Now we’re getting to the fun stuff! Day 2 of our trip to Cairns was amazing! Now, you might have never heard of the town of Kuranda until now. I certainly hadn’t until I booked this trip…but honestly, this day was just as much fun for me as the Great Barrier Reef (more on that on Monday)! And I was able to bring coffee with me, so it really started well. Haha.
Kuranda Scenic Railway
The day began with riding the Scenic Railway from Cairns to Kuranda. The Scenic Railway has an old time train that makes its way up the Macalister Range with breathtaking views of the rainforest and mountains.
It took us nearly an hour from the time we arrived to the time we boarded the train. (The bus had picked us up at our hotel and dropped us at the train station.) So, that gave us plenty of time to also look at the little museum and gift shop at the station and get another coffee! (Yay!)
The journey itself takes about an hour and 45 minutes but is absolutely stunning. The windows are open, so you can even smell the rainforest as you make your way through the mountains.
The hour and 45 minutes flew by as we admired the views of the mountains, rainforest and even Barron Falls. And if you happened to not get the greatest picture of Barron Falls as the train goes by – don’t worry! There’s also a 10 minute stop at a lookout, so you can get the perfect photo.
Trains don’t really make me all that excited – but my goodness, I really enjoyed this journey!
Here are a few more photos I snapped from the train as way made our way to Kuranda.
The town of Kuranda is a quaint little place nestled in the mountains. It consists of a lot of gift shops, open markets, cute little restaurants and attractions that include: Birdworld, The Butterfly Sanctuary and the Koala Gardens. We had about 4 hours to do what we pleased here.
Did you think I honestly wouldn’t take the chance to get close to koalas again? Haha. The second I got off the train in Kuranda I RAN to the Kuranda Koala Gardens! The reason I was so excited about visiting this particular koala sanctuary was because it was possible for me to hold one of the little cuddly dudes! And that has been a life goal of mine for quite some time! Haha.
He was so soft! And very calm. Holding him felt similar to holding a baby…a baby with fur and claws (and don’t worry, he wasn’t scratching me). And he didn’t smell bad at all. (I was asked a lot if he was smelly – so I figured I’d clear that up. Haha.)
The koala gardens also had a small area with kangaroos and wallabies you could hand feed. However, compared to Featherdale and the Rainforest Wildlife park we visited in my last post…these guys weren’t too keen to come up to humans. There was one kangaroo with a baby, though. I had never seen a joey in a pouch before! So, that was really cool!
Just a few more snaps from the Koala Gardens.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
After the koalas, we spent some time wandering through the shops and getting lunch and coffee before heading to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. These cable cars span 7.5 kilometers and will take you to Skyrail Smithfield (about 15 minutes drive from Cairns) and dangle you above the rainforest canopy for some spectacular panoramic views.
I know I had mentioned what utter crap a similar setup like this was in The Blue Mountains. However, the Skyrail experience here was AMAZING! Wow!
Also, if you’re not on a terribly strict travel budget, I do recommend upgrading to the “Diamond” class for $14 AUD. You get a glass floor bottom and more often than not, you’ll be the only one who bothered to pay the $14…so, you’ll get to breeze through lines and likely get a car to yourself (especially important if you’re traveling during the high tourist season in the winter months).
There were also a couple stops along the way, and you had the option to get out and walk around the rainforest to take photos. I thought this whole experience was really cool!
And look at all these awesome views!
After we got off the Skyrail, a bus transported us from Smithfield back into Cairns to our hotel. I know I’ve said it a million times in this post – but this was such a cool day!
Now, if you read my previous Cairns post, you’ll know that I WON’T recommend you book the 3-day tour through Travstar I did. But you can still get the Kuranda experience without that tour. First, you could book train tickets and Skyrail tickets directly through the Skyrail’s website, here. However, if you don’t have your own car and require a hotel pickup (like we did), check out this tour package through Viator.
Does this sound like a day you would enjoy or not? Let me know in the comments!
*If you liked this post, it is now available as a self-guided walking tour via GPSmyCITY. Click here to download it.