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The culture of Cairns is focused on the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainsforests, both of which are World Heritage listed. Nowhere else in the world can you find two examples of such incredible natural beauty located right next to each other. Because of these fantastic natural attractions, Cairns has the distinction of being the 3rd most popular tourist destination in Australia, after Sydney and Brisbane. Cairns' Airport is also the sixth busiest in the nation, with a steady stream of travelers coming and going to snorkel and dive on the Reef.
Cairns is generally used a starting base for exploring the Reef - you can do it off the coast of Cairns or an even better way to get the total Reef experience is by hopping on a bus or a tour up to Cape Tribulation, a few hours north of Cairns. Cape Trib is spectacular for heading out into the Reef for a day of snorkeling, diving or swimming. It's also located in the tropical Rainforest, so you can hike or 4WD your way around. Definitely something not to be missed. For those wanting to travel further north to the historical coastal township of Cooktown, you will experience the Bloomfield Track, which is accessible only by 4wd, this will take you through the heart of the World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park. At the end of the track you will find an amazing Aussie bush pub, the Lions Den Hotel, well worth the visit.
Although the Reef and Rainforests are really a central part to the Cairns experience, there's other things to do when you're there - skydiving, anyone? Cairns is interesting and different from other Australian cities because it's got great outdoors activities that you can't experience anywhere else (namely the Reef..although some people do explore the Reef from Airlie Beach, but it's just not as good), as well as being a city where you can enjoy nightlife and learn more about Aboriginal history. Tjapukai Park is located just outside of Cairns and provides travelers with a glimpse into the history of the Aboriginal tribes in this area, with theater performances and the interactive Camp Village. For those wanting to experience Aboriginal culture first hand, travel the Bama Way which links three Aboriginal owned and operated tours from Cairns north to Cooktown. You can self drive or take a tour.
If you enjoy live music, theatre or other performances there are various good venues and bars. You'll find good music at 12 Bar Blue, Reef Casino, Salthouse, Cazalys and many other places. There a Regional Art Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Civic Theatre and a wonderful facilty and tropical landscaped gardens called the Tanks Arts Centre which is near the Botanical Gardens.