Cairns Regional CouncilCommunity profile

We’re continuing to update these pages with data from the 2016 Census. Read more about our updates.

Skip to content

Cairns City

About the profile areas

The 2016 Estimated Resident Population for Cairns City is 2,890, with a population density of 16.72 persons per hectare.

Location and boundaries

Cairns City is bounded by the Coral Sea in the north, Trinity Inlet in the east, Dutton Street, Spence Street, Bunda Street and the Kuranda railway line in the south, and Upward Street in the west.

Name origin

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

Settlement history

Settlement of the area dates from 1876 when a town 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, with growth aided by the opening of the railway line to Kuranda. With the establishment of port facilities 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 from Brisbane in 1924. The population grew rapidly during the 1970s and 1980s, largely due to the rise in tourism. The population declined significantly during the 1990s, and then increased rapidly from 2001 as large numbers of new dwellings were added to the area, particularly high density housing.

Land use

Cairns City is a mixed use area, including commercial, residential, tourist and port land uses.

Major features

Major features of the area include the Cairns CBD, Cairns Central (shopping centre), Cairns Night Markets, Rusty’s Markets, Orchid Plaza, The Pier Cairns Shopping Centre, Cairns Marlin Marina, Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal, Cairns Harbour, the Port of Cairns, Cairns Esplanade, Esplanade Lagoon, Bouldering Park, Harbour Walk, Cairns Convention Centre, Cairns Museum, Cairns Art Gallery, Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome, Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns, Cairns Private Hospital, Cairns Table Tennis Stadium, Fogarty Park, Munro Martin Park and St Monica’s College.