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Getting Around Cairns in a Rental Car

Explore the vibrant capital of Tropical North Queensland at your own pace and go wherever your heart desires. Before you begin your journey discovering lush rainforest, amazing nightlife, and gorgeous beaches, book your hire car with VroomVroomVroom. Here is a quick guide to help you get the best of Cairns.

Where to drive your rental car in Cairns

  • Paronella Park: Discover a dazzling rainforest built by José Paronella, where you will see the ruins of a Spanish castle. Located at Mena Creek, explore and take in the beauty of the park, which is included in the state and national heritage lists.
  • Crystal Cascades: If you want to escape the tropical North Queensland heat, then look no further than Crystal Cascades. Situated just 20 minutes drive from Cairns CBD, this remote waterhole is the perfect place to unwind.
  • Atherton Tablelands: Just an hour from Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands is a charming region that offers spectacular rainforest activities and plenty of accommodation options. The picturesque Millaa Millaa Falls and Lookout are well worth a visit.
  • Kuranda: Famous for its markets, arts & crafts, and wildlife attractions, tourists can take the Scenic Railway or Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to reach Kuranda.
  • Yungaburra: Reveal the old-fashioned village of Yungaburra which features plenty of historic shops and galleries. You will find the Crater Lakes National Park located nearby, where you can enjoy a relaxing swim at Lake Eacham.

Driving tips in Cairns

  • To improve road safety for Cairns residents and visitors, a 40km/h speed limit now applies in the city centre of Cairns.
  • The speed limit to most suburban residential streets in built-up areas across Queensland is 50km/h, unless otherwise signposted.
  • If you rent a car, check with the rental company about their tolling arrangements.
  • Paying for your toll roads? There is no need to buy an e-tag as they are for private vehicles and not for rental cars.
  • Be sure to display your valid parking ticket on your dashboard. Failure to display it could lead to a parking fine.
  • Yellow lines are used in Cairns to notify drivers of parking conditions.
  • Roadside random breath testing units are common in Cairns.
  • Be cautious when driving in isolated areas as animals like kangaroos usually stray onto roads.

Parking in Cairns

Parking is easy in Cairns. All parking is signposted and there are parking metres where you pay about $1 for 2 hours in the heart of town. Regulated parking hours in the CBD are from 8:30 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday, and 8:30 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. Note that Cairns Regional Council normally charges $1.60 per hour for its on-street and off-street parking. Parking times and hours at other locations in the city will differ, so make sure to check the signs.

Driving Distances

  • Cairns to Atherton Tablelands: 1 hour and 24 minutes
  • Cairns to Port Douglas: 1 hour and 9 minutes
  • Cairns to Daintree: 2 hours and 25 minutes
  • Cairns to Cooktown: 4 hours
  • Cairns to Townsville: 4 hours and 15 minutes


Before you return your hire car to the depot, ensure you have filled it with fuel to avoid any extra charges. Below are some centrally located petrol stations in Cairns.

  • United Petroleum: 230-238 Sheridan St, Cairns North QLD
  • Caltex: 30-36 Kenny St, Cnr Bunda St, Cairns City QLD
  • Shell: 291 Sheridan St, Cairns North QLD
  • Coles Express: 291-293 Sheridan St & James St, Cairns City QLD
  • BP: 3 Rob Veivers Dr, Kuranda QLD
  • Trinity Petroleum: 8386 Kennedy Hwy, Atherton QLD
From breathtaking beaches, rugged mountains, eucalypt forests and amazing wildlife, you will never run out of things to do in Cairns. Major highlights in the city include the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Botanical Gardens, Cairns Esplanade, Kuranda Scenic Railway, Palm Cove, Daintree Rainforest, Josephine Falls, Cairns Aquarium, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Undara Volcanic National Park, and the Atherton Tablelands.

Read more about Cairns