Hints and tips to save on your Cairns adventure
Top iconic destination of Australia, Cairns is not only a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest as well as road trips to interesting inland regions of North Tropical Queensland. It is also a thriving hub city in North Queensland and a destination of its own. With a population of over 150 thousand and a growth forecast to over 220 thousand in the next 20 years, Cairns has beautifully developed to one of the most attractive coastal Australian cities, offering a variety of activities and entertainment that is hard to beat.
To enjoy Cairns you don’t have to break the bank! In fact there are many free things to do in Cairns, at least ten. Here they are:
1) The Swimming Lagoon on the Esplanade is for fun-loving people who can relax on a real city beach at your hostel doorstep. The 4800-square-meter lagoon is filled with filtered saltwater. On one side, the shallow water and sandy edges create a safe playground for kids. On the other side, 2-mt-deep water is ideal for expert swimmers and offers a recreational area with timber decks, benches and great BBQ facilities under palm trees, where you can cook, enjoy a meal and chill out. Free active fitness classes like yoga, aqua gym and more are offered in the afternoon, moreover there are beach volley courts, a bouldering park and a skate park, all available for free!
2) The Cottage Industry Market takes place on the Plaza just next to the Lagoon on Saturdays from 8am to 4pm. This is a great place to purchase artworks from local artists. On weekends there is free live music from local bands too.
3) The Esplanade boardwalk stretches along 2,5 km and encompasses all of the above if you fancy walking and soaking up the laid-back atmosphere and enjoy the sunset colours on the ocean.
4) If you enjoy walking you can start your walk along the Esplanade Boardwalk, follow the beach promenade till the end for about 5 km. When you have reached the end of the promenade cross the road and follow the signal for the Botanic Gardens. The entire walk will probably take 1-1,5 hour.
5) The Botanic Gardens offer an insight of all native as well as imported plants and flowers. The entrance is free!
6) The Centenary Lakes and the Rainforest Boardwalk: just across the road from the Botanic Gardens is the entrance to 500 mt Rainforest Boardwalk and two lakes, where you can see pelicans and many more native birds along the edges. A very beautiful and picture-perfect scenery.
7) Red and Blue Walking Trails: these are the two walking trails that you can do when visiting the Botanic Gardens. Start the walk a the base, at Collins Avenue. The red trail is an easy walk, 1,5 km long that takes you up to Mount Whitfield Lookout, right above Cairns International Airport for a great view of the city; with clear sky you may see Green Island too. The blue arrow trail is 4,5km and a way more demanding walk with 300 mt elevation. Both walks take you through rainforest, grassland and eucalypt forest.
8) Cairns Historical Museum: for an authentic museum experience check out Cairns Historical Society Museum on Cnr Lake and Shields Street, this is a hidden gem that showcases the history of Cairns and its surrounding areas.
9) Kickarts Contemporary Arts: this is about real authentic aboriginal art produced in Northern Australia. Next to the art on display, the center has a lovely museum gift shop.
10) Rusty’s Markets for epicurian travellers this is the top-notch fruit and veggies market not to miss out! Held on Grafton Street on Fridays-Saturdays-Sundays, this is a paradise for fruits and veggies lovers, offering the finest local products along with organic produce. A great free thing to do in Cairns!
Michela is an Italian Travel Blogger and writer who has been travelling alone in Australia for 10 years. She is the owner, editor and publisher of Rocky Travel, an award-winning Blog offering guidance and help to independent and solo travellers around Australia. You can follow Michela’s adventures on Facebook and Twitter too.