Cairns , locally is a regional city, encompassing smaller townships, in the far north of Queensland, Australia, founded 1876. The city was named after William Wellington Cairns, then-current Governor of Queensland. It was formed to serve miners heading for the Hodgkinson River goldfield, but experienced a decline when an easier route was discovered from Port Douglas. It later developed into a railhead and major port for exporting sugar cane, gold and other metals, minerals and agricultural products from surrounding coastal areas and the Atherton Tableland region. As of June 2012, the population is approximately 224,436.
Cairns is located about 1,700 km (1,056 mi) from Brisbane. It is a popular travel destination for foreign tourists because of its tropical climate. It serves as a starting point for people wanting to visit the Great Barrier Reef and Far North Queensland.
View of Cairns from Lake Morris Road with the Yarrabah peninsula in the background
Cairns is located on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula on a coastal strip between the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range. The northern part of the city is located on Trinity Bay and the city centre is located on Trinity Inlet. Some of the city's suburbs are located on flood plains. The Mulgrave River and Barron River flow within the greater Cairns area but not through the CBD. The city centre's foreshore is located on a mud flat.
Cairns is a provincial city, with a linear urban layout that runs from the south, at Edmonton, to the north, at Ellis Beach . The city is approximately 52 km (32 mi) from north to south. Cairns has experienced recent urban sprawl, with suburbs occupying land previously used for sugar cane farming.
The Northern Beaches consist of a number of beach communities extending north along the coast. In general, each beach suburb is located at the end of a spur road extending from the Captain Cook Hwy. From south to north, these are Machans Beach , Holloways Beach, Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Park, Trinity Park , Kewarra Beach, Clifton Beach, Palm Cove, and Ellis Beach.
Tourism plays a major part in the Cairns economy. According to Tourism Australia, the Cairns region is the fourth-most popular destination for international tourists in Australia after Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. While the city does not rank amongst Australia's top 10 destinations for domestic tourism, it attracts a significant number of Australian holiday makers despite its distance from major capitals. There is also a growing interest in Cairns from the Chinese leisure market with occasional direct flights from Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou. During the 2013 Chinese Lunar New Year period alone, Cairns saw 20,000 Chinese holidaymakers flying in on chartered flights.
The city is near the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics of Queensland, and the Atherton Tableland.
Cairns Esplanade includes a swimming lagoon with adjoining barbecue areas. In May 2003, the then Cairns Mayor Kevin Byrne declared that topless sunbathing is permitted here, as the area is a gathering point for people from around the world who may wish to do so.