Appreciating Australia: connect with Cairns
When you think of tropical Australia – the palm trees, stretches of sparkling sea and endless days of sunshine – what springs to mind?
For international visitors especially, the answer is regularly: Cairns.
Welcome to Cairns, Queensland
Located 1600-odd kilometres from the state’s capital, Brisbane, laidback Cairns is the gateway to all that Tropical North Queensland has to offer.
Spectacularly sandwiched between two of the country’s natural wonders – the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest – in pre-COVID-19 times, Cairns was an immensely popular destination with those from overseas.
And it’s not hard to understand why: Cairns is quintessential Queensland, true-blue tropics, authentic Australia.
Cairns and COVID-19
While towns and cities across the country – and the businesses that call them home – have been doing it tough due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cairns has been among the hardest hit.
According to JobKeeper data, Cairns sits fifth highest on the national list of completed applications for the financial support program, and highest in Queensland.
Given the tourism industry employs one in five people in beautiful-one-day-gorgeous-the-next Cairns, it’s easy to understand why.
While the borders were closed, says Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen, the Cairns region was losing $7 million a day in expenditure.
And with international tourists not expected back any time soon, Cairns is looking to locals – fellow Australians – to make the most of the region’s ‘bustling heart’.
“We are inviting Australians to experience summer in the tropics when the borders open to see for themselves the time of year normally booked out by international travellers,” says Mark.
It’s not just for visitors either.
“With its excellent connectivity,” says Mark, “Cairns is enticing southerners to relocate to an idyllic location where they can enjoy an outdoor lifestyle while working remotely.”
Cairns and connectivity
While connectivity is crucial for Cairns to continue as an international tourist mecca, and trade and investment powerhouse, says Melissa Mallet, nbn™ Local manager for North Queensland, it also goes the other way.
“Connectivity, like services over the nbn™ network, enables regional businesses to go global through an increased online presence and by connecting with the world.
“Although we know it will be a long road, we understand how vital small to medium businesses will be in the region’s recovery – particularly in the tourism industry – and can’t wait to see them thriving again.”
And there’s some good news for businesses embracing connectivity, says Melissa.
Connectivity keeping business moving
Shoshin Movement is just one of the businesses in Cairns using nbn™ network connectivity to help pivot during the pandemic.
Located in the heart of the balmy city, the fitness business helps improve everyday people's quality of life through better movement, offering classes that focus on strength, flexibility and ‘play’ elements.
“COVID-19 has brought challenges to all gyms and studios across Australia,” says David D'Amore, owner and Program Director at Shoshin Movement.
While Queensland gyms were able to operate two months into the lockdowns, says David, the business turned to connectivity to help keep classes running in those earlier days.
“nbn helped us keep our classes online during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
“It helped us when it came to uploading videos and maintaining communication with our members.”
Shoshin Movement also uses services over the nbn™ network for its Point of Sale, streaming music and general administration.
And for businesses in Cairns, says nbn’s Melissa, connectivity is set to get even brighter.
“With the recent announcement of Cairns as one of our new nbn™ Business Fibre Zones, small to medium businesses will be able to access premium, business grade services to do business better, easier and more efficiently, at the same cost as their metropolitan counterparts.”
Go Local First and Holiday Here This Year
So, just what is it about Cairns that makes it so enticing?
“Summer is when the wind drops on the Great Barrier Reef and visibility is at its best,” says Tourism Tropical North Queensland’s Mark, “while the world’s oldest rainforest is refreshed by the summer rains.
“The wildlife is easier to spot as they put on displays to find a mate, and endemic species like the southern cassowary care for their young.
“Tropical fruits such as mangoes are in season allowing the region’s chefs to craft unique dishes, while the cocktail waiters whip up cooling refreshments to match.”
For nbn’s Melissa, it’s the perfect mix of natural and technical wonders.
“As the front door to two World Heritage-listed natural wonders of the world, and improved connectivity via services over the nbn™ network, there’s no business or role you can’t run or perform from paradise.
“Or, if you’re after a holiday, you can be a world away from home, while staying connected to family and friends… and showing them what they’re missing out on!”
Things to do in Cairns
by Melissa Mallet
It may be a thriving metropolis, yet every day in Cairns still feels like a holiday.
You just know you’ve arrived in a tropical paradise when you fly in over that crystal blue reef, and an abundance of palm trees.
Nothing beats a great day trip to Fitzroy Island where you can snorkel off Moore Reef, or head inland up to Kuranda to jump on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and take in the breathtaking rainforest and views for days!
Back in Cairns, stroll along the beautiful Esplanade, take a dip in the lagoon, and indulge in a touch of shopping in the Galleria, before a yummy dinner at my personal favourite Salt House at the marina, where the seafood and cocktails are amazing.
If you’re a sport addict, Cairns is also home to North Queensland’s only remaining national basketball side, the Cairns Taipans, who call the impressive Cairns Convention Centre home.
And if you’ve got a chance, jump in the car and take a drive along Queensland’s answer to the Great Ocean Road – the drive from Cairns to Port Douglas along the Captain Cook Highway, via Palm Cove, which is also a hidden gem.