Cairns Convention Centre: Nature Meets Innovation

26th September 2023

The Cairns Convention Centre is a remarkable fusion of nature's wonders and cutting-edge conference infrastructure. Driven by passion and guided by experience, it brings together industry leaders, academics, hospitality providers, tour operators, and service providers to create an inclusive experience for association delegates. Its recent expansion has elevated its status, making it an even more renowned purpose-built events venue.

Words Remi Deve

The Centre So Far

Since its opening in 1996, the Cairns Convention Centre has transformed the region into a premier conference destination. Its unique appeal lies not just in its expansive event spaces but also its stunning location. Situated along the shores of the world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree rainforest, the venue offers a sense of tranquility and belonging. Natural elements such as water, mountains, and forests fill the indoor spaces, fostering innovation and creativity during events.

Up until 2023, the Centre boasted 45,000 sqm of event space with numerous options for organizers. Its spacious Auditorium, recently refurbished, can accommodate up to 2,300 guests when divided into four individual spaces. The adjacent 17-meter high Arena is ideal for trade exhibitions, gala dinners, concerts, and sporting events. Additionally, 20 meeting rooms, foyers, and terraces offer flexibility for tailor-made event planning.

The Expansion

Owned by the Queensland Government and managed by ASM Global, the Cairns Convention Centre underwent a $176 million expansion and refurbishment. Completed in the summer of 2023, this expansion added 10,500 sqm of new floor space, modernizing facilities, and enhancing the city’s appeal while boosting employment opportunities in various sectors.

Cairns Convention Centre in Numbers

Total capacity: 2,500 pax

Total surface: 45,000 sqm + 10,500 sqm of new space

Auditorium: 2,300 pax

Arena: 5,000 pax

23 meeting rooms: up to 118 pax each

Plenary room: 450 delegates

Mezzanine Exhibition: 30 exhibition booths

Trinity Room: 500 people in banquet style

239-bay undercover car park

7 kilometres of Cairns International Airport

Walking distance from the city’s hotels

The expansion was inspired by the surrounding natural beauty. The architecture, led by Richard Coulson of Cox Architecture, maximized views of the stunning landscape, making nature an integral part of the building’s design. Notably, the entrance area was created in a Port-Cochere style, doubling as an outdoor event space. The Mezzanine Level now boasts a Plenary room, Mezzanine Exhibition area, and three new meeting rooms, providing more options for event customization. The third level introduces the Trinity Room and outdoor Trinity Terrace, accommodating up to 500 delegates for events beyond the conference rooms.

Tech-Ready & Sustainable

To meet the demands of hybrid meetings and online collaborations, the Cairns Convention Centre is equipped with advanced audio-visual technology. PTZ cameras offer pan, tilt, and zoom controls in all meeting spaces. Digital lecterns with built-in preview monitors enhance presenter comfort and control over AV features. High-resolution laser projectors and a large 15-meter screen with three projector blend provide state-of-the-art presentation capabilities.

“Hybrid meetings and online collaborations are here to stay, and we are fortunate to deliver the most complex needs in a simplified format, all backed by an outstanding technical team”, says Janet Hamilton, General Manager at Cairns Convention Centre.

The Centre has also a long-standing commitment to sustainability. It holds Earth Check benchmark status and adheres to strict environmental controls, including energy-efficient technologies, locally sourced construction materials, and passive sustainability strategies. Rainwater storage, low-flow fixtures, and electrolysed water for food safety sterilization further reduce environmental impact. LED lighting with motion sensors, energy-efficient fans, and high-performance glazing contribute to energy efficiency. Braille signage, hearing loops, and accessibility features ensure inclusivity.

“We continually strive to harmonize our architectural designs with the surrounding environment, climate considerations, and the needs of the community. The true measure of our success with this project lies in its embrace by the local community. This venture represents a substantial investment, not only for the state of Queensland but also for the people of Cairns. We envision it as a catalyst, drawing visitors to Cairns and allowing them to truly appreciate the distinctive beauty of far north Queensland,” concludes Coulson of Cox Architecture and Project Director of the expansion

For a comprehensive destination report on Cairns, download Boardroom’s special supplement here.

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