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Cairns was started in 1876 and is built on quite
a low lying area previously covered by mangroves and at some of
the high tides there can be over half a metre of sea water on
some of the streets in the city centre.
Cairns also has a reputation as a wild backpacker party
centre, and some of the young travellers end up getting stuck here for
a while working their days in tourism jobs and partying the nights away.
The Esplanade mudflats are also popular with birdwatchers as many migratory birds tend to visit the mudflats, this was one reason why so much discussion preceded the construction of the lagoon as initial plans would have covered much more of the mudflats.
The city centre is quite compact and laid out in an easy
to follow grid. The summers can be pretty humid and warm but you can
always escape the heat in one of the many air-con shopping centres.
Cairns is also the arrival point and gateway for those wanting to explore some of far north Queensland's tropical wonders;
- The Great Barrier Reef is only a boat
ride away from Cairns, and it is one of the main reasons for many tourists
visiting this destination. Countless booking offices occupy the city
centre where you can book your reef tour, but beware of unscrupulous
agents. In early 2012 the government announced a long overdue inquiry
in to booking agents charging too high commissions, not paying tour
operators, and selling the wrong tours to people just because they pay
- The Atherton Tablelands, also known as Cairns Highlands, are only a short drive away. Rent a car and cruise up, the altitude means it is cooler up there than down the coast. You will find many waterfalls, pockets of rainforest, wineries, historic villages and some nice accommodaton places, especially around the southern part and Yungaburra.
- The Daintree lies about a two hour
drive north of Cairns and a rental car is the best way to independently
explore this amazing World Heritage listed area. Forget about day tours,
you will spend most of the day packed in a bus as it takes 5 hours just
in driving time to get to Cape Tribulation and back, so instead book
Accommodation in the Daintree and spend one or two nights up there
to make the most of it.