Under the hot northern sun in Cairns, a change is brewing. The locals feel it’s time for their town to lose the crowded backpacker image and transform into an arts and cultural mecca. Of course, Tropical North Queensland is renowned for the spectacular Great Barrier Reef and stunning rainforests, but there’s much more to enjoy up north.Tanks a million
Start your cultural journey at the Tanks Arts Centre, 4km north of the CBD and set in the beautiful Cairns Botanic Gardens precinct. You can enjoy the ever-changing artworks on display or immerse yourself in fabulous musical acts ranging from singer Deborah Conway to the Ukulele Festival. And if you love a good market, go on the last Sunday of the month from April until November to find great collectables, vintage clothing, art, craft and more. To find out what’s on, visit www.tanksartscentre.com
It’s a food-fest!
Fresh prawns on the barbie anyone? Food lovers head to Farmgate markets at The Pier at the Marina every Saturday. Produce comes from within a 200km radius of Cairns and there’s lots on offer from redclaw and sugarcane juice to organic cheese and lemon myrtle chocolate. It’s perfect if you’re staying in self-contained accommodation – whip up lunch or dinner with the day’s purchases.
Looking for tropical fruit to eat on your tropical getaway? Visit Rusty’s Markets on Friday, Saturday or Sunday – you’ll find lots of jackfruit, passionfruit, soursop, coconuts and mangoes!
Cairns also has a superb range of dining options covering many different cuisines. Check out the family-friendly Fasta Pasta restaurant – they make all their own pasta on site www.fastapasta.com.au Or if you’ve got a babysitter to look after the kids and want a romantic night out, you could try Salt House Bar & Restaurant www.salthouse.com.au or Ochre www.ochrerestaurant.com.au
To get the most out of your visit, drop in during the annual Festival Cairns, August 20 to September 5. It’s Tropical North Queensland’s most significant annual celebration. For a comprehensive guide to this great event and to plan your stay, visit www.festivalcairns.com.auTO GO: Perfect for families, choose from one, two or three-bedroom self-catering apartments set among landscaped gardens, lakes and beach lagoon pools at The Lakes Cairns Resort & Spa. Visit www.thelakescairns.com.au or call 1800 666 614. Virgin Blue, Qantas and Jetstar fly to Cairns.