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Cairns Attractions | QLD

Admiralty Dive Site

Located at the southern entrance of the Osprey Reef lagoon, Admiralty is named after a large anchor wedged into a gutter at this wonderful dive site. Admiralty is a maze of gutters, ridges and bommies in depths from 10 metres to 30 metres. This terrain offers shelter to sleeping whitetip reef sharks and tawny nurse sharks, but divers are also likely to encounter moray eels, crayfish, stingrays and lionfish. Pelagic fish patrol these gutters as well, so keep an eye out for trevally, rainbow runners, batfish and mackerel. The sandy bottom at Admiralty is also worth exploring, as not only are shrimp gobies common here, but there is a resident colony of garden eels. Admiralty is also a popular site for charter boats to anchor overnight and makes for a great night dive. Whitetip reef sharks and moray eels can be seen looking for a meal, and also on the prowl are lionfish and octopus. Other species seen at night include flatworms, shrimps, crabs and parrotfish wrapping in their sleeping bag cocoons.

Around The Bend Dive Site

A bend in the reef at Osprey Reef gave this site its name, and it is well worth going Around The Bend at this exciting dive site. Often washed by currents, so generally done as a drift dive, Around The Bend is a plateau at the top of the reef wall with gutters, ridges and bommies to explore in depths to 30 metres. The main feature of the site is a pretty bommie covered in soft corals and gorgonians. A cleaning station, this bommie attracts every fish in the neighbourhood for a daily clean, including passing manta rays. This is the best site to observe graceful manta rays at Osprey Reef, and when getting cleaned they hover over the bommie for minutes at a time, allowing divers to closely inspect them. Around The Bend is also a good site to see reef sharks, pelagic fish and turtles.

Bougainville Reef Dive Site

Bougainville Reef is a small reef in the Northern Coral Sea surrounded by some amazing dive sites. Only four kilometres in diameter, and offering no shelter in rough weather, Bougainville Reef is usually only dived on a stop-off between other reefs in this remote area. Wall diving is the name of the game at Bougainville Reef, with walls plunging into one kilometre offering exciting diving. Decorating these walls are spectacular corals – giant soft corals, red whip corals, wide gorgonian fans and black coral trees. Cruising these walls are large pelagic fish like barracuda, trevally, tuna and mackerel, and often following them are grey reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks and silvertip sharks. Many caves, gutters and ledges are also found at Bougainville Reef, so take a torch to explore these darker recesses. There is also a shipwreck to investigate at Bougainville Reef, with the broken up remains of the MV Antonia Tarabocchia scattered in depths from 6 metres to 18 metres.

Cairns Aquarium

Cairns Aquarium is Australia’s newest and most spectacular aquarium. It is the only aquarium in the world to exclusively showcase the stunning aquatic wildlife from tropical North Queensland’s two World Heritage listed areas – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest. Travel through 10 amazing North Queensland ecosystems from the world’s most ancient rainforest to the world’s largest coral reef to discover 71 different exhibits showcasing the extremely rare and incredibly unique species of this region. Endangered Freshwater Sawfish, Grey Reef Sharks and Humphead Maori Wrasse dominate the massive fresh water and marine habitats while the Amethystine Python and Boyd’s Forest Dragon make a spectacle of themselves in their treetop displays. Add to this a panorama of wildlife and marine fish that create an underwater world filled with a kaleidoscope of colour. Enjoy daily talks and presentations by knowledgeable and entertaining educators, marvel at the animal feeding sessions and get a hands-on experience at the marine and terrestrial touch tanks. Complete your day at Cairns Aquarium with breakfast, lunch or dinner at Dundee's Restaurant. Open 365 days of the year, experience the spectacular diversity of the region without the need to get wet or even leave the city.

Cairns Convention Centre

The Cairns Convention Centre has won many awards since opening in 1996 for building design and operational performance. The major highlight for the Centre’s team was achieving the 2014 and 2004 AIPC APEX Award for “World’s Best Congress Centre” – which is a client rated survey and the highest international industry accolade.

Cairns Museum

The Cairns Museum has amazing stories to share about living in the tropics. Stories of heat, sweat and hard work. Of cane, railways, rainforests and reefs. Of White Australia, Aboriginal resistance and European isolation. Tales of tourists, hippies and local celebrations, amidst humidity, cyclones, toads, mould and mozzies. Come in and discover the real Cairns!

Cairns Performing Arts Centre

CPAC is Cairns' leading performing arts venue, located in the heart of the city. CPAC plays an integral role in the development of the arts and arts appreciation in their region through meaningful engagement with both the general public and a diverse collection of creatives. At CPAC, patrons relish the opportunity to witness innovative and debut performances alongside a well-crafted mix of classics, revived theatrical pieces and a wide range of touring productions. Their ongoing program of events encompasses a particular focus on youth, new collaborations and to provide a platform for local performing artists. With multiple performance spaces across the CPAC precinct, the versatility of the venue ensures a vast variety of events can be hosted, including theatre, music, dance, contemporary circus, opera, film, comedy and more. The site includes a proscenium arch theatre, complete with an orchestra pit able to accommodate an entire symphony orchestra. With 941 seats in the house, the theatre offers premium viewing regardless of where you are seated. CPAC also houses a studio theatre space, which can seat up to 400 people and can be reconfigured by the automated flooring system, enabling the presentation of a multitude of events. Please check the Visiting page on CPAC's website for frequently asked questions about ticketing, how to get to CPAC, parking and more.

Cairns War Memorial

Time now stands still but years ago, the Cairns' war memorial kept the far northern city's population punctual. The clock tower on which a soldier statue stands-unique in Queensland-was unveiled on ANZAC Day 1926, 15 months after the foundation stone was laid, at the intersection of Abbott and Shield streets. Costing £2,074, it was the most expensive of soldier statues and the third most costly WWI memorial in Queensland, satisfying not only a desire for a substantial memorial that grabbed public attention but also a long-felt need for a public clock. Marble honour rolls bear 142 locals' names from WWI, including two women. The memorial was relocated in 1972, to The Esplanade, fronting Trinity Bay, opposite the Cairns RSL. At that time, the clock faces were replaced by painted replicas, each set at 4.28, when the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli commenced on the morning of 25 April 1915. A 1940 field gun and an 1887 naval gun now flank the 10.27 metre high memorial.

Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome

Enjoy fun, fauna and fitness at Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome; the world's first Challenge Ropes Course in a wildlife immersion exhibit. Located on the top of the Reef Hotel Casino, this attraction has 65 elements of crossings and ziplines, Australian wildlife and more. The Mid-ZOOM and Hi-ZOOM are action-packed zipline courses, with fun crossings, tunnels, cargo nets and ziplines- one of which goes over Goliath, a 4.5 metre Estaurine Crocodile. Walk outside the roof of the dome and experience sweeping 36 degree views of Cairns, the ocean and beyond on the Dome Climb. Brave the power jump- an adrenaline-packed 13 metre free fall from a tall tower. Try the Pirate Climb, Commando Rope Climb or Slackline for an extra challenge. Wander the wildlife park and get up close to an abundance of Australian wildlife, including koalas, cockatoos, snakes and crocodiles. Join one of the guided keeper presentations to learn more about the species. See the power of the Estaurine Crocodile on the daily crocodile feeding presentation. You can even cuddle a koala and have your photo taken!

Challenger Bay Dive Site

Divers that love to watch fish, and plenty of them, will have a great time exploring Challenger Bay. Located on Ribbon Reef No.10, north of Cairns, Challenger Bay is a picturesque sandy bay dotted with small bommies and lovely coral gardens. Home to dozens of cleaning stations, divers will see the fish queueing up to be cleaned at these service points; including sweetlips, triggerfish, coral trout, rock cods and angelfish. Schooling fish tend to gather at Challenger Bay and it is common to see trevally, barracuda, snappers and humphead parrotfish. Challenger Bay is a brilliant dive site where you will also see reef sharks, stingrays, cuttlefish, Maori wrasse, moray eels, nudibranchs and a large colony of garden eels.

Clam Gardens Dive Site

The name kind of gives it away, but divers will see a number of giant clams while exploring the Clam Gardens. Located on the Ribbon Reefs, north of Cairns, the giant clams at the Clam Gardens are set in a very pretty coral garden, dominated by a range of healthy hard and soft corals. This site is home to an abundance of reef fish, including angelfish, butterflyfish, lionfish, rabbitfish, trumpetfish, rock cods and many others. Numerous invertebrate species are also common at this site; divers will find octopus, cuttlefish, sea stars and many colourful nudibranchs. Larger species found at the Clam Gardens include Maori wrasse, barracuda and giant moray eels.

Cod Hole Dive Site

Possibly the most well-known dive site in the world can be found roughly 96 kilometres north of Cairns, at Cod Hole. Part of the string of long narrow Ribbon Reefs, Cod Hole is home to a group of very friendly potato cod, reaching up to 100 kilograms, that have become accustomed to divers over the past 30 years. The giant fish approach quite closely, and can be hand fed at the site. Many other large and small reef fish populate this site, and during the winter months you may even be photobombed by a dwarf minke whale – they have been known to linger around for encounters with snorkelers and divers for hours. Local dive operators do offer trips that aim to maximise these encounters, as well as dive some of the other outstanding sites in the area.

Coral Gardens Dive Site, Flynn Reef

Positioned 20 kilometres east of Green Island off the Cairns coast, Flynn Reef is home to several dive sites - with the Coral Gardens being just one of them. Located on the outer reef this site has consistently good visibility of close to 30 metres. Its location also invites visits from large pelagic fish such as dogtooth tuna, mackerel and barracuda, as well as a range of species of shark, especially whitetip reef sharks. This picturesque site is also home to a great variety of colourful reef fish, including coral cod, butterflyfish, parrotfish, wrasse, rabbitfish and sweetlips. Flynn Reef offers a combination of diving, from dramatic wall dives to intricate hard coral formations, such as found at the Coral Gardens.

False Entrance Dive Site

A large bay cutting into the reef edge at Osprey Reef, which looks like another lagoon entry point, gave this site its name of False Entrance. This bay has gutters and bommies for divers to explore in depths to 30 metres, before coming to a wall that drops into the abyss. Exploring this bay, divers will encounter whitetip reef sharks, turtles, Maori wrasse, moray eels and a good variety of reef fish. A large school of bigeye trevally usually gather in the bay and often circle spellbound divers. Divers venturing to the reef edge and peering into the blue will generally be rewarded with views of grey reef sharks, silvertip sharks, mackerel, dogtooth tuna and make a manta ray.

Fish Bowl Dive Site

Divers wanting to encounter a great variety of reef fish are highly recommended to visit the Fish Bowl. This lovely dive site is located off Cairns and situated on the western side of Hastings Reef. The terrain at Fish Bowl is a mix of coral gardens and coral heads that form a bowl shape, but divers will also find gutters, ledges and walls in depths to 18 metres. Many pretty hard corals are found at the site and pushing up between them are a good collection of giant clams. While divers will see sea stars, nudibranchs, featherstars and many other invertebrate species, the fish are the highlight of this dive. Schools of goatfish, snappers, parrotfish and fusiliers swarm around the reef, and also common are gropers, sweetlips, batfish, coral trout, lionfish and blue spotted lagoon rays. Turtles and reef sharks also frequent this wonderful dive site.

Jorgey's Patch Dive Site

Accessible on a day trip from Cairns, Jorgey’s Patch features a variety of terrains for divers to explore, including bommies, ridges, gutters and ledges. In depths between 10 and 25 metres divers will find an abundance of reef fish on this reef, including fusiliers, angelfish, wrasses, anemonefish and rock cods. If you have the time you should check out every nook and cranny, as you are likely to find nudibranchs, boxfish, lionfish, moray eels, gobies, blennies, flatworms and maybe a wobbegong shark. Whitetip reef sharks and blue spotted lagoon rays are also seen at this pretty dive site.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

The original Kuranda Scenic Railway is a spectacular journey comprising unsurpassed views of dense rainforest, steep ravines and picturesque waterfalls. This famous railway winds its way on a journey of approximately one hour and 45 minutes from Cairns to Kuranda, the village in the rainforest. The Cairns-Kuranda Railway was constructed between 1882 and 1891 and even today is considered an engineering feat of tremendous magnitude. Hundreds of men were employed to build the 15 hand-made tunnels and 37 bridges that stand as a monument to the pioneers of tropical North Queensland who lost their lives while working on the railway. Gold Class offers passengers a touch of luxury. Club-style seating, appetisers, refreshments and an exclusive gift pack combine to create an unforgettable experience. Discover the warm ambience of the historical decor in Gold Class, with cedar interior, individual lounge seating and historical photographs. Kuranda Scenic Railway is proud to partner with attractions of Kuranda to form unique day tours such as the Classic Experience tour combining the railway with Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Rainforestation features in their Rainforest Experience tour, Tjapukai in their Dreamtime Experience tour and Koala Gardens, Birdworld and the Butterfly Sanctuary in their Wildlife Experience tour. The health and safety of their passengers and staff remains their top priority. Social distancing and heightened hygiene measures are in place onboard and at their stations.

Lighthouse Bommie Dive Site

Lighthouse Bommie is a giant tower of coral that rises from the sea floor at 25 metres and stands 20 metres tall. Located on the Ribbon Reefs, north of Cairns, this impressive pinnacle is visited each week by liveaboard dive boats. The bommie is fascinating to explore as it is decorated with pretty corals and home to a great variety of invertebrate species. But like many spots on the Ribbon Reefs most divers will be spellbound by the fish life that swirls around the bommie. Massive schools of snapper swarm at the base of Lighthouse Bommie, while the top is usually engulfed in a whirlpool of trevally. But divers are also likely to see reef sharks, turtles, barracuda, sea snakes, lionfish, mackerel and even the odd dwarf minke whale over the winter months.

McLeod Street Pioneer Cemetery Cairns

The port of Cairns, was established for the Hodgkinson gold fields in 1876. A five acre cemetery was gazetted on McLeod Street the following year in 1877 as earlier burials had taken place along the Esplanade near the hospital reserve. Management of the cemetery was initially sporadic, however in 1885 trustees apply for funding to properly manage the site. The cosmopolitan nature of early Cairns is reflected in the range of nationalities, including English, Irish, Scottish, Japanese, Javanese, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Bulgarian and Swedish. The cemetery is divided into sections for the use of Christian denominations, plus an area for non-Christian burials of Chinese, Malays, Javanese, and Aborigines. References to these burials, all unmarked, may be found in interpretation material in the cemetery rotunda. Burials reflect the history of Cairns, representative of professional, business, clerical, political and mercantile interests. Included are; the first mayor of Cairns, Richard Ash Kingsford (grandfather of aviator Charles Kingsford Smith); Cairns' much admired medical pioneer, Dr Edward Koch; men who died during construction of the Cairns to Herberton Railway; and a beche-de-mere fisherman who had worked here prior to the establishment of Cairns.

Michaelmas Reef Dive Site

Michaelmas Reef is another of the wonderful dive sites off Cairns. A coral cay is located at the southern end of the reef and is home to thousands of sea birds, but more interesting for divers is the fact the island is a nesting place for turtles. As such turtles are very common at Michaelmas Reef and are encountered on almost every dive. Around Michaelmas Reef are coral gardens and numerous coral heads to explore in depths from 6 metres to 20 metres. Banana Bommie is a popular dive site here, and a good place to see reef sharks, pelagic fish and even manta rays. Some of the best diving and snorkel is found adjacent to the coral cay. Swimming between the coral heads at this site, divers will encounter stingrays, gropers, reef sharks and resting turtles.