Living in Cairns

Famous for long days of sunshine and a warm climate, Cairns is home to approximately 160,000 people from many different cultures and nationalities who love the cosmopolitan feel of this modern, safe, clean and friendly city with world-class facilities.

There is a variety of student accommodation types available to suit different budgets and needs, including on-campus accommodation, homestay with an Australian family or shared living in a house or apartment. Temporary accommodation can be arranged for you before you leave home so that when you arrive you have some time to consider your long-term options.

Homestay is your ‘home away from home’. Living with an Australian family is one of the most convenient, safe and rewarding experiences whilst visiting Australia. It’s an invaluable opportunity to experience the genuine Australian culture and lifestyle as well as make new friends and practice your English language skills.

Share house accommodation provides students with a furnished private room to rent whilst sharing communal areas with other housemates.  Share houses are generally located within an easy walk of downtown Cairns, and within 10-20 minutes of all major schools and attractions.

Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) is accommodation specifically built with the needs of students in mind. PBSA includes the cost of utilities, air-conditioning, internet, secure onsite parking for cars / bicycles and social benefits such as community, pastoral care, onsite staff and dedicated security.

Cairns is an exciting tourist and study destination

Experience the exciting Cairns waterfront with the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, a free lagoon-style swimming pool surrounded by landscaped parklands on the Cairns waterfront. Free BBQ’s and picnic tables are available – it’s a popular spot for casual gatherings for friends and families. The Esplanade is also a popular spot for free fitness activities with jogging and cycle paths, gym equipment, rock climbing wall, volleyball and Petanque areas. Cairns Regional Council runs an Active Living Free Fitness program with different activities, such as yoga, Zumba, Aquaerobics, fitboxing scheduled each day.

Nearby, the Cairns Marlin Marina and Reef Fleet Terminal are the departure points for cruise boats heading to the Great Barrier Reef and islands.

The Cairns waterfront strip is lined with an entertainment and shopping precinct with modern air-conditioned shopping outlets, bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes overlooking Trinity Inlet.

The facilities of this small but lively and sophisticated city are world class. Cairns offers a high standard and wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets; international restaurants; boutique shopping; art galleries; botanical gardens; convention centre and two university campuses. Theatres, cinemas, a casino and bars are among its lively range of evening entertainment venues.

Cairns is considered one of the safest cities in Australia. However should you require help, call 000 (triple zero) – Fire, Ambulance and Police. For routine matters call 07 4030 7000. Cairns police station is on Sheridan Street, there is also a smaller Cairns police station on The Esplanade.


Things to do

  • Visit the Great Barrier Reef for snorkeling and diving
  • Explore the Daintree Rainforest
  • Enjoy unspoiled, sandy beaches and islands
  • Go shopping (from local boutiques to international brands to second-hand book shops)
  • Eat in fabulous international restaurants, to suit all budgets and tastes.
  • Party in nightclubs
  • Sit back in the cinemas and theatres
  • Be active on the golf courses, tennis and basketball courts and soccer fields
  • Saddle up and go on horse back
  • Be brave: white water rafting, bungee jumping, sky diving
  • See the view from hot air ballooning
  • Fresh tropical fruits & veggies at the most affordable prices at Rusty’s Market (Friday to Sunday 6:00am to 3:00pm)
  • Weekend Markets at the Lagoon on the Esplanade (stalls selling a variety of products, sarongs, jewellery, opals, souvenirs etc)
  • And much more!

Places of interest

  • Cairns Library – a quiet place to read, borrow books, CDs, DVDs and magazines. Cairns Library offers books in many languages, Open: 10:00am – 6:00pm (or to 3:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays)
  • Cairns Museum (Open: Monday to Saturday Cairns Library 10:00am to 4:00pm)
  • Cairns Regional Gallery (Exhibits the work of artists based throughout the tropical north. Open: 10:00am – 5:00pm.)
  • Flecker Botanic Gardens (38 hectares of lush and exotic flora and fauna; Open: 7.30am-5.30pm; Free entry)
  • Sugarworld Waterslide Park (Open: 10:00am to 4:30pm)
  • The Reef Hotel Casino (Entry to Casino only from 18 years of age or over)

Student Accommodation

See our options for Student Accommodation.


Cairns offers all the transport methods expected of a modern City:

International & Domestic Airport

Servicing most Airlines since 1984. There are daily flights to and from most key international and Australian destinations.

Taxis and shuttle bus services are available to and from the City Centre.


Linking the Centre and the suburbs


Black and White Taxis – 24-hour taxi service with a fleet of government licensed taxi vehicles.

Taxi meeting points or ‘ranks’ are located in the central city areas and at shopping centres.


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Railway – Connecting Cairns to Queensland’s Capital, Brisbane (1729 km to the South) and beyond on modern trains with both sleeper and seat options.

Car Rentals

Local and International Car Rentals companies are located throughout the city centre, airport and at some of the northern beaches.


Excellent sealed highways link Cairns with the national road network. Brisbane is at least a 22-hour drive from Cairns.

Bicycle hire

The compact, easy city layout with wide pedestrian and bicycle pathways makes it convenient for cycling around the city.


There are several daily bus services linking the major cities and towns around Australia.

Coach companies include: McCafferty’s, Greyhound and Oz Experience


Cairns Regional Council runs the Cairns Community Safety Program which is committed to creating a vibrant community where people can live comfortably and safely. Council’s commitment to community safety and crime prevention is based on building partnerships with community members, services and government, taking a proactive approach in the prevention of crime, and using urban design principles.

The program utilises elected members of Council, representatives from the Queensland Police Service, Department of Premier and Cabinet, the private sector, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, Neighbourhood Watch, the Education Department, Queensland Health, Liquor Licensing and Cairns nightclub and hotel industry representatives, among others. Through this extensive network, the program aims to strengthen existing collaborations and identify opportunities for the development of partnerships aimed at community safety and crime prevention activities.

Partnerships with residents, business, various council departments, and local and state community safety and emergency services organisations, have enabled crime prevention and more broadly, community safety, on a number of levels:

  • Immediate action: local solutions to local problems
  • Education and awareness raising and
  • Long term solutions: prevention by design and strong policy direction.

Council is dedicated to creating a region that promotes community safety and positive community relations. Thus, the portfolio of the Cairns Community Safety Program is extensive, with major focus on the following areas:

  • Crime prevention through environmental design
  • Safety audits
  • Community awareness and education
  • Research into current trends in crime reduction and crime prevention
  • Public space
  • Age and gender related issues
  • Drug and alcohol related issues
  • Advocacy on behalf of community groups
  • Support for agencies undertaking other community safety projects

Read more about community safety at Cairns Regional Council

Course Guide for studying in Cairns

Studying & Living in Cairns

Study Cairns Brochure

My Cairns App