Join Tourism Town Kuranda!
Posted: 14 Aug 2018
We were well equipped and trained before we started. We had some time in a practice area that got us comfortable being off road. Then we started the trail which was a great combination of fun and challenging. There were creeks, hills, rocky...
Your day begins with the famous Kuranda Scenic Rail journey to Kuranda. Sit back, relax and take in the spectacular views as you wind your way up to quaint village of Kuranda. There is plenty of time to explore, including the Heritage Markets which operate daily. Then it’s time to board Skyrail Rain...
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Cairns Hot Air Balloon Co is the only company in Australia to train balloon pilots from novice to commercial standard “in house”. Cairns Hot Air Balloon Co's comprehensive training program conducted by our own Chief Flying Instructor, ensures the highest standards are maintained flight after flight....
Time for a coffee of course…there’s always time in Kuranda. Soak up the ambience of the famous Kuranda markets and the Rainforest!
Kuranda Village is a small happy village community in the Rainforest and only a 25 minute drive from Cairns. Most visitors to Kuranda travel on the historic Scenic Railway combined with the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. It is also possible to access the village via the spectacular Kuranda Range Road.
Surrounded by World Heritage listed wet tropics rainforest at any time of the year you will wonder at the richness and diversity of the lush foliage. There is easy access to walking trails to the river, discovering some rare flora and fauna on the way and also more strenuous bushwalks for those wanting to explore further.
Kuranda became popular in the 60's for people choosing an alternative lifestyle away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Many creative people still live in the village and there is a laid back style and sophistication that sets this little township apart from others in North Queensland.
Many small shops are located within historic buildings and the streetscape includes wrought iron, established trees and creative signage. You will find restaurants, cafes and bars along with shops and markets selling locally made and exotically handcrafted goods and Aboriginal artifacts.
Kuranda welcomes visitors to stay for a night or two and there are a number of accommodation options such as B & B's, a local historical pub, or a Rainforest Resort as well as a Backpacker hostel and caravan park. Thousands of tourists visit everyday but once the last train departs the station the town becomes even more peaceful. There is beautiful World Heritage Rainforest all around and as the night creeps in the sounds of the rainforest begin. Listen for the symphony of rainforest animals especially if it is raining. There are many varieties of frogs living in the tropical rainforest and they all have their own music along with the sounds of pademelons, bandicoots, flying foxes, owls and curlews.
For the nature lover the wet season is when the Rainforest comes alive and the Barron Falls is breathtaking. This is generally from December through April and you would expect there to be rainfall in the evenings however, it fines up each day and is clear. We love the rain as it cools everything down and makes everybody feel very relaxed. The perfect time to visit the Rainforest.
People of all ages enjoy a daytrip to Kuranda. You can hold a koala, walk amoungst the butterflies, feed native and exotic birds in a free flying aviary as well as any number of other activities. The Army Duck ride through the rainforest and Riverboat cruise are also popular. The local Indigenous “Dja-bu-guy” tribe of Aboriginal people have lived on land around Kuranda for more than 10,000 years and were excellent hunters and fisherman. This vibrant indigenous culture thrives today and you will see traditional artefacts, fine art and tribal dances (corroboree) when you visit Kuranda. As Kuranda grew quickly in the 1970's with many new European settlers arriving art and music became a unifying force which continues today.
Kuranda is home to an extraordinary number of potters, painters, photographers, glass and craft workers, masters in wood, jewellery and fabrics. Their work is on display in many of the shops, galleries and markets in the village, and some artists are internationally recognised. There are only 3000 people living in the village however there are all facilities available to visitors including ATM's, Foreign Exchange Facilities, a Post Office and a Bank.
The people of Kuranda cheerfully welcome you to come and enjoy the beauty of nature!
Kuranda is a romantic village, shrouded by pristine rainforest and nestled alongside the mighty Barron River and the big boisterous Barron Falls. Tourism had its foundations in Kuranda before 1920.
The Cairns Post circa 1921 had this to say about Kuranda, " no township in the world has such splendour within its environs, no wonder that journalists, authors, artists and poets have tried to express in permanent form, the emotions which it has stirred within them"; this statement remains as true today as when it was written. First settled by Europeans in 1885 and then connected to Cairns by rail in 1891, Kuranda quickly earned a well-deserved reputation as a premium visitor destination, a cool mountain retreat removed from the sweltering heat and humidity of the tropical coast. Today Kuranda is known as the "village in the rainforest" an exciting vibrant community on Cairns' doorstep.
Kuranda is a pulsating township that exudes a bohemian character. Kuranda' s natural beauty, prolific wild life and embracing year round climate has mesmerised people of all ages, creeds & cultures. An atmosphere of kinship surfaces then radiates from the picturesque village, a community united in its love of Kuranda and her tranquillity.
Kuranda sees a diverse multi-cultural population come together as a bonded community; today, exhibited by all to few other places in the world. Kuranda citizenry's passion for home and habitat dominos into a generous community spirit, where neighbours sincerely care for each other in a measure from a bygone era; a return to an age of grace.
Kuranda is a Mecca for artists of every genre painters; sculptors, visual artists, musicians, and thespians. Kuranda enjoys a burgeoning cottage industry community, people inspired by its majesty and drawn by its charm. Gifted artisans and crafts people market their hand made wares from quaint shops, studios and bazaars where the artist, artisan, miner or crafts person by being on-hand, provides the visitor with the opportunity to buy, first hand. Do something daring buy original and be different. Every lady still drawing breath will fall in love with Kuranda's shopping; language is no barrier as most staff are multilingual. She will discover unique jewellers who create from rare diamonds coloured with hues of rose & champagne. Look on as the jeweller turns and polishes opal then facets gem stones.
Tour Kuranda and unearth aromatic leatherwear of distinction, alluring pelts taken from the kangaroo, crocodile, barramundi, emu and flamboyant sea snakes. Artwork may be found everywhere on canvas, ceramics, glass, metals, textiles, earthenware, stoneware, terracotta and clay pots. Hideaway antiques stores and photo galleries must be prospected for that special little, "stumble upon". Rainforest timbers with richly coloured grains are shaped and sculptured as you watch on. Stylish boutiques and market stalls offer garments reflecting the colours, culture and lifestyle of Kuranda. Souvenir an inexpensive t-shirt or treat yourself to a one-off, hand sewn creation by a local couturier.
Kuranda Heritage Markets and The Original Kuranda Markets provide a timeless wander through a beautiful rainforest setting where you may also observe artists at work and sample the local produce, picked at sunrise by the same farmer standing before you, ready to serve. The rainforest setting has been and continues to be an inspiration for artists. Kuranda over the years has attracted some of the world's best artists to reside in or near the village. The newly formed artist co-operative is a showcase for the unique and individualistic talents of Kuranda's well known and yet to be discovered artists. The arts Co-operative is a unique space where the very highest quality art can be viewed and purchased, situated in the centre of the village it presents only the work of Kuranda crafts people.
Each year, in late October, Kuranda lets its hair down for the Kuranda Festival, two days of artistic fun and frivolity where locals and visitors alike are drawn to celebrate all of the wonders vis-a vis the village in the rainforest.
Kuranda will delight the connoisseur; here again Kuranda's artistic backdrop becomes apparent. Restaurants and coffee shops; naturally sidewalk or alfresco to avail diners with the pleasures presented by the therapeutic indulgence of liberated mountain air and panoramic rainforest scenery; serve the flavoursome local fare with both flair and panache. Kuranda caters to all palates and bestows a smorgasbord of choices upon diners. Decide whether to put away matchless international cuisine, ala Carte or buffet. Choices for lunch and dinner abound, barbeque or bistro, flame grills, carverys, wood fired pizzerias or brassieres. Licensed and bring-your-own. Savour seafood, pasta, vegetarian, sizzling steaks, light continental meals or Australian bush tucker, crocodile, water buffalo, kangaroo and emu all tendered in a relaxed casual atmosphere and ambience, upon balconies and wide colonial verandahs. A thriving café society exists, from early morning; join the locals for brekkie, a gossip or to debate world affairs.
The Honey House constructed with see-through walls, like a glass bottomed boat, allows you to view actual working bee hives whilst you partake in a spot of sampling at their honey tasting bar or devour Devonshire teas, pumpkin scones or good old Aussie damper served with lashings of assorted honeys and cream, at your table. Ice Cream Barons closely guard their secret tropical recipes from the first lick inquisitive as they tempt the taste buds of the passing parade with exotic flavours such as custard apple, mango, avocado, jaboticaba, macadamia nut or black sapote the black pudding fruit, in addition to all of your traditional favourites. The Kuranda Candy Kitchen educates a captivated throng in the art of yummy old fashion candy making, in a store nearby.
Kuranda lacks for nothing possessing a post office, pharmacy, newsagency, supermarket, Internet cafés, banks, foreign exchanges, photo galleries, souvenir shops and all medical services. There is always an exhibition on somewhere in town. In 1979 the Kuranda Amphitheatre was carved out of the hills by a dedicated group of local musicians, performers and eccentric individuals. This 3,500 seat tropical outdoor venue has over the years, attracted some of Queensland, Australia and the World's finest performers, for some truly memorable concerts. Check local papers for current concerts and events.
How to get to Kuranda
There are three primary modes of transport for visitors who wish to make the trip to Kuranda; each and every one of them ensures breathtaking scenery.
Self-drive / Car: A 30-minute sojourn up the Kuranda Range is the fastest method of reaching the township. This gentle drive provides a feast for the eyes as you windyour way up the range with views of the Coral Sea's tropical coastline on one side and pristine rainforest on the other. The remaining two choices are via the Kuranda Scenic Railway or Skyrail. Take a tip from the experts leave your vehicle at home, visit Kuranda by completing a Skyrail, Scenic Railway round trip, you will certainly have no regrets only memories of a man made magical encounter with nature, in all her finery.
Kuranda Scenic Railway: A holiday experience that combines the wonders of thenatural world and the marvels of human achievement. For 34 kilometres, the 100 year old railway climbs more than 300 meters through tropical rainforest, delves through 15 tunnels, bends around 98 curves and tip toes precariously over 40 bridges. Along the way you are treated to a commentary that details the trials and tribulations of the regions early pioneers. Freshwater Connection Railway Station is the first of only two stops, a heritage style train station, doubling as an award-winning restaurant, perfect for breakfast and a visit to the in-station museum. The most impressive sight, the second compulsory train stop, is the bridge stretching over the Barron River Falls, below is a postcard picture that seems near impossible to believe. The engineering feats involved in the construction of the railway are a monument to the perseverance, blood, sweat, tears and ingenuity of the human race. During the lines construction 23 men died! You will witness the awesome ravines and cavernous gorges that enthralled the surviving rail workers who first walked this line. Upon arriving at Kuranda Railway Station you will find that it looks nothing like what you have come to expect from a railway station as it is a beautiful botanic garden in its own right.
Many visitors to the Atherton Tablelands who are planning on heading to Kuranda choose to ascend the range on the Kuranda Train (they know about the breakfasts at the Freshwater Connection Railway Station), and then back down the range on Skyrail. The Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail have collaborated in the visitor's best interest in providing a number of packages for this time-honoured round trip means of sightseeing.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway: Stretching for 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles), Skyrail is the world's longest gondola cableway. There are 32 towers along the way, with the tallest being 40.5 meters above the rainforest floor. Skyrail is indisputably the most admired and most popular tourist attraction in North Queensland, you will see why the moment you step aboard your gondola. The cableway voyage grants amazing panoramic views of Cairns City and environs, the Coral Sea, coastal tropical islands and the Great Barrier Reef, enchanting visitors with a literal birds eye perception of the beauty of Tropical North Queensland. As the gondolas soar over the mountaintops towards Kuranda village, the scenery transforms into dense rainforest, one moment you are gliding along with the rainforest canopy only meters below your feet, then across wild impenetrable, ravines, gorges and thunderous waterfalls.
Many daily tours and buses also visit Kuranda each day providing additional avenues for transport to the village in then rainforest.
Accommodation in Kuranda
Accommodation in Kuranda caters for all sized families and budgets. Kuranda is an eco-town, which is instrumental in influencing the style of the accommodation. Kuranda is endowed with rainforest resorts, eco-lodges, hotels, motels, bed and breakfast accommodation, farm stays, backpacker hostels and a caravan park by the river with rainforest cottages, poolside units and shady private sites for caravans or camping. In house zoologist Dr Rosco will enjoy accompanying your on evening bio-walks to view nocturnal animals in their natural habitat. Kuranda boasts Australia's premier gay friendly resort offering uncompromising quality, comfort and style where straight, gay and lesbian guests can relax and enjoy a sanctuary of love, peace and comfort that captures the true dynamics of Kuranda and Tropical North Queensland.
Kuranda's Attractions - Things to see & do
Spectacular wildlife sightings and scenery are within easy reach of the bushwalker in all the unique upland rainforests and sclerophyll forests of Tropical Atherton Tablelands with numerous well-defined tracks and paths. Many of these locations are of such magnitude that they are World Heritage listed, making them among the most extraordinary places on earth. Kuranda has a new series of six interconnected walks that provide an opportunity to explore the "village in the Rainforest" and its surrounding dense jungle environment, there is even a pleasant stroll along the banks of the Barron River, The walks are in the main easy ambles taking as little as 30 minutes to complete. Trekking the entire network is a most pleasant full day experience. A tracks-head shelter provides informative details of the walks and tells something of Kuranda's past, present and future. These walks are also connected to extended walking opportunities within the Barron Gorge National Park.
At Kuranda the mighty Barron falls may be accessed via a viewing platform a few kilometres outside of the township. A short walk of 150 meters one way and 20 minutes return (easy) from the car park leads to two lookouts surveying the falls and gorge. The first lookout is wheelchair accessible and features colourful murals depicting local wildlife and the Djabugay story of Barron Falls. In the wet season after heavy rains in the Cairns Highland's catchment area, the Barron Falls is in flood, a truly awesome sight and one not to be missed.
Kuranda possesses several breeding populations of the endangered cassowary; a quiet walk in the early mornings or late afternoons along Black Mountain road is the right time and location to catch a glimpse of this elusive big beaked bird. Local bird lists are available from Queensland Parks & Wildlife Services offices. Many accommodation houses also maintain their own localized wildlife lists. The Queensland Museum has produced The Wildlife of Tropical North Queensland guidebook. Cairns Highlands based writers and photographers, Clifford & Dawn Frith, Stanley Breeden and Lloyd Nielson also have some excellent publications available at visitor centres, local newsagents and bookstores.
Between Kuranda and Mareeba there are sign posted turnoffs for Emerald Creek and Davies Creek Waterfalls - cool, green oases among an otherwise dry and harsh landscape.
Amphibious Army Ducks built during World War II and boasting six-wheel drive, a propeller and rudder, explores one hundred acres of World Heritage listed rainforest, every day. "Duck Captains" are well versed in rainforest ecology and will identify, enlighten and inform guests of the many diverse species of flora, fauna, bird, butterfly and insect life, from commentary sheets, which are printed in fourteen different languages. Along the jungle tracks and riverbanks you will see rare orchids in bloom, tree ferns, staghorn, the evil strangler fig and the, "you'll go mad with the pain if you touch one", even more heinous stinging tree.
Once in the lake and under propeller you encounter amethyst pythons up to eight meters long sunbaking or on the slither for prey. Water Dragons burst off the banks, then with instinctive urgency, sprint along the waters edge. With a blaze of colour and sparkle afforded by only a treasure chest of gems, the electric blue Ulysses and the fluorescent green Cairns Bird Wing butterflies tremble and wave as they visit the trees of the canopy, their delicate beauty will yield a banquet for the eyes and nourish the soul. Azure Kingfishers and the Rainbow Bee Eaters yo-yo from a tree to break the water surface, time and again to devour shallow insects. Turtles, fish and eels, past masters of the tourism game, swim up to the duck foreseeing the liberation of food, thrown overboard by a kind-hearted guest.
After your experience aboard a bona fide "mighty duck", take time to gently meander through the adjoining tropical fruit orchard, which prides itself on having over forty flourishing exotic varieties. Centrepiece of the tropical fruit orchid is the Tropical Treats Juice Bar where the farm's harvest may be sampled o' natural or via lip smacking fruit flavoured ice creams and refreshing juices. Where does their tea and coffee come from, I hear you ask, why from the farm of course, along with sugar cane, refined to sweeten your brew? They have to have a cow their somewhere, what if I want a cappuccino! Make like a fruit bat and flutter from tree to tree to pick, taste and appraise, mango, lychee, cocoa, papaya, star apples, carambola, jack fruit, plantain bananas, pineapple and mangosteens to name only a few.
A clear-cut Kodak moment is to cuddle a cute koala in a Kuranda wildlife park. Promenade the park at your leisure for even more cuddles as you feed friendly grey kangaroos, wallabies and adorable mini-marsupials, called pademelons. Watch barramundi explode to the surface of the lake to ravage the snack you have scattered. Embrace the snake handler's offer to touch, feel, pat and yes even kiss and caress a giant reticulating python or a lethal venomous snake. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if the snakes don't get you the cassowary must. Cassowaries are the only birds that are known to kill humans, but only for food not for fun or profit. Using an axe shaped crest atop their heads, they sledge hammer their victims to a bloody mash. Keeta is the resident cassowary; she is curious, tame, two meters tall and ever so friendly, unless you get too close that is. Meet Bindi & Fella, native Australian dogs called dingoes and Wilber & Winnie wombat, once kept as household pets for their intelligence, companionship and craving for human affection.
Enter Australia's first walk through snake house, a herpetologist's dream home to observe snakes that strangle and poison. The Komodo Dragon is the world's largest monitor lizard, the Goanna is the second largest, the Goanna however is not only amphibious but also arboreal, neither fish nor fowl is safe from this predator. Where do you think Goannas sleep; anywhere they want to but it's best you only wake the ones in the snake house.
Now that brings us to "Jack the Ripper" a five meter long, estuarine crocodile weighing just on a tonne! Jack is a 50-year-old bachelor, check the facts; he is a living breathing pre-historic monster. Jack has now been sentenced to solitary confinement. Jack, a fine figure of a crocodile was favoured for stud duties and thus was penned with a harem of eligible, young, eye-catching wives of equal genes and good child bearing hips, naturally. Jack killed and cannibalised twelve lady crocodiles. When the lady crocodiles thought they were ringing Jack's bell, Jack thought it was a dinner bell. Now he is in the "hole". Two obvious questions about Jack immediately leap to mind; the first must surely be about Jack's orientation. The second is, after Jack had consumed potential wives one through five, hello, is anybody home? Why did no one notice that our Jack was establishing something of a pattern in his courtship technique? Who honestly thought that the remaining girls could get the hots for this Hannibal Lector of the riverbank? Find out the answers to these questions and more when you enjoy a Kuranda wildlife park.
Come and see a Corroboree, the indigenous or native people of Kuranda are known as aboriginals, a word with a meaning similar to its sound "the original inhabitants". The local people or tribe are the Pamagirri. Today they perform their ancient cultural songs and dances in the authentic tradition, honourably interpreting every movement, sound and dreamtime story as mentored and handed down by their elders, who have been entrusted with the tribes culture and customs by their ancestors in a ritual going back over 60,000 years. A Corroboree is similar to a pageant or eisteddfod that depicts the animals, birds, fish and reptiles, previously relied upon for sustenance. They portray the daily ritual of the departing men's hunting party and the gathering of nuts, fruit, berries and herbal medicines by the women folk.
The rainforest amphitheatre provides a naturally endearing backdrop for the Pamagirri Corroboree. The jungle admirably duals as the theatre walls where the resonance of the rainforest harmonizes in accompaniment to the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo and clap sticks. Vivid butterflies appear resembling miniature angels as they cruise the amphitheatre like the prettily coloured lights emanating from a mirror ball. What performance would be complete without the witticisms of a heckler? Upstaging the players with his all pervasive and infectious laugh, the Kookaburra jokes on. After a group demonstration and some one-on-one tuition you can test your own skills on the didgeridoo, boomerang or at spear throwing. Amaze at the distances throw by the Pamagiri, where with the assistance of a Woomera distances of 150 metres are achieved.
Set your heart a flutter, experience the magic and enchantment of the world's largest live butterfly display at Kuranda's internationally acclaimed butterfly sanctuary, over one million visitors all can't be wrong, neither can the Guinness Book of Records who make the claim that the Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary is indeed the worlds largest butterfly farm. Here in a vast lushly landscaped enclosure 1,500 brilliantly coloured butterflies, all residents of the local area will encase you including the flashing, dancing electric blue Ulysses regarded by many as the unofficial emblem of Tropical North Queensland.
The Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary is both a haven for butterflies and people. A place where you will be entranced by the acrobatics of some of the most spectacular denizens of the rainforest as you come face to face with them all, here you will meet the largest of the worlds butterflies, the gentle green giant, the huge brilliantly coloured fluoro-green Cairns Birdwing with it's beguiling behaviour that will bring shear delight to young and old alike. Wear something bright preferably either red or white to let the butterflies indulge their fancy to flirt, flutter and fuss over you and yes-even land upon you. Oh, don't forget to sling those cameras over the shoulder, as many a Kodak moment will present itself.
Meet some feathered friends. In the heart of Kuranda, two of the largest free-flight aviaries in Australia are located below the rainforest trees. Almost 100 different species, most native of Australia, live in safe enclosures which have been painstakingly constructed to replicate natural habitats, landscaped lakes, ponds and waterfalls ensure the longevity and well being of vibrantly coloured parrots, cheeky rainbow lorikeets, rumbustious rosellas, graceful black swans and the hulking cassowaries.
All-weather boardwalks meander from the ground to the tree line to truly provide a bird's eye view. International species from the earths vanishing rainforest are selectively breed to provide an additional vital link in what has become a very shallow gene pool these include several varieties of the dazzling and outrageously plumaged macaws from the Amazon basin of South America. The birds have regular contact with humans, making them exceptionally tame, hand feeding opportunities abound, it is not unusual for guests with two outstretched hand of food to have up to six different birds gently land on your shoulders hoping for a tit-bit, it sounds like your camera is an absolute must and it is.
The Weka Djimbu Dance Troupe provides an in-town, in-theatre authentic aboriginal experience where ancient aboriginal culture is brought to life in song, dance and stories of the dreamtime. Here the Bama rainforest people produce and sell their native artwork and traditionally hand crafted weapons and artefacts.
Prettiponds is one of Kuranda's best-kept secrets where you are able to acquire gemstones and jewellery direct from the Blue Vale Mine, after you have enjoyed your complementary tea and coffee by the ponds, which are constantly graced with a plethora of endearing water birds.
Horse riding stables are scattered throughout the Mareeba district and make available an infinite choice of trail way experiences, rainforest trails, tall timber country, open woodlands and savannah, along the way you will be taught how to throw a boomerang, cook a damper and make a didgeridoo.
Kuranda wildlife tours know all the very best locales to find and observe platypus, crocodiles, turtles, water dragons, frogs, echidnas, scrub fowl, bandicoots, quoll and over 100 species of birds.
All terrain vehicles may be hired to tour 315 acres of real Australian bushland supporting a wide variety of native fauna and flora to explore. No experience is required, all ages and skill levels are catered for.
The Village Herb Farm is a tiny property 1.5km from Kuranda nestled between two gorgeous rainforest gullies. Morning and afternoon tea is served on the viewing deck after a fascinating tour of the farm.