Cairns is surrounded by a natural wonderland – the glorious Coral Sea on one side and lush rainforest hinterland on the other.
Although European mariners sailed past the region from around the 17th century, and possibly even as early as the 16th, it wasn’t until Captain James Cook chartered the coastline in 1770 that far north Queensland finally made its way onto the map. Even then it took until the latter half of the 19th century before Europeans made their way through treacherous reefs and almost impenetrable rainforest to finally arrive at what is now Cairns. Timber cutting, agriculture and mining soon drew more European, Chinese and Malay settlers. Initially established in 1876 as a settlement and port serving newly discovered gold fields, increased activity associated with agriculture also soon began. Cairns remained a sleepy frontier town for many years, until the sugar industry ignited a growth spurt after the Second World War.