Cairns Travel Guide

Flights, Train & Cruise

By plane

Cairns International Airport is the primary international gateway into the region and is also served by many domestic flights. Cairns Airport has two terminals: a domestic terminal and an international terminal, both within walking distance from each other.

The international airlines serving Cairns are:

JetstarFlights from Tokyo-Narita, Osaka-Kansai, and Singapore; codeshares with their parent carrier Qantas
Cathay PacificFlying four times a week from Hong Kong
United AirlinesFlights from Guam

The domestic airlines serving Cairns are:

QantasFlights from most airport in Australia e.g. from Horn Island, Weipa, Gove/Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs, Yulara (Uluru), Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. Their low-cost Jetstar subsidiary flies from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, Perth, the Gold Coast, and Brisbane
Virgin AustraliaFlights from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane
SkyTransflying from regional Queensland including Townsville and Mount Isa

The hourly-or-so Airport Shuttle bus into town costs $7, while a taxi will do the same trip directly to your destination for around $15.

By train

Cairns Station is right in the city centre, easily within walking distance of the waterfront and most hotels.

The Queensland Railways Tilt Train and Sunlander services connect Cairns to Brisbane (via Townsville and Rockhampton), taking 32 hr for the full journey. Even though the Tilt Train reaches speeds of 160 km/h between Townsville and Brisbane, the diesel Tilt Train running between Brisbane and Cairns runs at a maximum of 80 km/h between Townsville and Cairns due to the poor alignment of the line. Although a trip between Townsville and Cairns takes 4 hours by car, it can take over 7 hours by train.

The Tilt Train departs Cairns for Brisbane at 9:15AM on Wednesdays and Sundays, arriving at Townsville at 3:15PM and Brisbane at 9:10AM the next day. The Sunlander departs Cairns for Brisbane at 9:15AM on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, arriving at Townsville at 4:10PM and Brisbane at 3:55PM the next day. The Sunlander service is being replaced with the Tilt Trains by mid-2014, so if you want to have this experience, book soon.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway, also operated by Queensland Rail, runs from Cairns to Kuranda, stopping over the majestic Barron Gorge to allow passengers to leave the train and enjoy the beautiful view over the water.

Trains depart Cairns at 8:30AM and 9:30AM daily arriving at Kuranda at 10:15AM and 11:15AM.

The Savannahlander travels from Cairns to Kuranda but then continues on to the outback town of Forsayth. It leaves Cairns at 6:30AM every Wednesday with a compulsory overnight stop at Almaden (with transfers available to Chillagoe), before arriving at Forsayth Station at 5:45PM on Thursday. The Savannahlander does not run between December and March.

By car

The 1,700 km Bruce Highway running south along the coast connects Cairns to the state capital of Brisbane. It takes 22 hr to drive without stopping, and you should allow at least 2–3 days of solid driving, or longer for a more relaxed pace of drive up the coast. There are regular towns along the coast which make good stopping off and sightseeing points.

source: Wikivoyage

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