It’s amazing how a place can have the most diverse ecosystems just a few kilometres away from each other: this is Far North Queensland.
Just 25 km away from Cairns we get to Kuranda, a little tourist village in the heart of the rainforest, full of shops and cafes just to sit down and chill out while looking at the imposing flora.
My journey begins with a pick up from Getaway on Grafton with Tropic Wings (Kuranda, RainForeStation, Butterfly Sanctuary and Skyrail Tour w/ Tropical BBQ lunch)
After a half hour drive the bus makes his stop at historical Freshwater Station, where you can do some shopping at the gift shop, take a look to “Red” Lynch’s Cottage (which includes a theatrette), and know a little more about the train’s history in the Museum (a very interesting spot where old tools and materials used during the construction of the Kuranda Scenic Railway are showed).
If the train hasn’t arrived and you feel like having a coffee, you can do so sitting next to a beautiful genuine carriage or wait for it on the platform looking at the green mountains.
Once you’ve jumped on the train, the way up to Kuranda is one beautiful landscape behind other: enormous valleys, high green mountains with spectacular waterfalls, long dark tunnels and marvellous bridges that will surprise anyone just by thinking that it was all built over 120 years ago.
During the journey you feel you’re travelling in time in a refurbished original carriage (some of them are 90 years old).
Half way there the train makes his only stop where the passengers are able to disembark, walk up to the outlook and appreciate the magnificent Barron Falls, with 107 metres on its longest drop. During wet season the falls are overflowing and it’s the best opportunity to get marvelled with them; but during the dry season they’re wonderful as well.
After a 15 minutes stop and some beautiful pictures, the train makes its way to the final destination, arriving in Kuranda Station after a 1 hour 40 minutes unusual journey.
Once there you can make your way up to the centre area of the village, or the bus driver will be happy to take you there (our recommendation is to take the 10 minutes walk).
The picturesque main street is full of shops, cafes and restaurants, offering authentic aboriginal craft, handmade instruments and artefacts, fresh tropical food and ice cream, etc.
The stunning contrast of colours the village offers is like nothing I’ve ever seen: multicolour shops like rainbows get lost in the dense green background. Every step you take discovers a new place where the variety and shades gets you in to find hand crafted jewellery; indigenous artists showing pictures and instruments; crocodile leather and kangaroo fur products; masseurs; woodworkers and gemstone specialists.
After a few blocks the Butterfly Sanctuary opens up to a magic place that’s home to over 1,500 tropical butterflies in the main aviary, flying up and down. An interesting activity to do while there is the Laboratory and Butterfly Nursery, where the staff ensures the correct rising of the collected eggs, to constantly stock the aviary.
At the exit the shuttle waits for you to take you to the RainForeStation Nature Park, only 10 minutes away from Kuranda.
In its 100 acres, this park is home to traditional aboriginal legacies and the visitor sees himself immerse in the rainforest life for a couple of hours.
The welcome Tropical BBQ Buffet Lunch in the Colonial style restaurant is a great start: eating surrounded by plants and fresh rainforest air is something to enjoy.
With renewed energy you walk through the gift shop and the Tropical Fruit Orchard to get to the second activity of the day: the amphibious World War II Army Duck will take you in a 45 minutes rainforest tour, on both land and water, while the guide explains the different types of fauna and flora existing. If you get lucky some turtles, fish and eels will swim close.
The next attraction to visit is the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience, in where local indigenous Pamagirri Guides explain and demonstrate the different aspects of their culture, which is one of the oldest surviving in the world.
Their exotic Corroboree dance showed in the amphitheatre exhibits various aspects of their daily life, such as hunting animals, fighting and celebrating events. Stay close because in the end there is a surprise for the audience.
After the demonstration the indigenous takes you through a 30 minutes Dreamtime Walk where traditional activities are performed by them. Learn how to throw a boomerang (not as easy as it looks like!), and watch spear-throwing and didgeridoo playing (which you can also give it a try).
It’s a really nice way to know more about Australia’s indigenous culture.
After the show the last attraction of the park is the Koala & Wildlife Park where a Wildlife Keeper will walk you through other typical Australian icon: animals.
Take a look at the different species: Koala, Kangaroo, Wallaby, Wombat, Salt water Crocodile, Fresh water Crocodile, Turtle, Snake, Lizard, Frog, Dingo, Cassowary, Spotted-tail (Tiger), Quoll.
Handfeed the free kangaroos and wallabies and live the experience of cuddling a koala or holding a small crocodile (these last 2 at an extra cost).
When the RainForeStation day is over the shuttle takes you back to Kuranda for the final destination: the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, where you will travel and see the pristine World Heritage Rainforest from above, and marvel yourself by the enormous dimensions it has.
Making 2 stops (Barron Falls -from another point of view- and Red Peak Stations) this 1 hour experience will give you an astounding perspective of one of the oldest rainforest surviving on earth. Green from south to north and from east to west, with such high trees that you don’t even see where they start; it’s absolutely breathtaking and unforgettable.
The Skyrail ends in Caravonica Terminal where you meet again with our bus driver who takes you back to your accommodation, ending a perfect, educational and different day here in Far North Queensland.
If you enjoyed reading about Kuranda, you will love being there.
Our experienced staff will be happy to help you find the package that better adapts to your preferences.
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