Jasper’s history, so visit Cairns & the TNQ LGBTQIA+ family


cairns tnq tropical north queensland

Cairns and Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) is a special place. It’s home to one of the most vibrant and nurturing LGBTQIA+ communities in the country. And now, after Cyclone Jasper, they would love to see you visit.

There’s always been a large LGBTQIA+ population in Cairns and Tropical North Queensland.

Two reasons.

1/ Tourism and Hospitality.

Local tourist operators started advertising in the 1880s and tourism has remained an important industry. Of course, tourism and hospitality is renowned for a strong LGBTQIA+ workforce.

2/ The End of the Line

Number Two is a bit more outlandish. Over a hundred years ago, the Brisbane Truth suggested anyone in search of persons missing from southern cities, have a look in Cairns. Frontier towns long attracted people wanting a fresh start. Even at the start of this century, locals still said of the annual influx of newcomers into the northern city, “It’s the end of the railway line.”

The remoteness of Cairns and Far North Queensland proved an attraction for members of our community back in the day.

The remoteness perhaps also explains the particular strengths of the local LGBTQIA+ community. As documented in Ian Byford’s Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns, the LGBTQIA+ community long thrived in this northern outpost. Of course, things got off to a good start when they named the place after a gay man.

Cairns was always a long way from everywhere else, and even further at times of disaster. Cyclones once cut the place off for days at a time and the locals had no choice but to band together and take care of each other.

That spirit remains alive and well as seen during Jasper and the subsequent flood emergency when the people of Cairns and Tropical North Queensland flooded social media with offers of help for those affected.

The flood

A lesbian couple I know were flooded out. (I lived in Cairns for 30 years.) I know them because there is never a community cause these two beautiful women didn’t support.

And what happened when flood waters washed through their home?

A neighbour evacuated them and their animals to his house where he sheltered ten people, five dogs and various other animals in the one room that remained above the flood waters until the emergency abated.

The damage done during Jasper and its aftermath was real. But most of it happened north of the Barron River. And Cairns and Tropical North Queensland are good at bouncing back. They’ve had a lot of practice with cyclones. Indeed, the local LGBTQIA+ community have already scheduled their first party of the year.

So, if you’re planning a holiday, think about taking it up north. They’re resilient up there but they need an income.

Our friends at Visit Gay Australia will have all the info you need.

More Cairns and Far North Queensland

Under the mango tree at Rusty’s Pub in Cairns.

Watch: 1998: Club Trix, Cairns. Post Mardi Gras Week.

Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns.

Tributes flow after death of Cairns Indigenous artist Arone Meeks.

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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