When you’re road tripping around Australia, there are so many amazing places of which you can make your final destination, but Cairns in Queensland is the ultimate final stop. Never heard of Cairns before? Well surely you’ve heard of a little place called the Great Barrier Reef! Cairns is the major city located right next to the reefs and therefore the perfect place to stay if you’ve always wanted to check out the world’s most famous coral.

There’s tons to know about the city of Cairns and even more to know about the Great Barrier Reef, so before you head out, read up on all the fun facts here!

Facts about Cairns 

Cairns is the main hub of northern Queensland and was made popular originally as a sea-slug fishing camp, but grew into a larger fish and prawn industry as time went on. Believe it or not, Cairns didn’t become a big tourist destination until recently, despite the Great Barrier Reef’s discovery in the 1770s.

This town isn’t just great for its marine life however, you also have to check out the many interesting species of birds like the Cassowary. Cairns is also a great place to indulge in great outdoor activities. Go hiking, take a dip in the lagoon or explore the Undara National Park – a park that has some of the world’s longest lava vents! But don’t worry, you won’t starve after all that cool activity. There are a plethora of yummy restaurants to check out as well – many of the best are right on the esplanade, next to all the shops.

Like many cities in Australia, Cairns is also very camper-friendly, so you don’t necessarily have to post up in a hotel once you get there. There are tons of campsites just off the water so you never have to stay far from all the excitement. Park your van and set up camp for the night and listen to all the exotic sounds that the night has to offer. But now, let’s get to the main attraction: the Great Barrier Reef!

closeup photo of the great barrier reef underwater
The Great Barrier Reef is Cairns’ main attraction.

Facts about the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is thought to be about 20 million years old. The Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world, and just for a little perspective, it is so grand that it’s similar in size to Italy and can be seen from space! It consists of about 2,900 individual reefs that are all brilliant in colour, mesmerising in its many shapes and home to over 1,500 species of fish. There are about 30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises that have been recorded playing around these waters as well.

This destination is a marine lovers paradise as you can truly do a little bit of everything. There are tons of opportunities to explore around the reefs and its captivating marine life. Head to one of the many islands or beaches, grab your snorkel gear and within moments of putting your face in the water you’ll see loads of beautiful coral and the fish that live amongst it. Of course, you can always opt for a closer look at the depths of the reef’s secrets with a wild scuba diving adventure! Or, if neither of these options sound appealing because you prefer to stay dry, you can choose from a variety of boat cruises. There are options of every size from kayaks to large ferries, so just take your pick.

There’s no experience quite like swimming among the sea creatures. When you get down in the water, you can paddle alongside a sea turtle or through schools of fish. From the boat you can see whales spouting and dolphins showing off next to the bow. You might even see a couple of sharks in the mix!

a photo of a sea turtle underwater
See what the sea turtles are up to in the Great Barrier Reef.

Unfortunately however, you need to do your trip relatively soon. The Great Barrier Reef likely won’t be with us much longer. The coral is slowly dying off – in fact, scientists estimate that about a quarter of it is already gone. This is largely due to climate change as the warmer ocean temperatures aren’t ideal for coral. These temperatures put stress on the coral which not only causes it to bleach away its vibrant colours, but it also causes it to die off.

When you visit the Great Barrier Reef, it’s important to look but don’t touch to keep from adding to any of the damage.

Now that you’re well-versed on what to expect when you make Cairns the final destination of your road trip, you just have one more piece of the puzzle to worry about. The ride! Make your trip easy and comfortable when you rent your car from East Coast Car Rentals. Just contact our friendly and knowledgeable staff today, and you’ll be on your way to the Great Barrier Reef tomorrow!