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.
The Cairns region has an interesting local government history. This timeline outlines the various bodies that have governed Cairns since 1876.
Explore Cairns through our heritage trails through the Cairns CBD, along the Cairns Esplanade and the suburbs of Stratford and Freshwater.
- Read more about the heritage trails.
- Download the Cairns CBD Heritage Walk information and map ( PDF, 0.92 MB )
- Download the Cairns Esplanade Heritage Walk information and map ( PDF, 0.78 MB )
- Download the Freshwater Heritage Trail information and map ( PDF, 0.66 MB )
- Download the Stratford Heritage Trail information and map ( PDF, 1.11 MB )
- Download the Southern Heritage Drive information and map ( PDF, 0.89 MB )
Neighbourhood Character Study
The CairnsPlan 2009 designated a number of character precincts 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.
Cairns Heritage Study
The Cairns Heritage Study ( PDF, 5.43 MB ) used the key historical themes and thematic history to help understand what is distinctive about the Cairns region in comparison to other regions.The thematic histories provide an explanation of the themes and activities that have been important in shaping the Cairns region as it is today. A thematic approach also helps to ensure a consistent approach to heritage identification and assessment at all levels from local to state to national level.