Cairns Tourist Attractions
Cairns (pop. 68,000), the most northerly town in Queensland, was founded in 1876 as a supply port for the Hodgkinson goldfields and the tin mines in the interior.
It has grown rapidly in recent years.Cairns has a superb location between the Great Barrier Reef and the dark hills of the Atherton Tableland, with numerous beautiful beaches extending along Trinity Bay to Port Douglas. The lush tropical vegetation, the varied scenery and the relaxed life-style in this tropical climate all contribute to the charm of the town.Originally called Trinity Bay after the bay in which it lies (discovered by Cook on Trinity Sunday in 1770), it was later renamed Cairns after the then governor of Queensland, William W Cairns.TransportThe Bruce Highway runs along the coast to end at Cairns (1719km). The railroad line also ends at Cairns. A tarred road, the Captain Cook Highway, continues north to Port Douglas, Mossman and Daintree, but beyond this there are only tracks and rivers with no bridges.Cairns Airport handles regular services from many other Australian towns and also from Tokyo, Bangkok, Singapore, the United States and Europe.EconomyThe economy of Cairns and the surrounding area depends mainly on sugar-cane cultivation, but tourism is now of increasing importance. In recent years, thanks to the international airport, large numbers of visitors have come to Cairns, particularly from Japan.EventsMareeba Rodeo (July); Cairns Amateur Horserace Meeting (September); Fun in the Sun, a week-long festival in October.The oldest parts of this 'capital of the Far North', which in its early days had to compete with Port Douglas 70km further north, are close to the seafront (Barbary Coast, Wharf Street, Esplanade).Cairns is a town of palm-fringed streets and parks brilliant with tropical flowers. The green Esplanade runs along the bay for 5km. The old town of Cairns round Wharf Street and the Esplanade can be explored with the help of a brochure issued by the National Trust.
Flecker Botanic Gardens
Cairns' principal attraction is the Flecker Botanic Gardens. Originally laid out in 1886, they contain large numbers of tropical plants, including over 100 species of palm. Footpaths through the gardens lead to a patch of rain forest on Mount Whitfield, from which there are magnificent views of the town and the coast. The Centenary Lakes (Greenslopes Street, Cairns North) were created in 1976, the town's 100th anniversary, as an extension of the Botanic Gardens.The city of Cairns is working on redeveloping the gardens.
The Cairns's Cultural Centre consists of the Cairns Museum and Art Gallery, and the Library, all housed in the former School of Arts (1907), a building in the style characteristic of the Australian tropics.
House on the Hill
The House on the Hill was built in 1895 by Mayor RA Kingsford, grandfather of the aviator Charles Kingsford Smith. This handsome building on a hillside amid tropical forest was used during the second world war as a military headquarters.
The modern Pier Marketplace has fine views of Trinity Bay and a wide choice of shops. Here too is the landing stage used by most of the excursion boats to the Great Barrier Reef.
Royal Flying Doctor Base
At the Royal Flying Doctor Base visitors can see exhibitions and presentations illustrating the history and the work of this vital service in Australia's thinly populated interior.