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Cairns is an awesome place to live and visit. There are plenty of things to do amongst the tropical green environment. We have a wonderful climate, and even the wet season brings it own special feel to day to day life. Here are a few tips for families to help you get the most out of life in Cairns.
Services, Lessons and Care
Parents should always ensure a provider of services for children has a blue card from the Children's Commissioner.
Diving and Snorkeling
Many people enjoy diving and snorkeling while in Cairns and surrounds. We do have instant access to the Great Barrier Reef! It is good to know a few facts and tips about visiting the reef before you go. Dive boats will usually require children to be at least 12 years old to do a dive course or introductory dive. Kids aged 4 and above are able to snorkel. Most boats will have ‘noodles’ to hold onto for extra water safety but remember that snorkeling is tiring so keep a close watch on children snorkeling. Stinger suits are highly recommended and can be hired from most boats. This will not only provide protection from marine stingers, but it will help with buoyancy, keeping warm and, importantly, sun protection. Sun protection is important even in overcast conditions.
All Cairns beaches are prone to crocodiles and marine jellyfish (stingers). The crocs are rarely seen but they are there. You are more likely to be in danger if you are anywhere near a river, mangroves or creek so be aware of where you are planning on swimming. In saying that, many people do swim at the beaches and crocs usually like to stay away from humans anyway. Cairns’ locals have opinions varying from ‘it is completely alright to swim, don’t be over reactive’ to ‘there’s no way you will see me or my kids even near the water’s edge’. Take each situation as it comes, talk to the lifeguards and always swim between the flags or where there are other people. Use common sense. As for stingers, they are a very real danger and if you see the stinger nets out use them if you intend to swim.
The Cairns City Council website says "Stinger season generally runs from November to May." The stinger resistant swimming enclosures at local beaches give a high degree of protection against Box Jellyfish (but are not 100 percent 'stinger proof').
Beaches may be closed when stingers are present. Closures remain in place until weather patterns change and drive stingers away from the coastline. Always heed lifesavers' warnings and do not swim when beaches are closed.
Even when beaches are open, you can reduce your exposure to potential stings - wear protective clothing (wetsuit or full-body lycra suit) and enter the water slowly as stingers will often swim away, given the chance.”
It is not advisable to swim in rivers due to crocodiles
Creeks and water holes
When swimming at creeks and waterholes always check for signs that indicate caution for crocodiles. Most popular waterholes are popular for a reason, there are no crocs!!! Crocs rarely venture up creeks past the rocks and waterfalls and into the fresh water so waterholes full of locals enjoying themselves are usually just fine!
While heading out on a walk, always tell someone where you are headed and when you plan to return, take water and some food and wear closed shoes and long pants or socks. The tropical north is home to a few nasties and bothersome creatures like the stinging bush, mozzies and sandflies, snakes and spiders. Don’t let this put you off though. Be prepared with clothing and sun protection, read any warning sign you might come across, and you should have a great time.
The official wet season is approx Dec-March or April. In this time we can have some serious deluges, and a month of nonstop rain. It doesn’t have to stop you having fun – especially as it is rarely cold at all! Many kids relish the opportunity to get out in the rain and just get wet. Just be aware that returning to air conditioned comfort will be very cold!!
Cyclones are relatively common in North Queensland and to live here or visit it is worth being well informed about preparation and how to manage during a cyclone. If you are visiting, be aware that the cyclone season is from approx Nov-April. The council has some good info to get started on your preparations. Have a look at www.cairns.qld.gov.au/cyclone-emergency-information.