Smithfield, a residential suburb, is 14 km north-west of central Cairns. It is one of the earliest named localities in the Cairns region.
The Hodgkinson gold field (1876) was at first supplied from Port Douglas, but a William Smith cut a track across the Lamb Range to Trinity Bay (Cairns). Smithfield was created as a landing place on the Barron River in 1876, but it was prone to flooding and superseded when better overland routes were created. The surveyed town was at the end of today's Redford Road, down from the Caravonica School.
Smithfield persisted as the name of a locality inland on the Cook Highway and as the name of the survey parish, north of the Barron River to Palm Cove. In the early postwar years the locality was regarded as part of Redlynch, but in the early 1980s maps showed both Smithfield and Smithfield Heights, the latter possibly a defensive reference to the floods downstream in the previous century. Since 2002 'Smithfield Heights' has been absorbed by Smithfield.
Sites in the north of Smithfield Heights were chosen for the Cairns campus (1995) of James Cook University, Smithfield High School (1983) and the Holy Cross primary school (1987). At the junction of Captain Cook and Kennedy Highways, Smithfield (lower), a drive-in shopping centre with a discount department store, two supermarkets and other shops was opened in 1986. Smithfield is a regional business centre in the Cairns local government area and has commercial and light industrial uses.
Smithfield's census populations have been: