In 1906 the Cairns Harbour Board was instituted and one of its first tasks was to progressively acquire all the privately owned timber wharves and replace them with a continuous reinforced ferro-concrete wharf. Completed by 1915 it had a major impact on Cairns as larger ships could berth bringing more tourists and resources. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Cairns Port collected revenue only to the Port of Brisbane.
The current wharf area includes Sheds 2 and 3 (completed 1914) built on an extensive pile structure significantly and understandably modified over the past century, although the passenger wharf area itself remains largely unaltered.
The Cairns wharf was the departure point for newly enlisted troops heading south for training and subsequent overseas service. Returning service personnel landed at the wharf to be welcomed home by family and friends. The SS Kanowna left for Thursday Island and Papua from the wharf with enthusiastic volunteers whose service was cut short when the Commanding Officer determined they were ill-equipped for the invasion of German New Guinea. Subsequently stokers on the Kanowna refused to stoke the ship's boilers as they had not agreed to serve overseas and the return voyage was possible only when the volunteers took over that role.