Following a petition in 1884 of local residents, the town of Cairns was constituted a Municipality under the name of "Borough of Cairns" on 28 May 1885. The Borough Council consisted of 9 members with the first election held on 18 Jul 1885.
The function of Municipal Councils under the "Local Government Act 1878" was to generally maintain "the good rule and government of the municipality", and specifically to provide and manage such public services and amenities as: parks and reserves, libraries, schools of arts and other recreational facilities and places of improvement; cemeteries; water and sanitation services; roads, bridges, wharves; street lighting; public health services including control of contagious and infectious diseases; fire prevention; the regulation of building construction, and the regulation of and issuing of licences including those for exhibitions and markets, carriers and carters, slaughter-houses and abattoirs.
Municipal Councils were also responsible for the administration of the Municipal Fund and the valuation of properties within the municipality for the purpose of determining and collecting rates. Councils could pass by-laws regarding all matters within their jurisdiction, but all such by-laws required the assent of the Governor-in-Council.
Every municipality was governed by a council composed of a chairman and six, nine or twelve councillors. If the municipality was subdivided, three councillors were assigned to each subdivision.
Colonial Secretary, 28 May 1885 - 6 Aug 1896
Home Secretary, 6 Aug 1896 - 31 Mar 1903
Under the "Local Authorities Act 1902", Municipal Councils became Town Councils. Cairns Municipal Council became Cairns Town Council on 31 March 1903.