There are a 3 primary ways to get to Kuranda village - Skyrail, automobile and the Kuranda Scenic Railway. These are also the options for the return trip.
We chose to take the Kuranda Scenic Railway on the way up. A shuttle picked us up from our hotel and took us to the Cairns Station for our 9:30am departure. The journey takes approximately 2 hours including a 10 minute stop at Barron Falls station and lookout for a fantastic view of the Barron Falls.
Throughout the journey, audio plays telling you of the history of the railway, which began construction in 1886. up to 1500 men armed with only picks, shovels and dynamite created the railway. It was interesting to learn that at one point, these men needed to provide these tools in order to get this job. Commentary is available in English, Japanese, Mandarin, and German.
Sit back, relax and enjoy this beautiful two hour train ride through Queensland’s rainforest. Now primarily a tourist railway, The Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns to the small town of Kuranda provides an amazing way to see experience the rainforest taking in sights of rugged mountains with plentiful waterfalls that seem to fall for miles. On the way up, the train stops at Barron Falls Station where passengers are able to disembark for 15 minutes and view the spectacular Barron Gorge and Barron Falls.
The Heritage Class (general seating) is $49 one way, or $74 round trip. We opted to take the train up and Skyrail down which was $120 AUD total.
Kuranda Skyrail offers a unique way of seeing the rainforest, as the Sky gondolas transport you right over and sometimes inbetween the trees. We took the trip from the Caravonica Station in the Cairns flatlands to the Kuranda Station up in the Rainforest. There are a number of stations on the way up that you can get off at, each one offering a slightly different experience from Rainforest boardwalks to the Barron Falls waterfall. It gets interesting as the gondola dangles out over the Barron River but as long as you don't think too hard about the crocs waiting in the water below you'll be fine !
The village of Kuranda is a great destination for a daytrip. It seems to have attracted all kinds of arty people...so the kids went crazy trying to decide on souveneirs. There was aboriginal art and artifacts, pottery, glassblowing and all manner of crafts to choose from. In the end they had carictatures done by a local artist, which were great.
The scenic railway up was excellent...even I was too enthralled to bother being scared of heights but the cable car down scared the pants off me! great views though...if you can look!
One nice way to tour the scenic area inland from Cairns is to take a ride on the Kuranda Scenic Train. After climbing just a short distance in elevation the landscape becomes more dramatic, with steep rocky hillsides and dense vegetation.
The train leaves from Cairns and travels past Freshwater, Stoney Creek, and then finally to Kuranda. Now there is evidently a sky train at Kuranda too, though it was only in the planning stages when I was there.
Well we think the best option is to go up by the historic rail and come back by Sky Rail. But if you go by train pay the extra and upgrade to Gold Class .....two special carriages....drinks served...room to move...it is well worth it.
The scenic train does leave from Cairns main station(but read on) so you can book and leave from there yourself. You can book Gold Class here. Otherwise be sure to mention you want Gold to the tour organizer at your hotel or whereever you book..
Most of the tour groups, if not all, take their clients out to Freshwater Station...charming place with a museum and all. This is not too far from where the Skyrail comes in.
Just be sure you know if your tour picks you up at the completion of your day...some only take you to the train and as the SkyRail is a little out of town you will want to know how to get back to your accommodation if you opt to come back this way.
The trains are not as frequent as the SkyRail which runs continuously ...so choose your train time to go and come back anytime within the operating hours.
The Kuranda Railway winds its way slowly (heed the warning) from Kuranda Village down to Cairns, following closely the route of the Barron falls River. Originally built to transport miners, the train is now a major tourist attraction. Most visitors to Kuranda go one way on the Skyrail and one way on the Railway (you can get combined tickets from either end). We went up on the Skyrail and down on the Railway. Although it's slow it's very relaxing and you get to see some glorious scenery on the way, including the Barron and Stoney Creek Falls.
This is definitely a 'must do' when visiting Cairns. We had a fantastic day out!!
We went up on the train and back down on the skyrail. There are various ways to get there and various packages. The train even has a gold car service if you want to pay the extra.
I love Kuranda with its quaint little shops and beautiful railway station. It's kind of like a little hippy town with it's lovely art and craft shops. The pub down towards the railway station is nice to hang out in for an refreshing ale before heading back. I even managed to find some rocks to by for the grandson. I am hoping to start him off with a little rock collection :o)
Check out the site below for bookings.
As I’m a volunteer conductor on Melbourne’s iconic Puffing Billy Railway, it was compulsory that I ride and enjoy the experience of the Kuranda Scenic Railway. I had pre-booked tickets from Melbourne, but judging on the number of people on the train, I didn’t need to bother – perhaps I was there on a quiet day.
We decided to “lash out” and travel first class for the forward journey and heritage class for the return. Whilst I would have liked to combine the train with the Skyrail, sadly Lady Gaw is a wimp when it comes to such overhead rides and experiences.
We boarded the train and settled in to the luxury of first class (called Gold Class) from Cairns that left at 9.30am. We headed through the suburbs of the city while peering into private back gardens, past the international airport before we arrived at what is considered the main station of Freshwater, which looked like a sleepy hamlet that only came to life with the arrival of each train – then the real fun started.
The train line was an engineering and rail building challenge as it was originally built in a number of stages from Cairns to the gold mining area of Herberton and finally completed in 1910. Perhaps the most difficult section of the line is through the Barron Gorge, which meant a large number of tunnels, very sharp bends and bridges all had to be built. It is a very spectacular trip to the terminus of the scenic railway at the small and I think over-rated town of Kuranda. We enjoyed the ride while nibbling away on the pastries as supplied in Gold Class. There was a stop and a chance to get out and enjoy the panoramic view of the Barron River Falls.
We explored the town of Kuranda before returning to the spectacular railway station and then the trip back to Cairns in Heritage Class.
I felt the Gold Class was overpriced at $46 per person. It did include a selection of drinks, various savories, sweet treats and finally coffee or tea as well as a souvenir pack containing a pen, brass hat or lapel badge and a postcard. I would have liked to travel on the scenic railway when the river was in full flow over the spectacular falls. Heritage class offers harder seats, less panoramic windows and no in-train catering. There are toilets and a water cooler in all carriages.
Overall a great experience and particularly for the train buffs like me.
About the photos:
1. Two locomotives and part of the string of carriages crossing the famous Stoney Creek Bridge.
2. Interior of the Gold Class carriage - opposite direction is catering section.
3. Barron Falls - would love to see in full flood.
4. Robb's Monument - 2 large rock formations left in place as a monument to those who built the line.
5. Up close and personal with the hard working locos - and note the sign celebrating 120 years of train service on the line.
I'd definitely recommend this as the best way to see the rainforest. The Sky Rail runs from Cairns to Kuranda (both directions) and you can take it either way you choose, or even roundtrip. I took the ride from Kuranda back to Cairns. It's unbelieveable how high above ground you are, and the views are breathtaking! There are also two lookout points where you can get off to walk through the rainforest a bit before hopping back on to continue your journey.
When in Cairns I finally got to ride the quite locally famous "Scenic" train to the small rainforrest town of Kuranda..Althoughth only a short journey of 37 kilometers and taking (about 45 minutes) the train meanders through some of the most wonderful scenery ,crossing many bridges(37), and also passing many splendid waterfalls, while traveling through fifteen tunnels and 98 curves and cuttings. The train makes a few stops along the way for locals.. and gently climbs 328 meters to the top of the range where the journey terminates in The lovely rainforrest town of Kuranda..The best stop along the way is that at "The Barron Falls" and this is a very spectacular location especially after heavy rain as the falls can be huge..There is time here (about 15 minutes) to obtain some great photos..This when it was built must have been a really difficult piece of construction....The train livery is done out in the aboriginal dreamtime and is not only colourful but very striking..Make sure that your camera batteries are charged for this journey as it is quite spectacular..There is an option of either doing a return journey OR catching the local bus back to Cairns city also you can get the Skytrain and then a bus to the city..I looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed this little scenic train journey and recommend it to all .
Take the skyrail or the train (or both) through the rainforest to the town of Kuranda. Shopping is the main activity here, although you can go to the Butterfly sanctuary, or the Kuala Gardens and hold a kuala for a photo op. Fun day trip!
The Kuranda Skyrail is a eco-tourism gondola ride over and through the rainforest canopy from just outside Cairns through to Kuranda.
Initially considered controversial due to it's location in pristine rainforest it is now accepted as a low impact way of making the rainforest to the thousands who visit the area each year.