Cairns State High School was founded in 1917 as an annex of Cairns Central State School and celebrated the Centenary in 2017

The high school was moved to its present site in 1924 which at the time, hosted the high school and technical college.  The foundation stone for the administration block was laid in 1939.  By early 1980 the TAFE College had transferred to its current site. This move left Cairns State High School as the sole occupant of a 5 hectare block located 5 minutes walk from the Cairns city centre and 3 blocks back from the Cairns Esplanade. The school is a 10 minute drive from the Cairns International and Domestic Airports and is serviced by both school and city bus routes.  

Throughout its history, Cairns State High School has served the needs of generations of many Cairns families, including a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population from Yarrabah to the Cape through the 1970s and 1980s. Cairns State High School is currently the largest secondary school in Cairns with a very proud and distinguished history.  It enjoys an exceptional reputation and is regarded as a genuine alternative to private schooling both locally and elsewhere. 

Cairns State High School as a community, decided to commit to the Council of International Schools (CIS) process of international accreditation in 2003.  The accreditation process was very comprehensive and in 2005 Cairns High was awarded international accreditation. Cairns High is very proud of this accreditation as it celebrates the school's long standing, valued traditions and acknowledges that the school strives to implement the latest innovations. The school was also awarded Independent Public School status in 2015 became an Independent Public School status in 2015.

Cairns State High School was re-accredited by the Council of International Schools in 2016. This ongoing school improvement cycle ensures that Cairns State High maintains high quality standards at an international level. Cairns State High’s Guiding Statement aligns the school’s mission statement, goals, values, effective practices and programs. This statement is the foundation for the school’s future focus, describes the Cairns High learner attributes and ensures a global outlook. The statement also provides the framework for future school decision making and is directly linked to the school’s strategic plan.

Cairns State High School was authorised as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in September 2008. The school remains the first school and only state school outside of South East Queensland to be authorised to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.  In 2010, the first cohort of students commenced the IB Diploma Program as an additional alternative to the school’s senior schooling pathways. Cairns High is proud of the increasing number and high standard of students graduating with the IB Diploma.

The Administration Block at Cairns State High was successfully added to the register as a State Heritage Place in May 2014. The Queensland Heritage Council recognises the significance of the building as part of Queensland’s cultural heritage and a place of cultural significance. ​

The history of Cairns State High School has been collated and made into a book which was launched as part of our Centenary Celebrations.  Electronic copies are available for sale from the school.​

Last reviewed 04 November 2019
Last updated 04 November 2019