For most visitors to Australia’s eastern coast, Cairns will be the northernmost point of their travels. It is also synonymous with one of the world’s seven natural wonders – the Great Barrier Reef, which brings nearly 900,000 visitors to the area every year. However, its location in the north of Queensland is rich in natural wonders beyond this global, submarine phenomenon. For example, Cairns gives easy access to the Atherton tablelands, Daintree rainforest and Cape Tribulation. Thankfully the latter only lives up to this description for sailors, not tourists – it was here that Captain Cook severely damaged his boat en route to Antarctica, however it is known to most as a paradisiacal stretch of unspoiled golden sands. Most visitors tend to arrive in the dry season, which falls between June and October. The tropical wet season tends to bring monsoons and cyclones, as well as fluthers of jellyfish and mobs of kangaroos.
The area can be fairly described as Australia’s take on the Wild West. Vast swathes of rainforest coddle the land, which is rich with all manner of unique and untamable flora and fauna. The Daintree rainforest is the oldest tropical lowland jungle in the world and has the widest variety of plants and animals in Australia. It’s home to species like pre-historic cassowaries, tree-dwelling kangaroos, lizards, rare snakes, whistling spiders, pythons, snow ginger, fan palms and the wonderfully named ‘idiot fruit’.
Cairns itself was wild in the none-too-distant past. Until its establishment as a stopover for gold miners on the Hodgkinson River in 1876, the land was swampy, unstable and frequented by saltwater crocodiles. Once the large export of goods such as sugar cane and gold started to flow from the mineral-rich Atherton Tableland, Cairns became a flourishing trade port. Nowadays, the city is unabashedly tourism-centric and you’re more likely to find a hostel or hip restaurant than weary sailor or crocodile – although reptilian sightings are still fairly common!
Cairns itself is still built in part upon flood plains and is fed by two rivers – the Mulrave and Barron. Despite its geography, it is well-developed as a modern metropolitan city, with a skyscraper-clad Central Business District and a sprawling suburban layout that stretches inland from the coast, which is peppered with idyllic beaches. However, even in the Business District, the holiday atmosphere seems to take precedence – time is more relative here than in the commercial centres of Sydney and Brisbane, perhaps due to the fact that those donning suits and boots find themselves in the minority among board-short and sandal-clad loungers. The nightlife scene has something to offer visitors of all price brackets and there is a continual stream of new, ever-inventive eateries popping up across the city. While most of the natural and cultural highlights are found a driveable distance from the city, some points of interest can be found nearby. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park is an engaging and evocative experience in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, located just outside the city limits.
Car hire in Cairns is a necessity – the region has so much to offer that the price of tours begins to add up quickly. With a car hire from Auto Europe, you can explore whichever of these takes your fancy at your own pace, without having to pick and choose between tours. We’ve been brokering car rentals since 1956 and like to think that we’ve learnt a thing or two about reliable and quality car hire. We’ve also built up strong links with all of the best suppliers, so can confidently offer our customers the best prices on the market.
Cairns is an important logistical transport hub for the north of Queensland and thus the road network is strong and well-maintained. The colossal Bruce Highway connects Cairns to Brisbane and runs for over one thousand miles – various other motorways connect to regions all over the Northern Territory, making car rental in Cairns a popular way to explore this region. For the brave-hearted (incidentally not a Mel Gibson reference), Cairns can provide either a starting or finishing-point on a road trip that takes in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Parking in Cairns is manageable, with metered parking across the city centre between working hours and free parking on Sundays. As one would expect, private parking is also available across the city. A documented rise in car hire thefts would perhaps make checking the availability of these private lots worthwhile, although this is by no means a common occurrence, statistically.
Cairns is located in North Queensland, on Australia’s eastern coast. It is best-known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and is situated on the Mulrave and Barron Rivers. The city is over 1000 miles north of Brisbane, which is the closest major international city. Darwin also lies slightly further to the west, while Papa New Guinea and Indonesia’s Irian Jaya lie across the Coral Sea to the north.
Cairns Airport has been vital in bringing commerce and vitality to North Queensland. It’s an international airport that was sold to private interests in 2008 and is the seventh busiest in Australia. Situated just over two miles north of the city centre, Cairns Airport can be reached via Lake Street, which straddles the coastline and takes around 15 minutes by car in good traffic. Like much of the city, the airport is built upon what used to be a mangrove swamp. It is comprised to two terminals, both of which are used for public flights – one for international and the other for domestic. A wide range of airlines serve the airport, including Air New Zealand, Alliance Airlines, Asia Pacific Airlines, Jetstar Airways, Qantas and Virgin Australia. Direct flights are available to around 30 destinations, domestically and to Asia, including Papa New Guinea, Tokyo, Shenzhen, Auckland and Melbourne.
Cairns Airport (CNS)
Address: Airport Ave, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
Website: Cairns Airport
Telephone: +61 7 4080 6703
Mobil, Shell and United Petroleum all have petrol stations along Highway 1, between the airport and Cairns city centre – perfect for making sure that you return your car hire from Cairns with the agreed level of fuel, as failing to do so can affect your deposit.
Public transport in Cairns consists of buses, trains and ferries, with almost 300 miles of tracks for cyclists and pedestrians. The most widely used bus service in Cairns is run by Sunbus, who provide services across the city and further afield. Helpfully, you can hail a Sunbus vehicle anywhere along its route. Trains run from Cairns to other major cities and the journey to Brisbane has often been voted as among the most popular in the world by travellers. Ports North offers a range of private ships and ferries that mostly head out in the direction of the Great Barrier Reef and are very popular among tourists. Several taxi firms operate within the city – be aware that a fee of around 5AUD is added to your fare when travelling to or from the airport.
Auto Europe is one of the top providers of car hire in the UK. We have strong relationships with the best car hire companies around the world, giving you the choice of the best options. Go online to book today, or for more information contact our fantastic customer service team on Auto Europe's phone line: +441233225114.