3 Best Hostels in Cairns, Australia – Swim All Day and Party All Night

3 Best Hostels in Cairns, Australia - Swim All Day and Party All Night in this Tropical Paradise Nestled Beside the Great Barrier Reef

A trip to tropical far north Queensland: your gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the 3 best hostels in Cairns.

Cairns is incredibly backpacker friendly with its esplanade lined with bars, restaurants and a public swimming pool.

Our favorite hostels in Cairns are:

  1. Travellers Oasis - best for Couples
  2. Dreamtime Travellers Rest - best for Female Solo Traveler
  3. Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront - best for Solo Traveler
  4. Extra: Gilligan's Hotel and Resort - best for Party

Money-saving tip: Compare hostel prices with Hostelz.com. They compare prices from Hostelworld, Booking.com and others with 1 click.

Surrounding the city there is outstanding natural beauty on all sides – do you prefer the beach, rainforest or gorges?

And boy, are Cairns backpackers in for a treat when it comes to hostels!

We condensed it all to the 3 coolest ones. No need to do hours of research anymore!

This guide is perfect for YOU, when you…

  • are tired of crappy hostels!
  • want a social Hostel to actually meet people
  • are happy to spend $1 to $2 more for a much better experience

Keep scrolling to discover pure luxury, everyday party thrills and wonderful options for solo travellers and backpackers.

Hostelgeek Kelly spent some time in Cairns and has put together some top tips to help you make the best of your time.

Make sure you read our complete guide to the best hostels in Australia – including an itinerary suggestion!

Quick Introduction to Cairns Hostels

Average price for a bed: A bed in a dorm can be as cheap as 15€ up to 45€ per night. You see, there is quite a difference in pricing. There is a good reason; keep reading.

This is a rough average to give you an idea. Prices always depend on season and holidays. Please always check exact rates on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Check-In and Check Out: The average check-in time is from 15:00 (3pm), while the Check Out time is before 11:00 (11am). Hostels usually offer luggage storage in case you arrive earlier or leave later. Make sure you check if luggage storage is free or if there is an extra cost.

Who can stay: Many hostels in Cairns only accept international guests. It’s also quite common that hostels accept over 18s only. Check before you book.

Party Hostels: There are many party hostels Cairns can offer. Make sure you pick your right hostel type.

🎁 New to Hostels? Read our guide to staying in a Hostel for the First Time here. We especially recommend reading:

The 3 Best Hostels in Cairns are …

Let’s jump right into the coolest hostels in Cairns.

  1. Travellers Oasis – best for Couples
  2. Dreamtime Travellers Rest – best for Female Solo Traveler
  3. Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront – best for Solo Traveler
  4. Extra: Gilligan's Hotel and Resort - best for Party

These are our favorite hostels in Cairns. We want to make your life even easier, so we put all accommodations on a map for you. We even added our own tips for favorite restaurants, things to see, and more.

Overview: Best Hostels by Traveler Type

🦸 Solo Traveler: Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront
🙎‍♀️ best for Female Solo Traveler: Dreamtime Travellers Rest
🥳 Party Hostel:Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort Cairns
👩‍❤️‍👨 Couple Hostel: Travellers Oasis
👨‍👩‍👦 Family Hostel: Dreamtime Travellers Rest
👩‍💻 For Digital Nomads: Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront
🧘 Cozy Hostel: Travellers Oasis

1. Travellers Oasis

Travellers Oasis stands out for its prime location and the plethora of amenities designed to cater to every backpacker’s needs. Guests can choose from spacious dorms to private rooms, all equipped with essential comforts like fans, linen, towels, and a personal safety deposit box. For a nominal fee, air conditioning is available to ensure a comfortable stay.

The hostel excels in creating a communal atmosphere with its shared kitchen facilities, where guests can prepare meals and enjoy free tea and coffee. The shared lounge area, complete with free movies, is perfect for unwinding after a day of exploring.

Travellers Oasis also boasts an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by hammocks, ideal for relaxation amidst lush tropical gardens. With coin-operated laundry facilities and free luggage storage, the hostel ensures a hassle-free experience for all guests.

Book Travellers Oasis here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Travellers Oasis Outside Space

Adventure seekers will appreciate the onsite tour desk capable of arranging excursions to the Great Barrier Reef and other local attractions. This service, coupled with the hostel’s close proximity to a variety of restaurants and bars, ensures an unforgettable Cairns experience. Furthermore, the Cairns Airport is just 6 km away, making Travellers Oasis an accessible gateway for international and domestic travelers.

Beyond the basics, Travellers Oasis prides itself on offering a small, cozy environment where guests can enjoy peace and quiet or socialize in the garden and pool area. With three fully equipped kitchens, a BBQ and prep area, and a TV room with a vast collection of movies, the hostel is a veritable home away from home.

Additional perks like free bike hire with tour bookings, complimentary tea, coffee, and herbs, and an information desk with free maps and itineraries underscore the hostel’s commitment to providing a comprehensive, enriching stay for budget-conscious travelers.

Location: Travellers Oasis is centrally located in Cairns, just opposite the Cairns Central Shopping Centre and a mere 10-minute walk from the bustling Esplanade and The Pier, offering easy access to the city’s main attractions.

The best choice in Cairns for

  • Solo traveler
Book Travellers Oasis here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Travellers Oasis Garden

Travellers Oasis Room

2. Dreamtime Travellers Rest

Dreamtime Travellers Rest offers a unique blend of homely comfort and eco-conscious living, making it an ideal choice for backpackers seeking a serene yet social atmosphere. With a strong commitment to sustainability, Dreamtime has implemented measures like composting food waste, reducing single-use plastics, and encouraging recycling, reflecting their dedication to environmental responsibility. Their eco-friendly initiatives ensure guests can enjoy a guilt-free stay while exploring the natural wonders of Cairns.

The proximity to a fantastic coffee shop next door also means guests start their day right with a quality caffeine fix. This accessibility, combined with the hostel’s array of facilities including free parking, two fully equipped kitchens, and free 24-hour WiFi in public areas, ensures a comfortable and convenient stay for all guests.

Book Dreamtime Travellers Rest here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Dreamtime Travellers Rest Pool

Dreamtime’s accommodations are designed with comfort and convenience in mind. The hostel offers private rooms cooled by fans, with air-conditioning available at a minimal additional cost, ensuring a comfortable environment for rest after a day of exploration. The hostel’s policy of a maximum of two persons per private room aligns with its values of self-care and hygiene, promising a restful night’s sleep.

The hostel’s communal spaces encourage interaction among guests, fostering a welcoming community atmosphere. The pool and BBQ area, set in a lush tropical oasis, along with the cozy common areas, make it easy for travelers to meet and share stories.

Dreamtime’s staff, known for their friendliness and wealth of local knowledge, are always ready to assist with tour bookings and recommendations, ensuring guests make the most of their Cairns adventure. With discounts on all tours booked through the hostel, guests have the added benefit of experiencing the best of Cairns at a great value. Dreamtime Travellers Rest stands out as a beacon for those seeking a memorable, eco-friendly, and socially enriching stay in Cairns.

Location: Dreamtime Travellers Rest is conveniently located across the road from Cairns Central railway station and shopping centre, offering easy access to the city’s attractions and just a 15-minute walk from the vibrant Esplanade and swimming lagoon.

A great choice for

  • Female Solo Traveler
Book Dreamtime Travellers Rest here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Dreamtime Travellers Rest Room

Dreamtime Travellers Rest Common Space

3. Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront (modern, chill vibes)

Our third hostel choice is built on a family atmosphere and was fully refurbished in 2017.

Welcome to Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront.

If you’re looking for bright, modern accommodation that is fun and affordable, look no further.

Book Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Mad Monkey Waterfront Dorm

The deluxe private rooms here are perfect for travelling couples that love to socialise.

Forget privacy curtains for a minute; we love that Mad Monkey maintain the old bunk style.

You’ll still get a personal locker, USB port, linen and air-con so no comfort is jeopardised!

Mad Monkey actually has another hostel just 5-minutes away. Yet we chose Waterfront because we feel it offers a more relaxed vibe, with almost all the same inclusions.

Desperate for a swim? Access is granted for all the amenities in the sister hostel – there’s a pool awaiting you there.

Check out the excellent freebies:

  • Ultra-fast free WiFi
  • Hot breakfast
  • Large lockers (BYO padlock)
  • Free bicycle hire
  • Local gym access

If you’re feeling sociable, join the Mad Family and check out the weekly events board. It changes constantly so it can never baget boring!

Next, to the fully fitted kitchen, you’re free to chill out in the cinema and gaming area for a bit of downtime. Sometimes it’s just needed.

Once again the location is tip top right on the Cairns Esplanade. The public lagoon is your second swimming choice if you stay here – win!

Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront is the best hostel in Cairns for:

  • Couples
  • Solo travelers
  • Small groups
Book Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Mad Monkey Waterfront Common Space

Mad Monkey Waterfront is a great hostel for Socializing

4. Gilligan's Hotel and Resort (party like never before)

You know that never-ending bucket list of yours? Well, it’s probably best that you add Gilligan's Hotel and Resort to it.

If you plan on visiting Cairns Gilligans Backpackers is a good place to stay.This hostel is all about the thrill-seeking traveller!

Forever trying to stay ahead of the rest, awesome new additions are always being added such as the latest unisex fitness centre.

Heck, we’re not sure where to start as Gilligan’s really does seem to have it all. It’s easily one of the best party hostels in the world!

Book Gilligan's Hotel and Resort here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Let’s start by noting that THIS HOSTEL IS HUGE.

Choose between 6, 8 and 10-beds dorms which are both mixed and female only. Twin private and double deluxe rooms are also available.

Great inclusions:

  • Ladies powder room w/ hair dryers
  • Gilligan’s Kitchen serves daily delights for lunch and dinner plus $10 Parmi’s on Fridays and $15 Steaks on Saturday’s
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free entry into club before 10pm excluding special events
  • VIP Prices throughout venues

Gilligans hostel Cairns can definitely be described as buzzing. There are events held here every single night of the week!

Jelly wrestling, beer pong, clubs nights, wet T-shirt competitions, beer and pizza… it’s all happening here and more.

Note: If you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, ask about a room on the second floor.

It’s fair (and easy) to label this as backpackers hostel Cairns. Wait no; the BEST party hostel Cairns could offer and possibly Australia.

When you’re not partying; rest easy by the stunning lagoon swimming pool to recover ready for the next event…!

This pure entertainment venue hosts an open deck bar, huge outdoor pub screen and plenty of plasma TVs.

Read: Hostel Etiquette – 18 Unwritten Hostel Rules You Need to Know

Looking for work? The staff will be able to assist you and help put money in your pocket.

The famous Rusty’s market is just around the corner alongside heaps of shops, cafes and clubs.

Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort Cairns is the best hostel in Cairns for:

  • Sociable solo travellers
  • Party animals
Book Gilligan's Hotel and Resort here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Best Hostel for Cairns Backpackers?

Looking to unload that heavy backpack, relax a little and join one or two sociable nights out?

Travellers Oasis is a cosy, home-from-home choice just off the Esplanade. It is also considered to be one of the best backpacker hostels.

Picture lush tropical gardens, swimming pool, a BBQ during sunset, hammocks and outstanding staff poised ready to help with anything.

Awesome: you’ll find no bunk beds here and a maximum of 50 guests.

Also, if you want air conditioning you can have it for additional charge!party

Book Travellers Oasis here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Travellers Oasis one of the best hostels in Cairns for backpackers

Best Hostels in Cairns for Solo Travellers

Well it’s quite easy to make a few suggestions for the best hostel Cairns can offer for solo travellers.

It just depends on which vibe your aiming for!

Honestly, after substantial research it seems most hostels in Cairns are built with the solo traveller in mind – great news for you.

More Cairns Hostels worth a mention

To assist you further, we are giving you more hostels in Cairns Australia. We have listed the best hostels in Cairns Australia. So, have a look of what we have.

  • Caravella Backpackers Cairns
  • Cairns City Backpackers Hostel
  • Bounce Cairns
  • Mad Monkey Central
  • Cairns Central YHA Hostel

Caravella Backpackers Cairns

Caravella Backpackers Cairns is a beautiful and clean hostel.

Enjoy the scenic view and peaceful area of the Esplanade- away from the noise of the clubs, bars and traffic- but only an easy 10 minute walk to the main attractions, the Pier and Cairns City center.

The staff are very friendly and helpful, price is great and the rooms are clean. The hostel offers great value for money.

They also show their care to their backpackers by having a free airport shuttle service and nightly meal deals.
Most popular facilities include:

  • Swimming pool
  • Airport shuttle (free)
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Restaurant
  • Free WiFi
  • Free parking
Book Caravella Backpackers Cairns here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Cairns City Backpackers Hostel

Cairns City Backpackers Hostel is a brilliant budget hostel in Cairns. It is also has a good location, 25-minute walk from The Esplanade.

Relax in its tropical gardens and have fun with your travel buddies in their outdoor swimming pool.

Staff are really friendly and happy to help with anything you need and the atmosphere in the hostel is good.

They have everything you need like WiFi, computers, hot showers, bbq, pool, and more.
Most popular facilities include:

  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Free WiFi
  • Free parking
  • Outdoor pool
Book Cairns City Backpackers Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Bounce Cairns (one huge social space with a pool)

Take your shoes off at the door and make yourself at home at Bounce Cairns, formally known as The Northern Greenhouse.

Bounce Hostel Cairns has mixed-gender and single gender dorms with bunk beds sleep up to 6, and offer free Wi-Fi, mini fridges and en suite bathrooms, as well as balconies or terraces.

This resort style hostel beams bright, big spaces that match the smile on staff faces.

Cairns backpackers will love this place – there’s a pool and a huge social hang-out area.

But you know; it’s not limited to backpackers. Female solo travellers will surely love the ladies-only-dormitories.

Book Bounce Cairns here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Bounce Cairns one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Bounce Cairns one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Every room (yes every) is labelled Deluxe. Why?

Well because you’ll have your very own en-suite bathroom and air-con, plus a private balcony or courtyard garden. Super cool!

Read: Hostel Room Types – What are the Differences?

The entire social space is joined together, creating a huge area to relax, cook, play games and get to know like-minded people.

What else makes Bounce Cairns awesome?

  • The staff arranges day + night events
  • Reception is 24/7
  • Free breakfast
  • There’s an outdoor bar on-site

The bar is where you’ll find super cheap drinks and friendly vibes.

If you’re struggling to choose the perfect reef experience, pop into the tour desk and enquire – they’re keen to help you out!

Cairns Esplanade is but a 5-minute walk where everything you need is located. Easy.

Bounce Cairns is the best hostel in Cairns for:

  • Female solo travellers
  • Friends
Book Bounce Cairns here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Bounce Cairns one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Bounce Cairns one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Mad Monkey Central

Mad Monkey Central is a prime choice for backpackers seeking a mix of comfort and vibrant social atmosphere. Located just 400 meters from the Cairns Convention Centre and close to key attractions like the Cairns Performing Arts Centre and Regional Gallery, it offers an outdoor pool, sun terrace, and an outdoor bar with budget-friendly drinks and gourmet pizzas.

Accommodations range from mixed or female-only dorms to private double or twin rooms, all air-conditioned with high-quality mattresses. Added conveniences include free WiFi, hot breakfast, and an outdoor cinema, ensuring a memorable stay.

Daily free events and activities foster a strong community vibe, while the availability of a TV room with Netflix and PlayStation caters to entertainment needs. With a reception open from 7 am to 11 pm and after-hours check-in, Mad Monkey Central blends practicality with fun, making it a top pick for travelers in Cairns.

Book Mad Monkey Central here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld | Hostelz

Mad Monkey Central Pool

Mad Monkey Central Dorm

Cairns Central YHA Hostel

YHA Cairns Central excels as a top pick for travelers, blending comfort with convenience. Just a short walk from The Esplanade and Trinity Wharf, it offers a range of accommodation options, from private en suite rooms to air-conditioned dormitories. Guests can enjoy an outdoor swimming pool, two spas, and free WiFi. The hostel’s communal kitchen, TV and reading rooms, and billiards table provide ample opportunities for relaxation and social engagement.

Located opposite Cairns Station and the Cairns Central Shopping Centre, YHA Cairns Central is ideally situated for exploring the city’s attractions, with easy access to shopping, dining, and nightlife. The tour desk facilitates exploration of the Great Barrier Reef, enhancing the Cairns experience. With its strategic location, comprehensive facilities, and friendly atmosphere, YHA Cairns Central is a fantastic choice for backpackers looking to discover Cairns and its natural wonders.

Book Cairns Central YHA Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld | Hostelz

YHA Cairns Central Pool

YHA Cairns Central Dorm

Top Tips for Visiting Cairns

After spending some time in Cairns, Kelly put together some useful tips to help you make the best of your time in this tropical paradise.

Great Barrier Reef

No doubt this is one of the number one reasons you’re going to Cairns. Choosing a reputable company can be difficult when you’re faced with so many choices.

Scuba Diving: It’s well worth heading north to Port Douglas to dive off the reefs there. I personally dived with Quicksilver Dive and found the company to be safe, reliable and conscious of reef conservation.

Snorkelling: You needn’t swim too deep in order to see the beauty of the reef.

There’s this beautiful wooden pearl lugger called Falla Reef Trips that does daily tours from Cairns.

The renowned Captain, Doug, also offers volunteering opportunities for backpackers. We wrote a big guide on volunteering at hostels here.

Surrounding Natural Beauty of Cairns

Sure, the city is packed full cool cafes and fun events, but you really should take the time to explore further afield – you won’t regret it.

Gorges, waterfalls, stunning beaches and excellent hiking trails await you.

Beautiful places I recommend are:

  • Barron Falls
  • Daintree Rainforest (oldest living rainforest in the world)
  • Mossman Gorge
  • Cape York
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Little Mulgrave National Park

Tip: consider renting a car to make all of these places more easily accessible.

Where are all the Beaches in Cairns?

It may or may not come as a shock when you arrive at Cairns only to find a busy estuary and narrow strip of sand. But fear not!

Against popular belief, stunning beaches are within easy reach of the city. Buddy up with fellow best backpackers in Cairns and share fuel costs – it’s a 25-minute drive to the nearest beach.

Make sure you visit:

  1. Trinity Beach (high chance of spotting Green Turtles near the rocks)
  2. Palm Cove Beach
  3. Clifton Beach
  4. Yorkey’s Knob

These are just some of the beaches locally known as the Northern Beaches. Staff at your hostel will help you get there.

Trinity Beach in Cairns, Australia

Beware: This is Croc Country

Yep, you’re in Australia now and crocodiles are no joke.

Jellyfish, snakes, sharks – they’re all out to get you in Cairns!

But before we scare you too much, losing a leg is completely unavoidable as long as you play your cards right.

I don’t doubt your personal safety radar, but being surrounded by dangerous wildlife can be a little unnerving. Just make sure you…

  1. Always take notice of warning signs
  2. Never swim outside of designated areas unless told its safe
  3. Wear proper shoes when hiking to avoid snake bites

That is if you even see a potentially dangerous animal! It’s surprised me how little I saw little beasties so it’s easy to become nonchalant.

Nine times out of ten the animal doesn’t want to hurt you, so don’t give it any reason to do so. Keep your distance and think twice about that selfie with a crocodile.

Any Discounts?

Currently, we have no special hostel discounts in Cairns. We know, it’s a pity.

Subscribe to our newsletter in the meantime and await the newest discounts to hit your inbox.

We also do have a 35€ discount for Airbnb here.

Our Favorite Hostels in Cairns put on a map + sights

This handy Cairns Australia map is designed to make your life easier. Hostels, beaches, top sights – they’re all pinpointed for you.

The top things to do in Cairns include:

  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Kuranda  Scenic Railway
  • Barron Falls
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
  • Cairns Esplanade
  • Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
  • Birdworld Kuranda
  • Daintree Rainforest
  • Cairns Night Markets
  • Rusty’s Markets

They are indeed the best of Cairns.

Not keen on renting a car? Take a 2-day Tabelands, Cape Tribulation & Daintree Tour.

There are many, many options for exploring the Great Barrier Reef here.

Any questions about hostels in Cairns? 🤔

Join our Facebook Group!

Ask all your questions and connect with like-minded wanderers 🔥


Alright, you should have found your accommodation already. Below we list all the frequently asked questions. Have a look.

Flights to Cairns?

The airport is thankfully not too far from the centre of Cairns.

There is a regular shuttle bus running to and fro, as well as taxis and care hire. It will take about 15-minutes to get to Cairns central.

We use Skyscanner and Omio.com to find cheap flights and good connections all over the globe.

Skyscanner has a bunch of cool features like Multi-City Trip. Instead of doing this research step-by-step, Skyscanner offers this flight planning tool.

Our Step-by-Step Guide to Skyscanner

review of Skyscanner flight searches

More epic hostels in Australia

Okay, now that we have covered Cairns hostels, there is more for you. 

Here are some more awesome guides in Australia:

Party hostels:

Backpacker hostels:

Heading over to Fiji? check out our guide to the best hostels in Fiji.

Heading to central Australia? Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Alice Springs.

Heading over to NZ? Then make sure you read our complete guide to best hostels in New Zealand.

Over to you

So then, how do you like the Cairns hostels?

Perhaps something was left untouched or you’re left unsure.

Your question(s) will help me to understand what I have missed to mention. You will have your questions answered and will help make this article even more awesome.

Therefore, do not be shy, drop us a comment, we are keen to help you!

Last note: Our commitment

This is a genuine article to help you travel a bit smarter and find the best place on a budget! We ONLY recommend places we know you will enjoy, no matter what.

We will never recommend you any place we haven’t evaluated or are not convinced by. We only share with you places we also recommend to our best friends and family!

Enjoy this fine hostel selection and all 5 Star Hostels.

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3 Best Hostels in Cairns, Australia the complete guide and overview for backpackers and solo travellers

CLOSED: Tropic Days Backpackers

Update: This hostel is currently full with long-term backpackers and do not take bookings at this time.

Tropic Days Backpackers is located 1 km from Cairns Railway Station and is a 20-minute walk from Cairns Esplanade and Cairns Pier.

Feel at home and relax in the Tropic Days Backpackers. They have common rooms where you can meet travellers around the world.

The hostel is relatively small, but sociable and quiet. The hostel is also very clean. Hang out in the TV room with your hostel buddies, get cooking home comforts in the guest kitchen or even get through that pile of laundry!
Most popular facilities include:

  • Swimming pool
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Airport shuttle
  • Free WiFi
  • Free parking

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