Tropical North Queensland Quick Facts

Tropical North Queensland, where rainforest meets the reef, mixes the excitement of new discoveries with the enchantment of exotic experiences.

The only place where two World Heritage-listed areas are side-by-side, you can dive the depths of the Great Barrier Reef or soar above the world’s oldest tropical rainforest.

Spectactular tropical landscapes are matched with superior natural encounters where you can step out of your comfort zone or retreat to indulge in modern luxuries.

Test your nerve at rafting rainforest rivers, be at one with nature in the vast Outback, jump 20,000 feet to an unspoilt beach, find your inner artist learning Aboriginal handicrafts, taste ocean-fresh seafood or lose youself in an island daydream.

The warmth of the tropics is reflected in engaging activities that deliver exhilarating experiences and peaceful escapes to discover the adventurer within.

Cairns is located on the north east coast of Queensland; a two-hour flight from Brisbane, or three-hour flight from Sydney.

Cairns is the hub of Tropical Far North Queensland, which is 400,000sq km, equal to the combined size of California and Oregon or Spain and Portugal. Cairns also has the closest accesss to the Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest reef in the world, measuring 2,011km in length and 72 km across at its widest point, also making it the world’s largest World Heritage Area. There are an estimated 1,500 species of fish, 300 species of hard, reef building corals, more than 4,000 mollusc species and around 400 species of sponges on the Reef.

There are 165,000 people within the Cairns Regional Council area.

Aboriginal tribes lived in the Cairns region for thousands of years before the first white settlers arrived 100 years after Captain James Cook discovered Cairns in 1770 when his ship HM Bark Endeavour ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef. The discovery of gold in the region saw the town officially founded in 1876 and named after the State Governor of the day, Sir William Cairns. As the gold rush died out, settlers discovered sugar cane, fishing and pearling as the region’s major industries. In 1984, the opening of the international airport ushered in major tourism as the region’s primary industry and continues to meld the city into the international hub it is today.

Temperature/ Seasons
Spring/ Summer (September – March)
> Daytime 31°C/ Evening 28°C

Autumn/ Winter (April – August)
> Daytime 28°C/ Evening 21°C

Seawater Temperature
Average seawater temperature is 26°C

Beach Safety
When swimming in Australia it is recommended you swim at beaches patrolled by lifesavers and to swim between the flags. Also wear sunscreen and appropriate swimwear.

Airport Drive Time
Airport to Cairns: 10 minutes/ 7km. 

Taxis/ Shuttles/ Buses
All of these services are available in and around the region.

Car Hire/ Driving
Driving is on the left side of the road in Australia. Cars may be hired at the airport or areas around the CBD.

Bank & Shopping Hours
Banks generally open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday. ATMs are available 24 hours/ 7 days. General shopping centre hours are 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday; 10am to 4pm Sunday. Independent shops are often closed Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, with most shops closed on Public Holidays.

Drive Time & Distances
Cairns to Palm Cove
> 20 minutes/ 25 kilometres/ 16 miles

Cairns to Kuranda
> 30 minutes/ 38 kilometres/ 15 miles

Cairns to Cairns Highlands
> 1 hour/ 60 kilometres/ 40 miles

Cairns to Port Douglas
> 1 hour/ 60 kilometres/ 40 miles

Cairns to Daintree
> 1.5 hours/ 80 kilometres/ 68 miles

Cairns to Cooktown
> 5 hours/ 200 kilometres/ 146 miles

Cairns to Mission Beach
> 1.5 hours/ 110 kilometres/ 87 miles

Cairns to Cardwell/ Hinchinbook
> 2.5 hours/ 145 kilometres/ 110 miles

Lagoon/ Esplanade
Stretching 2.5km along the foreshore of Cairns CBD, the Esplanade has bike and foot paths, as well as children’s playgrounds, skateboard park, volleyball courts, exercise areas, barbeques and the Cairns lagoon.

Reef Fleet Terminal
Located at the southern end of the Esplanade, this is the primary departure point for trips to the Great Barrier Reef.

Internet Access
Internet cafes are available throughout the CBD and open from 8am to midnight. Wireless internet access is available at various hotels, internet cafes and coffee shops with prices varying. Free wi-fi is available in the Cairns Esplanade precinct.

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