Just wrapped up a quick trip to Cairns and the surrounding regions. Thanks to everyone for their insightful comments and advice re: itineraries. I was able to squeeze a lot in a relatively short amount of time. Will hit some of the highlights below:
Day 1 - Saturday. Arrive from Gold Coast. Early flight in, but due to the small size of the airport and the time of day, I was off the plane and into my Hertz rental car within 15 minutes. Quick drive down to the Esplanade to check in to the Holiday Inn Cairns. I had requested an early check-in, and luckily the room was ready by 11am.
Spent the early afternoon walking around the Esplanade and grabbing a quick bite to eat. I originally hadn't intended to visit Kuranda, but since I had some more time to kill I decided to drive off to check it out. Unfortunately I got there around 4pm right as everything was closing. Still it was nice to check out the town, and also check out some of the scenic spots on the drive up.
Saturday evening was spent dining, gambling at the casino, and partying at the nightclub in the casino (good music and cheap drinks - a winning combo). I also booked my Great Barrier Reef expedition for Sunday, so I called it a relatively early night.
(day 2 to be posted as a reply)