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Cairns, northern Queensland's main city, has it all. Whether you wish to enjoy world-class beaches and the Great Barrier Reef, tropical jungles or mountainous terrain, you are always spoiled for choice here. Having a car helps tourists see all there is on offer in this beautiful part of Australia.
Who to Book With
Car hire companies in Cairns are mainly located near the airport or in the town centre. Cairns Airport Rentacar, East Coast Car Rentals and Mini Car Rentals are all located on Sheridan Street. In the town centre, Avis, Hertz and A1 Car Rental Cairns can all be found on Lake Street. These companies generally accept online bookings, which is the cheapest way to secure a vehicle.
Best time to go
Winter, which runs from June to August, is generally considered to be the best time to visit Cairns, as this is when temperatures are at their coolest. From December to March, the town endures its wet season and days are often humid before the rain takes over in the evening. Those that wish to visit during winter should check that there are vacancies available at local hotels and that renting a vehicle is still possible.
Need to Know Essentials
Before collecting a rental car, visitors to Cairns should makes sure they have the following with them:
- A valid British driving license or an International Driving Permit
- A secondary photo ID
- The debit or credit card used for the booking
- Printed rental confirmation
Traffic is a lot less hectic in Cairns than in other Australian cities such as Sydney or Melbourne. Cairns Central Shopping is a good place for parking in the CBD, as is The Pier shopping centre close to the Reef Fleet Terminal. Generally speaking, the CBD in Cairns is small enough to be navigated on foot. For trips through the suburbs and to the outdoor areas of interest away from the centre, however, having your own vehicle is practically essential. Most companies advise the rental of a 4WD that will be able to handle rough terrain.
Cairns is without a metro system, but does have buses and taxis that are available around the clock. Getting to the city by rail is possible by travelling directly to the station in the city centre. As mentioned, getting out of the city on daytrips really does require a car, as taxis often charge astronomical rates and some destinations aren't covered by public transport.
Although there are no trains around the CBD or the suburbs, there are a few options for those that wish to head to the city by rail. Queensland Railways supplies transport between Cairns and Brisbane while making stops at Townsville and Rockhampton along the way.
Several taxi companies operate in the Cairns CBD and offer transport around the clock. Reputable firms include Cairns Taxis, CoolRides and Black and White Taxis. Those looking to travel in style or celebrate a special occasion may wish to acquire the services of Palm Cove Limousines or Southern Cross Stretch Limousine Services. These companies usually offer fixed fares only.
Buses around the Cairns CBD and the suburbs are supplied by the main company in Queensland – Sunbus. Most services leave from the market square or the northern beaches. Tickets that last a full 24 hours can be purchased on board and will be stamped by the driver.
The attractions in the CBD mainly revolve around Cairns's natural beauty, with the Flecker Botanic Gardens one of the main draws. Opposite the gardens is the rainforest environment of the Centenary Lakes Boardwalk, perfect for an afternoon stroll. Fine dining and shopping can be enjoyed around the Reef Fleet Terminal. Once all the attractions in the city have been exhausted, head out to the wider region on some fabulous daytrips.
Kuranda - This is a unique market town, close enough to Cairns for a daytrip for those with car rental. Once arrived, tourists can take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, hike around the Nature Park and visit the Koala Gardens and Butterfly Sanctuary.
Mareeba - Fantastic scenery can be enjoyed on the way to Mareeba, known for being one of Australia's main coffee producers and boasting endless sunshine for most of the year round. Adventurous types can take advantage of Mareeba's location on the edge of the Outback and explore into the wilderness past the town if they wish.
Cooktown - Perfect for those that like to mix learning with relaxation. The area is laden with attractions related to the history of both Queensland and Australia, and is also packed with parks and beaches. A pleasant three-hour cruise from the Carins CBD will bring motorists here.