After the big city of Sydney I was not quite sure what to expect from Cairns. I have always assumed it to be one of Australiaâ€™s biggest cities. Which in my mind puts it in the same category as Fresno, CA or Little Rock, AR.
Cairns, according to my guide book, has a population of 98,210; Slightly bigger than my home town of Merced.
It was very warm, and humid when we arrived, but still early in the afternoon, so we decided to explore. One of the first things we noticed is that the bay Cairns sits in has no beach. It consists of mud flats and esturaries. Basically, this is Saltwater Crocodile HQ. There are plenty of warning signs around, and a lovely boardwalk that we used to walk along to the Cairns CBD. Along the way we saw many birds, and those crabs that have one claw bigger than the rest of their body. It was pretty cool. When we reached the CBD we were amazed at how small it was. There was the famous man made lagoon where people can safely swim in (Its generally not a good idea to go swimming along this stretch of coast), and a new mall (The pier), which had only about 25% of the retail space, filled. This echoed the story we found everywhere. We saw loads of empty shops in the CBD in obviously prime locations just sitting empty.
We began to equate Cairns with a English seaside town, where the tourism is beginning to slow down. However, we later learned that Cairns is the second fastest town in the whole of Australia! I have to wonder how so many prime real estate opportunities were sitting empty. Admittedly, we are at the beginning of tourist season, but surely the fastest growing town would eat up such locations?
The real estate prices are extremely reasonable, and I just kept thinking if I ever start a business where location is not an issue â€“ this would be a perfect place to have a Headquarters… Tony?