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Kuranda [5] is a small town in Far North Queensland adjoining the Barron Gorge National Park. As it is located very close to Cairns and the journey is scenic, it is an extremely popular day trip: the village is overflowing with visitors during the middle of each day.


In the 19th century, Kuranda was something like a spa for the upper classes who came here to enjoy the cooler climate. Kuranda was connected to Cairns by a railway line which was constructed from 1887 to 1897, in order to have reliable access to the gold fields located lying inland. Twenty-three people died during the dangerous process. In the 1960s, the place was discovered by hippies who established markets of local arts and crafts. Although the markets have changed a lot and today you will find a lot of souvenirs made in China, they are still famous.

Get in[edit]

Kuranda Scenic Railway
  • Drive the scenic route, through sections of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Listed Rainforest with views out to Green and Fitzroy Islands, from Cairns via the Captain Cook and Kennedy Highways. The trip takes approximately 40 minutes.
  • Hop on the Kuranda Scenic Railway [6] for the leisurely one and a half hour trip 329 meters up and 34 kilometers out from Cairns. Two services daily in each direction. Adult one-way from $50, return from $76, reservations recommended. Child one way from $25, return from $38, family rates do apply. Services depart from Cairns Central Railway Station, close to the centre of Cairns, and Freshwater Railway Station, near Redlynch. Prices valid at 2 January 2018.
  • Catch the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway [7]. This is a gondola ride through the rainforest treetops, with a couple of stops on route to change cars. Great views of the rainforest canopy. Prices valid 14.2.13 are: One-way is $45 adults and $22.50 children, return is $68 adults and $34 children. This price does not include coach transfers from Cairns. A 5% discount is available when you book online and a one-way Skyrail, one-way Kuranda Railway package is $101.50 adults and $50.75 children. This price does not include coach transfers from Cairns. The base station is around 15km north of Cairns, probably around half-way to Kuranda. Transfers from both Cairns, Cairns Beaches and Port Douglas are available. [email protected] The local public transport company, Sunbus, service the skyrail base station at Caravonica from Cairns every hour or so. [8]
  • Catch one of the shuttle buses [9] between Cairns and Kuranda ($6 one way) if looking for a budget alternative. There are two bus companies that run regular scheduled services between Cairns and Kuranda. If you just want to get to and explore Kuranda they will save you time and money over the scenic options. Information about the shuttles is available from the Kuranda Visitor Information Centre [10]. E-mail: [email protected]. Tel.: 07 4093 9311 .

You can combine any of these options - the Kuranda Scenic railway, skyrail or the local shuttle buses, travelling to Kuranda on one and returning on another. From the scenic point of view, take the railway first in the morning and after that make the skyrail trip. After arriving at the Caravonica Skyrail Terminal, you have the opportunity to visit the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park to learn something about the local indigenous Aboriginal culture.

If you want to do the round trip with the skyrail and the train there are a number of tour companies that package that journey for you, including tickets and transfers.

Get around[edit]

Kuranda is a small village, although somewhat hilly. Walking about 1km will take you from one end of town to the other. Don't count on being able to walk quickly, as the streets tend to be packed with people.

A one-way courtesy bus between the skyrail and scenic railway stations at the south end of town and the wildlife attractions at the north of town. The bus departs every twenty minutes.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Birdworld [11], Heritage Markets, Rob Vievers Drive. tel 07 4093 9188. email [email protected] Birdworld is a large mesh canopy, open to natural light in which you can wander among free flying birds armed with an identification sheet to pick them out. The birds are divided evenly between colourful parrots and drab quails and doves with the addition of some cassowaries fenced away from people wandering around the circuit. Entry is $14 for adults, $5 children and $29 for families with two adults and 2 children. A combined pass with the butterfly sanctuary and the Koala Gardens is $33 adults and $16 children.
  • Kuranda Koala Gardens [12], Heritage Markets, Rob Vievers Drive. tel 07 4093 9953. email [email protected] The Koala Gardens is a small wildlife zoo housing Australian native animals. In addition to koalas there are kangaroos, crocodiles, snakes and lizards. Visitors can hold a koala and have their picture taken. Entry is $14 for adults, $7 for children. Photo holding a koala will be an extra $15. The kangaroos and wallabies are tame and friendly and you can grab a free handful or two of feed at the entrance to their lawn.
  • Australian Butterfly Sanctuary [13], 8 Rob Vievers Drive. tel 07 4093 7575. fax 07 4093 8923. email [email protected] The butterfly sanctuary is an aviary containing rainforest butterflies - Birdwings Ulysees and more, its great for Kids. Open 9:45AM to 4:30PM, with guided tours from 10:00 to 3:15PM. Wear bright colored clothing to get the butterflies to land on you.
  • Barron Gorge National Park & Barron Falls. Amazing waterfall-carved gorge 3 km from town. An informative, interpretive rainforest boardwalk takes you through the National Park to view the magnificent Barron Falls. The waterfall is a trickle in the dry season becoming a torrent in the wet season floods. The road makes a good walk (no footpath) for those with time, allow 45 minutes (minimum) each way. There is also a shuttle service (The Barron Falls Shuttle Bus) [1] that provides an alternative to walking with a half hourly service. This service also includes a visit to Wright's Lookout and returns to the village centre half hourly from 9am daily. $10 Adults $5 Children (return trip). Oddly missing from many guidebooks, or understated.  edit
  • Honey House Kuranda, 7 Therwine Street, 0740-937261, [2]. 9-3.30. Established in 1959, Honey House Kuranda continues to offer tourists the chance to see live bees working hard to make honey and to sample over 20 North Qld premium raw honey varieties. There is also fresh honeycomb, medicinal honeys and beauty products all made with the highest quality honey. free.  edit
  • Rainforestation Nature Park, Kennedy Highway, +617 4085 5008, [3]. This award-winning attraction is situated five minutes (by car or bus) from Kuranda Village. Experience the tropical rainforest on both land and water aboard an amphibious World War II Army Duck. Learn about aboriginal culture with the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience, including a traditional dance performance and boomerang throwing, spear throwing and didgeridoo playing. See native Australian animals including kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles, wombats, dingoes and the cassowary.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Buy[edit][add listing]

Kuranda is famous for its markets. They run everyday and have a wide range of crafts and locally made products. It's just a short walk from the Skyrail or the Kuranda Scenic Railway station to the village. The shops and markets open from 9.00AM and many close when the last train leaves at 3.30PM The Original Rainforest Markets are located in Therwine Street behind the famous Honey House.(see listing above)

Eat[edit][add listing]

There is no shortage of cafe style places in Kuranda. Wander around and choose one that takes your fancy. Take-away food is also plentiful, in many different styles.

  • Frogs Restaurant, Heritage Markets Therwine Street (Slap bang in the middle of the village), 0740938952, [4]. 9am - 3.30pm. Frogs has been operating since 1980. A great laid back spot with lots of atmosphere  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Try the Kuranda Hotel Motel, "Bottom Pub" just near the Skyrail/Railway Station for a bit of local atmosphere or the Barron Falls Hotel, "Top Pub" further up Coondoo Street.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

They're aren't many places to stay in Kuranda, but Cairns Australia keeps an updated list of accommodation options in Kuranda.[14]

Get out[edit]

  • Shambala Animal Kingdom is located 15 mins drive west of Kuranda. Here you can view lions, tigers, bears, hippos, babboons.
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