About the area

Key Statistics


The Cairns Regional Council area is located in Far North Queensland, about 1,700 kilometres north of the Brisbane CBD, and 350 kilometres north of the Townsville CBD. The Cairns Regional Council area is bounded by Douglas Shire in the north, the Coral Sea and Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire in the east, the Cassowary Coast Regional Council area in the south, and the Tablelands Regional Council area and Mareeba Shire in the west.

Included Areas

The Cairns Regional Council area includes the localities of Aeroglen, Aloomba, Babinda, Barron, Barron Gorge, Bartle Frere, Bayview Heights, Bellenden Ker, Bentley Park, Bramston Beach, Brinsmead, Bungalow, Cairns City, Cairns North, Caravonica, Clifton Beach, Deeral, Earlville, East Russell, East Trinity, Edge Hill, Edmonton, Ellis Beach, Eubenangee (part), Fishery Falls, Fitzroy Island, Freshwater, Glen Boughton, Goldsborough, Gordonvale, Green Hill, Green Island, Holloways Beach, Kamerunga, Kanimbla, Kewarra Beach, Lamb Range, Little Mulgrave, Macalister Range, Machans Beach, Manoora, Manunda, Mirriwinni, Mooroobool, Mount Peter, Mount Sheridan, Ngatjan (part), Packers Camp, Palm Cove, Parramatta Park, Portsmith, Redlynch, Smithfield, Stratford, Trinity Beach, Trinity Park, Waugh Pocket, Westcourt, White Rock, Whitfield, Woopen Creek, Wooroonooran (part), Woree, Wrights Creek and Yorkeys Knob.

Land Use

The Cairns Regional Council area includes significant areas of national park and state forest, rural areas and growing urban areas. The Council area encompasses a total land area of about 1,700 square kilometres. The main urban centre is Cairns, with smaller urban areas in Babinda, Gordonvale and various small villages. Urban areas include residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, entertainment and tourist land uses. Rural land is used predominantly for sugar cane farming.

Name Origin

Cairns Regional Council is named after William Wellington Cairns, former Governor of Queensland.

Indigenous Meaning

The original inhabitants of the Cairns Regional Council area were the Tjapukai and the Walubarra Yidinji Aboriginal people.


European settlement dates from 1876 when the township of Cairns was established to serve miners heading for the Hodgkinson River goldfield. The main industries to develop were gold mining, timber getting and sugar cane production. Population was minimal until the 1880s and 1890s, aided by the opening of the railway line to Kuranda in 1891. Cairns became a major port for exporting sugar cane, gold, metals, minerals and agricultural products. Expansion continued during the early 1900s, spurred by the opening of the railway line to Brisbane in 1924. Significant development did not occur until the post-war years, as the Cairns area began to develop into a centre for tourism. Rapid growth took place during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in the urban areas. Growth continued from the 1990s, with the population of the Council area rising from about 102,000 in 1991 to about 167,000 in 2016. Growth is expected to continue, particularly in the southern suburbs.

Major Features

Major features of the Cairns Regional Council area include numerous National Parks (Barron Gorge, Dinden, Ella Bay, Eubenangee Swamp, Fitzroy Island, Frankland Group, Green Island, Grey Peaks, Kuranda, Macalister Range, Russell River and Wooroonooran), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Kamerunga Conservation Park, Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, Smithfield Conservation Park, Fitzroy Island, Frankland Islands, Green Island, the Coral Sea, the Barron River, Babinda Boulders, Crystal Cascades, the Cairns CBD, Cairns Central (shopping centre), Cairns Night Markets, Raintrees Shopping Centre, Redlynch Central Shopping Centre, Smithfield Shopping Centre, Stockland Cairns (shopping centre), The Pier Cairns Shopping Centre, DFO Cairns, James Cook University (Cairns Campus), TAFE Queensland North (Cairns Campus), Great Barrier Reef International Marine College, Babinda Hospital, Cairns Hospital, Gordonvale Hospital, Mulgrave Central Sugar Mill, Royal Flying Doctor Service (Cairns Base), Cairns Convention Centre, Cairns Museum, Cairns Art Gallery, Tanks Art Centre, Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns, Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome, Esplanade Lagoon, Cairns Botanic Gardens, Kuranda Scenic Railway, Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Mulgrave Settlers Museum, Outback Opal Mine, Smithfield Bungy Tower, Sugarworld Waterpark, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, Arthur Strike Park Raceway, Cairns International Speedway, Cairns Hockey Centre, Cairns Showground, Cairns Table Tennis Stadium, Cannon Park Racecourse, Cazaly’s Stadium, Babinda Golf Club, Cairns Golf Club, Gordonvale Golf Club, Half Moon Bay Golf Club, Paradise Palms Resort & Country Club, Cairns Esplanade, Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal, Cairns Harbour, HMAS Cairns, various marinas and numerous beaches.


The Cairns Regional Council area is served by the Bruce Highway, the Captain Cook Highway, Cairns Airport, the Port of Cairns and the North Coast (Brisbane - Cairns) railway line.

Cairns Regional Council

economic profile