‘Caravonica for cowards’: Brutal take on every Cairns suburb

Brinsmead is all fur coat and no knickers, Gordonvale has a drinking problem and Kamerunga is Caravonica for cowards.

 

Reporter Chris Calcino has summed up every suburb in Cairns - and don't get him started on Edge Hill.

Aeroglen

Inhabited exclusively by people with severe hearing impairment. Has a basically empty airport with decor that can only be stomached by people who watch Kath and Kim for style tips. The decay of its derelict mangrove boardwalk is only matched by some of the suburb's old Queenslanders. Close to Stratford, at least.

A taste of the prized decor at the Cairns Airport.
A taste of the prized decor at the Cairns Airport.

Aloomba

Wishes it was Gordonvale, but isn't. Population of 529 people with a grand total of six pairs of covered shoes between the lot. Great swimming if you're a crocodile or crocodile adjacent creature - a category a fair portion of the leather-backed residents fit into. Local councillor gets cranky at kids swimming in the causeway near his house. Has a post office that looks like a CWA hall.

Babinda

Median age of residents is about 98. Awesome bakery, unusually popular public toilet and a cupboard shop. Dental hygiene isn't particularly popular but the people are friendly. Boulders Tavern and Babinda State Hotel are top notch. Has a lovely swimming hole, but you might drown. Not as wet as Tully.

 

Barron

 

Hard to believe this is even a suburb. Had a grand total of 42 residents in 2016. Full of farms, crocodiles and the old Smithfield cemetery. Technically home to the Freshwater Pony Club, which is weird.

The mayor of Barron plays the national anthem.
The mayor of Barron plays the national anthem.

Barron Gorge

Who knew Barron Gorge was a suburb of its own? Not me. All rainforest, an absolute ripsnorter of a waterfall and a hydro-electric plant. Good spot, 6/10.

Bartle Frere

Cane, cane and more cane. A handful of rough-handed types live here at the foothills of a mountain that complete nutters routinely climb, get stranded and bleed taxpayers dry when they need rescuing. Did you know Bartle Frere State School exists? Me neither. Apparently it has been around since 1922 and has 10 students. Seems pointless.

 

Bayview Heights

 

Very proud of the fact it's not Woree. Does not like being referred to as Woree Heights. Rich bogans with infinity pools at the top of the hill, lower middle class bogans with three VL Commodores and a tinny on the front lawn at the bottom of the hill. The dogs all have superiority complexes.

How people in Bayview Heights kiss their dogs.
How people in Bayview Heights kiss their dogs.

 

Bellenden Ker

 

Nice little cafe. It's basically a mountain and some sugarcane farms. Has a street called Telecom Rd which didn't get updated when the company switched to Telstra in the 90s. The few people who live suffered severe head knocks back in the day and think it is still 1956.

 

Bentley Park

 

Remember back when there was so much promise about this flash new suburb opening up at the city's south? Look how that turned out … Backs onto rainforest that is good yowie country, although most hairy-man sightings are just locals with their shirts off. South Cairns Sports Club lists its address as Edmonton even though it is smack bang in the middle of Bentley. Must be embarrassed. Great views at the top of the hill. Lock your cars.

 

Bramston Beach

 

Perfect spot to lose a leg to a big toothy critter, or a croc. Full of dreary old grey nomads who want to tell you about the time they met Daryl Braithwaite at the Gympie Muster and he was a lovely gentleman but very, very sweaty. The sand on the beach gets a wonderful sparkle caused by mica flakes and stray ring-pulls from old XXXX Gold cans. Ripper little cafe, and sometimes there are dolphins. Ideal location for cocaine to wash ashore without the local constabulary noticing. Croc attacks likely even in backyard pools.

Who, him? Don’t worry – that’s just Bazza.
Who, him? Don’t worry – that’s just Bazza.

 

Brinsmead

 

Well lah-di-dah, sort of. Home to the most over-walked dogs in the civilised world. Full of people who think they understand the term "capital gains" and don't mind paying five times as much for toilet paper at the corner store. Has eight council-maintained parks while the poor schleps in the city's south have to play in gutters. Brinsmead is kind of like Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet, thank you very much) from Keeping Up Appearances. All fur coat and no knickers.

 

Bungalow

 

A strange mix of industrial sheds, a pub lovingly referred to as the Bunghole, and remnant housing that hasn't yet been demolished for warehousing but probably should. Heaps of backpackers and students who are too povo to afford city rent but also too povo to own cars. Lots of drains for such a small suburb. Holds the dubious honour of overflowing with sewage backwash when the rain gets a bit heavy. In the words of resident Bob Day after a bit of rain in 2018: "It is raw sewage, I can tell you. You can see the s**** and toilet paper."

Bob Day shows off one of Bungalow’s prized drains. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Bob Day shows off one of Bungalow’s prized drains. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

 

Cairns City

 

Heaps of vacant shopfronts, some great bars and restaurants, some absolute duds, tourists, office workers and a handful of sadomasochistic residents with quiet drinking problems who are still working out the life-work balance after all these years. Miles better than Townsville, even if Tom Gleeson did risk a sunburnt pecker to pee in the Lagoon. If you're too cheap to fork out for pay-per-view boxing, just hang out on the street outside Gilligan's at 2am on a Friday. Basically every remotely secluded surface reeks of urine on Monday morning.

 

Cairns North

 

Luxuriate among the intoxicating aroma of rank mudflat stench and mangrove slop when the wind is just right. Used to have a brilliant pirate ship playground that was demolished in the early 2000s and replaced with a bland and soulless "fun ship" that, sorry, does not look remotely seaworthy. Houses will all eventually be knocked down to make way for institutional apartment complexes that look like something George Orwell would cook up during a bout of crippling depression. Living here only makes sense if you are at least 80 years old. The hotels are for poor people.

A Cairns North resident sets off for the morning commute on work on take-your-son-to-work day. PICTURE: MARC MCCORMACK
A Cairns North resident sets off for the morning commute on work on take-your-son-to-work day. PICTURE: MARC MCCORMACK

 

Caravonica

 

Should just bite the bullet and declare itself a sovereign territory. People are odd and homes are cheap because the suburb becomes an island every time there's a bit of rain. Good spot for folks whose absence from work for 2-3 days would go unnoticed. There was a woman in her 50s who called herself the Mermaid of Lake Placid and swam in a waterway that was confirmed to have crocodiles. She was Caravonica's version of a local celebrity. Enough said. A bloke recently survived getting bitten on the head by a croc with a sweet tooth for idiots.

 

Clifton Beach

 

Used to be home to the Cairns Tropical Zoo, but not anymore. House prices are inexplicably high just because the suburb has a Coles. Someone tried to build a fancy apartment complex and Clifton Beach imploded into a vacuum of visceral NIMBY-ism that threatened to suck the Macalister Range into its vortex. The street lamps seem to be on the fritz with unusual frequency - can someone explain this? Coco Mojo does a roaring trade of breakfast cocktails because locals struggle with the crushing weight of reality and like to be legless by noon.

It’s not horrific alcohol abuse if it comes in a fancy glass. PICTURE: ISTOCK
It’s not horrific alcohol abuse if it comes in a fancy glass. PICTURE: ISTOCK

 

Deeral

 

Dangerously high levels of lead in the water have contributed to all sorts of quirky larrikinism - like the Deeral cane farmer whose defence against killing a crocodile was that it "committed suicide" on a 4m wire fishing line he baited and tied to a tree. Locals cracked up a few years ago over an unnecessary toilet block upgrade and, apart from several thousand drug busts, croc encounters and the occasional unexplained gunshot, nothing of note has happened since. Land of the septic tank and poor water pressure. Great spot if you want to buy palms and cycads. Also the step-off point to the beautiful Frankland Islands. Literally every single person here goes fishing twice a week.

 

Earlville

 

The shopping centre started playing classical music over the loudspeakers a while back in an effort to bore juvenile delinquents into forgetting to stab people and steal grannies' handbags. It didn't work. Side note: If you've never committed an indictable offence to the rousing accompaniment of Eine kleine Nachtmusik, you haven't lived. Earlville is another suburb where altitude drives a wedge between the sort-of-rich and the poor. Up the hill, cashed up Dazzas and Shazzas dressed in horrible fishing shirts covered in advertising logos use entry-level pressure hoses to clean their Quintrex dinghies every Sunday arvo. Down the bottom, young'uns strut around at 10pm, swearing and spitting on cars. Joe's Pizza is responsible for 80 per cent of the suburb's soaring heart disease rate through its insistence that every pizza must have at least 8.5kg in toppings.

The absolute pinnacle of haute couture fashion in Earlville. PICTURE: CAMERON BATES
The absolute pinnacle of haute couture fashion in Earlville. PICTURE: CAMERON BATES

 

East Russell

 

A handful of people actually live here, apparently. It consists of farming land and a few single-level homes on occasionally mowed acreages surrounded by dense rainforest. These will be the first places subsumed by Mother Nature's unrelenting creep after the mass extinction of 2026. Property prices are super low but what you save on money, you lose on dying from more tropical diseases than you can shake a gangrenous leg stump at.

 

East Trinity

 

God's country, but nobody here realises that decent fences have been invented. Dogs with high-functioning genitalia roam free and shag each other with wild abandon. The water pressure is too weak to turn the hose on them, so the streets are full of big breasted mama hounds lazing under trees. Seriously though, it's pretty bloody beautiful and only a half-hour drive to the middle of Cairns when the weather's good. Why don't more people live here? The Mandingalbay Yidinji people have a big eco-cultural tourism development on the boil so hopefully that comes off.

The dogs go at it like rabbits in East Trinity.
The dogs go at it like rabbits in East Trinity.

 

Edge Hill

 

If you've never hammered down a spicy bloody mary for breakfast at NOA while watching the steady stream of new-age Charles Manson-looking types plodding in, barefoot, to the Wild Heart Yoga Tribe centre next door, you are missing out. Sure, these impossibly fit crystal-lickers look like they could use a good scrub, but that's what Edge Hill is all about. Old money and the offspring of old money who spend $200 on pants they could have got for the price of a half-smoked durry from any drunken hobo with an itchy lung. You will pay absolute top dollar for a small, wooden house that was originally intended for indentured servants a century ago. The footpath situation sucks for anyone pushing a pram. If you need to send someone an apology bouquet after serving non-organic kale at your last brunch date, Living Colour of the Tropics has the cheapest delivery in town. Everyone gets very excited when the "ultra rare" stinking phallus flower blooms at least 15 times a year at the botanic gardens.

Dreamin’ bout that stinking phallus flower.
Dreamin’ bout that stinking phallus flower.

 

Edmonton

 

Cairns' most confused suburb. Some of the oldies still call it Hambledon, it even had a stint under the name Hambledon Junction, but has been formally known as Edmonton since 1914 to stop people mixing up the main train stop with the one at the sugar mill. Home of the Grafton Hotel, the Hambo Hotel and Fuller Sports Club - and the claimed home of South Cairns Sports Club even though it is clearly in Bentley Park. Trying really hard to become the "second CBD" of Cairns but let's face it, we're dealing with cane paddocks here. Plenty of short, wiry old blokes with unaccountably huge knuckles who love a yarn over the spuds at Piccone's. Crocs at the boat ramp. Peacocks roaming from Sugarworld drop their gluey sludge-dung on front porches, each glob of which requires a litre of hydrochloric acid to remove. Sugarworld is to Wet'n'Wild what Mark Latham is to Bob Hawke.

 

Ellis Beach

 

Worst position for a surf life saving club in the southern hemisphere, but an absolute stonker of a bar. Live music and $1 oysters on Sunday arvos. Make sure someone is sober enough to drive or you will be stranded. Great beach if you don't mind losing a few limbs, and the resident camper who has been there for months seems an affable lady. Who knows, she might even cook you up a feed from the pumpkins, chillies, bananas and sugarcane she has growing there. Delightfully undeveloped, pretty much apart from some nice oceanfront bungalows. Quite a few mango trees, the originals of which were planted by Dick Ellis - the Department of Main Roads shot-firer who was given a beachfront house from the Queensland Government in about 1940 after his hand was blown off by explosives. Legend has it there are still some hook-nailed old fingers that crawl about in the sand on a full moon, looking for unsuspecting bums to scratch.

 

 

Eubenangee

 

A recent ReachTEL poll found 6458 Cairns residents unanimously agreed the name Eubenangee was "impossible to pronounce", "rather silly" and "a bit of a bloody piss-take, to be perfectly honest". If you like swamps, you're gonna love this place. The 200 or so locals have an annual get-together where they vote in the next year's Chief Swamp Ogre - a tradition that lost favour in the 80s but has had an incredible resurgence since the first Shrek film was released in 2001. Home to more species of birds than single humans.

 

Fishery Falls

 

Shoes optional, but actively discouraged. People only know this place exists because of the pub. Everyone driving south for a camping weekend stops here for the drive-through bottlo or to evacuate their bowels in the public toilet across the road. Another one of those places that has a school (McDonnell Creek State School) but probably shouldn't since it only has 14 students.

Fishery Falls formalwear.
Fishery Falls formalwear.

 

Fitzroy Island

 

Feels like we have been hearing about resort renos and redevelopments for 15 years but nothing ever changes. Foxy's Bar is a great spot to get so stonkered on pina coladas that snorkelling becomes a hazard. People rarely die here, in the scheme of things. A great sense of self-important chuffery overcomes every Cairns resident when their cousin rolls into town and mentions they are thinking about going to Green Island - the perfect opportunity to exercise that local knowledge, chuckle smugly and redirect them to Fitzroy. Local's secret, bigfulla, wink wink, how's-ya-father. They are trying to charge people for the luxury of using their toilets so the shoreline is now strewn with a proliferation of washed-up aqua-bogs. The walk to Nudey Beach is always slightly further than you think. British backpackers take the name Nudey Beach very literally, so be prepared to cop an eyeful of bush among the scrub.

 

Freshwater

 

Growing up, kids from Freshwater State School were always a bit weird and just kept saying "freshies brah" accompanied by the shaka sign mid-conversation. Not sure why. Should really be named Savina-ville since basically the whole suburb was once owned by the same cane farming family - the one responsible for the field of sunflowers that drives people mental on an annual basis. Really it's just a good way to build soil health and break pest cycles, but everyone with an Instagram account quivers in anticipation after the cane harvesters roll through. The cafe at Limberlost Nursery makes a lovely iced coffee. Suburb has an obsession with trains, a glut of bed and breakfasts, and is close enough to smell the Barron River Hotel's famous beer-waft when the breeze picks up. Probably the only place on the planet with an Indian restaurant that serves pizza built into its grocery store.

Collective hysteria overcomes Freshwater every time the sunflowers bloom. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
Collective hysteria overcomes Freshwater every time the sunflowers bloom. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

 

Glen Boughton

 

Glen Boughton sounds like a great bloke down at the pub who used to be a top cricketer but now focuses on keeping his gullet hydrated, smashing down darts and spoiling the grandkids. I know literally nothing about this place except that it exists and is basically sugarcane, mountain and scrub. It could be a 5km drive from Cairns if a bridge was built over Trinity Inlet, but instead it is a 30-odd kilometre slog via Gordonvale. This spiel is brought to you by the fine folk at Wikipedia.

 

Goldsborough

 

A strange place where people shoot wild brumbies and pile them in shallow graves. Driving through the undulating hills feels like playing The Sims on computer - it doesn't look entirely real. Long-term residents are blowing a foofoo valve over the suburb's gentrification as former grazing land is carved into subdivisions and sold off to interlopers. The big barra himself, Tom Hedley, almost got impaled on a dozen pitchforks when he tried to build a small convenience store in town. The locals weren't having it, thank you very much, and were more than happy to drive to Gordonvale for their bread, milk and dunny rolls. Peets Bridge floods every 30 seconds and Goldsborough becomes a temporary island. Locals have engaged the services of a hydrological engineer to work out how to make it permanent.

Goldsborough’s newest subdivision.
Goldsborough’s newest subdivision.

 

Gordonvale

 

Nearly every single person has a massive home-brew kit and makes their own dodgy version of Bundaberg Rum in a scungy old still that threatens to explode at any moment. Piefection does a mean meat pie and will begrudgingly serve them to rotten drunk 16-year-olds at 4am if they make enough of a racket. It won a pie contest once, got a banner printed and left it up for about a decade. Don't get into a fight with any bloke or chick from G-Town, even if they are smaller than you. Everyone is a bit of a psycho, especially with a neck full of grog, which they all have 100 per cent of the time. You will be publicly scorned if your pluggers are deemed too flash at the Parkview Tav. As a result the term "scuffin' up" has taken off in the Gordonvale lexicon, meaning the act of applying a layer of mud and other blemishes to new thongs before getting ba-liiiind at the pub. Like fishing? Good at lying about the size of barras? You'll fit right in mate, pull up a stump. Gordonvale kids throw the most insane 21st birthday parties in Cairns and someone always ends up rolling down a hill in a tractor wheel. Chairs will be thrown. Best mates punch each other in the head but can't remember it the next day and go back to being best mates again. Smells weird.

The Parkview Tavern, circa 2021.
The Parkview Tavern, circa 2021.

 

Green Hill

 

Hasn't been included in the Census since 1950 because the postman is scared he will be shot if he gets too close. Cairns' answer to the uncontacted Sentinelese tribe in India.

 

Green Island

 

Fitzroy Island for Chinese people.

 

Holloways Beach

 

Not even the beach wants to live here. It continually tries to escape but gets cruelly sucked back in when Cairns Regional Council brings heavy machinery to dump new sand as part of its brutal anti-erosion agenda. Strait on the Beach does a fantastic fish burger and doesn't skimp on the ice cream in its iced coffees. Wear a mosquito coil around your neck because you will be mauled.

Holloways Beach: Desperate for the sweet release of death. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Holloways Beach: Desperate for the sweet release of death. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

 

Kamerunga

 

Caravonica for cowards. Despite sounding like something a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle would say, Kamerunga considers itself a legitimate contender for Cairns' best 'burb. The Greek Festival at the Greek Orthodox Church every year is the only chance most of us get to smash plates without copping a spanking from mum.

 

Kanimbla

 

Named after a boat - just like Manoora and Mooroobool, which was news to me. Seems to lose power with inordinate frequency. Doesn't have any shops, but if it did their stock would all be slightly old. What can you say about such an inoffensive, middle-rung slice of suburbia? It's nice, I suppose? Kanimbla is basically neck-to-neck with warm porridge on the pleasantness scale.

Kanimbla.
Kanimbla.

 

Kewarra Beach

 

Home to the most prestigious golf course in Far North Quee-uh hang on, strike that. This is awkward, let's start again. Former home of the most prestigious golf course in Far North Queensland, and thousands of residents who never used it but will be damned if they let the owner redevelop it. The only thing that ever excited locals as much as Paradise Palms' shutdown was when a coconut palm started to tilt over due to beach erosion. People here love showing you photos of their dogs on their phones.

 

Lamb Range

 

Hiking trails, the Gillies Range and intermittent chunks of yowie dung.

 

Little Mulgrave

 

Move here and you will be within rolling distance - or swimming if you want to risk it - of arguably the best pub in FNQ. The Mountain View Hotel is the duck's nuts. Cold beer, good feeds, live music and generally a big delegation of revheads with hot rods on Sunday afternoons. Just be careful when you're pulling out to drive home because there have been some horror stories. Locals have a slightly mad streak, can drink way more piss than you and all have guns, some of which are licensed.

Heaven on earth.
Heaven on earth.

 

Macalister Range

 

National park, no people, thousands of yowies.

 

Machans Beach

 

Mosquito breeding ground and the former home of Pasquale Catatonico, the mad entomologist whose perverted insect reproduction experiments were responsible for the creation of dengue fever. A big ugly rock wall is all that stands between the beach and its final inevitable form - a mudflat extending from Cairns North. People like to think they are slightly bohemian, love a good salt lamp and have annoying beads hanging from their doorways.

 

Manoora

 

The only people who knock the "M suburbs" are debt-ridden northern beaches snobs with poles up their bums. Manoora is close to everything, produces some of the Far North's best street fighters and finding someone to sell you a sweaty bag of crotch weed is always a relatively simple task. What more could you ask for? Anyway, those much maligned M'burbs will be laughing all the way to the bank once the ocean engulfs Trinity Park's soulless kit homes in the Great Ocean Rising of 2025.

Ah, the sweet Manoora ballet in action.
Ah, the sweet Manoora ballet in action.

 

Manunda

 

Home to the mighty Brothers Leagues Club - still a force to be reckoned with even though management: A) Took XXXX Bitter off tap B) Rejigged the TAB smoking room into a much more classy/gammin affair and C) Switched to these weird, long schooner and pint glasses that just don't make sense. Meat tray central. Heaps of sporting fields that the clientele at Raintrees Shopping Centre never use. An overwhelming sense of sussness creeps in when entering Raintrees. You'll notice there are no shoe shops, so everyone goes barefoot to avoid being jumped by a bunch of 13yo gangstas willing to stab you with prison shivs to steal you Nike kicks. Raintrees Tavern is a beauty and I don't care what you say. There are worse things than having a Manunda you, am I right?

 

Mirriwinni

 

Basically Babinda. Servo, general store, good swimming spots nearby and tonnes of cane fields. Plenty of great spots for bush doofs, although you'll have to head to the Tablelands to dig through cow manure first if you want to stock up on magic mushrooms.

 

Mooroobool

 

Some pockets look like Sarajevo circa 1993, others look like The Truman Show with more white people. City View is the definition of moneybags snobbery. It has tried everything to declare itself a stand-alone suburb but cannot escape its proletariat roots. It's all Mooroobool to us. Basically no businesses operate here for fear of ransacking. Sure, a lot of cars stolen from the northern beaches end up getting lit on fire in Mooroobool but that doesn't prove nothin'. Elitist drongos whose chief virtue in life is being born into upper middle class Anglo families love to tut-tut about lower Mooroobool and the salt of the earth folks who live there, but they are boring. This is real Cairns for real people, right near the guts of town, with lots and lots of little wannabe thugs.

 

 

Mount Peter

 

Mount Peter? Why, I've never met the man! Canefields and construction sites. Went from complete non-existence in the public consciousness to being spruiked by every visiting politician as the "future growth corridor of Cairns". Enormous risk that it will become another cookie-cutter mess of housing estates - but fingers crossed.

 

Mount Sheridan

 

Goes all right. Shopping centre has everything you need, and Mr Meats butcher does a lovely marinated pork chop. It's hard to get excited about unashamed suburbia. The way I feel towards Mount Sheridan is roughly on par with the way I feel about quiche. Forest Gardens is another of those wishes-it-was-a-suburb-but-isn't estates. Nice enough for people who want their kids to be able to play on the street, but everything is so compact that you are pretty much sitting on your neighbour's lap. That's fine, but I am a married man and I don't do that anymore.

 

 

Ngatjan (part)

 

Absolutely no idea. Appears to be a creek separating Cairns from the Cassowary Coast, but it appears on the official suburbs list, so there you go.

 

Packers Camp

 

Reclaimed swamp that now has sugarcane, snakes, a few deranged residents and a boat ramp. Also home to the Cairns Crocodile Farm, breeding reptiles for meat and skin export.

 

Palm Cove

 

The prettiest beach in Cairns, and doesn't it know it. Crocs and stingers are the only thing stopping Palm Cove from being completely destroyed by millions of drunken tourists every month, so we owe them a debt of gratitude. Everyone uses the Rattle 'n' Hum toilets even if they are not customers. Paperbarks and palm trees, so many people with tiny dogs, four-star resorts that claim to be five-star and a perfect jetty for night fishing. Backpackers line up jobs here before realising how much of a hike it is from Cairns, the poor blighters. More places to eat, drink and be merry than any other beach suburb. Gets bagged out as a soulless tourist mecca by the kind of sad saps who kick puppies and complain every time they go to a restaurant. Parking situation can be a bloody headache.

Get in there boys, you little ripper! PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
Get in there boys, you little ripper! PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

 

Parramatta Park

 

Heaps of old Queenslanders whose owners, 100 years on, are only now realising they should have raised them on stumps to avoid flooding every few years. Astonishing that this place can be so close to the CBD of a tourism town like Cairns. Everything is a bit tired, lots of roof rust, and there's an enormous swamp in the middle of it that flying foxes evicted from the CBD refuse to call home. The school still has its dinky old weatherboard buildings, and cashes in as a carpark when the Cairns Show is on. The showgrounds are probably the site of the last major riot we had in Cairns. It was 1932 and all the vagrants holed up in Parramatta Park refused to leave while the Cairns Show was on, so police and general townsfolk came in and bashed them into submission. A riot ensued and those poor homeless people were run out of town, but clearly they all came back.

 

Portsmith

 

The engine room of Cairns. Everyone who works here is always filthy in grease, grime and mud. Except the managers, who are filthy rich and unilaterally despised.

 

Redlynch

 

It starts as a soft, faraway vibration that becomes more shrill with every passing moment. The soft pffk pffk pffk of spandexed leg rubbing on spandexed leg enters the fray, muddled by the snorts and farts of poorly trained Pomeranians who would not survive a run-in with an irritable chook. "Aw Shazza, I tell ya, I said that's not good enough." One grating voice at first, then another chimes in, then another until a deafening chorus of Shazzas has filled the air, sharing their vast experiences of demanding to speak to the manager. You dive for cover behind a bush but there is no escaping the horde now. The activewear mums have arrived, and they swear loudly and despite all evidence to the contrary that Redlynch Valley is its own separate suburb. It's not, and darkness is creeping in - but what's that? The booze bus from Red Beret Hotel has just pulled up, ready to whisk you away to safety. You live to drink another day.

Authorities estimate 83 per cent of Redlynch spot fires are caused by activewear thigh friction.
Authorities estimate 83 per cent of Redlynch spot fires are caused by activewear thigh friction.

 

Smithfield

 

Classical Greek mythology talks about the Fields of Asphodel, a sort of halfway section of the Underworld where the souls of mediocre people dwell. They are not bad enough for Tartarus (Hell) or the Elysium Fields (Heaven) so they just exist in this purgatory no-man's land. Smithfield is Cairns' version of that transitory limbo - not quite the city, not quite the beaches, not quite anything at all. Just another fart in the wind.

 

Stratford

 

Probably the cutest suburb in Cairns, like a puppy that you cannot bring yourself to drown even though it destroys your shoes and wees on the carpet. Lots of beautiful flowering golden shower trees - do not google this without adding the word "trees". The triumphant Barron River Hotel does an excellent meal and is a prime spot to smoke rollies with retired prize fighters whose ham hock fists are now exclusively used for grabbing schooeys. Stratford Bowlsie still has an old wooden spin-the-wheel somewhere out the back, with each number represented by a playing card with a topless babe from the 80s. Great spot for an 18th birthday party, or really sub-par battle of the bands type deal. Stratty kids are weird (see Freshwater).

Bloody day for it, fellas.
Bloody day for it, fellas.

 

Trinity Beach

 

Coastwatchers Park is eshay central. Judging by the insane Macguyver-level bottle and hose masterpieces that litter the place, some of these kids have bright futures as engineers if they can tear themselves away from the bucket bong.

 

Trinity Park

 

Paradise for people who love narrow roads and smelling their neighbours' farts. House blocks are crammed in so tight that everyone has to park their boats on the front lawn. U-turns are impossible. In the words of 60s folk singer Malvina Reynolds: "Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky, little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same." Trinity Beach's poor cousin - a lipsticked pig.

 

Waugh Pocket

 

Where former Australian cricket captain Steve used to keep his famous red handkerchief. Farms and forest.

Steve Waugh with his lucky red hanky in 2004. PICTURE MARK EVANS
Steve Waugh with his lucky red hanky in 2004. PICTURE MARK EVANS

 

Westcourt

 

Remember the old ads? "Up at Cazalys, Up at Cazalys, pokies or bingo, the winnings are best!" Gambling advertising laws mean they are now banned from TV, but holy dooley that ditty made me thirsty for the punt as a 10-year-old. DFO (nee Westcourt Plaza) is pretty cool, just on the edge of being too big but not quite crossing the line. Going to TK Max with your wife is very dangerous. Run-of-the-mill suburbia with a light smattering of dodginess.

 

White Rock

 

Old apartment resort and retirement village in the north, shonky at the centre, and semirural acreages in the south. Trinity Links has a nice big pool with slightly less wee in it than the Esplanade Lagoon. Everyone makes a big stink about the wallabies in the northern beaches but there are heaps more in White Rock, and they are open game. Some kids mowed down about 30 of them in a stolen car recently - but don't let that put you off.

 

Whitfield

 

Full of old people. House prices and quality increase with every step up the hill. Jump on Google Maps and have a look at Knott Ct if you're in the mood to wallow in a pit of despair over the relative squalor of your life.

Just your average two-bedder in Knott Ct.
Just your average two-bedder in Knott Ct.

 

Woopen Creek

 

Home of the beautiful Golden Hole reserve, down near Babinda. It's on the Russell River and probably has crocs living in it, but a good spot to have a picnic and catch a sooty grunter.

 

Wooroonooran

 

Heaven on earth. Mount Bartle Frere, Walshs Pyramid, Mount Belenden Ker, Josephine Falls, Fishery Falls, Behana Gorge, Nandroya Falls, Clamshell Falls, Wallicher Falls, Tchupala Falls and the Babinda Boulders are all within this beautiful national park. Don't twist your ankle or you will die.

 

Woree

 

I have devised an unofficial measure of suburban pride called the Dog Poo Ratio. Woree's DPR sits at about 9 since very few people pick up their hound nuggets. This is not good. It is also a blistering indictment on modern youth that the rock up behind St Mary's rarely gets painted these days. It used to be a rite of passage - sleep over at a mate's place, sneak out and get blind drunk, climb Red Hill with tins of house paint and realise you forgot a paintbrush or means of opening said tin. Bash the lid in with a rock, grab your mate Jimmy by the ankles and dangle him headfirst over the edge to slop up some unintelligible nonsense by hand that nobody will be able to read tomorrow. Hoons chuck the mad skidz outside Macca's in their Commodores and rice burners on Thursday nights. The old Woree Library is now a weird community hall used exclusively by Polynesian Mormon families and people who do tai chi. The IGA used to be called Big Tomato and had an awkward TV ad where suss blokes harassed a young woman by following her around the store and singing "Lady in Red". Some ghetto bits, some slightly less ghetto bits. Toogood Rd is the perfect spot to camp out and watch the drunks skinning knees on gutters after the Amateurs.

Pick it up? Haha no, not a chance.
Pick it up? Haha no, not a chance.

 

Wrights Creek

 

Sugar, shootin' and shaggin'. Big families, a gun club and lots of cane.

 

Yorkeys Knob

 

Ridiculous name. The only place in Cairns where a windshield technician moonlights as a locum dentist, going door-to-door using industrial-grade super glue to refasten teeth shaken loose by low-flying planes. Bloody awful water pressure. Perfect spot to plonk an $8 billion casino.

Originally published as 'Caravonica for cowards': Brutal take on every Cairns suburb



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