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Local's guide to Kuranda

Known as the village in the rainforest, Kuranda boasts a vibrant arts and craft culture. 


By Kris Madden

The picturesque mountain retreat of Kuranda village is surrounded by World Heritage-listed rainforest and makes a great day trip from Cairns. Its cool, tropical climate makes it ideal for rainforest walks along the Barron River, or around the village itself where majestic fig trees are home to colourful parrots. Visit a gallery with local Aboriginal art, be immersed in a cloud of colourful butterflies, listen to a joyous bird chorus, or cuddle a koala. Kuranda is also the traditional home of the Djabugay people, who call it Ngunbay or "place of the platypus".

HOW TO GET THERE

Kuranda is located 25 kilometres (16 miles) from Cairns. The nearest airport to Kuranda is Cairns International Airport. Travel from Cairns on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or Kuranda Scenic Railway.

DON’T MISS

  • Ride Skyrail Rainforest Cableway high above the canopy
  • Take the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway between Cairns and Kuranda
  • Cuddle a koala at Kuranda Koala Gardens 

Kuranda highlights

TOP THINGS TO DO IN KURANDA


Eat and drink Australian specialties 

Kuranda Rainforest View Restaurant is only a few minutes from Kuranda Station and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and serves delicious food with views over lush rainforest from its deck. Frogs Restaurant is located next to Heritage Markets, Birdworld and the Koala Gardens. Try platters of kangaroo, crocodile, emu and local tiger prawns; or choose a traditional Australian barbecue at Kuranda Trading Post. For a classic pub meal head to the historic Kuranda Hotel set amid rainforest at the top of the magnificent Macalister Range. And for your caffeine hit look no further than Kuranda Rainforest Coffee or try roasted green tea with mango at Japanese Teahouse.

Shop at Kuranda Markets 

Kuranda has two outdoor markets, Kuranda Original Rainforest Market and Heritage Markets, both open seven days a week. Find locally designed clothing, hand-crafted jewellery, indigenous art, leather goods, wood carving and gemstones, as well as North Queensland’s best range of honey, local coffee, tropical fruit, and macadamia nuts.

Travel in style 

Glide above the rainforest canopy on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, seated in a comfortable gondola which provides spectacular and uninterrupted views of the rainforest, Cairns, the Coral Sea and the verdant Cairns highlands. You can leave your gondola at Red Peak and Barron Falls stations to explore this incredible Wet Tropics environment from boardwalks and scenic lookouts. On your way back to Cairns, travel on the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway, which winds through a tropical paradise framed by rugged mountains and waterfalls plunging into deep ravines. The section of rail on which you travel today was completed 125 years ago and was considered an incredible engineering feat for its time. The two hour train journey between Cairns and Kuranda will also take you through tunnels and over bridges. Upgrade to gold class for an exclusive tour of the heritage-listed Signal Cabin at Kuranda station.

Get up close to the local wildlife 

In Kuranda there are plenty of opportunities to have a close encounter with Australia's native wildlife. At the Kuranda Koala Gardens you can cuddle a koala and have your photo taken to show your friends back home. The park is also home to kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and freshwater crocodiles. The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary houses more than 2000 magnificent butterflies including the electric blue Ulysses butterfly and the largest butterfly in Australia, the green and yellow Cairns birdwing. Learn all about the butterflies on a guided tour through the aviary, as the multi-hued creatures flutter around you. Enter a world of colourful birds in their natural habitat at Birdworld Kuranda. You’ll be surrounded by free flying birds from forests across the globe including some of Australia's most precious specimens. Hand feed parrots, admire the endangered cassowary, watch soaring rainbow lorikeets and listen to galah calls.

Experience Aboriginal culture at Rainforestation Nature Park 

Join local Aboriginal guides and discover the legends of the Dreamtime at Rainforestation Nature Park. Learn about the customs and ancient ceremonies that still flourish in traditional lands around Kuranda during the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience, or join a Bush Tucker Walk through the rainforest to learn about the different plants and fruits traditionally used as medicines and food.

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