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    TropicNow's guide to the best free activities in Cairns

    With restaurants, nature parks and plenty of tours right on our doorstep, activities in Cairns can be enough to make your wallet cry and your bank account have a nervous breakdown.

    We understand that money doesn't grow on trees and so we've searched high and low for activities in Cairns that are absolutely free.

    Just call us your Tropical North fairy godmother!

    From sliding down rainforest waterfalls, to arts and crafts, here are 36 activities in Cairns that won't cost you a cent...


    1. Get fit with an Active Living class on the Esplanade

    Gym memberships can be darn expensive. Luckily Cairns offers a range of fitness programs that don’t even require you getting your wallet out of your pocket.

    The Cairns Regional Council’s Active Living Program offers six free fitness classes a week. Start your day off in a state of serene zen with calligraphy qigong yoga. Alternatively, you can punch out the working week's frustrations in the weekly box fit classes.

    A full timetable of Active Living classes can be found here.

    2. Embrace your artistic side with a trip to the Cairns Art Gallery

    Getting lost in beautiful artwork does not mean taking a trip to a metropolitan capital.

    And in even better news, you can now browse through the Cairns Art Gallery for free.

    The Cairns Art Gallery also has new exhibitions monthly.

    3. Go cassowary spotting on the Cassowary Coast

    It isn’t called the Cassowary Coast for nothing! Take a drive down to Innisfail or Mission Beach and keep your eyes peeled for these endangered big birds.

    Hot spots for cassowaries include Etty Bay, Edmond Kennedy Park and the rainforest areas around Mission Beach.

    Don’t forget to be cass-o-wary! Drive slowly and do not attempt to go near these creatures.

    4. Have a day at the lagoon

    Croc free? Check! Shark free? Check! Stinger free? Check!

    The lagoon is a safe and stunning place to swim, relax or enjoy a picnic… and it doesn’t cost you a cent!

    5. DIY workshops at Bunnings

    Whether you are getting the grips on decorating your own home, or want to enhance your kids’ creativity, Bunnings offers a range of DIY and crafts workshops.

    Those who struggle with adulting can attend the how to lay tiles workshop or learn how to choose the right clothes lines.

    Little artists can enjoy paint and mosaic workshops every Saturday.

    See the full range of Bunnings workshops here.

    6. Have a BBQ at the Northern Beaches

    Who needs a fancy restaurant? Grab your mates, grab some snags and head down to one of the free BBQs at the Northern Beaches.

    7. Meet Eat Repeat!

    A gold coin donation is all it takes to get into our very own food festival!

    Chow down on the latest local eats and tempt your tastebuds with unique culinary concoctions that you’ve never tried before.

    For the next Meet Eat Repeat date and venue, check out our Facebook page.

    8. Go water sliding at Josephine Falls

    Forget Wet N’ Wild and WhiteWater World, TNQ has its very own waterslide and it’s free!

    Head south to the picturesque Josephine Falls and enjoy sliding down a natural waterslide surrounded by the natural tranquillity of the tropical rainforest.

    9. Live music at The Three Wolves

    This hip laneway bar offers free live music from a range of local talent. Head on down, relax and get a little crazy on the dance floor…

    We recommend sipping on the iconic Smoke on The Water cocktail!

    10. Test your fitness with an Arrow Walk

    Those wanting a quick cardio fix can run the Red Arrow. Those wanting an enduring challenge can test their wits with the whopping 5.4km Blue Arrow Track.

    We guarantee stunning views, sweat and sore legs!

    11. Plunge into a volcanic crater

    How many people can say they have been swimming in a volcanic crater? Luckily, Lake Eacham is all blue water and no lava!

    This beautiful Tablelands lake is the perfect way to cool off in the tropics. Laze on the shoreline to enjoy the picturesque surrounds and keep your eyes peeled to see if you can spot a fresh water turtle.

    12. Go platypus spotting

    The shy platypus is seldom seen in the wild. However, if you head to the platypus watching platform in Yungaburra, you will be likely to see one of these little fellas!

    The best time to spot one early morning or at dusk.

    13. Live music at The Lagoon

    Not into swimming? Take a trip to the lagoon and enjoy live music every Saturday and Sunday. Why not take a picnic, grab your mates and make a day of it?

    The live music line-up can be viewed here.

    14. Take a trip back in time at the Botanical Gardens

    Giant ferns and rare tropical species make a visit to the Cairns Botanical Gardens feel like you are stepping back in time.

    Free guided tours are also available for those wanting to learn more about the local flora.

    15. Pet baby animals at Gallo

    **Cue a chorus of oohs and awws**

    Gallo may be known for its scrumptious home-made cheese and chocolate, but it also has a free petting zoo with calves, pigs and goats.

    Cheese connoisseurs: you need to go here!

    16. Chase Waterfalls on the Atherton Tablelands

    Millaa Millaa, Zillie, Mungali, Millstream….there are endless stunning waterfalls across the Atherton Tablelands!

    Drive up from Cairns early in the morning and go for a full day’s waterfall chasing from Mareeba to Ravenshoe.

    17. Cycle the length of Four Mile Beach

    See the entirety of one of Australia’s best beaches as you whiz across the sand.

    A great day out for the whole family in the sunshine and picturesque surrounds of TNQ. 

    18. Explore the Daintree Boardwalks

    Did you know that the Daintree is one of the oldest rainforests on the planet? Delve in and explore this natural wonder by trekking one of the areas free boardwalks.

    You can see the location of the boardwalks here.

    19. Sunday Sessions at AJ Hackett bungee

    Head down to AJ Hackett each Sunday from 1pm for free live music and activities.

    Locals with nerves of steel can even try the bungee jump or minjin swing for a discounted price.

    20. Spot the Southern Constellations at Thala Beach

    Those staying at Thala Beach Lodge can enjoy complimentary star viewing sessions with 10” telescopes.

    Those who just wish to admire the night sky for free can head to nearby Oak Beach for a night view free from light pollution.

    21. Beach hop the Caption Cook Highway

    Those looking for an uncrowded spot of sand should go opt for a secluded beach on the Caption Cook Highway.

    The winding road between Ellis Beach and Port Douglas plays host to a number of small, stunning, and often deserted, beaches.

    22. Get hippy at the Kuranda Markets

    Wander around the rainbow of stalls, graffiti and hidden alleyways of the Kuranda Markets.

    Stop by the roaring Barron Falls before you head home to see the beauty of nature at its finest.

    23. Bird watching at the Cattana Wetlands

    There’s no need to travel up to the Atherton Tablelands to spot some feathered friends!

    The Cattana Wetlands, located in Smithfield, offer an abundance of birds and wildlife.

    24. The Cairns Festival

    The annual Cairns Festival offers an array of local activities and spectacles. Expect colourful floats, explosions of fireworks and incredible light shows.

    For more information and festival dates click here.

    25. Basket weaving at the Botanical Gardens

    Whether you are a skilled basket weaver or a total weaving virgin, this free basket weaving class is for you!

    The class is ran by the Saltwater Creek Basketry Group and uses natural products from the gardens.

    You can see the class dates here.

    26. Explore the Jack Barnes Bicentennial Mangrove Boardwalk

    This elevated boardwalk, near Cairns Airport, gives you a rare glimpse into the unusual and slightly eerie habitat of the mangroves.

    For more information, click here.

    27. Explore one of region's best beaches

    TNQ has some of the most beautiful coastline in Queensland and the region’s tropical beaches are a popular destination all year round.

    For more information, click here.

    28. Step back in time on a heritage walk

    There is a range of heritage walks in TNQ, including the Cairns CBD Heritage Walk. This tour takes in historic buildings and sites such as the former post office and court house, Hide’s Corner, the School of Arts.

    For more information, click here.

    29. Wet a line and try to catch fish

    With the region's great climate, blue skies and sunshine, as well as endless coastlines, creeks, rivers and dams there are plenty of opportunities to try your luck with a bit of fishing.

    30. Go for a scenic drive

    Driving yourself is the perfect way to explore Cairns and TNQ as you can stop for a swim, a rest or take a photograph whenever and wherever you want. You can explore TNQ at your own pace and go wherever your heart desires.

    For more information, click here.

    31. Enjoy one of TNQ's parks

    With hundreds of parks and reserves across TNQ, there are many hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered.

    Just simply relax and enjoy your surroundings, go for a stroll with your family and pets, or take a football, frisbee, or cricket set with you if you want to get active.

    For more information, click here.

    32. Take in the spectacular Munro Martin Parklands

    Munro Martin Parklands is Cairns' newest community gathering place complete with an outdoor performance space.

    The Parklands boast tropical plantings, vine covered pergolas and arbours and an open-air plaza to encourage passive, casual use of the facility. The area is also set up to host a wide range of shows.

    For more information, click here.

    33. Check out an exhibition at Tanks Art Centre

    Tanks Arts Centre is Cairns’ premier contemporary arts venue, incorporating music, performance, theatre and visual art with community events and engagement.

    Set in the Cairns Botanic Gardens Precinct, nature is entwined with culture here. Head along to check out one of the many exhibitions held at the centre.

    For more information, click here.

    34. Hike up Walshs Pyramid

    If you are feeling very energetic and are quite fit, why not hike up Walshs Pyramid? The track to the top is steep and rocky, with stunted vegetation that offers no shade.

    Although it is a difficult hike, those who make it to the summit are rewarded with stunning 360 degree views of the surrounding ranges and local landscape. Return to the start of the walk via the same track.

    Walkers should take plenty of water, wear sunscreen and a hat, and start the walk in the morning to be sure of returning before it gets dark.

    For more information, click here.

    35. Get your hands dirty at a community garden

    Frustrated green thumbs without the room to create a fantastic veggie patch of their own can volunteer at a community garden in TNQ.

    Not only can you put your gardening skills to the test and learn to grow your own food, it is also the chance to make new friends and share plenty of laughs and experiences.

    The secret to getting the most out of volunteering at a community garden is to remember it's not what you take out but what you put in.

    For more information, click here.

    36. Get snappy and take a photograph

    Whether it's with your phone, point and shoot camera or the latest, top-of-the-line digital camera, there's a lot of wildlife, landscapes and people in TNQ you could take a photograph of.

    Let your imagination run wild, focus on the sunrise, sunset, night sky, sports events, family outing, or anything that catches your eye.

    If you want, post the results to social media to let the rest of the world know what a stunning place TNQ is to live.

    37. Visit the balancing rocks north of Cairns

    They cropped up on a roadside spot just south of Wangetti, on the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Port Douglas, a couple of years ago and have captured the imagination from all over the world.

    Venture north from Cairns and check out the stunning balancing rocks, add to the collection and keep the trend going.

    38. See the city's bats

    TNQ has its fair share of spectacular sights and right in the heart of Cairns' CBD you can see nature at its best with thousands of flying foxes roosting in trees around the library.

    During the day, they hang from the trees and if you look hard enough you might be able to see a baby suckling from its mum. At dusk, they set off for their nightly forage for fruit and can be seen flying across the city's skyline.