Location: The precinct will be built on the site that sits close to the CBD waterfront sharing the space with White’s Shed. The site is adjacent to the Cityport Cruise Ship Terminal (in between Wharf Street and Trinity Inlet). The land can not be used for industrial port purposes.

Who owns the land? The land is being leased by Ports North to Cairns Regional Council for a ‘peppercorn’ or nominal rent for 99 years. Ports North have confirmed the land will never be used for port purposes.

When will building work finally commence and how long will it take to complete? Construction on site will commence after the wet season in 2012. The project is to be completed in 2015.

But on the radio, Mal from Mooroobool says it will be a White Elephant! Cairns today has the population to support the Precinct, particularly considering the regional population, adjoining local government areas and the high number of tourist visitors.

Can’t Council spend the money on roads? State and Commonwealth funding is allocated specifically for the Precinct and cannot be diverted elsewhere. If not used for the Precinct, it will be lost to the region.

Won’t my rates have to go up? No increases in rates to support the Cairns Entertainment Precinct have been included. At this stage, Council’s contribution is proposed to be met from Property Reserve funds (approximately $11 million); the sale of the Hartley Street site and Civic Theatre site (approximately $16 million); plus loan borrowings (approximately $33 million).

How many jobs will be created?  Up to 1000 construction jobs over two years.

What are the other Other Economic Benefits: The creative industries are one of Cairns’ major industries – although the fact isn’t well known. In 2008, with a turnover of $300 million, the Far North’s creative industries were worth more than the local fishing industry and approaching that of the sugar industry. About 6000 people were involved in some form of income-earning activity; full-time equivalent employees numbered approximately 3000. The Precinct will further enhance this major industry.

Who Can Use It? Everyone. The Precinct is being specifically designed to be available to everyone who lives in or visits Cairns. It will be open to school groups; youth groups; dance, music and drama schools; professional regional touring groups and individuals; sporting organisations; business and convention organisers; as well as residents of the Cairns region. It will be used for a wide range of community events including artistic, popular music and dance and school speech nights,

Can a new Mayor stop it? No. Like the Esplanade development before the 2000 poll, Candidates can pretend they will stop it (to get votes), but the agreement to proceed is binding on all future Councils.

The concept designs have been created specifically for our special wet tropical climate. The Cairns Entertainment Precinct will be the world’s first major ‘wet tropics’ building of its kind.

The concept designs have been created specifically for our special wet tropical climate. The Cairns Entertainment Precinct will be the world’s first major ‘wet tropics’ building of its kind.


Concept design 1 of the CEP

Concept design 1 of the CEP



At community consultations held in June, CA-Cox Rayner Architects unveiled two concept designs for the proposed Cairns Entertainment Precinct. The ‘Architectural Rainforest’ and the ‘Layered Roofscape’ concepts were presented to community participants.

The sketches included two potential versions of the building, both featuring a public plaza, foyer, provision for flood immunity and storm surge resistance, car parking, stores, unimpeded views over the Inlet and the ability to capture breezes.

Via a workshop process the ‘Architectural Rainforest’ received almost unanimous support as being the preferred concept design.

CA-Cox Rayner Architects will use the feedback gained and present another series of community consultations at a date to be confirmed. The consultations will workshop the more elaborated design concepts.

Concept designs for the CEP

Concept designs for the CEP

The master plan also presented two possible options for the use of historic ‘White’s Shed’.

One highlighted the shed as an ‘entry point’ for the precinct and the other as a stand alone feature with community spaces between the shed and precinct area.

Key Points

Majority want Cultural Precinct

With the rise of the CAVE (Citizens against Virtually Everything) People it is easy to be be bullied into letting the noisy minority dictate decision making.

In light of this, it was interesting to see the results in the Cairns Posts ‘Great Northern Survey’:

It is good news in that Cairns Regional Council is already heading in the direction most people want them to go.

However, there is much scope to further increase support for the Cultural Precinct, as people get to have their say on the various designs that will eventually come forward (tick – see above).




  1. Went down last night to the Cairns Show and stopped at the Fred Moule Pavilion to have a look at the
    architect’s drawings. Very impressive indeed. I can’t wait to see it completed and be able to take
    the family there for a show and to see the museum.

  2. I’ve taken part in all but the first consultation session and this truly is a precinct that the people of Cairns have created because the architects have really listened to the ideas and feedback from the community and put everyone’s suggestions into the design.
    I have loved being part of this process and I congratulate the CRC and the Architects on the brilliant job they are doing in bringing this to fruition.

    This is OUR project and it’s SO DAMNED EXCITING.

    • Please don’t let this project get hijacked by the whingers and turned into an embarrassment. The majority of people want this.

      We NEED a world class facility not a gimic!

  3. How horrified I am that certain people in Cairns are trying to turn this into a “culture versus sports” conflict.
    Cairns is a big enough city and has a big enough tourism industry to be able to cater for both cultural and
    sports tourism. The Entertainment Precinct was first raised long before the idea of the 20,000 seat
    football stadium, so we should proceed with that first, but still keep on planning with the footie stadium.
    That can come next!

  4. I met a lady last night at the David Williamson lecture at the Rondo Theatre. This lady is a newcomer to Cairns who has joined the Cairns Choral Society. In the course of conversation the Entertainment Precinct came up. This lady said that she was just horrified at how inadequate the back stage area of the Civic Theatre is. It is something that only those people connected with performing arts know about. Other people unfortunately only see the seating and foyer areas of the Civic Theatre and think it is alright. Sadly, the Civic Theatre just is not adequate and hasn’t been for a long time. Roll on the Entertainment Precinct.

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  10. Rob, i don’t think you realise the potential damage this site can do to our port. Other ports around the nation are trying to purchase land while Cairns Ports is giving it away. Townsville port is expanding foreshore to increase the size of its port. Let us be sensible in our approach and really look at the alternatives so all industries come out winners. Just because Brisbane has labeled Cairns Port as boutique it does not mean the citizens are going to stand by and accept their bullying. I thought you were someone who stood up for the people of this region? Ports North labeled that area as a buffer zone to protect the city from the industrial workings of the port and you want to put a family facility there. That land does not belong to the Cairns City Council it belongs to the Cairns Greater Region, the Agriculture and Livestock of the Tablelands beyond and the Western Hinterland Mining Province. This is a historical descision for all the wrong reasons that will set a precedence for the future of this city.

    • David,
      No, it clearly belongs to Ports North. That is not a matter of opinion, that is a matter of legal fact.
      Council is contractually bound to only proceed on that site. How Margaret is able to get away with pretending this is not the case and it is still possible to change the site is really amazing.
      People may vote for a change on this issue, but that will change … nothing!

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  14. Rob.Like you said before the democratic way forward is wait till March 2012 election and let the Councillor s and State MPS elected decide what they want to do.

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  16. Raj,
    i am happy to do this as construction can not start this year anyway!
    But I have never pretended it will not proceed, as council is contractually bound to only proceed on that site. Why do you let Margaret get away with pretending this is not the case?

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