The tourist capital of Tropical North Queensland
, Cairns is a laid-back city whose population of 140,000 is constantly swollen by the flood of visitors who flock from all corners of the globe. Set on Trinity Inlet, which was named by Captain James Cook on Trinity Sunday, 1770, the city is a must-see for many Australian and international visitors.
The reason is simple. Cairns has so much at its doorstep: the blue waters of the Coral Sea; the riches of the Great Barrier Reef; the flora of the tropical rainforests; the famous train which climbs up a mountainside to Kuranda; the cool inland tablelands and a wealth of offshore islands.
For your Great Barrier Reef experience, a huge fleet of boats of all sizes can transport you to the reef or if you're short of time, try the quick sea trip to Green Island National Park. Either way, you'll have plenty of time to snorkel, scuba dive or just potter about in a glass-bottomed boat.
Another must-do activity is the trip to the rainforest village of Kuranda. Most visitors choose to take the Skyrail in one direction and the Scenic Railway in the other. The 110-year-old rail line zigzags through the spectacular rainforest, past and over rivers and waterfalls of the Baron Gorge, while the Skyrail’s gondolas offer unparalleled views from over the forest canopy. The Skyrail makes several stops where passengers can alight to take the boardwalk trails through the rainforest. Kuranda's high-spots include the Butterfly Sanctuary where you can wander among superbly-coloured insects, Birdworld with its host of native and exotic birds and the delightful Kuranda Markets.
For sportfishing, the waters off Cairns and Innisfail are famous for the largest black marlin in the world. Some of the world's most enthusiastic big game fishermen have come to test their mettle in these waters.
But a Cairns holiday doesn’t necessarily mean non-stop tours and rushing about. Take the time to appreciate this entrancing tropical city and take a tip from the oldtimers on the marina verandah bar: relax and enjoy.
Things to do in and around Cairns include:
- Great Barrier Reef - Head out to the reef and dive, snorkel or peer through a glass-bottomed boat at the countless varieties of tropical fish.
- Kuranda - Take the Scenic Rail or the Skyrail to the rainforest village - visit the Butterfly Sanctuary or Birdworld as well as the markets.
- Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park - for dance, theatre and cultural performances.
- Daintree Rainforest - a unique and ancient rainforest with walks, scenic lookouts, campsites, picnic spots and swimming holes.
- Atherton Tablelands - cool mountain retreat, with waterfalls, lakes and the unique Curtain Fig Tree.
- Hartley's Creek Crocodile Farm - for a close-up look at these remarkable prehistoric creatures.
- Australian Tropical Zoo - Wild World - for native animals and so much more.
- Flecker Botanical Gardens - 38 hectares of tropical flora.
- Centenary Lakes - adjoins the Botanic Gardens - boardwalk through mangroves and tropical rainforest.
- Adventure activities - white water rafting, hot air ballooning, sea kayaking, 4wd adventures, bungy jumping, parasailing - whatever you want to do to get an adrenalin rush, you're sure to be able to do it in Cairns!
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