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Brimming with vast areas of rainforest and home to the world famous Great Barrier Reef, it’s no wonder Cairns is the fourth most popular tourist destination in Australia. But there’s so much more to see and do in this vibrant cosmopolitan metropolis without venturing beyond its boundaries. Originally home to the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, the area was discovered and colonised by Captain James Cook for the British. Its early mix of settlers has led to the city becoming a vibrant melting pot of European influence, much of which is still visible today. Whether you’re an adrenalin junkie or prefer more relaxed pastimes, you won’t be bored on a stopover in Cairns port.
Considering its location touches the northern reaches of Queensland, Cairns is surrounded by thick tropical vegetation and rainforests. The Cairns beaches are world renowned for their pristine sands and crystal clear waters, leading out to the Great Barrier Reef which is a mecca for divers and nature enthusiasts alike. Even the cruise passenger terminal is an attraction itself, making use of its large open spaces for a variety of events and exhibitions.
Here are some of the attractions and activities that you really shouldn’t miss out on when you reach Cairns:
Great Barrier Reef
Tjapukai Cultural Park
Land lovers and history enthusiasts will enjoy Tjapukai Cultural Park, where native far North Queenslanders teach visitors about the history of the area using guides, actors and holograms in an extensive lush tropical park. It also boasts a museum which is home to artefacts, some of which are over 40,000 years old, which record the story of the region. Tourists can try their hand at boomerang throwing as well as tasting some local delicacies.
Cairns is surrounded by rainforest, and one of the best ways to see this impressive habitat is on horseback. Catering to tourists over 4 years old, riders can experience the diverse ecosystem as well as enjoy a wide variety of trails on offer. You can try a traditional meal cooked on an open fire for an authentic experience.
Cairns is a cosmopolitan city that provides tourists with a range of typical department-style stores and boutiques selling fashionable wares and high end products. Duty free goods are available upon presentation of your passport and visa at the port. To experience something more authentic and unique to the area, head to one of the open air markets which are frequented by locals and visitors alike. Rusty’s Market is located in the centre of the city, and you can pick up some locally produced products which make perfect souvenirs, as well as locally grown foods to try. The Port Douglas Markets see a wide range of goods brought from all over North Queensland, including an eclectic mix from food to handcrafted jewellery at reasonable prices.
Being such a unique location, Cairns has dining experiences to match its diverse nature. A perfect choice for diners to truly feel at one with the tropical surroundings, is a meal a Flames of the Forest. This intimate dining venue is set within the rainforest and offers a 6 course tropical tasting menu served beneath a black silk canopy with crystal chandeliers providing mood lighting. While it’s not located next to the port, coach transfers are available making it more convenient for tourists.
For something local, head to the Tamarind Restaurant located at the Pullman Reef Hotel which serves contemporary Australian fare. The menu is made up of locally sourced produce, keeping dishes fresh and simple with a twist of Asian influence. The wine list is dominated by Australian offerings, as you would expect, but the beers and spirits have a more international vibe.
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