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Introducing Cairns

Cairns has come a long way since its beginnings as a boggy swamp and rollicking goldfields port. Heaving under the weight of countless resorts, tour agencies, souvenir shops and a million reminders of its proximity to the reef, Cairns is unabashedly geared towards tourism. The city’s scores of hostels and hotels ring to a jumble of hellos and goodbyes: for many, Cairns is the end of the road after a long East Coast jaunt; for others flying into the international airport, it’s just the start of the adventure. Whichever way you’re going, it’s a perfect place to meet other travellers.

Old salts claim Cairns (pronounced ‘Cans’) has sold its soul, but it does have an infectious holiday vibe. The city centre is more boardshorts than briefcases, and you’ll find you throw away all notions of speed and schedules here, thanks to humidity and a hearty hospitality that can turn a short stroll into an impromptu social event. Fittingly, Cairns is awash with bars, nightclubs, eateries and cafes suiting all budgets. There’s no beach in town, but the magnificent Esplanade Lagoon more than makes up for it; otherwise, the northern beaches are but a local bus ride or easy drive away.