The picturesque mountain retreat of Kuranda Village, just 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Cairns, is surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest. Kuranda
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The picturesque mountain retreat of Kuranda Village, just 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Cairns, is surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest.

Nestled amongst the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, this picturesque “Village in the Rainforest” provides a cool, high-altitude retreat. From Cairns, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and Kuranda Scenic Railway both offer more than just a journey up the rain forested-flanks of the Macalister Range. Instead, they’re iconic lures in their own right, opening up rugged ridgelines carved by waterfalls and taking visitors into the heart of lands occupied by Indigenous Djabugay people for more than 10,000 years. In Kuranda (known as Ngunbay - the place of the platypus), the rich Djabugay culture survives today, shared on fascinating guided walking tours and showcased in the art galleries that dominate Kuranda’s artistic hub.

In the late 1960s, Kuranda attracted people seeking an alternative lifestyle and a vibrant arts and craft culture developed. Artisans of all mediums now call Kuranda home and supply the village market stalls with pottery, painted canvases, glass work, woodcarvings, wearable art and irresistible jewellery.

Kuranda, Queensland

With a reputation for relaxed shopping and al fresco dining, Kuranda has some of the best market stalls in the far north, found on both sides of the village at the Heritage Markets and the Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets, operating since 1978. Top buys to take home include locally grown coffee beans, rainforest honeys from the Kuranda Honey House, and if you have the room, a hand-crafted didgeridoo. Shop for rare opals or learn all about them at Emu Ridge fossil and gemstone museum, and don’t leave Kuranda without sampling some unique tropical fruits.

You can gain insight into Aboriginal culture, cruise the upper Barron River in search of freshwater crocodiles and platypus, and encounter unique tropical wildlife at Birdworld, Koala Gardens and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, located in Kuranda itself, or the nearby Rainforestation Nature Park.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Barron Gorge National Park, Queensland

One of the best ways to experience far north Queensland’s unique tropical rainforests is from a gondola on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a global first in environmental tourism and a new take on rainforest discovery. You’ll glide mere metres above the canopy and stopping to explore forest walking trails and enjoy spectacular views of Barron Falls as it plunges 265 metres into a rugged gorge.

This bird’s eye view of the region is rivalled only by a journey into Barron Gorge itself, crossing 125-year-old bridges and dipping through 15 hand-made tunnels dug into mountainous terrain aboard the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway. This iconic attraction – a chance to experience the region in a slower, up-close way, can be made even more memorable: splurge on Gold Class for superior service and to sample local cuisine en route.

Kuranda's cool, tropical mountain climate makes it ideal for rainforest walks, especially the easy stroll through Jumrum Creek Conservation Park on the edge of the village that meanders through the forest and alongside the Barron River before looping back to the village hub. At the end of Barron Falls Road and accessible via shuttle bus, an easy, wheelchair-accessible (with assistance) trail leads to Din Din Barron Falls lookout, winding through World Heritage-listed Barron Falls National Park. With unique interpretive signage to enjoy along the way, this excellent trail elevates you into the forest canopy to deliver you to a vertigo-inducing lookout over Barron Falls.For self-drive travellers, Speewah Regional Park provides national park camping and access for experienced walkers into Barron Gorge National Park. West of Kuranda, Davies Creek National Park offers equally wild walking experiences, remote camping and great views of the park’s namesake waterfall that fills clear, chilly swimming holes as it flows through the park.

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