Cairns Esplanade


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The Esplanade Project — Cairns, North Queensland, Australia

Why did the redevelopment need to happen?


There are a couple of reasons why the Cairns Esplanade Redevelopment needed to occur. Some were more sensible than others, but they all contributed to an overall surge of support for the project.

Playground for Cairns locals

The Cairns Esplanade had always been a place where locals can watch the sun rise from the ocean in the mornings, feast on fish and chips at lunch and jog along the pathway in the evenings. It's a lovely part of the city, used by people of all ages. But a perception had grown among some residents that the Cairns foreshore was becoming scrappy, old and untidy. Hence, a massive monetary injection to the area was deemed necessary.

Tourist Dollars

The tourist buck is far and away the most important reason cited for the development of the Cairns Esplanade. Many visitors to Cairns frequently complained about the lack of a beach near the city, and said the mudflats were are an eyesore. The esplanade didn't meet the images of paradise envisioned when departing the airplane at the Cairns International Airport. It is believed, almost unanimously, that the redevelopment of the esplanade will alleviate comments such as these: (Note: these are genuine comments made by tourists in Cairns)

Cairns is a mere shell of a town that sustains itself on the tourist dollar. It's main street, the Esplanade, is no different from any other resort drag.

Cairns, surprisingly for a coastal town, has no beach. The coastal waters are a mass of mud.

Not any more!

Keeping up with the Jones’


Cairns' regional neighbour, Townsville, has developed “The Strand” and it has been hugely popular with Townsville locals and tourists. The Cairns Esplanade development is based on the Townsville project, and the city council believe Cairns deserves a foreshore similar to our regional neighbour. Heck, if Townsville has it, we need it too!

Indigenous Land Use Agreement

Before the Cairns Esplanade development could begin, the city council entered negotiations with the traditional owners of the land, the Gimuy Yidindji and Yirrganydji peoples. The council negotiated Indigenous Land Use Agreements with the two Native Title claimant groups to create opportunities for the inclusion of cultural interpretive material and aboriginal art within the project.

The 12-month negotiation process resulted in the creation of three jobs for Aboriginal people, and recognition of the rights of the traditional owners in the area.

Foreshore redevelopment

The original Cairns Esplanade featured large grassy areas and shady trees, a walking track, picnic tables and a public toilet.

When the new Cairns Esplanade project is finished, the area will feature an outdoor amphitheatre, a large sandy swimming lagoon, grassy picnic areas, walking tracks, public barbeques, children's playgrounds, shops and restaurants, an environmental interpretation centre and a Great Barrier Reef Cruise departure terminal.

The Cairns Foreshore Promenade will span 600 metres along the waterfront (from Aplin Street to Minnie Street). Themed areas covering the culture, history and environment of the region will feature along the length of the project to educate locals and visitors about Cairns. A 40-table café will also be constructed as part of the $9 million Boardwalk Promenade section of the Cairns Esplanade. Surrounding the café will be a giant children's playground.

Fogarty Park, located between the Pier Marketplace and Pacific Hotel, now features an outdoor entertainment area and performance space. A pedestrian pathway through the park will link to the new Reef Fleet Terminal.

Security for the new Cairns foreshore has been talked up, and beefed up by the council. Cairns has a strong ‘law and order’ philosophy, and inner-city security has been a major issue for residents for many years. Security guards will patrol the esplanade 24 hours a day, backed up by security cameras and police. The council has been unable to identify exactly what threat they are protecting esplanade visitors from, but the editor of the local newspaper, The Cairns Post, has a stark opinion.

“It will attract thousands of visitors. But among them will be the inevitable scumbags, determined to spoil everyone else's enjoyment of this great new attraction. An extensive network of proposed surveillance cameras will contribute to providing such an overall feeling of security.” — Editor, The Cairns Post. Thursday, March 13 2003.

The message is clear. Don't worry; Cairns security guards will protect you from the bad people… whoever they are.

Swimming Lagoon


The Cairns Esplanade Swimming Lagoon project is the most exciting aspect of the entire esplanade development. It is a free resource where locals and tourists can safely swim in an artificial pool that was previously home to mud, jellyfish and crabs.

The lagoon precinct spans 4 hectares, and is capable of accommodating 1000 swimmers at a time. It is open for free public use between 6am and 10pm daily. The area is totally alcohol and glass free, and dogs are prohibited. The depth of the pool ranges from 80 cm (32 inches) to 1.6m (5 feet), and disability access is provided at one end of the pool. There are seating benches underwater which are lit from underneath.

Lifeguards patrol the lagoon area during the day and there is on-site security at night. 2 lifeguards are on duty at all times the lagoon is open — one patrolling around the surrounds of the lagoon and the other keeping watch from the patrol tower.

The four megalitres of lagoon water is sourced from the sea and filtered every three hours to keep it clear and clean. Unlike many pools in the southern states of Australia, the Cairns Esplanade lagoon is not tidal. Therefore, no stingers or other marine creatures can enter the pool.

Special sand cleaning equipment will frequently scour the surrounding sandy beaches down to a depth of 30cm to remove any foreign objects.

The project was originally due for completion in time for Australia's Centenary of Federation in 2001. But, as is the norm with many public works, this date has been stretched dramatically. A revised completion date was set for September of 2002, but this was again been pushed back to March 2003.

The Cairns Esplanade is located in Cairns, Tropical Far North Queensland, Australia web design by city of

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