Cairns Australia


I think the title says it all. Cairns is the best.

I have been to Cairns before but I left immediately, hurrying off to my transfer vehicle. To me, Cairns was to Port Douglas what Ballina is to Byron Bay – i.e. a gateway to a better place.

I’m sorry Cairns. I was wrong about you. You are beautiful.

My friend from Cairns calls it a ‘city in a garden’. There’s beauty everywhere, from the flowering Cannon Ball tree on the esplanade, to the Jurassic figs in the Botanic Gardens.

Cairns Australia
My beloved Cannon Ball tree, currently in flower

The foreshore area has the best playground I have ever seen. Muddy’s has a water play area, lots of shade, a classy cafe for the hungover parents to recover in, and imaginative play equipment like the giant fish sculpture. Sorry Canberra Aboretum – you’re now my second favourite.

View from my room at the brand spanking new Crystalbrook Collection, Riley Hotel

And the churches. In the same way that Georgetown, Penang, has a blend of heritage buildings and quirky 1960s gems, Cairns has churches for miles. Special mention goes to St Monica’s opposite the Riley Crystalbrook Collection hotel where I stayed. The stained glass windows in the Military Church were extraordinary. From the outside, this building is a drab lump. On the inside, you have stained glass artworks worthy of the world’s greatest cities.

Cairns Australia
St Monica’s Military Church has the most extraordinary stained glass windows. Visitors are welcome to attend services.

Which brings me to the friendly locals. In the space of an hour, I met AND SPOKE TO five people. Five completely random strangers who, in turn, chatted to me about a tree I was admiring, failed marriages and relationships (*ladies, there’s a very self-aware older gentleman in Cairns looking for love), the Cairns Urban Sketchers Club, a recent breast cancer diagnosis and the best times to visit Cairns (December – March = NO).

The Bishop’s House, part of the Cairns Rotary Club History trail, built in 1886

Another total surprise was a gig that I stumbled across when I was looking for the toilets. Drunk Emma was lumbering around in the rainforest and bam – there was a Joan As Policewoman gig taking place in an old WWII oil reservoir. I stood there (post-pee) for 15 minutes of knee-weakening songs from an artist I had never heard of.

I didn’t get to see much beyond the Esplanade area and the inside of the hotel because I was in Cairns for a conference. My friends who spent longer in Tropical North Queensland keep posting pics of waterfalls and the Great Barrier Reef and I am DYING FROM FOMO.

So Cairns, when can we hang out? I’d really like to see you again.

Do you have any tips for visiting Cairns? Care to share?

Another place I really, REALLY love is Lord Howe Island. Check out this post if you want to go there sometime.

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