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Cairns History, Australia

The early chapters of the Cairns history open about 40,000 years back (earlier than top modern cities like Canberra and Sydney) when the region saw human habitation. Archeological evidences indicate that the coastal territory and the surrounding area were inhabited by numerous indigenous tribes – these people had not only been living in these regions for generations but even engaged in hunting and fishing.

Cairns History: The Early Explorers

As in the case of most Australian coastal cities and towns, Captain James Cook was the first European to have sighted the present-day Cairns-site during his 1770 voyage; he named the region Trinity Bay. Captain Cook’s exploratory voyage was followed by Lieutenant Phillip Parker King’s visits to the region. King undertook three visits in 1819, 1820, and 1821; he chiefly visited the Fitzroy Island. The next European to visit the Trinity Bay region was Captain Owen Stanley (in 1848); he produced a map that first charted the Cairns-site.

Cairns History– European Settlement and Development

European settlement in the region began only in the second half (rather the third-quarter) of the 19th century, in 1876, when a township was established to support the region’s gold rush. The settlement was named Cairns after the then Queensland Governor, William Wellington Cairns.

Initially only a handful of settlers arrived with the government officials, but soon free-settlers arrived in great numbers. By 1879, Cairns had its local administration and in 1884 Cairns was made a municipal borough.

The most significant thing to happen in the Cairns history was the laying of the railway tracks over the Kuranda Range in 1886. The well-connected transport route helped the township rise above its reliance on gold mining. Soon agriculture, primarily sugar cane plantations, became one of the significant contributors to the local economy along with other industries like fishing, pearling and tourism.

Cairns History– The 20th Century

The early years of the 20th century (1903 specifically) saw Cairns being officially declared a town. Cairns was listed as a city about two decades later in 1923. The subsequent years saw developments that not only strengthened area-infrastructure and amenities but also improved Cairns’ connectivity with the rest of the country.

World War II saw active involvement of Cairns – in fact, it became a base of the Allied Forces and had troops stationed here. The fall of Singapore sent a panic-signal and Cairns-residents moved southwards amid speculation that the next Japanese target would be Cairns. This significantly brought down the area’s population and it continued to be low even after the war ended in 1945. Nevertheless, the post-WWII days saw Cairns developing at a fast pace, infrastructure-wise and otherwise. Soon Cairns, with the wealth of its natural beauty and its rich aboriginal history, became an acclaimed tourism destination, both nationally and internationally.

21st century Cairns is a perfect modern city that is committed to uphold its rich historic connection.

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