Everything you need to know about the beautiful Cattana Wetlands near Smithfield, just north of Cairns, Australia
The Cattana Wetlands is a 80-hectare reserve containing regionally significant forests and a diverse range of bird species and wildlife.
In this quick guide, I’ll outline everything you need to know about the Cattana Wetlands near Cairns. I’ll also include some photos that I took on my visit that I hope will inspire yours.
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
About the Cattana Wetlands
Situtated on 80 hectares of land that was once used by the sugarcane industry, the Cairns Catanna Wetlands is now a protected reserve. It's managed by the Cairns regional council and is very popular with morning walkers and wildlife photographers.
Here, visitors will find several large fresh and saltwater lakes, which were dug out by Cairns regional council and revamped at a cost of $1.5 million.
The Catanna Wetlands is a symbol of hope that devastated land and habitats can be restored as important habitat sites for native wildlife and plant species.
There are also facilities including:
- Sheltered BBQs
- Bird Hides (undercover)
- Viewing Platforms
- A raptor tower.
The Cattana Wetlands Environmental Park is a free Cairns attraction!
Featured in: Best Things to do in Cairns
How to Get to the Cattana Wetlands from Cairns
The Cattana Wetlands are located 16 kilometres (15-20 minutes) north of Cairns near the suburb of Smithfield. If you're visiting Cairns and have your own car, I'd highly recommend taking a short morning drive to spot birds and even the possibility of a saltwater crocodile!
Unfortunately, there aren't any tours or direct public transport options to the Cattana Wetlands from Cairns. However, you can get the bus towards Smithfield and hop off at Dunne St near Sunbus Depot, where you'll need to walk for 800 metres to reach the wetlands.
Wildlife & Walking tracks
Below I've included a map to help you navigate and check out the several Cattana Wetlands attractions and bird watching locations.
All of the walking tracks are flat and very easy. You can loop around several lakes to see different habitats and check out the several bird hides. On our recent trip, we combined the Jabiru Lake circuit , Cuckoo Lake Circuit and the trail out to Kingfisher Pool for a longer walk.
Below are some of the images of birds and wildlife that I captured on my recent visit.
Best Cairns Outdoor Experiences
Not sure which tours to choose for your next adventure to Cairns? I have you covered. Whilst living in Cairns I have been on over 20 different tours and worked with countless tour operators. This is a summary of my favourite tours & bookable experiences in Cairns.
2. Great Barrier Reef by Catamaran Top-Pick
Visit the outer reef and snorkel or scuba dive at two pristine reef locations. You might even get lucky and meet the local Maori Wrasse like we did in the photo.
Travel tip: By far, the best islands for snorkeling in Cairns are the Frankland Islands (pristine reef). There is only one boat trip allowed to stop on these islands and you can book this directly with BackpackerDeals + use code OLLY5 to get $5 off.
More Things to do in Cairns
I really hope that this quick guide to the Cattana Wetlands in Cairns has been useful for planning your trip. While you're here on my blog, make sure to check out some of the many other articles I've written to the area!