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Cairns Esplanade

The Cairns Esplanade…known fondly as “the Nard” to locals…is now a world class recreational precinct thanks to a $32m re-development collaborative project undertaken by Cairns City Council, the Queensland State Government and the Federal Government.

The object of this vast and ambitious project was to rejuvenate the 12 hectares of recreational open space on the Cairns foreshore, to “better the experience” of the activities enjoyed by generations of residents and visitors alike. The plan was to establish broad pedestrian boulevards and promenades to link the rejuvenated Central Business District with Trinity Bay and the foreshore… through inspired modern planning… incorporating a state of the art swimming lagoon, wide open spaces, innovative landscaping and works of public art.

What we have today is an exceptional recreational area positively buzzing with fun excitement and energy. A place where visitors and residents alike can kick back and relax…swim…. play and laugh… exercise…dine…shop…picnic and enjoy life to the fullest in their very own piece of tropical paradise!

The Lagoon

The works, which were undertaken in several stages, include the a-m-a-z-i-n-g 4800 sq metre saltwater swimming lagoon, state of the art barbeque facilities, work out and exercise areas, functional modern seating and picnic areas, all of which are set amidst landscaped gardens with plenty of shade trees and heaps of open space. The vast triangular lagoon with it’s dramatic steel fish sculptures is the focal point, providing a water to water view from Shields St in the CBD across the lagoon and out across Trinity Bay.

3.8 million litres of seawater is continually filtered through four huge sand filters and through state of the art filtration and chorination processes to ensure the safe disinfection of the lagoon for the many families and visitors who come here every day to cool off, soak up the sun and relax by the lagoon on it’s sandy beaches.

Trained lifeguards patrol the lagoon from 6 am to 10 pm through summer and from 7 am to 9 pm in winter.

The kiosk in the amenities building adjacent to the Lagoon supplies food items, ice creams and drinks along with bathroom facilities.

The Police Beat is also centrally located in the amenities building providing an around the clock police presence in addition to 24 hr a day patrols by Security Guards.

The lagoon has a great holiday atmosphere and provides a safe happy environment for visitors and residents alike.

The Foreshore Promenade (Boardwalk)

Suspended over the mudflats at the water’s edge is the Foreshore Promenade or the “Boardwalk” as locals like to call it. The boardwalk provides a pedestrian access-way from Upward Street in the north… right around past the Pier Marketplace in the south.

At the northern end you will find Muddy’s Playground a children’s wonderland of water channels and hand pumps…water gates, rain shelters and jumping water jets…all under the watchful eye of Muddy the mud skipper sculpture! Other play areas include the pyramid climbing nets, spinning toys, the mangrove maze, a flying fox, sound chimes, the track ride, the rope bridge and slides, play houses, story telling areas, see-saw and slides. It’s enough to make you wish you were a kid again!

Next door is Skippers Fish and Chip Café where delicious light meals and refreshments are served. In the interests of safety Security Officers and CCTV cameras are monitoring this area at all times.

Further along the Boardwalk are three separate interpretive centres located in close proximity to the three bird feeding nodes where the boardwalk widens to accommodate birdwatchers and their tripods. Local and migratory birds gather in these three locations where storm water drain sediment has raised the level of the mud. This gives the birds an extra 40 minutes feeding time per day ahead of the ebbing and flowing tide…and consequently gives birdwatchers an even greater opportunity to observe the birds at close range while at the same time preserving their sensitive environment.

The boardwalk continues along past the Lagoon and then as part of the The Harbour Walk archs around the seawall of the Lagoon to the Pier… sweeping past the boats in the Marina and on to Trinity Inlet.

As you walk along the boardwalk (just past the Lagoon) you will see off to the right the Ergon Energy Soundshell which features a 65 sq metre stage. Surrounding this is an open grassy area where families and groups can bring a rug and spread out on the lawn to enjoy a concert or special event. Special events and convention dinners can be organized in this area as well…as it offers optimal space for marquees and tents.

There are lots of activities offered every day of the year in the early hours of each morning at the Esplanade…including Tai Chi, Yoga, Just Walk It, Pilates, Aqua Aerobics, and Sahaja Yoga Meditation. Start times 6.30am (in summer) and 7 am (in winter)

The Esplanade provides an exciting venue for a wide variety of entertainment and events. Come along on Friday night to see Fire By The Sea…watch the fire dancers perform between roughly 8.00 pm and 9.30 pm. It’s spectacular! You will find them on the sand beach off the boardwalk at the end of Florence Street right opposite Villa Romana.

Dotted along the Esplanade (and across the street from the Boardwalk and park areas) are an exciting array of restaurants offering a wide variety of differing cuisines. It’s great fun to walk “down” the boardwalk and “back” through the myriad of Esplanade restaurants and shops. While you’re there…don’t forget to check out the Night Markets which operate every night (and day) of the year.

We at Cairns Connect hope that you enjoy your visit to our newly re-developed award-winning Esplanade.

Should you have any enquiries about the Esplanade, the Project, or any of the activities offered there…please feel free to email us. We will do our best to answer them!

More information can be found at the Cairns City Council website.

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