- Though surrounded by mountains, Cairns city is mostly flat and wheelchair-friendly.
- Muddy's playground has special facilities for children with disabilities.
- Only a small number of reef trips and dive-boat operators cater for people in wheelchairs; be sure to ask before booking. Green Island is more accessible for people with disabilities than Fitzroy.
- Cairns Taxis has cabs designed to cater for people with disabilities.
- Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail are accessible for people in wheelchairs.
- The Cairns Regional Council's 'Access For All' webpage (www.cairns.qld.gov.au/community-environment/disability-services/access-for-all-directory) has an extensive list of accessible accommodation, services and facilities available in the region.
Dangers & Annoyances
- Cairns is a relatively safe city, but late-night muggings and assaults do happen. It's better to call a cab for a short distance than walk the streets alone. Also avoid city parks after dark.
- Always lock your vehicle, not to mention your hotel door.
- It looks like it might be a laugh, but don't try walking in the Esplanade mud: you will lose your shoes.
- Crocodile and stinger warning signs are there for a reason; heed them!
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Police, fire, ambulance||000|
|International access code||0011|
Cairns is, by and large, a gay-friendly city, and a popular after-party destination following Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. For resources, accommodation ideas and a general low-down on the LGBTI scene, have a look at FNQ Magazine (https://fnqmagazine.com) or search the local Facebook page.
Just about all accommodation places offer wi-fi (sometimes only in reception or common areas), as do most bars, restaurants and cafes. Cairns CBD has a free wi-fi zone.
Major banks have branches with ATMs throughout Cairns. Most banks exchange foreign currency. There are private currency-exchange bureaux along the Esplanade that are open until late.
All businesses, from cafes to major tour operators and hotels, accept debit and credit cards as a matter of course.
Banks 9.30am–4pm Monday to Thursday, to 5pm Friday
Restaurants 11.30am–2.30pm and 7.30pm–10pm
Bars from 4pm
Shops 9am–5pm Monday to Saturday; most shopping centres trade until 9pm on Thursday
The Cairns Regional Council's website (www.cairns.qld.gov.au/region/tourist-information) has tons of details on events, activities and transport in the region.
The government-run but volunteer-staffed visitor centre has surprisingly closed. That leaves the many private information and booking offices around town; they all book the same trips at similar prices but you can usually get better deals booking through your accommodation, especially at backpacker hostels.
Travel with Children
Cairns' consistently warm climate and wealth of natural and man-made attractions makes it a long-time family favourite. The lagoon is a natural starting point and the Cairns Aquarium is ideal for a rainy day. The city is a perfect base for accessing Green and Fitzroy Islands, the northern beaches (be sure to choose one with a stinger net in summer) and year-round swimming holes like Crystal Cascades. From here, you can hop aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway or Skyrail, guaranteed to get the thumbs-up from kids of all ages. If your child doesn't mind a drive, there's plenty of room for running around – and loads of farm animals – on the Atherton Tablelands.
Cairns itself presents few challenges to those travelling with young children. The sidewalks are wide and even, making strolling with a pram easy. Baby-change rooms are easy to find; you'll find baby food, formula and nappies at any supermarket. Breastfeeding in public shouldn't garner any evil-eyes. Many restaurants have kids' menus; anything that isn't a takeaway joint should have high chairs.
Some resorts – though fewer than you might imagine – offer kids' clubs; if you need a break, babysitting companies including Busy Bees (www.busybeesbabysitting.com.au) and Executive Babysitting Services (www.executivebabysitting.com.au) service Cairns and the northern beaches to Port Douglas. If you've rented a car and don't mind being out of the thick of it, the Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort – with a water park, jumping pillow, playgrounds and minigolf – is a kid's holiday dream come true.
Far North Queensland Volunteers Arranges volunteer positions with nonprofit community groups.