When you step off the plane in Cairns, you can already tell it’s different than cities like Sydney and Melbourne. It’s hot and humid, it has just a few main roads with everything you can imagine on them, and there aren’t endless skyscrapers stretching for miles and miles. With the Great Barrier Reef just off the coast, anyone wanting to visit the Reef will find themselves in Cairns.
In my opinion, Cairns is run by tourism. While many aboriginals still live there and there is Tjapukai (sp?), where aboriginal culture is still very alive, the rest of the city is a tourism trap. There are multiple entities that will take visitors skydiving, bungee jumping and four-wheeling through the forest. Many more entities bring people to the Great Barrier Reef daily.
Cairns is a tourism trap, but it’s a good thing for them. The Reef and the rest of the attractions that bring people to Cairns help their economy. Even though I call it a “trap,” I still felt like the people weren’t just after your money. Occasionally, yes that was the case, but as a rule, it seemed like they wanted to make sure you had the best time possible. There’s that southern comfort I’m used to in the United States coming out again! There must be a thing where the closer you get to the equator, the nicer the people get.
The moral of the story though is that tourism almost runs the city, kind of like what it is like in some American cities. While Cairns has their own attractions, there are still very many similarities to the United States.