When you visit the north eastern coast of Australia, there are 2 things that one must do: visit the tropical rain forests and snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef.
We considered taking a day trip to the Daintree rainforests, but as it is was way too far away from Cairns, we looked for other options nearby. That’s when we learned about Kuranda, a small village in the rainforest and about taking a skyrail gondola to Kuranda and returning via a scenic railway journey. (Make advanced reservations online to avoid waiting in a long line to buy the tickets from the ticket counter)
It was early and pretty much all cafes were closed but for a grocery store. We stashed some snacks including the delicious Lamingtons. We took a bus which was scheduled to stop a couple of kilometers away from the Smithfield station (where we were supposed to board the gondola). The bus driver initially said “You’ll have to walk to the station.” We said “Okay!”, but he was kind enough to stop us close to the station. After a brief wait, we boarded the gondola from the Smithfield station and as the gondola ascended, we saw sweeping views of Cairns, the ocean and the rainforests beneath.
The first stop was Red Peak station. We took a short hike amidst the rainforest and saw some gigantic trees, plants and the green valley underneath, pretty much what you’d expect from a rainforest. We heard loud chirping of insects and birds, but couldn’t spot any. Neither did we see any wildlife.
We continued on the gondola ride to reach the next stop, the Barron Falls Station. The views of the lush rainforests from the gondola were simply amazing; it felt like effortlessly gliding over the canopy.
As the gondola got close to the Barron Falls Station, gorgeous views of the Barron Falls opened up before us. After disembarking from the Barron Falls Station, we took short walks to see the mighty Barron Falls. Also displayed nearby is a flying fox that was used in ancient times to carry men and materials across the falls.
We then continued on our gondola journey to go to the dainty Kuranda Village. This small village is very touristy, yet very charming. Lots of markets selling hand-made crafts, photographs, souvenirs and few of coffee shops, restaurants and ice-cream bars around. The Kuranda Village also has a Butterfly Santuary, Koala Gardens and Birdworld if you are interested.
In the 2-3 hours we spend in Kuranda, we lazily strolled around in the markets, had a iced chocolate ice cream in Frog’s restaurant to quench some thirst and cool ourselves. It was really hot and humid.
After a bit more strolling, stomach rumbling, we searched for some place for some quick bite. Yelp disappointed us, so did urbanspoon. We then saw a sign for Petit Café. This places was crowded but we found a table quickly and ordered some delicious savory crepes, cappuccino and affogato. After a scrumptious lunch, we walked around in the markets, saw the Barron River and then took the Kuranda railways back to the hotel.
The hour and a half train journey passes through a viewpoint to see the popular Barron Falls, 15 tunnels, Stoney creek and the iconic Stoney Creek Bridge. Look behind after passing the Stoney creek to get a view of the entire Kuranda railway. Certainly one of the scenic railway journeys though a bit long after a long hot day! With that, we ended a wonderful day in the tropical rainforests of Queensland.