Cairns History Walking Tour

Cairns may be a pretty face but its history is also rich and deep, going back at least 40,000 years. Explore beyond the rainforest and reef to the ancient and recent history, complete with stories and photographable architecture, art and landmarks.

We look at buildings of significance from the early colony, including architectural styles, as well as indigenous outdoor artworks. You will learn about the importance of the natural features of Cairns (reef and rain forest), the oldest living culture in the world and pre-colonial lifestyle. We talk about the challenges of colonisation, pirates and opium trade, and the early gold rush, farming, business, and the cultural melting pot that makes Cairns what it is today.

Historic buildings highlighted include: Cairns Museum, Cairns Art Gallery, Mulgrave Shire Office, Telegraph Office, Post Office, Chambers, Boland's Department Store, the Adelaide Steamship Company, Central Hotel, Chinatown, and Hides Hotel.

per adult from




1 hour 30 minutes


Mobile ticket

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  • What's included :
    • Tour Guide
    What's excluded :
    • This is a typical itinerary for this product

      Stop At: Cairns Museum, City Pl Shields St School of Arts Building, Cnr Lake and Shields Streets, Cairns, Queensland 4870 Australia

      Discuss the historic meeting place for traditional owners and colonial settlers.

      Duration: 10 minutes

      Stop At: Cairns Art Gallery, Cnr Abbott & Shields Streets, Cairns, Queensland 4870 Australia

      Discuss the Shields Street traditional aboriginal shields street art by Paul Bong as well as the gold rush and establishment of the colony. The history of the Public Curators building, now the Cairns Regional Gallery, is explored.

      Duration: 10 minutes

      Stop At: Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, 52 - 54 The Esplanade Opposite Mantra Esplanade, Cairns, Queensland 4870 Australia

      The history of the reef and rainforest as World Heritage Sites is discussed. The history of early settlers, including pirates, is discussed.

      Duration: 10 minutes

      Stop At: Cairns Tourist Information Centre, Cnr Shields St and The, Esplanade, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

      The history of early government in Cairns is discussed in front of Mulgrave Shire building, the original local government headquarters for the colony.

      Duration: 10 minutes

      Stop At: The Reef Hotel Casino, 35-41 Wharf St., Cairns, Queensland 4870 Australia

      The war memorial next to the Casino is visited and the role of the wars in Cairns life, especially World War 2, is explored.

      Duration: 10 minutes

      Stop At: The Chambers, 21 Spence St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

      From this position, the historic Bolands Centre as the first department store in Cairns is discussed. The Adelaide Steamship Company and the Central Hotel are also discussed from this vantage point.

      Duration: 10 minutes

      Stop At: Crystal Ball Bookstore, 91 Grafton St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

      The Chinatown exhibit infront of the bookstore is visited to discuss the important role of the Chinese in Cairns history and the history of Grafton Street as the heart of Chinatown.

      Duration: 5 minutes

      Stop At: Hides Hotel Cairns, 87 Lake St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

      Return to location of start of tour in front of Cairns Museum. Discuss the role of the School of Arts in the founding colony. Discuss the history of Hides hotel and the role of historic hotels in early colony life. Discuss the Trocadero Dance Hall across the road from Hides and role in World War 2 life for soldiers.

      Duration: 5 minutes

    • Departure Point :
      Cairns Museum, Cairns School of Arts building, Cnr Lake and Shields St, 93/105 Lake St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
      Return Detail :
      Returns to original departure point
      Hotel Pickup :
      • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
      • Wheelchair accessible
      • Stroller accessible
      • Service animals allowed
      • Near public transportation
      • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
      • Surfaces are wheelchair accessible
      • Most travelers can participate
      • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
      • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 12 travelers
    • You can present either a paper or an electronic voucher for this activity.
    • For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.


    English - Guide

    Age Req.


    Fitness Req.


    Group Size


    Organised by Cairns Urban Walking Tours

    Activity ID: V-173382P3

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