Somewhat reminiscent of Thailand’s numerous open air local markets, Rusty’s Market is a hive of activity. They start early (from 6am) on Saturday mornings in an abandoned lot on (76) Sheridan St, putting together makeshift stalls that are strung together with overhead tarpaulins to protect the shoppers and stallholders from the elements. Picking our way through the maze of stalls, we came across stallholders as colourful as their wares, giving cheek to the customers and their counterparts. Mountains of tropical fruit such as rambutan, mangoes, coconuts, and taro. Here you can buy everything from handmade leather sandals to second hand books, nuts, locally grown coffee beans, eggs, fresh herbs, cheap imported jewelry, and sarongs. If your staying for a week in cairns and are fortunate to have a self catering apartment this is a great place to pick up fresh supplies, and try some different locally grown produce.
Your first day in Cairns should start with breakfast on the wharf at the Marina. The wharf has undergone renovations and now has a lovely wooden boardwalk that extends the length of the marina and is making its way down the esplanade (still under construction). The view of the mountains, glassy water, and moored yachts is the epitome of serenity -- it’s a very relaxing way to start your holiday! A$12 buys would a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages, tomato, and thick toast.
The Pier Markets is a shopping centre attached to the marina. It also offers undercover parking, which is free for the first two hours (an essential in the hot climates). The shops and cafes are very much aimed at the visitor and from here, you can organize your day's activities, cruises out to the reef and nearby islands, transfers to Port Douglas and the Daintree, adventure tours, sky rail and Kuranda rails trips, helicopter joy flights, fishing trips and more.
Heading north a long the esplanade is the new public pool. The person who designed this had a wonderful sense of style –- the modern amenities, tropical plantings, and sandy foreshore create a wonderful illusion of swimming at a sandy white, palm-fringed beach (which of course you can’t really do in Cairns because of the mudflats and the stingers). This fabulous facility is free of charge and hugely popular with families and backpackers. The "beach" is patrolled by traditional Aussie lifeguards who keep a close watch on the activities of the swimmers and make sure things are kept under control.