Internet cafes - Most cities in this region have more than one internet café, Cairns has a number of them. Many lodgings and coffee houses also have them. Cost of access is usually around AUD$5/hour.
Internet access - If you are bringing your own computer over and wish to have internet access you can arrange this from your home. We like using Ledanet, a local internet access provider, www.ledanet.com.au . Its nice to have someone to go talk to if a problem arises. If you are traveling outside this region a good nationwide service provider is Telstra, www.telstra.com.au
Bringing a computer - Remember to check the voltage capacity of the transformer on your computer, it needs to handle Australias 240V, 50 Hz current, otherwise you will need to purchase an additional transformer. The only other problem we have had with compatibility here is with phone system line voltage, in one hotel we had a couple of modems fried by surges in hotel phone systems, now we carry a small surge protector that plugs into the phone line, and have not had a problem.
Computer Supplies - There are a number of computer stores here, though none are in the superstore size category. If you are willing to look, you should be able to find all but the most specialized item.
Cell phones - Unless you have an international cell phone, your phone will not work here, and will not accept Australian SIMS cards. (Those are those little gold cards that you insert into the back of the phone when you purchase it.) If you are coming for awhile, you can purchase a cell phone, with minutes that you can recharge by phone using your credit card for less than AUD$200.
Call Centers - A cheap way to call home is using a call center, small businesses with banks of phones where you can call. Its easy, and cheaper than the rate you will pay at a hotel or payphone.
Cheap Long Distance - Most news agencies (a book/news/magazine/stationary store, common throughout Australia.) sell long distance phone cards, where you can purchase blocks of time at a reduced rate. There are several companies, and their plans are not easy to compare, read the fine print to find the best deal.
You will need a valid passport to enter the country. A visa is also required, and in many countries is issued electronically when you purchase your plane ticket.
Most people clear customs pretty quickly, however if you are bring camping gear, hiking or running shoes, or a bicycle, be sure to wash them thoroughly. Australia is very careful about preventing the environmental problems caused by unwanted weeds and such. If your gear has dirt on it the Customs Officer will take your gear aside to be washed, and your quick trip through customs will be lengthened.
The only currency accepted here is Australian. Credit cards are taken nearly anywhere. Most ATM cards work here, although not in every ATM we have tried. Travelers checks can only easily be cashed at banks, and you will need your passport with you to cash them.
Australia covers three time zones, and in summer when all the other Australian states adopt daylight savings time, Queensland does not. For a global time zone map go to worldtimezone.com
Australia runs on 240V, 50hz current, make sure the transformers, chargers, and electronic gear you bring can handle it. If you need to purchase a transformer buy it at home, they are not easy to find here. The plugs used here are different from those used in the UK and USA. Plug adaptors are pretty easy to purchase here at electronic stores. (Plug adaptors used without a transformer will fry your gear, dont forget the transformer.)
Metric measurement system
The metric system is used here for all weights and measures. Americans and others used to reading PSI on their dive gauges need to be aware that gauges here read in millibars. Make sure you understand your gauges when planning and making your dives, and ask your divemaster if you have a question, you will not be the first person whose asked.
Keep in mind that most banks close at 16:00, and most businesses close at 17:00 on weekdays. Sundays can be pretty quiet with most stores closed, especially in country towns. Most larger communities have one night a week of late shopping hours where stores are open until 21:00. Cairns has a scattering of markets and pharmacies that are open 24 hours, but you will have to ask around to find them.
There is a huge range of lodging available in the area, from very modest youth hostels through to 5-star resorts, and everything in between. Prices range from AUD$10 to AUD$1000s per night. At our lodging search page we have selected the most unique and best-values in accommodation at each price level. We can usually match you up with something perfect for you if you let us know what you are seeking.
This region is the adventure capital of Australia, with a range of activities available, from the mild to the wild. Check out our adventure section for a listing of backpacking, ballooning, rafting, kayaking and other activities. Also be sure to check out our section on Free and fun things to do in the area, and Kids guide to the area.
Lots of choices, this is a great place to eat! The Cairns-Port Douglas region due to its coastal location, tropical climate, and neighboring Atherton Tablelands, make this area one of the outstanding places to purchase seafood, fresh produce, and ethnic foods.
Nearly every dive school, and many dive operators have a dive shop. You will find a great range of equipment on sale here. Due to import costs, there may be better deals at home, but for browsers wishing to see a lot of variety, or making a last minute purchase you will be served well.
There are a number of places to purchase outdoor gear. We can usually find whatever we need at one of these places:
- Its Extreme - 32 Spence St.: Backpacks, sports sandals and boots, and other gear.
- Adventure Equipment - 133 Grafton St.: Climbing gear, kayaks, backpacking gear
- City Place Disposals - 46-50 Shields St.: Cheap camping gear and surplus goods.
- George Pickers - Brown and Mulgrave St.: Extremely wide range of camping gear.
- Camping World - 47 Anderson St.: Extremely wide range of camping gear.
For medical emergencies, dial 000 to get the emergency operator.
This works for emergencies requiring police or fire attention also.
Cairns has a 24-hour medical center for minor medical problems. Appropriately named "The 24-hour Medical Centre" it's located just on the edge of the downtown area at the corner of Florence and Grafton St., telephone: 4052-1119. This facility is very familiar with dive medicine, in fact they also operate as "The Cairns Dive Doctor" out of the same address.
In Port Douglas there is also a 24-hour medical center, the Port Village Medical Centre, 4099-4053, located at 17/11 MacCrossan St.
Cairns has a number of pharmacies open 7 days. The Esplanade Pharmacy had the longest hours, 9:00am-10pm, daily. They are located at 10/85