About Cairns

Cairns (population 160,000) is a modern, clean, safe and friendly tropical city with a relaxed atmosphere.

Cairns is the only place in Australia where two UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located side-by-side. It’s the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree and Wet Tropics rainforest, Atherton Tablelands and the outback Savannah region. It’s a truly inspiring place for students who want to make a difference and spend time with like-minded eco-aware people.

The city is located on the waterfront, with grassy lawns, restaurants, bars, sport and recreation areas and a 4800m² lagoon along the Esplanade. A chain of relaxed seaside villages with sandy shores sprinkled with palm trees and lifeguard patrolled swimming areas are located north of Cairns CBD, close to the JCU Cairns, Nguma-bada campus, Smithfield.

Industries that drive Cairns are diverse, ranging from tourism and health through to agriculture and education.

Cairns Vacation Travel Guide

turtle swimming on reef at dusk.
Get up close with marine life

Cairns is one of the best places in Australia to access the Great Barrier Reef - one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems in the world.

Catch a ferry to nearby Green or Fitzroy Islands, or join one of the many tour boats visiting the reef daily to come face-to-face with marine life you can’t find anywhere else on the planet. Make sure to head out in November when the reef comes alive with the annual coral spawning.  Learn more

Take advantage of JCU’s research sites on Orpheus Island and the Daintree Rainforest as part of your studies, and visit amazing beaches and breathtaking rainforests which are full of native wildlife.

If you prefer to explore the marine world via dry land, the Cairns Aquarium is dedicated exclusively to the habitats and species of tropical North Queensland and offers an annual pass for Cairns residents.

Image: Green Sea Turtle Mandatory photo credit Tourism and Events Qld and Jordan Robins

people walking on Cairns Esplanade.
A nature lover's wonderland

The 100 million-year-old UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics Rainforest is right on the doorstep of Cairns. Take an easy walk or long hike and explore the rich and unique biodiversity within this 894,420 hectare wonder.  Learn more

Closer to town, the Cairns Botanic gardens is a lovely place to relax and unwind after class. Explore the Aboriginal Plant Use Garden or the Zhanjiang Friendship Garden, go on a guided tour or bird watching walk, or hike one of the popular trails.

The Cairns Regional Council provide residents with a great range of sports grounds, walking and cycling tracks, free exercise classes. Learn more

Image: Cairns waterfront sunrise Mandatory photo credit Tourism and Events Qld

Landscape of Cairns city.
A region buzzing with arts and culture

Cairns is world renowned for its reef and rainforest but if you scratch the surface you will also discover a region buzzing with arts and culture.

Take in a show at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre, Munro Martin Parklands or Tanks Arts Centre, explore the various bars and restaurants, or check out one of the ocean-side markets. Learn more

Explore the rich history of the world's oldest living culture, watch a traditional performance and explore new artworks at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

Image: Cairns CBD at night Mandatory photo credit Tourism and Events Qld

People playing basketball
Getting around

The JCU Cairns, Nguma-bada campus, Smithfield is a 20-minute drive from Cairns city centre. Buses frequently run to and from the campus. Many students choose to buy a bicycle to make their way around campus and to travel around Cairns in their spare time. Further information

The Lagoon on Cairns Esplanade.

Cairns has a tropical climate with generally hot and humid summers and milder dryer winters. It is dominated by two distinct seasons but with fairly uniform temperatures throughout the year - the wet season (November to April) and the dry season (May to October). The wet season brings hot and humid weather with day temperatures averaging 23°C to 31°C. The dry season is warm to mild with day temperatures averaging 22°C to 26°C. The average annual rainfall is 1992 mm which occurs mostly during the wet season. Learn more

Image: Cairns waterfront photo credit Tourism and Events Qld

Learn more about the JCU Cairns, Nguma-bada campus, Smithfield

Learn more about Cairns