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Quick facts about Cairns

📍 State


📆 Established


🌆 Area

1678 km2

👪 Population


🌥 Climate


👋 Welcome to Cairns

Cairns is a laid-back city in Queensland’s tropical north that spreads over a narrow coastal strip and lies directly between the great dividing range and the Coral Sea.

Most famous for its great beef reef, this region accommodates over 150,000 people.

This area stretches from the south of Eubenangee swamp all the way to the north of the Macalister range.

While it is known as Australia’s tropic paradise, there are plenty of study options available for students in Cairns.

Let’s uncover this information in this student guide about studying in Cairns. We hope you enjoy reading it.

Reasons to Study in Cairns

🎒 Low Cost of Living

Cairns is an ideal place to study because of several reasons, but its low cost of living is one of the main ones. The tuition fees, accommodation costs, and even transport are budget-friendly. Cairns’ cheap and affordable rates allow international students to live comfortably on a limited budget.

🎧 Globally Ranked Institutions

Cairns has three universities in total and two of them are considered world-class institutions. Both offer international students a variety of courses and high-quality education.

🍤 Attractive Locations

Cairns is best known for its appealing tourist attractions, from the Great Barrier Reef and Crystal Cascades to the breathtaking Josephine Falls. The ideal weather in Cairns, combined with its dreamy holiday destinations, makes it a top choice for many students who want to enjoy their time abroad.

🌳 Enviornment

The friendly environment and the welcoming atmosphere of Cairns is perfect for international students who are far away from home. Locals open their houses for exchange students, but those who wish to live independently have access to cheap accommodation in their desired location as well.

😃 Culturally Diverse

Cairns hosts a huge number of immigrants, and it is one of the most multicultural regions. International students can explore various traditions and thrive in Cairns’s rich culture. A strong sense of community is also encouraged, which makes Cairn a highly livable city.

👓 Employment

Cairns is a busy city that offers a wide range of employment opportunities for international students. The part-time jobs not only enable self-funded students to gain experience but also help them tackle their living expenses while focusing on their education.

💡 Did you know?

Cairns is named after the state governor of the day, Sir William Wellington Cairns.

Universities and Vocational Education in Cairns

🏛 Universities in Cairns

Here is a list of universities in Cairns

Central Queensland University

Central Queensland University (CQU) is a Queensland based university with their Cairns campus offering plenty of courses for students including IT, business, accounting, education, engineering, nursing and more.

The campus is located in the Cairns CBD making it accessible for students.

James Cook University

James Cook University (JCU) is also a Queensland based university having their regional campus in Cairns. When it comes to options for studying at JCU Cairns, students are spoiled for choice.

JCU’s Cairns campus is located only 15kms out of the city center and is surrounded by a rainforest and is close to the northern beaches.

✍ TAFE and other education providers

TAFEs are a great opportunity for international students to get ahead of the competition and learn quality skills.

TAFE Queensland is a premier institute in Cairns offering various study options.

Apart from that there are many other private education providers and English school including Cairns College of English & Business, International College of Queensland, EIM International to name a few.

Transport in Cairns

📌 How to get to the city from the Cairns airport?

Airport Ave, Cairns City is the main hub for tropical north Queensland. It is located 7 km north of the city centre.

It is the seventh busiest airport in Australia.

If you want to get to the city from the airport, there are several taxi and shuttle bus services available.

Sunbus is the most recommended local bus around Cairn and it will cost you around $30 and 7 minutes to get to the city. You can get a taxi or Uber as well.

🚌 Public Transport

Cairn has a fully developed TransLink system and the public bus service, Sunbus is the most used form of transport. It runs all over the city from northern beaches to the southern suburbs.

Since GoCards are only valid in southern Queensland, they will not work in Cairns. However, you can purchase cash tickets when you are on board. A single ticket works for 2 hours and costs $2.40. Meanwhile, a daily ticket can get you around for 24 hours for the price of $4.80.

Lastly, a weekly ticket costs $19.20 and remains valid for 7 days.

The average weekly cost of travel can amount to $19.20 if you are using weekly tickets and $33 if you are using daily tickets.

🚖 Other Transport & Concessions

Cairns is an extremely walkable city but other forms of transport are at your disposal too. Since Cairn is a flat city with an innovatively easy layout, most students like to travel around on their bicycles.

The availability of bike pathways and wide pedestrians makes it all the more easy.

You can get a 50% concession on Sunbus if you are deemed eligible by the service. However, it is not common for international students to avail of this.

💡 Did you know?

Cairns is the home to Mount Bartle Frere, which, at a height of 1611 ft (5287 ft) is the highest peak in all of Queensland.

Key Events During The Year in Cairns

📆 January

Australia Day Event

Cairns hosts fun activities and events all year long but it headstarts in January with the celebration of Australia Day. This entertaining event is held as a family festival that takes place on Esplanade. The celebration includes various activities such as bbq, face painting, live music, and interesting games. You can even enjoy delicious Aussie food for free.

📆 Febuary

Chinese New Year

Since Cairnes has a rich Chinese history, the lunar year is celebrated with high spirits over the course of 15 days. People dive into their deep cultural roots and spend this time spreading joy and goodwill. The city is lit up with red lanterns and surrounded by drumming, performances, live acts, music, and fireworks during this festive time.

📆 April

Youth Week

This is a week-long event filled with interesting activities that celebrate the youth of Cairnes. From robotics, hip-hop dance workshops, skate jam, well-being, and the Kulture festival to Pasifika youth games & youth expo. This event allows youngsters to learn new skills, meet new people, and thrive in the community.

📆 July

Mayor’s Charity Golf Day

Mayor’s charity golf day is the most awaited social event on Cairn’s business calendar. This fundraising event is a great chance for the public to recognize the less fortunate and give something back to society. This event is held annually and all profits are donated to nominated charities.

📆 May

Great Barrier Reef Master Games

The famous great barrier reef master games take place every other year and they are undoubtedly one of the most awaited events. The masters game includes 2000 men and women competing against each other in a series of 20 well-curated challenges. The games go on for 4 days and while some are individual, others require teamwork and strategic thinking.r

Free Things to do in Cairns

🌴 Crystal Cascades

 Crystal cascades is a breathtaking sight located only 20 minutes away from the business district. A series of small waterfalls flow into a large pool surrounded by exotic rainforest trees. There is plenty of room to swim and you can enjoy this experience for free.

📷 Fitzroy Island

A trip to one of the most beautiful islands in Cairns is budget friendly and enjoyable at the same time. You can go for a swim on a warm afternoon, make sand castles, lay in the sun, or even go on a fun picnic with your friends. Surfing is never out of the question either.

🌳 Rusty's Market

Rusty’s Market is a vibrant and jubilant marketplace filled with chaos and activity. Locals and tourists flood these markets and you can enjoy a bustling evening here. This is a free activity just as long as you walk around and browse cultural artefacts.

🤽 Cairns Art Gallery

This art gallery hosts various exhibitions and art shows that display beautiful work. If you want to enjoy Cairns’ rich culture in the form of art then Cairns art gallery is the place to be. To make things better, there is a cafe and gift shop too.

⛪ Cairns Botanic Gardens

Cairns Botanic Gardens is known to be one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants. You can feel close to nature and enjoy the notable collection with guided tours. The exotic species are a sight to behold but the atmosphere in itself is relaxing as well.

🏁 Other places to explore

Apart from the list above, there are many other places to explore and visit in Cairns. Here are some of them:

Cairns Esplanade lagoon
Josephine falls
Barron falls
Cairns Aquarium
Cairns museum
Palm cove
Kuranda koala gardens
Daintree national park
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