The four bars you WILL visit as a backpacker in Cairns

Whether you’re starting or ending your trip, Cairns is one end of the East coast backpacker trail. You could be excited to start your big adventure or ready to pat yourself on the back for making it all the way up to the top end. Either way, you’re going to want to go out and experience all the nightlife Cairns has to offer. Let’s check out the bars you WILL visit as a backpacker in Cairns.

Number one, the mecca, Gilligan’s.

Gilligan’s is the stuff of backpacker legends. With events seven nights a week, Gilligan’s is known for being the epicentre of Cairns partying. Turn up for the wildlife show on Tuesday’s “Straya night” or chill out for a Sunday session poolside. No matter when you go, the place will be crawling with other backpackers. The place is so popular with backpackers it’s not uncommon at all to bump into a friend from your hostel in Melbourne or see that guy you met on your Whitsundays tour.

Pro tip:

Gilligan’s is huge. If you get there and one section’s too crowded, there’s the club section, the bar area and the pool area. Make sure you spread out and experience it all.


  • Mondays: Open mic, talent show, beer pong
  • Tuesdays: Wildlife show, Bingo, wet t-shirt competition
  • Wednesdays: Jelly wrestling, beer pong, live music
  • Thursdays: Ladies night, trivia,
  • Sundays: pool party, wet t-shirt competition

Salt House


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Throwback to last Monday Hospo night with @benpearcedj ? Full house!

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The poshest place that you’ll party in Cairns, Salt House is a beautiful “modern Australian” restaurant right on the Marina. Chill out on the outdoor daybeds and enjoy Cairns tropical climate.

Pro tip:

All the backpackers go here on Monday nights. Any other day of the week you might pass by, spot the twenty-seven dollar noodles and say, “Yeah, no, this isn’t a backpacker spot.” Monday nights are hospo night. Typically meant as the night bartenders and servers get to go out after working all weekend, hospo nights are great value for backpackers. At Salt House, it starts at 8 PM with a live DJ and the cheapest drink specials in Cairns!

The Woolshed

You’d be forgiven for passing by the Woolshed. From the sidewalk, it doesn’t look like much, but once you go up the stairs you’ll realize this is the other party hotspot in Cairns. A good mix of locals, backpackers, and other travellers work up a sweat on the Woolshed dancefloor every night of the week. Get there early for free entry and before it gets super packed. If you’re looking for a drink and a conversation this is NOT the place to go. This is the place to dance on the tables, dance like crazy and have the best night you won’t remember.

Pro tip

The hostel gets free drink vouchers for Woolshed. Be sure to grab one and come early. Who doesn’t love free alcohol?!


  • Industry night Mondays
  • Tuesday: Wet t-shirt competition for men
  • Wednesday: Wet t-shirt competition for women (geeze, what is with Cairns and wet t-shirts?)
  • Thursday: Ladies night

PJ O’Briens

PJ’s is your local Irish pub in Cairns. Besides being a great place for a pint of Guinness, they have a great Sunday roast, which is a local favourite with the British backpackers. Not much more needs to be said about PJ O’Briens because it’s your typical Irish pub; a great place to watch sport and have a meal during the day, and a great place to party and sing karaoke too loud at night.


Grab a voucher for their $10 meal deal. You can get them from the desk at the hostel, this voucher entitles you to a meal and a drink for only $10. If you don’t feel like cooking, don’t go to KFC, head to PJ O’Brien’s for the best deal in town.


  • Monday: Bingo and Xbox
  • Tuesday: Trivia and ladies night
  • Wednesday: Karaoke
  • Thursday Friday and Saturday: Live music

Our summary

There are heaps of options for partying in Cairns. Whether you want to get posh at Salt House, get trashy at the Woolshed, or somewhere in between, the city has something to offer you seven nights a week. Fortunately we’re walking distance from everything so make Travellers Oasis your home in Cairns so you can experience it all!