Cairns, Queensland, Australia

CAIRNS, Queensland, Australia, became Sidney’s first sister city in May, 1984.

The entwined circle design of the Sidney Sister Cities Association logo reflects key aspects of the four cities. Rich brown is for the colour of the soil that makes the Cairns Region an agricultural powerhouse.



Like Sidney, Cairns is a coastal city.  It’s located in the area known as the Tropical North in the State of Queensland in north-eastern Australia.  As Cairns is the jumping off spot for visits to the Great Barrier Reef, tourism is a major component of the region’s economy.  It is also a major shipping centre for exports of mineral products and agricultural goods  such as sugar cane, fruit and vegetables.  

Cairns has a vibrant arts community and recently celebrated the opening of a new Performing Arts Centre.  The Tanks is a unique arts venue constructed within some oil storage tanks dating from WWII.   This unique space lends itself to all sorts of exhibitions, performances and concerts.  Over the years we have taken part in a Sister Cities ceramics and a fabric arts shows showcasing work by artists from Cairns’ seven sister cities.  One interesting project was a photographic exhibit held in Cairns using the theme a day in the life of Sister Cities.  All seven cities submitted photos illustrating their way of life.  Copies of each photograph were sent to all the cities and in Sidney we held a well attended exhibition at the Tulista Art Gallery. 

Cairns’ downtown core is an interesting mix of historic Queensland-style and modern high-rise buildings and the city boasts a beautiful waterfront park – The Esplanade – with BBQ pits, picnic areas, playgrounds and other facilities.  

One thing Cairns does not have are sandy beaches, instead it has a large man-made lagoon, complete with a sandy beach and fish sculptures.

Hides Corner a well preserved Queensland style building in the centre of Cairns

 Sidney and Cairns have much in common.

  • An active arts community
  • Leisure boating and marine activities
  • Oceanside and rain forest living
  • A varied tourism industry catering to different interests
  • Dynamic intercultural population

 SSCA members have visited Cairns in a private capacity.

  • Participation in 3 art exhibits showcasing Cairns’ seven sister cities (2009, 2010 and 2011)
  • Artist and SSCA member Richard Wong, spent some weeks in Cairns as an Artist in Residence at The Tanks Arts Centre in 2014.
  • In 2015 we helped send two pupils from Sidney’s Parkland School to Cairns as part of  a youth ambassador programme.  Unfortunately the programme has since been discontinued.

 Traveling to Cairns is a long journey:  plane from Vancouver to Auckland NZ, Sydney  or Brisbane and then another flight on to Cairns.


  What to do in and around Cairns.  

Cairns is a great jumping off spot for many adventures:   snorkeling or scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.  Heading up to the Tablelands behind the city and riding the train or gondola back down.  While there visit with and get to cuddle a koala or pet a kangaroo or wallaby (but watch out for their kicks!).  Take a balloon ride over the lush farming area and see the sunrise from a different angle.  Head north to the Daintree Tropical Forest and see if you can catch a glimpse of the elusive cassowary bird.  Visit the Cairns Botanical Garden for an incredible display of tropical flora.  To learn about Aboriginal culture visit the Tjapkai Aboriginal Tribal Park. Visit Rusty’s market and try some exotic fruits.   Take some time relax at one of the beaches north of the city – but be careful, at certain times of the year box jellies, salt water crocodiles and sharks are familiar sights along the coast!   Finally, head to the Esplanade in Cairns and throw some shrimp on the Sister Cities barbie!

“Cairns Says Hello” Video


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