Munro Martin Parklands Transformation

After 134 years, the Cairns park known as Munro Martin Park has had a welcome ‘greening’.

The new parklands were officially opened by the Cairns Regional Council and guests during August, and included the unveiling of a specially-commissioned sculpture, and guided walks for the public through all the features of the new park.

Below is a small selection of photographs taken during the opening week.


floral delights at munro martin parklands




Cairns Family History Society was invited by Cairns Regional Council to conduct walks to show people the transformation of what had been hidden for many months behind the barriers.


The coloured mesh on the front gates present an interesting pattern – could it be suggesting sugar cane stalks or bamboo?


front entry ar munro martin parklands


You won’t have any worries about getting lost, as there are maps and signs around the pathways.


map at munro martin parklands


signs at munro martin parklands


A number of interpretive panels have been placed around the park, which focus on the happenings over these many years.  There is The Parklands, Military Takeover, No Sports on Sunday, The Caring Sisters, Rallying at the Park, Circuses and Celebrations and Floral Delights.


munro martin parkland


The themes of these panels paved the way for our walks, ‘Shadows of the Park’, presenting colourful conversations that expanded on the many stories discovered about events that occurred throughout the history of this park.


Stories were told of:

  • The many trees planted –the goats and other four footed friends and their partaking of some nibbles.
  • The many bands of Cairns providing Sunday tunes; a major musical production of “White Horse Inn” featuring a revolving stage presented under canvas.  We heard the echoes of the many circuses and picnics.
  • The encampment during Wold War 1; the end of the “Cane Beetles” march; the ANZAC Day parades; the takeover of the park during WW2 which gave us what is known at present as the Cairns Scout Hut but during the war years it was the Control Centre – now a heritage listed building.
  • Tales of the many fundraising carnivals and their competition sports events, including the old favourite tug-of-war.
  • Tennis, cricket with those ‘flannelled fools’, bicycle racing, athletics or pedestrian events as it was known in the early 1900s.  The difficulty with having no more sports held of a Sunday and reverting the ground back to a parkland.  As we walked, we encountered a fast and friendly cricket ‘match’ being held and were invited to join in the fun.


Even the rubbish bins helped highlight the stories.


rubbish bins at munro martin parklands


As well as the large interpretive panels there are also many portrait panels of people who had a connection with the park: Sir Wyllie Norman, The Caring Sisters (Janet Munro and Margaret Martin), Harold Burns, Joe McGinness, Caleb Chang and Bertha Wright.


bertha wright


joe mcginness


The pathways are wide and lead you through a changing outlook of the park.  Seen from the main entrance is the Performance Stage and the tiered amphitheatre terraces of grass, and as you follow one of the paths it takes you onto and over the stage.

How often do you see garden beds suspended?  These beds, positioned at the sides of the stage, are the home of what will be ‘living curtains’.


hanging plants at munro martin parklands


stage at munro martin parklands


Continuing along the path, it descends into what appears as a separate space – a park with trees, vines and more open grassed areas.


tree at munro martin parklands


steel framed pergolas at munro martin parklands


The actual garden beds are few, but are full of variety and colour – from everyday plants to the exotic.




flowersat munro martin parklands


bat plant at munro martin parklands


A pause to quench the thirst and fill the water bottle – just the right height.


drink fountain at munro martin parklands


The Obelisk memorial monument to the ‘Caring Sisters’, Janet Munro and Margaret Martin, is a magnificent sight with its freshly cleaned marble face.  A monument erected in memorial of the caring that these sisters gave to the local community and beyond.


obelisk at munro martin parklands


caring-sisters at munro martin parklands


The audience who persevered with the inclement weather expressed their pleasure of this beautiful parkland.   A parkland that is a fantastic asset for the Cairns community and visitors, not only for special events but a place to gather or to be by yourself, a place to ‘embrace’  you,  like the significance of the sculpture “Embrace”, created by Braham Stevens, that greets you on the corner.

From the Cairns Regional Council’s website:


“Munro Martin Parklands is Cairns’ newest premier community gathering place complete with an outdoor performance space.  The Parklands boast tropical plantings, vine covered pergolas and arbours and an open-air plaza to encourage passive, casual use of the facility.  The venue is also equipped to host a wide range of shows, from full orchestras to music concerts and theatre performances.

Munro Martin Parklands is open to the public from 6am to 8.30pm, seven days a week except on ticketed event days.”


If you haven’t yet been to see the new Munro Martin parklands, the above description and photos should surely lure you to take a relaxing walk around the park to enjoy the inspirational new features.

Don’t forget to check the Munro Martin Parklands website for upcoming events.



Posted in Genealogy and tagged , , .

One Comment

  1. Good morning from Western Australia. My name is Donald Munro and I look after the Clan Munro in Australia. My daughter has just been in Cairns and has sent me a photo of the lovely Munro Martin Park. I produce a newsletter 3 times a year with, of course, as much Munro content as possible. I would like to do a piece about the sisters and their ancestors. There is quite a bit about the sisters on the internet but I wondered if you could give me any information about their ancestors plus photos, if possible.
    Kind regards, Don

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