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Australia’s gateway to Northern Queensland, Cairns is a destination for travellers and people wnating to relocate. Once a major export hub for everything from sugarcane to gold, the modern city of Cairns is a popular tourist destination largely due to its tropical climate and the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

The city also has some fantastic views, brilliant restaurants, and scores of shopping opportunities. With a highly efficient public transport system and an extensive road and rail network, getting around the city of Cairns is always a breeze. Now that you have moved here, it’s best that you know the ins and outs of getting around the city just like a local.

Getting from Cairns Airport to the City Center

After you land at Cairns Airport, there are several options for getting to the city center. The airport’s close proximity to the main city makes things even simpler as a car ride will take only 10-15 minutes.

Shuttle bus service

You will find several shuttle bus transfers traveling from the airport every hour or so. It’s quite inexpensive at $15 AUD one-way. However, the fare from the city to the airport is nearly double that. It’s recommended that you book a shuttle online before you land at the airport as it will make things a lot easier. Locals prefer Coral Sea Coaches as it’s a reliable shuttle service, so try booking seats on that.

Non-app taxis

There are several taxis that will take you where you need to go, but they are expensive. On average, the taxi fare between the airport to town is $25 AUD with an additional $4 AUD as an airport surcharge. Although there isn’t any hard and fast rule with tipping, a trip from the airport might end up costing more than $30 AUD.

Uber

Of course Cairns has Uber services. If you have the app installed then you can easily book yourself a trip to the city centre. All you have to do is walk over to the designated spot for Uber vehicles.

Getting around within the city limits

Getting around within the city limits is simple and can be done by foot, car, bus, train, or bicycle. Cairns Regional Council has provided more than 450 km of paths that go off-road and are perfect for walkers and cyclists. This helps in not just cutting through traffic, but also give you some breath-taking views on the way.

If you love riding your bike on-road, then the city has that covered as well. Many of the main routes have on-road bike lanes along with wide shoulders that are great for cyclists as well. If you are planning pedal-or-foot-power, then be sure to grab cycling and walking maps from the various tourist service centres scattered around the city or online at the Cairns Government site.

Using bus and rail services

Cairns has a highly efficient bus service, and the transit network is one of the best in the world. They have two transit precints that are situated within the Central Business District; Cairns Central Railway Station hub, and Cairns City Bus Station. They are nestled within Shield Street and Lake Street, and most bus lines run through here. Providing links to taxis, rideshares, and intercity rail networks, you can literally get anywhere in the city.

What makes the transit network so convenient is the fact that it includes some of the most important parts of the city. This includes everything from the suburns of Clifton Beach in the north, Redlynch in the west, and Gordonvale to the south. Managed by Translink, the bus service is called Sunbus and it operates city-wide including the southern suburbs and the northern beaches. Most of the buses plying this route can be boarded from the Lake Street bus terminal that’s located between Aplin Street and Shields Street. The last buses depart around 10 PM and 11 PM, so plan carefully if you are intending to travel to the outskirts of the city. After 11 PM you won’t get a bus back.

For more detailed information on routes and bus timings, you can just download the free My TransLink app onto your phone or simply call 13 12 10. You can also visit the Translink website. The website is where any disruptions, changes to routes or warnings for upcoming breaks in service are listed.

The city also has a rail network with comfortable coaches and reasonable ticket prices. The main station is called Cairns Railway Station. This the terminal for Queensland’s North Coastline. It is integrated into the Cairns Central Shopping Centre with the platforms underneath parking bays.

You can reach some of the more remote towns via a weekly rail service called the Savannahlander. It departs on Wednesday mornings from Cairns.

Taxi services and cycling inside the city

You will find plenty of taxis on the roads inside the city. Pickup points include almost all the well-known places, but taxis are more expensive than the bus. If it’s a busy day then head towards a taxi rank or else hail one down. Average cab fare around the city will be $25 AUD minimum so be sure to carry plenty of change.

Another way to get around the city is cycling. With an excellent circuit of cycling paths, it’s a highly efficient and safe mode of transport. Some routes frequented by cyclists are the Botanic Gardens, Centenary Lakes, and Esplanade. If you need to travel quite some difference, then you can even hitch your cycle to a bus if they have a carry stand. This means you can do most of your journey by bus, if you wish.

Renting or purchasing a vehicle in Cairns

If you are planning to establish yourself in Cairns, then the easiest thing to do is to get yourself a vehicle. Although you can do you daily commute easily enough with buses and trains, a vehicle gives you freedom to travel when and where you want. You can have short term car rentals, but they will get expensive very quickly. If you are considering moving your car over from New Zealand, be aware there are taxes and tariffs on bringing a car into Australia. It make work out cheaper for you to buy new in Aussie. Ask Ausmove for help calculating which is the easiest and cheapest option for you.

You will easily find vehicles for sale at the numerous dealers in town, and if you are confused just speak to someone who owns a car to get a rough estimate on what to expect with prices, but it’s about the same as in New Zealand.

Switching to an Aussie license

If you are still holding a New Zealand driving license, then, unfortunately, it won’t be any good after three months from the date of moving. You need to get a Queensland licence if you are intending to stand in the area long term.

To apply, head over to a Queensland Government license issuing centre. Getting a driver’s licence issued will require you to have an Australian address, and you’ll need to perform an eyesight test. If you pass the test and are above 21 years of age, you just pay a fee, submit your license transfer form, and you are all set.

Understanding a bit about Australian roads

Once you have gotten yourself a vehicle, you need to know the roads and routes properly in order to get anywhere quickly, and safely. The road rules in Australia are almost identical to New Zealand, so you continue to drive on the left and give way to vehicles turning left.

Once you’re happy you can drive in Australia, you’ll need to figure out the layout of Cairns. If you are living in Woree, a suburb in southern Cairns, then you will face the Bruce Highway which runs from Bald Hills in Brisbane. To the north lies The Captain Cook Highway that begins at Aeroglen (a northern suburb in Cairns), and runs northwest to Mossman which is over 70 km.

There are plans underway to upgrade Bruce Highway to the standards of a full-fledged motorway as well. Making its way through the southern leafy suburb of Gordonvale, it will finally allow drivers to use overpasses at all major intersections from Woree to Gordonvale.

If you have settled down at Smithfield, then you can take advantage of the Kennedy Highway to travel to the township of Kuranda which is a beautiful place and a major attraction for locals and tourists alike.

That being said, even if you create a super-effective plan, Cairns is a big city and can take several years to explore properly. It’s a large, flat city, but the CBD is quite compact. If you are buying or renting a home here, take some time to look at the bus and rail services available in your area if you’re planning to use public transport.

Enjoy living your new, walkable city, and take advantage of the glorious weather to explore by pedal and foot.

Our Fixed Price Guarantee:

Our Fixed Price Guarantee:

Unlike many other movers, we will provide you with a fixed quote based on your specific list of items.

Should you wish to add or remove any items, we will adjust our fixed quote accordingly. Hence, no nasty surprises at the end of the move process.

Our Service Promise:

Our Service Promise:

  • We will listen to your individual needs and requirements.
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Free In-Home Consultation:

Free In-Home Consultation:

If you are moving the majority of your household items from New Zealand to Australia, one of Ausmoves experienced relocation consultants will visit your home to establish your specific packing requirements and any unique moving needs. Learn more about moving to Australia from NZ.

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