about Cairns & far north queensland
- where is cairns?
- cairns climate
- australian facts
- when to visit cairns
- time zones
- language in cairns
- telephones in cairns
- internet in cairns
- smoking in cairns
- flying in australia
- driving in cairns
Welcome to the tropical paradise that is the city of Cairns.
Nestled on the coast of Far North Queensland, the city is tucked between the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea and the lush rolling downs of the Atherton Tableland to the west.
Cairns is home to more than 130,000 people from all corners of the world and is renowned for its tourism attractions like the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics World Heritage rainforest.
Cairns has an estimated population of 130,594 which is growing at an average rate of 1.8 per cent per year.
There is something here for every visitor to enjoy … adrenaline-charged adventures like diving, white water rafting and bungy jumping or more gentle pursuits like birdwatching, hiking, gourmet restaurants or just sitting under a palm tree sipping a cocktail.
Cairns offers visitors fabulous accommodation choices – everything from five star resorts to backpacker accommodation or camping grounds – along with temperate weather, sunny skies and sea breezes … where else can you enjoy an international band one day and total isolation on a tropical island the next?
Cairns is the jewel in the crown of Australia’s natural attractions … there is something for everyone to enjoy!
Located in the Wet Tropics, the region’s climate is hot and humid during summer months with mild, dry winters. The rainy season generally occurs during summer between January and March. The average rainfall is 1992mm on an average of 154 days of the year.
From December to March, the monsoon trough is close to Cairns and brings with it hot, humid conditions and possible thunderstorms and tropical cyclones. The tropical cyclone season is normally from December to April but exceptions do occur.
From May to October, there are evening and overnight showers that generally dry off by the afternoon. The temperature in the Cairns region is fairly uniform, ranging from 23-31C in mid-summer and 18-28C in mid-winter.
The city of Cairns is located on the northeast coast of Australia in the state of Queensland about 2500km from Sydney by road.
The official Cairns region follows a narrow coastal strip from Ellis Beach in the north to Mirriwinni in the south and covers an area of 1687sq km.
The region includes Queensland’s tallest mountain, Mr Bartle Frere, and two World Heritage-listed attractions – the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforests.
Australia is a nation continent, the sixth largest nation in land mass after Russia, Canada, China, the United States of America and Brazil. The population, however, is relatively small at only about 21 million in 2007.
Australia is commonly described as the driest inhabited continent on the planet. The interior areas have one of the lowest rainfalls in the world and about three-quarters of the land has been designated as arid or semi-arid; which explains the relatively low population.
The populated areas, mainly located in the coastal regions, are well-watered and support a substantial agricultural industry. The highest point on the mainland is Mount Kosciuszko at only 2228m.
Australia is divided into six states and two territories – Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The nation is governed by a federal government based on the Westminster System in the capital of Canberra.
Originally a British colony, Australia has been an independent Commonwealth country since Federation in 1901, with Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II also the Queen of Australia.
It is usually the sheer size of Australia that confuses people. It may only take three hours or so to fly from Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, to Cairns in tropical north Queensland, next to the Great Barrier Reef, but by road, it can take about four days of non‑stop driving.
While visitors might be able to pack in a taste of Australia in a week – Sydney and Melbourne, the Outback, the beaches and the Great Barrier Reef for example – it takes weeks and months to truly see what the country has to offer.
Increasingly visitors are travelling to Australia for 12-month working holidays and the number of people who’ve come for a month and are now Australian citizens is enormous.
Members of the Commonwealth, the European Nation and some other nations can visit Australia on working visas for up to two years as long as they are under 30 years old.
There are some changing requirements, like the visit including three months of fruit picking, but it’s a great way to experience Australia. This has made the country a haven for backpackers.
Just about any time of the year is good to visit Australia. For some people, summer, from December to February, can be unbearably hot but it’s great for enjoying the famous Australian beaches.
In tropical north Queensland, the Cairns region, summer becomes the “wet season” with humid weather and monsoonal rain, “stingers” (box jellyfish) in the ocean and sometimes powerful storms called cyclones.
Winter in the Cairns region – from June to August - is considered the best time to visit with crystal clear skies, cool breezes and perfect scuba-diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
Down south, winter offers good skiing in New South Wales, Victoria and sometimes in Tasmania. The autumn and spring, both north and south, are relatively mild and also a good time to visit.
- Country’s full name: Commonwealth of Australia
- Capital City: Canberra
- Land Area: 7,682,300 sq km or 2,966,136 sq miles
- Population of Australia: About 20 million
- Currency: Australian Dollar (AU$)
- Electricity: 220-240V 50Hz
- Electric Plugs: The Australian-style plug has two flat angled blades and one vertical grounding blade
- GMT/UTC +10 (Eastern Standard Time); GMT/UTC +9.5 (Central Time); GMT/UTC +8 (Western Time)
- Daylight saving starts on the last Sunday in October; in Tasmania it starts on the first Sunday.
- Daylight saving ends on the last Sunday in March. There is no daylight saving in Queensland.
- English is the official language but as a multicultural nation, many other languages are spoken.
- In the Cairns region, Japanese is commonly spoken in the tourism industry and some shop signs are written in Japanese.
- Mandarin Chinese is also an increasingly spoken language in the Cairns region.
- "Aussie slang" is commonly used and abbreviations can cause confusion among visitors. There are books of commonly-used Australian words available in many book stores in the Cairns region.
- There is no state religion in Australia but the majority of the population is Christian of some denomination, the largest being Roman Catholic. Buddhism is the fastest growing religion in Australia.
- Cairns is home to a number of Tibetan Buddhist temples as well as a large number of Christian places of worship.
- Country Dialing Code: 61 Queensland Dialing Code: 7
- Mobile phones: Australia operates most Global Roaming carriers with both digital and the new G3 phones available.
- Mobile phone: Cheap SIM cards are available without having to sign a contract with a carrier.
- Australia supports Wifi and Bluetooth systems.
- Broadband is not available everywhere, most broadband is via ADSL services, not cable.
- In isolated rural areas, internet is supported via satellite technology as are satellite phones.
Smoking: Since July 1, 2007, smoking has been prohibited in all government offices (including schools and day care centres), all bars, nightclubs, restaurants, shops, shopping centres, casinos and hotel lobbies.
- Most venues will have a designated smoking area but patrons are not able to drink or eat in these designated smoking areas. Smoking is also banned within 6m of building doorways.
- Hotels will have dedicated smoking areas but many other venues are banning smoking all together.
- Since March 31, 2007, all passengers flying to and from Australia on international flights are permitted to carry only small quantities of liquids, gels or aerosols in the cabin or carry-on luggage.
- Containers of 100ml (3.5fl oz) are permitted and must be sealed in a clear plastic bag of 100cm. Domestic flights are not affected by these regulations.
- Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road.
- If you have a valid driver’s licence in English from your own country you can drive throughout Australia.
- If your driver’s licence is not in English you may need to get a translation or an International Driver’s Licence.
- However, an International Driver’s Licence doesn’t mean you can automatically drive in Australia.
- Most backpackers will get an Australian Driver’s Licence if they are going to be staying more than a couple of weeks.
- Driving terms are different in Australian English – a trunk is a boot; gas is petrol and a windshield is a windscreen.
- Indicators instead of signals; and they’re usually located on the opposite side of the steering wheel.
- When driving slowly stay in the left most lane if there is more than one lane.
- When on a highway stay in the left lane; unless overtaking or turning right.
- When entering an intersection always giveway to the right, unless they have a stop sign against them. At a T intersection the driver on the straight has the right-of-way.
- Only beep a horn when warning a driver or cyclist.
- Speed limits in built up areas range from 40km/hr outside schools to 60km/hr in through streets. Watch for speed limit signs.
- Don’t drink or take drugs and drive. Australia has very strict laws and very low limits of acceptable alcohol intake for drivers.
- Seatbelts must be worn by all drivers and passengers including children. Babies must travel in special ‘capsules’ and children under 6 years must travel in child car seats.
- Important signs to pay attention to include: No Standing – no stopping in the area indicated except to let off / pick up a passenger; No Stopping – unless for a medical emergency; No Parking – passenger unloading but no stopping of vehicle; Bus Zone or Taxi Zone – private vehicles can not travel / park in this lane.
- Parking in the major Australian cities can be very difficult; it’s best to use designated carparks. Cairns has some free parking around the Esplanade and the city centre but the majority is paid parking and Parking Inspectors are vigilant.
- Roundabouts are everywhere in Australia and especially in the Cairns region. There are huge four lane roundabouts on the drive north from Cairns to Port Douglas and smaller ones throughout the city of Cairns.
- In a two-lane roundabout keep to the left lane if you’re turning left or going straight ahead – use your left indicator as you come out of the roundabout even if you are going straight ahead.
- If you stay in the right lane of a two-lane roundabout you MUST go right. If you have made a mistake, continue around until you come to the left turn and take it. DO NOT TRY TO CUT LEFT TO ESCAPE THE ROUNDABOUT.
- For more information on Driving Rules and Regulations in Queensland, go to the Queensland Transport website.