Visiting Kuranda Qld

Recently Jo and I were lucky enough to be offered a round trip to Kuranda Qld: The village in the rainforest, via the Skyrail and returning on the Scenic Rail. Is there anything more fun than playing tourist in your own back yard?.

Original Map by Google Maps 

The trip was organised by Downunder Tours and we arrived (slightly bleary eyed) to our pick up point at Ramada Resort Port Douglas a little after 7:30am.

Following a short wait we clambered on our coach and headed for the highway. The drive down was enjoyable and the driver/guide was knowledgeable and friendly so by the time we arrived at the Skyrail terminal we were pretty relaxed and more than a little excited.

I should point out here that I'm not keen on heights (this is a grievous understatement). So I was mildly surprised to find myself cheerfully stepping aboard one of the 117 gondolas for our 45 minute trip up the mountain.

To say the views were spectacular just isn't quite enough. We slowly glided up over the rainforest through shrouds of mist and low clouds, it was a very Jurassic type experience with lots of oooh's and aaah's (along with the odd squeal and nervous giggle at the slightest noise or bump, but I had to stop doing this as I was obviously disturbing the two young Japenese girls who were sharing our gondola).

I expected to see a Pterodactyl at any moment

The views of the Barron River Falls were mind blowing and with all the recent rain we were fortunate to see them in all their glory. Click skyrail to see the live web cam.

Barron Falls

The Barron River

We arrived in Kuranda safe and sound, slightly buzzing from the ascent. It really is the most amazing way to start ya day.

So it was off for the short stroll to Kuranda village. Kuranda is a quirky little place with lots and lots of interesting and slightly eccentric touches. From epoxy or (glass?) cobblestones featuring wildlife reliefs, to wrought iron signs/handrails with serpents and insects hidden in the detail. And even seats made from recycled railway track. You could no doubt spend many interesting hours simply walking around and discovering these things alone.

As it was though we wanted to fit as much into the time we had as possible, so we headed for the markets.

It's a great feeling to be in a place where locally made arts and crafts are all around and you feel that what money you choose to spend is being feed back into the local economy. It was also refreshing to be served by cheerful, friendly people - a stark contrast to the vast majority of retail/food outlets in Cairns or Port Douglas I'm sad to say.

We then had a bite to eat at one of the excellent little cafes on the main street - (I even had a real thick-shake!, my first since leaving N.Z) - brilliant!.

At last it was time to check out some wildlife. There is an amazing array of choice in such a little place, from the Butterfly Sanctuary to Koalas along with Bats and Birds - there is something for just about everyone. We chose the Australian Venom Zoo, as we'd been before in 2006 and wanted to see if anything had changed.

Unfortunately, things have. There are still some remarkable creatures to be seen and the young bloke taking the tour was friendly and relatively knowledgeable but we skipped the tour and just took ourselves around.

The zoo has an air of neglect, however the animals themselves seemed in good condition, so who knows; perhaps we arrived the day before 'cage-cleaning day'. I do wonder at the stress some of the animals are put through, esp the nocturnal ones such as the Pink Tongued Skink who are repeatedly removed from their enclosures and handled to show visitors.

Captive Death Adder [pic taken at the Australian Venom Zoo]

At the end of the day it's your choice whether or not you go along, but it did seem to me that some of the problems I observed may well be due to a lack of funds rather than any deliberate neglect so a few more people through the doors may go a long way. It's your call. Here's a link to their site Australian Venom Zoo.

Regrettably, after a bit more strolling around Kuranda villiage and one impulse hat purchase later, it was time to leave - what softened the blow was the prospect of heading down the mountain by train via the Scenic Rail route ... again organised by John at Downunder Tours.

However, all the moisture about is making me thirsty - so I'm off to have a cold one. If you like you can read all about the great Kuranda to Cairns rail adventure in a future post.

Take care - stay dry :)