Backpacker 'lucky to be alive' after stabbing attack in Cairns hostel

A foreign tourist is lucky to be alive after she was allegedly bashed and stabbed in the neck and arm at a backpackers hostel in Cairns.

The 26-year-old Chilean is recovering in hospital after a stranger approached her in a communal area of the Geckos Backpackers hostel and allegedly touched her inappropriately about 11am on Monday.

When the woman cried out for help, it's alleged the attacker bashed her before picking up a knife and stabbing her as she tried to escape.

Police have praised the actions of two holidaying NSW nurses who ran after the woman and administered first aid until paramedics arrived.

A 26-year-old tourist was bashed and stabbed in the neck and arm at a hostel in Cairns. Source: Getty Images.

Nurses help save woman’s life

Cairns police Detective Sergeant Brad McLeish said the nurses had displayed great courage and no doubt helped save the woman's life.

"These two NSW nurses, who were up here on holiday, saw the victim running from the scene and gave first aid despite the risk to themselves with the alleged offender still in the vicinity," he told The Cairns Post.

"The woman is lucky to be alive."

Police were forced to chase the man as he fled the scene, pursuing him though the Cairns showgrounds before arresting him in a nearby street.

A 36-year-old man will front the Cairns Magistrates Court on Tuesday, charged with attempted murder, sexual assault and assault occasioning bodily harm.

The woman's condition was listed as serious when she was rushed to hospital.

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