4 Things to Do in Kuranda
Featured destinations: Australia
Published 30 March 2016
A tiny, picturesque village in the heart of the rainforest, Kuranda is a true Queensland gem. Easily explored in a day, Alexandra Gregg had just half that time to make the most of its many offerings – here are her top recommendations for things to do in Kuranda:
Soar above the rainforest
Gondolas are 10-a-penny these days, but going on one that stretches for 4.5 miles over the rainforest canopy – and used to be the longest in the world – is something else entirely. That’s the experience we got when we took the Rainforest Cableway up to the village of Kuranda. If done in one solid hit, the journey takes a sedentary 45 minutes, serving up views of the forest, the Coral Sea and even Cairns. It’s best to spread out the trip though and stop-off en route, like we did.The Kuranda Skyrail (Image: Alexandra Gregg)
First there was Red Peak Station, where we took a tour along a network of boardwalks amid the towering trees (the strangler fig was my favourite). Our guide talked a bit about the history of the Skyrail, as well as the age-old forest that surrounded us: the Daintree, better known as the oldest continually surviving rainforest on the planet.
Touring the rainforest at Red Peak Station (Image: Alexandra Gregg)
At Barron Falls Station we went off-piste, no guide this time, and walked purposefully along the boardwalks until we reached the highlight: a lookout point over the steep, majestic cascades of Barron Falls (125m). The deep chasm boasted an emerald fringing, not to mention natural pools ripe for swimming in. Even better: the lookout was incredibly peaceful and the only sound that disturbed the silence was the thunderous roar of the falls.
Explore the markets
When you finally reach the top, there’s plenty to keep you busy in this diverse village. Souvenir hunters will be spoilt for choice at the original and heritage markets, both of which sell a range of Aboriginal art as well as hand-made wares, such as leather purses and bags, wooden ornaments and jewellery. There’s plenty to keep you fed and watered: try a coconut cocktail (in a real coconut!) before munching on some Queensland grown macadamia nuts.
The Koala Gardens at Kuranda (Image: Alexandra Gregg)
Meet the wildlife
We were desperate to meet the wildlife in Kuranda, and started with the butterfly sanctuary – home to over 1,500 of these technicolour creatures and the biggest aviary of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The vibrancy and sheer volume of them brought me to a halt. As I stood, soaking up the beauty of them all, they fluttered all around and one even landed on my hand. They reckon the brighter the clothes you wear, the more likely it is that the butterflies will be attracted to you.
Birdworld Kuranda (Image: Alexandra Gregg)
With little time to dawdle, we powered onto Birdworld Kuranda next to see the infamous southern cassowary and plenty of free-roaming lorikeets and cockatoos. You can hand-feed the birds here and even sit among them. We finished up in the gardens, where we got gaze upon Australia’s most famous residents: the koala and the kangaroo. Again you can feed the animals – both kangaroos and wallabies in particular – and hold a koala.
The Kuranda Scenic Railway (Image: Alexandra Gregg)
Ride the rails
We caught the last train back on the World Heritage-listed Kuranda Scenic Railway – a sweaty but otherwise enchanting experience, where the locomotive wrapped around terrifying curves and wound through 15 hand-carved tunnels. Despite following much the same route as the Skyrail, it’s a completely different experience. Rather than chugging above the rainforest, you’re completely ensconced by it, seeing all the same sights but from an entirely unique vantage point. There’s the element of danger too – the train leaps over death-defying drops and bridges that will undoubtedly make your heart pound, while serving up spectacular views of the forest and the coast as you make your descent. Easily one for any train fanatic’s bucket list.
You might also like: