Nestled in lush rainforest on the misty plateau of the Atherton Plateaus, the pretty little rainforest village of Kuranda makes a fun day trip from Cairns. Not only is the destination a treat, but the journey can be just as much fun. To reach Kuranda, you can choose between soaring over the World Heritage-listed rainforest on the Kuranda Skyrail, or chugging up the mountains on the Scenic Railway, past rugged ravines and rushing waterfalls. Both options depart from just outside Cairns. If you have your own car, enjoy the rainforest scenery on the self-drive route. Once you arrive, popular things to do include strolling through the popular markets, admiring art in the local galleries, dining in cute cafes, admiring on beautiful Barron Fallsor visit one of the wildlife parks and nature reserves.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
Floating above breathtaking Barron Gorge National Park on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is an unforgettable Aussie experience. World Heritage rainforests, rugged canyons and beautiful waterfalls beckon far below, and the azure Coral Sea sparkles in the distance. After flying over the canopy, the Skyrail plunges into the heart of the rainforest, where passengers can admire the views and snap photos from a scenic lookout and boardwalk, or learn about wet tropic ecosystems on the Rainforest Interpretation Center. The journey from Cairns to Kuranda takes approximately 1.5 hours and runs in both directions. For different perspectives of the landscape, take the Skyrail in one direction and the Kuranda Scenic Railway in the other.
Address: Corner of Captain Cook Highway and Cairns Western Arterial Road, Smithfield
Official site: https://www.skyrail.com.au/
Kuranda Scenic Railway
The historic Kuranda Scenic Railway has been gliding over rainforest-cloaked ridges since the early 1800s. The journey between Cairns and Kuranda takes approximately 2.5 hours. Nice Barron Gorge National Park, with its waterfalls and World Heritage-listed rainforests, it offers beautiful scenery. Conveniently, the train station is adjacent to the Skyrail station, so you can choose your mode of travel in any direction and see the park from different perspectives.
Address: Bunda Street, Cairns
Official site: https://www.ksr.com.au/Pages/Default.aspx
One of the top tourist attractions in the city, the Kuranda village markets have been enticing shoppers for decades. Both original markets and the Heritage Markets are open daily, their stalls brimming with handmade leather items, native arts and crafts, wood carvings, jewellery, souvenirs and delicious snacks. Street performers add to the lively atmosphere and a courtesy bus runs from the Skyrail and Kuranda Scenic Railway station. Within the boundaries of the market are three nature attractions: Birdworld, Koala gardensand the Australian Butterfly Reserve.
Adres: 2/4 Rob Veivers Drive, Kuranda
Australian Butterfly Reserve
At the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, the country’s largest such aviary, more than 1,500 tropical butterflies flit through rainforest gardens. You can get a close look at these winged beauties, take photos and learn about their life cycle. Kids love the soft flutter of butterfly wings as they fly by. Those who want to act as landing pads should wear bright colors (especially red). To get the most out of a visit to the shrine, wait at least an hour; the free tours are highly recommended. After a walk through the aviary, you can browse the museum exhibits.
Adres: Kuranda Heritage Markets, 8 Rob Veivers Drive, Kuranda
Official Site: https://australianbutterflies.com/
Birdworld in Quran
Scarlet macaws, Amazon parrots, cassowaries and cockatoos are just some of the feathered friends you can meet at Birdworld Kuranda. One of the nature attractions within Kuranda Heritage Markets, Birdworld is Australia’s largest collection of free-flying birds. Here, photographers click away on their cameras as the birds fly through a recreated rainforest filled with lush plants, waterfalls and ponds. Some residents even stumble upon unsuspecting onlookers. If you want to feed the birds, try to go early before they eat their quota for the day.
Adres: Kuranda Heritage Markets, Rob Veivers Drive, Kuranda
Official Site: https://www.birdworldkuranda.com/
Kuranda Koala Gardens
Many animal lovers visiting Australia dream of cuddling a koala, and at Kuranda Koala Gardens you can tick this off your list. This small zoo in the Kuranda Heritage Markets houses marsupials, snakes, lizards and freshwater crocodiles. You can feed the wallabies and kangaroos, watch a wombat show, and (for an additional fee) cuddle a koala or python and take a souvenir photo. For a more peaceful experience, arrive early in the morning before the tour buses. The animals are also hungrier in the early morning and more willing to be fed.
Adres: Kuranda Heritage Markets, Rob Veivers Drive, Kuranda
Official Site: https://www.koalagardens.com/
Rainforestation Nature Park
At Rainforestation Nature Park (five minutes from Kuranda) you can see native Australian wildlife, learn about Aboriginal culture and explore the rainforest by both land and sea. An amphibious WWII Army Duck takes you into the rainforest, where guides provide fascinating tidbits about the flora and fauna. For a dose of culture, you can also enjoy aboriginal dance performances and learn how to throw a boomerang and throw a spear. Animal lovers can visit koalas, kangaroos, dingoes, crocodiles and cassowaries at the small zoo. For an additional fee, you can have your photo taken with a koala or crocodile. Ideal for those with limited time, Rainforestation Nature Park is a fun one-stop versatile Aussie adventure.
Adres: Kennedy Highway, Kuranda
Official Site: https://www.rainforest.com.au/
Barron Gorge National Park
About two kilometers from Kuranda, the beautiful Barron Gorge National Park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Historic walking trails, first forged by the Djabugay people, who thrived on this land for centuries, weave through the dense rainforest. The trails vary in skill level – from short, flat tracks suitable for reasonably fit hikers to ridge hikes and challenging trails through vines and grasslands. Scrub turkeys, musky rat kangaroos and cassowaries are among the native creatures that inhabit this breathtaking wilderness area.
One of the park’s most notable features is the 260-foot Barron Falls, which roars over the cliffs during the wet season. If you want to spend a few days exploring this spectacular park, you can reach the main features by car. For a nice overview, hop aboard the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway of de Kuranda Scenic Railway.
Official site: https://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/barron-gorge/about.html
Tips and Tactics: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Kuranda
- Buy one Kuranda Wildlife Experience Pass to visit the three wildlife attractions in the Kuranda Heritage Markets at a discount.
- Free Wi-Fi and a cafe are available at Kuranda Skytrail station, but food and drinks are not allowed in the gondolas.
- Drink plenty of water in Kuranda. The tropical heat saps moisture from the body.
- Please wear comfortable walking shoes, as well as a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses for exploring Kuranda village and the nearby rainforest.
- Take insect repellent when hiking through the rainforest.