Nestled between the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest is the quaint little city of Cairns. Cairns is a place best explored outside although it does have some bustling cafes and markets to peruse as well.
With a population of only 150,000, this northeastern Queensland town is an affordable, tropical home away from home. With no shortage of adventure, the nature enthusiast will be delighted in the seascapes and rainforests that Cairns has to offer.
- Three words: Great Barrier Reef
- Tropical climate (hello, no “winter!”)
- Does not observe daylight saving time
- Affordable living
With more than 2 million visitors annually, Cairns is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia, and this is where JCU’s second largest campus is located. Attractions include two World Heritage natural environments—the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Wet Tropics ancient rainforests. Nearby resort regions include Port Douglas and Mission Beach, and the picturesque Atherton Tablelands and outback Queensland are within easy reach.
North Queensland is well known for embracing a safe and relaxed tropical lifestyle. Cairns enjoys an excellent tropical climate for most of the academic year, with a wet, humid season between November and May (read: muggy; expect “big hair”) and a dry and mild season from June to October. The average winter temperature of around 25°C. Yes, we said winter.
Spring (September – November) 19°C to 31°C
Summer (December – February) 23°C to 31°C
Fall (March – May) 20°C to 30°C
Winter (June – August) 17°C to 26°C
Getting Around Cairns
The best way to get around the city of Cairns is their public transport buses, called Sunbus. Depending on your finances you may be interested in purchasing a bicycle or even a car if you’re the road-tripping type.
Interested in taking a ferry ride to Fitzroy Island?
What to see and do in Cairns?
So what do OzTREKK students say?
Magnetic Island and Airlie Beach in North Queensland!
Try and travel if you can find the time. Hard to when you want to go home on your breaks :). Brisbane was cool when I went.
The Great Barrier Reef.
Great Barrier Reef, waterfalls, mountain hikes, beaches, endless festivals
Scuba diving was amazing!!
I would recommend definitely going to the beach! I love the beach it is beautiful and it is a good way to take in some sun! I would also recommend going on hikes and checking out the beauty of the Australian backcountry! There is a lot of unique waterfalls and swimming areas which are gorgeous! Really anything to do with going outside do it, you will not regret it!
Definitely go to all the amazing waterfalls like Crystal Cascades! Going down to town for Rusty’s Market is always a fun time and also just the churros at night markets are AMAZING!
If you’re like us, you might enjoy those gorgeous travel blogs, interesting podcasts, and social media influencers who test things out to let you know if they’re worth the money.
Here are a few people to follow:
- For the tourist @tropicalnorthqueensland
- For the artsy type @culturalservicecairns
- For the animal lover @wildlifehabitat
- Tandem Skydive because, where else?!
- Snorkel or scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef
- Skyrail over the Rainforest
- Take a night tour of the Cairns Aquarium
- Spend a weekend (or week!) island hopping (check out Fitzroy Island and/or Bedarra Island)
- Spend a Saturday (or all of them) café-hopping along Grafton and Spence streets (see Caffiend)
- Learn to catch your dinner with Adventure North Australia
- Make your own waterfall bucket list (starting with the tropical Millaa Millaa)
- Go whitewater rafting on the Tully River
- Scope out some freshwater swimming holes in the Daintree Rainforest
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