Difference between revisions of "Cairns"

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Cairns is the backpacker capital of Northern Queensland and there are over 20 hostels, all offering basic bunks in the $14-18 range.
Cairns is the backpacker capital of Northern Queensland and there are over 20 hostels, all offering basic bunks in the $14-18 range.
*'''A complete listing''' of all backpackers hostels can be found at http://www.greathostels.com

Revision as of 07:53, 14 June 2005

Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef in Far North Queensland FNQ Australia.

Cairns is a small city that is very focused on the tourist industry, but is also surrounded by agricultural activities including sugar cane, banana and other tropical fruits. Cairns is particularly popular with international tourists, particularly the Japanese.

There are a lot of budget accommodations, and plenty of drinking establishments and cheap restaurants for backpackers. The atmosphere is relatively inexpensive tourism, with t-shirt shops, etc. Lots of clubs and places to go out for young travelers. Older travelers might prefer the more sedate and upscale Port Douglas, 10-15 miles to the north.

Get in

By plane

Cairns Airport (CNS) is the primary international gateway into the region. The hub of Qantas' leisure flight spinoff Australian Airlines, the airline now has international services from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Bali, Kota Kinabalu and the Japanese cities of Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. Domestic flights also connect Cairns to the Gold Coast and other major Australian cities.

The hourly-or-so Airport Shuttle bus into town costs $7, while a taxi will do the same trip directly to your destination for around $15.

By train

Queensland Railways' The Queenslander and The Sunlander services connect Cairns to Townsville and Brisbane, taking 32 hours for the full journey.

By car

The 1700-km Bruce Highway running south along the coast connects Cairns to the state capital Brisbane.

Get around

The center of Cairns is small enough to cover on foot. Hourly, Sunbus buses depart from the market square to the suburbs and Northern Beaches.


  • Catch an amateur rugby game in town if you can, the locals play a mean game, and it's a great way to meet local folks.


Diving and snorkelling

A number of Cairns operators run day and liveaboard scuba diving trips from Cairns. For seeing the Great Barrier Reef, the smaller dive boats provide the best experience, both for diving and for snorkeling.The larger operations have more amenities--better food, larger and faster boats, more activities, but sometimes provide a poorer underwater experience, as the underwater areas that the larger boats visit are heavily overused, and somewhat barren of coral and fishes. Your mileage may vary.


If you are sick of the sea, head up in the air. Skydive Cairns offers tandem single jumps and AFF courses. One of the most beautiful plane rides up to 13,000 feet overlooking the reef just long enough before you loose your lunch on the way down.



The number of Japanese tourists here makes Japanese food a fairly reliably option, although prices can be steep.


If you are looking for a place to find all the travelers, go to the "Wool Shed" in downtown. Legend has it that if you can't pull here, you won't anywhere in Oz.



Cairns is the backpacker capital of Northern Queensland and there are over 20 hostels, all offering basic bunks in the $14-18 range.


  • Sofitel Reef Casino Cairns is among the best hotels in the city, located in the same building as the Reef Casino and with views over Trinity Bay. Room rates start at A$220.

Get out

  • Hop on the Kuranda Scenic Railway for a (very) leisurely two-hour trip 300 meters and 34 kilometers up from Cairns to the market town of Kuranda. One service daily in each direction. One-way S$34, return $48, reservations recommended.
  • Alternatively, take the Kuranda Scenic Railway in one direction and the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway in the other for great views of the rainforest canopy and Cairns region.
  • The main attraction is as a jumping off point to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • The Daintree rain forest, north of town.

External links

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