Five things you probably never knew about Cairns

Five things you probably never knew about Cairns

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 02/21/2020

Reading time: 3 mins

The beautiful city of Cairns is so often thought only as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. And while it is, there is so much more to this city than you might realise.

Don’t let the beautiful sunsets and beachfront fool you, there’s more to this city than you think.

  • It was an important military base

    When talking about Australia’s military history, there is generally a focus on the bombing of Darwin, and Darwin’s role as a military base in World War II. However, Cairns was used as an Allied Forces airbase om 1942.

    During its time as a military area, many homes were bought for cheap from locals and many people left the area. Despite conflict ending in 1945, most people did not return to the region. During the last years of the war, the Australian military undertook extensive anti-malaria drug experimentation. This led to the clearing of large mosquito breeding grounds and contributed to the improved public health in Cairns.

  • It is one of Australia’s wettest regions

    Cairns is in tropical monsoon climate according to the Koppen climate classification. This means there are two distinct seasons, the wet and the dry.

    During the wet season, tropical storms and downpours are common. Don’t let the rain scare you away though, the temperature is still warm, and Cairns is incredibly vibrant during the wet season. The rain brings the city to life as forests and gardens flourish to life. Luckily, most of the rain happens in the evenings, so you can still enjoy your days in the sun without getting too wet!

    The dry season is peak tourist season, so visiting this time of year can be a tad more expensive. The days are dry and hot, and the sky is clear. This time of year is great for outdoor events and long slow days in the sun.

  • It is one of the fastest-growing cities in Queensland

    Cairns is booming! It is one of the fastest-growing cities in Queensland. The population boost has seen all new shopping and restaurants established for you to explore and enjoy. New people are bringing new food, business and experiences to the city, diversifying what you can do on your trip.

  • It was a gold mining town

    Cairns was initially settled as a gold mining town. The town was built to service the Hodgkinson River goldfield miners in the mid-1870s. It later developed into a major railhead for exporting gold and other minerals.

    Eventually, gold mining reduced in the region and instead the land was used for agriculture. Specifically, much of the land was used for lucrative sugar cane farming. Today, Cairns is primarily a tourist town and the tourism industry is its biggest economic industry.

  • The Great Barrier Reef wasn’t its first attraction

    It might surprise you to learn that Cairns wasn’t always a tourist town because of the Great Barrier Reef. Before the reef’s “discovery” in the 1970s the main tourist attraction in Cairns was fishing tours. People would come to cairns to fish for marlin. It became a popular activity following World War II but the appeal to local tourism once the reef was rediscovered quickly snowballed tourism in the area.

Hopefully, you’ve learnt a thing or two about Cairns today and are even more intrigued to visit this wonderful place soon!

Related article: What can you do at Cairns Harbour on Weekend?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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