Facts, figures & history

Geography

The Cairns Regional Council local government area encompasses 1687 km2 of land on a narrow coastal strip between the Great Dividing Range and the Coral Sea.  It extends from the Eubenangee Swamp (near Mirriwinni) in the south to the Macalister Range (near Ellis Beach) in the north.

The region is part of Australia's Wet Tropics and is framed by the lush World Heritage listed Wet Tropics rainforest to the west and north and the Coral Sea and World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to the east. These attributes make the region a world renowned tourist destination.

Cairns city is the principal centre of the region and is centrally located along the coastal strip with sub-regions to the north and south consisting predominantly good quality agricultural land and areas of high ecological significance. The region is an important gateway to the nearby Atherton Tablelands, Daintree and Wet Tropics rainforest, and the outback Savannah region beyond the Great Dividing Range.

The Russell, Mulgrave and Barron Rivers are the main river systems within the region. The region also includes a number of offshore islands: Snapper, Fitzroy, Green and the Frankland Islands.

Population

The estimated residential population of the Cairns region as at 30 June 2012 was 154,820 (preliminary data February 2014). The region has experienced an average annual growth rate of 2.8% over the last 10 years.

It is predicted that two thirds of Tropical North Queensland's population growth (approximately 70,000 people) will be accommodated within the Cairns region, with up to 50,000 ultimately accommodated within the Mount Peter Master Planned Area.

Our Community Profiles webpage contain more information about region's population and sociodemographic characteristics.

Community profile

Our community profile is a great tool for analysing the population characteristics of your community, understanding how they have changed over time and how they compare to other areas.

Community atlas

The community atlas presents key socio-demographic characteristics for the area as interactive maps, based on data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Economic profile

The Cairns Regional Council economic profile draws on a variety of economic data sources to profile the characteristics of the local economy, how it compares to other areas and how it is changing.

Forecast.id

Population forecasts outline the drivers of population change and forecasts how population, age structure and household types will change across the Cairns region from 2006 to 2031. This data is presented in easy-to-use tables, charts and commentary and is designed to inform community groups, Council, investors, business, students and the general public.

Additional data

For more statistical data on the Cairns Regional Council area, refer to the

History & heritage

Local history and heritage are important aspects of any community, and the Cairns region has a rich and diverse history.

Heritage places provide a tangible connection to the people and events that have shaped the Cairns region. They help use appreciate the social and technological changes that have gone before us and give a point of reference for the changes to come. Council is committed to protecting and managing the region's cultural heritage for current and future generations.

Council's library service offers an extensive suite of tools and databases to assist you in researching local and regional heritage as well as your own family history.

Cairns historic milestones

Officially founded in 1876 and named after the State Governor of the day Sir William Wellington Cairns, it wasn't until 1903 that Cairns was formally declared a town with a registered population of 3,500. A lot has happened since. 

Street names and suburb history

Do you want to know more about your street name and suburb history?  Read about the origin and histories of local places of interest.

Council timeline

The Cairns region has an interesting local government history. This timeline outlines the various bodies that have governed Cairns since 1876.

Neighbourhood character study

The CairnsPlan currently designates a number of character precincts and local heritage areas across the city and surrounding suburbs.  Council commissioned a Neighbourhood Character Study to undertake a detailed review of these precincts and identify valued elements of the character of each of the precincts that should be retained and enhanced.

Living in Cairns (Residents Guide)

Council has produced a handy guide to living, working and playing in the Cairns region.  You can view an e-book version of the Living in Cairns guide online.  Hard copies are available from Council's Customer Service Centre in Cairns and at all Cairns Library branches.  You can also request a hard copy by phoning Council on (07) 4044 3044 or email marketing@cairns.qld.gov.au.

Last updated: 20 April 2015