Holiday fun doesn’t need to be expensive… in fact, it can be completely free! If you are looking for free school holiday activities in Cairns you have come to the right place. We have listed all the free things to do in the school holidays right here!
From strolling through all the natural wonders this beautiful city has to offer, to taking the kids on adventure playgrounds, these free kids school holiday activities won’t cost you a cent!
State schools finish on Friday 8 December 2023 and return to class on Monday 22 January 2024.
Summer school holidays in Queensland are Saturday 9 December 2023 to Sunday 21 January 2024.
This is a guide to the best free things to do in Cairns.
Cairns Botanic Gardens
If you are planning for the next school holidays, then why not take your family out for a day at Cairns Botanic Gardens. These gardens – renowned as one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia – always has free school holiday ideas with something fun for the family to do. View the upcoming workshops, talks, or classes, or choose from the variety of different walks and tours including a bird watching walk.
Muddy’s is a fun splash playground and parkland which also includes a flying fox, track ride, rope bridge, and more – a great place to take the kids on a sunny day! Be sure to stop off at Muddy’s Café too if you didn’t already bring a packed lunch to enjoy together!
Click here for more information.
Cairns Art Gallery
As the 2020 Archibald prize winners, Cairns Art Gallery will always be the host to a day of beautiful masterpieces for you and your family to admire. Keep an eye on their ‘what’s on’ page to see what family fun events are coming up.
Go to Cairns Art Gallery’s website now!
Hidden in this tropical rainforest is a secluded freshwater swimming hole, surrounded by nature and waterfalls. There are also picnic benches, BBQ’s and a walking track! Take the family for a day out exploring nature at Cairns’ very own Crystal Cascades.
Find out more here!
Centenary Lakes Nature Play
Take your family to Centenary Lakes these school holidays! By integrating creative play elements with the natural lakeside environment, this unique nature play space is unlike any other playground your family has seen before. Make sure to pack a picnic, use the BBQ facilities, and go on a walk through the trees while you’re there!
The majestic Josephine falls is located just 1 hour south of Cairns, and is a day you won’t regret having. This tiered cascade waterfall trickles into a swimming hole which is safe for a swim! Make sure to fins the lookout for some incredible views! We wrote a detailed review about Josephine Falls here.
Plan your trip to Josephine Falls today!
Cairns Esplanade lagoon
What better way to cool off from the Cairns heat than by taking a dip in the Esplanade’s pristine, blue lagoon. The popularity of this pool is clear from all the families seen daily spending their time there. Surrounded by a walk along the Esplanade and fig tree playground, your day here will never fail to put smiles on your families faces!
Take a look at Cairns’ lagoon
Get your walking boots on and your backpacks filled, ready for a walk through the wet tropic’s world heritage rainforest! This 8.2km circuit is on a grade 3 walking track and takes approximately 3.5 hours of walking. Stop along the way for a family picnic, and enjoy all the family-fun photo opportunities to keep the memories forever.
See all that’s on offer on the Jungaljungal walk
Morning out at Gallo Dairyland
Chocolate, cheese, and baby farm animals… Gallo Dairyland welcomes visitors to their working farm. Located between Atherton and Malanda, it is a 1 hour 20 minute drive from the centre of tow, and so worth the visit with kids.
Open from Weds – Sun, you can drop in to taste-test the farm’s boutique cheeses and stock up on handmade chocolates, before awwww-ing at the cute alpacas, piggies, goats and calves at the animal nursery.
It is free to visit and the cheese samples are free but if you want more than a sample, you will need to bring your wallet.
Palm Cove Beach
What’s more Aussie than a day at the beach?! We all love spending time at the beach because there’s so much fun to be had. Sandcastles, boogie boarding, ice cream and more! Take the family on a day out to Palm Cove beach for a classic, fun Aussie day.
Barron Falls Lookout track
Each day the Kuranda train and Skyrail cableway pass through the Barron Gorge National Park. One of the main attractions of the park is the Barron Falls and you can get a little bit closer for a better view by following the Barron Falls Lookout Track. This begins on an elevated walk which takes you through the rainforest canopy and then down the hill to the railway platform. On the way there are explanatory signs, plenty of places to take a rest and some gorgeous places to lookout and take a photograph.
Nandroya Falls Circuit
The Nandroya Falls Circuit takes you through the Palmerston section of Wooroonooran National Park. The circuit beings at Henrietta Creek camp site and takes you on a 2.3km trek to the Nandroya Falls. Nandroya Falls is the culmination of Douglas Creek where it first tumbles down a 50 metre fall and then takes another fall which is is smaller but wider.
At the falls you can choose between two tracks: one takes you up into the valley and past Douglas Creek and the other on a longer circuit back to the beginning and the base of the falls.
Fig Tree Park Playground
Located at the southern end of the Esplanade (34 – 38 Esplanade) the Fig Tree Playground is legitimately built around a fig tree. There are slides, climbing frames, decks and swings. You can even climb into the actual tree! Less crowded than the more centrally located Muddy’s Playground, this park is one the check out!
Sugarworld Parklands features an all-abilities playground – with engaging structures and a sensory space designed to be used by children with various levels of ability – as well as barbecue areas, volleyball court and a great shady area for family gatherings, functions and wedding ceremonies in these magnificent surrounds.
Zhanjiang Friendship Garden
Council has created a Zhanjiang Friendship Garden at Freshwater Lakes in the Cairns Botanic Garden precinct, to celebrate the Sister Cities relationship between Cairns and the Chinese city of Zhanjiang. Situated on the banks of Freshwater Lake, within the Centenary Lakes precinct at Edge Hill, the garden incorporates traditional features in a contemporary style. It pays homage to the unique friendship that is maintained between the cities of Zhanjiang and Cairns.
The Babinda Boulders is a popular swimming spot and picnic area amid tropical rain forest in the foothills of the Bellenden Ker Range. It is named for a series of granite outcrops found along Babinda Creek, which provides cascades and swimming holes. Facilities onsite cater for a range of outdoor pursuits including picnics, bush-walking, swimming, commercial tourism, sightseeing and social events. Read our review of the Babinda Boulders here.
Find the website here
Cairns Skate Park
Cairns Skate park is the biggest skate park in all of Australia. It stretches 2300m2 and sits in the picturesque setting of the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon overlooking the Coral Sea. The park opens daily at 6:00 AM and is open late as many bright pod lights surround the Cairns Skate park. A great place to roller skate, long board and let the little ones get around on their scooters whilst mum and dad set up the picnic table for a day of fun.
Goomboora Park is a local family favourite for many reasons. There is plenty of wide open space, large trees and shelter for shade, as well as picnic tables and even a waterhole to swim in! The great adventure playground features a flying fox and a rope play system.
A clear, blue lake surrounded by cool rainforest, Lake Eacham offers swimming, birdwatching, canoeing, picnic areas and shady walking tracks. It is a popular recreation area for locals and visitors.
Kauri Creek Rainforest Walk
Taking a walk through the Kauri Creek Rainforest Walk will take you along the banks of Kauri Creek past strangler figs, lush rainforest and places of important local history. Before you join up to the old logging track make sure you dip your toes in the cooling and soothing waters of the Kauri Creek.
Davies Creek National Park
Although Davies Creek National Park is located half an hour away from Cairns it’s a great place to visit. There are amazing granite outcrops as well as some Aboriginal rock art which is well worth the drive. You’ll also find Davies Creek Falls which is a magnificent waterfall that doesn’t cease to amaze.
Storytime at your local library
From sessions for babies and toddlers, to story times for pre-schoolers, school holiday programs, homework and after school clubs, there’s plenty for children of all ages at Cairns Libraries.
So, there is our guide to the best things to do in Cairns that are free these school holidays. If you are looking for a list of CHEAP school holiday activities, you will love our article about Cairns here.
Free school holiday activities at home
If you are looking for ideas for the school holiday that you can do at home – this will help!
You can’t go wrong with a good old card game. Whether it’s a big family game of uno, or just a two player game of snap, keep the fun rolling!
Design a shirt
Get out those colourful pens and paint brushes, and create some pictures and drawings to redecorate an old shirt with! Get creative and make up your own clothing designs to wear on your next day out!
Jump into the garden, slip those gardening gloves on, and plant some seeds in the soil to watch them grow! (Make sure to keep them watered and in the sun so they stay healthy and grow tall!)
Invent a board game
Create and design a game for you and your family to play at the next family games night! You write the rule book and construct the board… it’s all in your control!
Take out the jump rope and get in the garden with your family or friends for some skipping games or competitions. How long can you skip for?!
Queensland kids holiday ideas
If you’re looking for more things to do in Queensland with kids, click here.
Soooo…. what do you think? Plenty of Cairns days out ideas here to keep you and the kids entertained for the whole school holidays? These free Cairns holiday ideas are updated every term, so remember to bookmark this page.
Let us know if we missed your favourite or if you would like us to add your venue or event!
Even more QLD school holiday ideas:
If you are heading south these Queensland school holidays, these holiday ideas might help:
- Townsville school holiday activities
- Mackay school holiday activities
- Rockhampton school holiday activities
- Gladstone school holiday activities
- Bundaberg school holiday activities
- Hervey Bay school holiday activities
- Sunshine Coast school holiday activities
- Brisbane school holiday activities
- Gold Coast school holiday activities