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Cairns - General Info

Queensland is Australias adventure capital, and the jungle city of Cairns is where millions of those adventures begin. From this tropical outpost, legions of dive-boats whoosh out the Great Barrier Reef, and a veritable army of backpacker minibuses transports enthusiastic young travellers towards their first skydive, bungee jump, balloon ride or white-water rafting safari. Surprisingly, this tourist hotspot was founded as a supply depot for gold miners, but locals soon cottoned on to the fantastic tourist potential of the surrounding landscape. Modern Cairns trades heavily on its proximity to the remarkable biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, both on the UNESCO World Heritage list. There are few other places where you can sip an espresso in a waterfront caf at breakfast and be combing the rainforest for crocodiles, cassowaries and platypuses by lunchtime, or dive with reef sharks at noon and be gambling on a casino roulette wheel by teatime. Tour companies provide excellent transport connections to the surrounding bushland. You can ride a train through the rainforest canopy at Kuranda, or track down some of Australias most remarkable wildlife in the Atherton Tablelands or the dense jungles of the Daintree. Indeed, many visitors just use Cairns as a staging post for more rugged adventures in Cape Tribulation or the wilds of Cape York. Barrier Reef trips feature on almost every itinerary, from low-key snorkel tours to backpacker party boats and high-speed catamarans that promise to zip you out to the coral with the minimum of fuss and effort. Understandably, this is one of the most popular places in the world to learn to scuba dive. Cairns has earned a reputation as a party town, but behind the backpacker bars and hostel barbecues, this is still a small country town at heart, with a busy farmers market, old-fashioned Aussie pubs and a manmade lagoon that fills the role of public beach. If you feel the need to escape the tourist hubbub on the seafront Esplanade, the rainforest spills into public parks and nature reserves around the city limits.

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