July 18, 2002
The Night Markets (open from 430PM to 11PM) are located along The Esplanade, the main drag along the shoreline. There is also a "back" entrance from Abbott Street. This slightly sanitized and commercialized covered market, which has the air of a pleasant and informal shopping arcade, is the surrogate for the old open-air markets. It is fun to wander about the stalls to check out the wide range of t-shirts, handcrafted goods, jewelry, musical instruments, and other colorful trinkets.
The International Food Court at the Night Markets does a good job in living up to its name. There is a variety of vendors hawking Chinese, Japanese, American, and of course "exotic" Australian food. We ate at one of the Chinese outlets, which served a reasonable buffet with a price based on the plate size that you choose. There are three plate sizes, and you can scoop up as much food as you can balance onto the styrofoam plate. The Cantonese-style selections include egg rolls, sweet and sour meats, barbeque pork, white and fried rice, noodles, veggies, and fresh fruit. I "upsold" my friend by telling him that for about 50 cents extra he could choose a larger plate and, therefore, eat more food. He bit on that line. Beer banners liven up the seating area, which is interesting considering the fact that there is a small family section reserved for non-drinkers!
The Cairns Central Shopping Centre is a large formal shopping mall in the middle of Cairns, several blocks away from the shore. McLeod, Aplin, Spence and Bunda Streets border Cairns Central. There are several anchor stores and about 180 specialty shops to complement them. Coles is an Australian chain of grocery stores with a large outlet here. Coles is a great place to stock up on food essentials if you are self-catering, and you can browse happily through the aisles to buy locally produced goodies. There is also a movie theater with six screens, and there is a connection to the railway station that leads to Kuranda village.
The International Food Court at Cairns Central is not as exciting as the one at the Night Markets. While the seating area at the Night Markets has the jovial feel of a beer hall, the spacious seating at Cairns Central is located about an atrium that feels like a bland shopping center. You can get a variety of food, but the selections seem tamer here. My friend had a steak sandwich with a heap of toppings, while I had a curry meat pie that was decent but nothing memorable. Other food stalls served burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, ice cream, etc.
From journal Bill in Australia - CAIRNS and QUEENSLAND