Cairns Esplanade


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The Esplanade Story — Cairns, North Queensland, Australia

From sand to mud to sand — The Cairns Esplanade


The Cairns Esplanade has been a focal point for the city since the first explorers dragged themselves through the mangrove swamps and whacked away mosquitoes.

The esplanade street as we know it today, was the first to be surveyed in Cairns in October 1876. It was named Troughton Esplanade after the Travelling Superintendent of the Australian Steam Navigation Company, Captain Fred Troughton. At some point in the history of Tropical North Queensland, the original city plans were lost and the name Troughton was dropped, resulting in the simple name “Esplanade”.

EsplanadePhotos recovered by Cairns locals and The Cairns Post newspaper reveal that the esplanade was once a sandy beach, similar to Cairns Northern beaches such as Machans Beach and Holloways Beach. It is believed that the dredging of the Grafton Channel for shipping resulted in mud completely covering the sandy beach because the sediment gathered during the dredging process was dumped offshore and promptly swept back in to silt the inlet and cover the esplanade beach with mud.

This infusion of mud has been great for the mangrove ecosystem, but not great for tourists who would rather see a sandy beach than a muddy tidal swamp. The arguments purported by developers are that the mudflats are an artificial ecosystem that is not integral to the mangrove forests. But environmentalists assert that the area has been in it's current form long enough to be home to thousands of species of mud-dwelling creatures, and to dump sand on top of them is environmental vandalism.

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

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