serpent Bar at Nomads on Lake Street is a very cheap night in terms of meals and drinks, but there is only one prize – a round of drinks for the winning team.  Monday nights at the Red Beret in Redlynch was our favourite trivia spot – not only because it was close to home and the trivia format was good, but the chicken fajitas won Juz over.  Don’t try the pizza though – Roscoe’s across the road is much better.

 

Here are a few other eateries worth mentioning…

 

Asian Delights

If you love noodle soup and dumplings, there are two locations that are perfect.  Rest assured that if the wait for a table at Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum is too long, you can wander around the corner to Tokyo Dumpling and still be satisfied with a great value meal.  Another great Asian place is BaMien Vietnamese Cafe.  We had visitors from Melbourne and took them here for lunch.  It was a fluke that this place turned out to be fantastic.  The dishes were well priced, well portioned and absolutely delicious.

 

Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum Cairns

 

Great Cafes

Coffee lovers can head to two locations in the city – Caffiend and Smith Street Cafe.  Both offer great coffee in a funky environment.  If you’re after a tasty breakfast, try the Lillipad Cafe or Ozmosis near the Botanic Gardens.  Lillipad has some great vegetarian options while Ozmosis gets you out of the city with their scrumptious Eggs Benedict.

 

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Ochre Restaurant

Having won multiple awards, Ochre Restaurant is considered to be the best restaurant in Cairns. Juz’s awesome sister got us an Ochre gift voucher for Christmas so we got to indulge in a bit of modern Australian cuisine, like wallaby steak, Davidson plum jam and lemon myrtle sweet chilli sauce.

 

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Pizza Quest

We were in Cairns for around 6 months and took it upon ourselves to find the best pizza.  Some pizzas were too soggy, lacked flavour or were overpriced.  All in all, we found some great pizzas

 

Information & Accommodation

Cairns Tourist Information Centre – Cnr Alplin St & The Esplanade, Cairns.  Ph: (07) 4031 1751

Public transport in Cairns is mainly a bus network operated by SunBus.  For information about ticketing and timetables, go here: http://www.sunbus.com.au/sit_cairns.htm

 

Cairns Central YHA is conveniently located in the city at 20-26 McLeod Street.  To make a booking, call (07) 4051 0772 or visit their website. 

 

Cairns
 

Cairns

$100 Day : Cairns by Kate Richards (aka AdventureMumma)

$100 Day

 

We’d like to introduce a local blogger in Cairns – Kate Richards.  She is a mum to 2 very active kids, prefers the great outdoors to crafting or cooking any day. She is also an adventure and social media junkie, photographer & videographer. A true local of Tropical North Queensland and love sharing family adventures.

 

Cairns

 

We asked her, if she has $100 and a day to spend in Cairns with a friend, what would she do?  Here are her suggestions…

 

1. Start down on the Cairns Esplanade & take advantage of the free activities on offer – Aqua Aerobics at 8.30am or join the 5km Park Run from 7am.

Free

2. Check out the Esplanade Markets that run Saturday from 8am-4pm right next to the Lagoon.  If you need to have a shower after your workout, there are facilities next to the lagoon.

Free

3. Catch the 131 bus from the Cairns City bus station on Lake Street to the Botanic Gardens.  Single paper tickets are $4.80 per person and are valid for two hours. On Saturdays, the 131 bus leaves the Cairns City bus station every hour on the hour and takes 15 mins to get too the Botanic Gardens.

$9.60

4. Explore the Botanic Gardens, climb Red Arrow for views of Cairns and the Northern Beaches, then check out the Tanks Art Centre for local Art Exhibitions (10-2pm).

Free

5.Catch the bus back to the Cairns City bus station and head to Rusty’s Fruit Market for lunch at one of the Rusty’s Food Trucks on the Sheridan St side.

approx. $20

 

 

From here there are two options – the relaxing option and the adventurous option.

 

The Relaxing Option

 

6. While you’re at Rusty’s, grab some fresh fruit & vegetables (for a BBQ later) from the market stalls.

approx. $10.00

7. Walk back to the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon & take a dip in the lagoon. Listen to some live music on the lawns (2-5pm).

Free

8. Visit Prawn Star at the Cairns Marina for some Fresh Local Seafood for dinner.  Purchase a kilo of Banana Prawns for $25 with lemon.  Ask for a tub of their special Prawn Star Sauce.

$25

9. Cook dinner on the BBQs on the Cairns Esplanade.

Free

10. Use your leftover to enjoy a cocktail and schooner of Little Creatures at the Salthouse.

$23

TOTAL SPEND

approx $87.60

 

 

The Wildlife Option

 

6. After lunch, head to the Cairns Wildlife Dome for an interactive experience with some native animals.

$48.00

7. Share a large pizza from Oasis Kebab for dinner.

$15

8. Head to the Salthouse for a pair of Great Northern schooners to wrap up the day.

$14

TOTAL SPEND

approx $106.60

 

 

You can find Adventure Mumma at: www.adventuremumma.com

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