Cairns Esplanade birdwatching.

27 December 2013


The only  English style pub in Cairns is close by. It is called the "Cock & Bull" and is located  at Grove and Grafton Streets see map above.

Cairns Esplanade is one of the best wader roosts in Australia from October until March. The Esplanade is in Cairns City and is a little over 2.5 kms long. At the northern end there are mangroves and at the city or southern end there is a swimming lagoon and other facilities that the public use almost 24 hours a day. There is free road parking north of Florence Street but there is also Cairns Base Hospital which requires a lot of parking space. One street back on Aplin Street is a flying-fox camp which is worth seeing (more on that below) and there is a lot of accommodation on and near the Esplanade.
Wheelchair symbol


Local Tip: The foreshore at Cairns Esplanade is flat so time your arrival there with a healthy tide or the birds will be spread out and distant. Summer - The declination of the sun is at it's most southerly trajectory and allows for good morning viewing.


Cairns is a key stopover site on the East Asian Australasian Flyway with some younger long range migrants over-wintering. Other birds can be found there. Beach Stone-curlew and  Collared Kingfisher have been seen at the northern end near the mangroves. Double-eyed Fig-Parrots and various honeyeaters are commonly heard along this stretch. In the summer you will see Pied Imperial Pigeons and hear their haunting sounds in the bigger shady trees (some fig trees) in the southern half.

On dusk thousands of Spectacled Flying-foxes fly out over the Esplanade from their daytime camp near Abbot and Grafton Streets.


These days the Cairns Esplanade is a big deal. That the shorebirds have been hardly disturbed by the re-development is of great credit to council and the local birdwatchers who advised them. At one stage it might have become a canal estate or a man made beach. The Australian Government, through its Department of Industry, Tourism & Resources, and under the auspices of the "See Australia" initiative, granted $9m to the Foreshore Promenade and Regional Playground Projects, with the then Cairns City Council contributing in the order of an additional $900,000 to the overall total.
The Foreshore Promenade project had an associated cost of $5,900,000 and this funding allowed for the redevelopment of 600m of the Cairns Esplanade, and to assist in creating a world class foreshore precinct within easy access of the many major accommodation establishments of Cairns.
As well as increasing the attractiveness of the area, the project also involved the development of:

    * A 5m wide and 600m long hardwood timber boardwalk.

    * Three Interpretive Nodes - Heritage, Cultural & Environmental - with information and illustrations to highlight the uniqueness of the area.

    * High quality landscaping and open space areas.

    * A Memorial Garden commemorating the military and emergency services

The Spectacled Flying-fox is our local fruit bat. They are big (1 metre wingspan) and beautifully marked.

Pteropus conspiculatus

There are dozens of free electric bar-b-q's and picnic shelters along the Esplanade and some other interesting artifacts as well. This is a drinking fountain for humans at the top and dogs at the bottom

There are other features.

Fitness Course
There is a fitness course signposted at regular intervals along the Esplanade.
Memorial Gardens
The Memorial Gardens were created to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by volunteers, emergency service works and military service men and women.The Memorial Flame artwork has been placed in remembrance of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of their duties.
56's Olympic Torch Bearers Monument
This stately, granite monument commemorates the 1956 Olympic Torch Relay run between Cairns and Melbourne, between the 9th and 22nd of November 1956.
As host city for the beginning of the 1956 Olympic Torch Relay, the 1956 Olympic Torchbearers Club Inc (Cairns) was founded to create a club for the 1956 runners.

See larger photo below left.

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The Cairns esplanade is on

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