Cairns, Queensland

Cairns, Queensland

timezone = AEST
utc = +10
dist1 = 1707
dir1 = NW
location1 = Brisbane
dist2 = 2420
dir2 = NNW
location2 = Sydney
lga = Cairns Regional Council
region =
county = Nares
stategov =
fedgov = Leichhardt

logosize =
url =
maxtemp = 29.0
mintemp = 20.1
rainfall = 2222.9

Cairns (

Cairns City, located on what once was swamp, is in close proximity to the suburbs of Cairns North, Manunda, Edge Hill, Whitfield, Kanimbla, Parramatta Park, Mooroobool, Manoora, Portsmith, Earlville, Westcourt, Bungalow, Woree and Bayview Heights. The small suburb of Aeroglen is pressed between Mount Whitfield and the airport on the Captain Cook Highway north of the central business district towards Smithfield.

Southside Cairns, which is higher in elevation and is situated in a mountainous valley, includes the suburbs of White Rock, Mount Sheridan, Bentley Park, Wrights Creek, Edmonton and Centenary Heights, and the townships of Babinda, Goldsborough, Little Mulgrave, Aloomba and Gordonvale, which is located on the Mulgrave River. The southern strip of Cairns is populated along a small skinny area between the Trinity Inlet to the east and the Lamb Range to the west. It is serviced by the Bruce Highway which is also due to be developed into a motorway between Woree and Grodonvale due to increasing traffic congestion.Fact|date=January 2008

The town of Kuranda is located upstream on the Barron River on the western side of the Kuranda Range, part of the Great Dividing Range. Kuranda is located in the Tablelands local government area and, due to the geography of the Kuranda Range, is not part of the Cairns urban area, however it forms part of the Cairns economic catchment. In early 2007, the Cairns City Council expressed interest in assuming responsibility for the administration of Kuranda, as well as Port Douglas. [cite web |url= |title="Super Shire" -]


Cairns is situated on the Indigenous Australian people's tribal lands of the Irukandji.

The future site of Cairns was first sighted by Captain James Cook in 1770. Closer investigation by several official expeditions 100 years later recognised its potential for development into a port. Hastened by the need to export gold discovered on the tablelands to the west of the inlet Cairns was founded in 1876. The land on which the settlement was hewn initially consisted of mangrove swamps which were gradually cleared by labourers and sand ridges which were slowly filled in with ballast from a quarry at Edge Hill, dried mud, sawdust from several local sawmills and debris collected from the construction of a railway to Herberton on the Atherton Tablelands, a project which started in 1886. The railway opened up land that was later used for agriculture on the lowlands (sugar cane, corn, rice, bananas, pineapples) and fruit and dairy on the Tablelands. The success of local agriculture helped Cairns come into its own as a port and the creation of a harbour board in 1906 meant its economic future was assured.

During World War II, Cairns was used by the Allied Forces as a staging base for operations in the Pacific.

After World War II, Cairns slowly reinvented itself as a centre for tourism. The opening of the Cairns International Airport in 1984 and the building of the Cairns Convention Centre established the city's overseas reputation as a desirable destination for the holiday and business conference markets.


Cairns experiences a warm tropical climate. It experiences a wet season with tropical monsoons between December and April and a dry season between May and November, which, however, is not completely dry like in most of tropical Australia: there are frequent showers for most of this period. Mean rainfall of Cairns is convert|1992.8|mm|in|0. [cite web|url=|title=Bureau of Meteorology website] The township of Babinda at the southern end of the city is one of Australia's wettest towns, recording an annual rainfall of over convert|4200|mm|in|0. It has hot humid summers and milder temperatures in winter. The temperature varies from a mean temperature of convert|25.7|C|F|0 in July to convert|31.4|C|F|0 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.

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:
* Cyclone Larry, 2006 - see below for detail for Cairns region and City.
* Cyclone Abigail, 2001
* Cyclone Steve, 2000
* Cyclone Rona, 1999
* Cyclone Justin, 1997

Cyclone Larry

Tropical Cyclone Larry struck areas to the south of Cairns at 7 a.m. on 20 March 2006. Cyclone Larry crossed land near the town of Innisfail, convert|100|km|mi|-0|abbr=on south of Cairns as a category five cyclone. It was downgraded to a category four cyclone shortly before midday, and further downgraded to a category three cyclone a few hours later. Wind gusts of up to convert|300|km/h|mph|-1|abbr=on have been recorded around the Cairns region, with wind gusts up to convert|180|km/h|mph|-0|abbr=on reported in the City. It is estimated that about one in four houses in Cairns and surrounding areas have been affected by Cyclone Larry.


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

The Cairns Regional Council local government area 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, Freshwater and Redlynch Valleys, and Southside). The town of Gordonvale was once called Mulgrave. 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 located on Abbott Street has been converted into a new city library. The old Mulgrave Shire Chambers were located on the Cairns Esplanade. In a controversial decision, ['Land Row', "The Cairns Post", p1. 19 July 2001. ] New council chambers were constructed on previously industrial contaminated land in the mainly industrial suburb of Portsmith.

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

Prior to the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), the Indigenous people in Cairns were represented by the Cairns and District Regional Council. The Council has twelve Councillors, who elected a Chair from among them - Terry O'Shane was the last Chair. The Cairns area was represented on ATSIC by the Commissioner for Queensland North Zone. The last Commissioner for Queensland North was Lionel Quartermaine who also served as ATSIC's Deputy Chair.


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 many government departments.


The suburbs of Cairns contain a number of shopping centres of various sizes. The largest of these are the Cairns Central shopping centre, located in the central business district, and Stockland Cairns, located in the suburb of Earlville.

The city is currently beginning to become a bigger economical centre in not just tourism, but in services as well with many new office towers being built and planned for the near future including the Cairns Corporate Tower #2.


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.

Cairns Newspapers publishes independent suburban newspapers - the Cairns Northern News and the Southern Herald - which circulate suburbs from Palm Cove in the north to Gordonvale in the south.

Cairns is served by regional affiliates of the three Australian commercial television networks (Ten, Nine and Seven) and the two public broadcasters (ABC and SBS). Austar Limited provides subscription satellite TV services.

Cairns radio stations include a number of public, commercial and community broadcasters. The ABC broadcasts ABC Radio National, ABC Local, ABC Classic FM and the Triple J youth network. Commercial radio stations include 4CA-FM, AM846, HOT FM, SeaFM, 4CCR-FM, 87.6 XFM, 98.7FM, 101.9 Coast FM, and 104.3 4TAB sports radio.

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. Within the Cairns City Council area, sugar mills operate in Gordonvale and Babinda.

The Barron Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station is located nearby in Kuranda and provides green power for some of the city's needs.


Tourism plays a major part in the Cairns economy. According to Tourism Australia, Cairns is the fourth most popular destination for international tourists in Australia after Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. [cite web |url= | |format=PDF] While the city does not rank amongst Australia's top 10 destinations for domestic tourism, it attracts a number of Australian holiday makers given its distance from major capitals. [cite web |url= |title=Research & Stats ] The city's proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics of Queensland, and the Atherton Tablelands makes it a popular destination. The city contains hundreds of hotels, resorts, motels and backpackers hostels. Activities in the region include golf, white water rafting, cruises to Great Barrier Reef and coach tours to the Daintree Rainforest, Atherton Tablelands and Paronella Park. There are also scenic flights, day trips to Kuranda, crocodile farms, and a food and wine tour visiting tropical fruit wineries.


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 runs for convert|1700|km|mi|0|abbr=on from Brisbane and terminates in Cairns on the corner of Mulgrave Roads and Sheridan Streets in the CBD. At this point, the Captain Cook Highway (also referred to as the Cook Highway), between Cairns and Port Douglas approximately convert|70|km|mi|0|abbr=on to the northwest, commences.

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 with overpasses at all major intersections between Ray Jones Drive in Woree and Riverstone Road in Gordonvale. The motorway will not take the old route along the highway through Edmonton but will follow a bypass that will travel from the Roberts Road intersection at Bently Park to the intersection of Hill Road and the Bruce Highway north of Gordonvale to ease noise from cars in Edmonton. There will also be overpasses at these intersections. [FNQ Regional Plan - Supporting Technical Documents - Integrated Transport (February 2000). pp 41-43.]

The Kennedy Highway commences at Smithfield on the Barron River flood plain north of Cairns and ascends the Kuranda 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 network of secondary and local roads of varying quality is maintained throughout the Cairns suburbs by the Queensland State Government Transport Department and Cairns City Council.


Cairns is also served by long distance coaches to Brisbane, and regional cities to the south. Coaches also operate west to Mount Isa via Townsville and the Northern Territory. Desert Venturer Coaches operate twice weekly to Alice Springs and Darwin (weekly service in wet season).

Public transport

A public transport network is operated throughout the city by Marlin Coast 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. Bus services operated by Whitecar Coaches run to Kuranda and to the Atherton Tableland. A smaller minibus service, "Jon's Kuranda Bus" runs between Cairns and Kuranda. Cairns also has one major taxi company, Black and White Cabs, which services the Cairns region.


Cairns 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 tilt train. Freight trains operate along the route. There is a QR Freight handling facility located at Portsmith.

Pacific National Queensland (a division of Pacific National, owned by Toll Holdings) 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 snakes its way up the Kuranda 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 which 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 Mill located in Gordonvale. The pressure of urban sprawl on land previously cultivated by cane farmers has seen this network reduced over recent years. There has been discussion that these railway corridors may be used for a possible future light rail mass transit system, however no plans have been drawn up. [cite web |url= |title=Cairns Queensland: Encyclopaedia - Cairns Queensland ]

The use of the existing heavy rail line for commuter services between Redlynch and Gordonvale is occasionally discussed; however this is not a favoured option under the [ FNQ 2010 Regional Plan] , which recommends the use of buses.


Cairns International Airport is operated by the Cairns Port Authority and is located convert|7|km|mi|0|abbr=on north of Cairns City between the CBD and the Northern Beaches. It is Australia's sixth busiest domestic airport and fifth busiest international airport. In 2005/2006 there were 3.76 million international and domestic passenger movements.cite web |url= |title= Cairns Port Authority 2005/6 Annual Report]

The Airport has a domestic terminal, a separate 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.

ea port

The Cairns Seaport, located on Trinity Inlet, is operated by the Cairns Port Authority. [ Cairns Port Authority] Most major tour operators have their check-in desks located inside the Reef Fleet Terminal. 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 who 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, and it 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 - 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 Royal Australian Navy has a base in Cairns (HMAS Cairns).cite web |url= |title=HMAS Cairns |publisher=Royal Australian Navy |accessdate=2008-08-21] The base has a complement of 900 personnel, and supports fourteen warships, including the four "Armidale" class patrol boats of "Ardent" Division, four of the six "Balikpapan" class landing craft, and all six ships of the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Service.

The Trinity Wharf has recently been 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.

ister cities

*flagicon|Papua New Guinea Lae, Papua New Guinea (Morobe Province) since 1984
*flagicon|Japan Minami, Japan (Tokushima Prefecture) since 1969
*flagicon|Japan Oyama, Japan (Tochigi Prefecture) since June 15, 2006
*flagicon|Latvia Riga, Latvia since 1990
*flagicon|United States Scottsdale, Arizona (USA) since 1987
*flagicon|Canada Sidney, British Columbia (Canada) since 1984
*flagicon|China Zhanjiang, People's Republic of China (Guangdong province) since 2004


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. There is one combined primary and secondary school in Bentley Park. [cite web|url=|title=Queensland Education website - Cairns Coastal region|format=PDF]

Catholic schools are operated by Catholic Education Cairns. The Catholic system encompasses nineteen primary schools, six secondary colleges and one P-12 college. [cite web|url=|title=Schools & Colleges of Catholic Education - Diocese of Cairns ] There are almost 6,000 primary students and 3,250 secondary students enrolled in the Catholic school system. [cite web |url= |title=CEO Information]

The Cairns Campus of James Cook University is located at Smithfield. The city is also home to a TAFE college, and a School of the Air base, both located in the inner suburb of Manunda.


The Cairns Base Hospital is situated on the Cairns Esplanade and is the major hospital for the Cape York Peninsula Region. The smaller Cairns Private Hospital is located nearby. On the north side of the Base hospital is located the Australian Red Cross Blood Service

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

port and recreation

Notable sporting grounds include Barlow Park, Cairns Showground and Cazaly's Stadium, the Cairns Convention Centre (basketball), and the Cairns Hockey Centre.

Cairns also has a National Basketball League (NBL) team, the Cairns Taipans. The Northern Pride Queensland Cup rugby league team will play their first season in 2008, and will act as a feeder team to the North Queensland Cowboys who play in the National Rugby League. In Cairns Australian rules football is followed, and there is an active local league. [cite web |url= |title=AFL Cairns - History]

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


External links

* [ Cairns City Council Website]

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