Surrounded by World Heritage-listed rainforest, the picturesque mountain retreat of Kuranda, 25 kilometres northwest of Cairns, is called the ‘Village in the Rainforest’.
The Djabugay aboriginal people have lived in this region for more than 10,000 years and their culture continues to thrive today. They called the present Kuranda village Ngunbay, or place of the platypus.
In the late 1960s Kuranda attracted people seeking an alternative lifestyle and a vibrant arts and craft culture developed. Kuranda is home to a large number of potters, painters, glass and craft workers, master wood-carvers and jewellers. Their work is on display in many of the shops, galleries and markets in the village, and it is possible to see them at work.
The tiny village has retained its relaxed atmosphere, but today the main street is lined with shops and galleries. Historic buildings from the past now house a variety of stylish restaurants and cafes. The Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets have been running since 1978, and are the place to go for locally designed and made fashions; as well as North Queensland’s best range of honeys, local coffee, tropical fruits and macadamia nuts.
Try a delicious and refreshing rainforest fruit-flavoured ice-cream, and don’t miss the famous Kuranda Honey House, which has been operating for more than half a century. Take time to admire the giant fig trees lining the main street, where colourful parrots and bright blue butterflies flock among the ferns and orchids in the tree-tops.
You can also experience Aboriginal culture, visit a gallery with local Indigenous artist or learn to play the didgeridoo. Shop for rare opals or learn all about them at the Fossil and Gemstone Museum.
See native Australian birds and animals and magnificent tropical butterflies in at BirdWorld, the Kuranda Koala Gardens, Rainforestation Nature Park and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.
Drive or take the shuttle bus through the rainforest to Barron Gorge and its spectacular waterfall. Cruise on a riverboat on the Barron River, keeping a watch out for platypus along the way.
Kuranda's cool, tropical mountain climate makes it ideal for rainforest walks, with many starting from the centre of town. The Jum Rum Creek Walk connects with the Jungle Walk, which continues through rainforest to the River Walk beside the Barron River. A boardwalk suspended high above the forest connects Barron Falls Road with Barron Falls Lookout. The Barron Gorge National Park and Davies Creek National Park also offer a range of stunning long and short walks. The Speewah Trailhead and campground is the starting point for trails in the Barron Gorge National Park. Davies Creek National Park is a wonderful area for nature lovers, with crystal clear pools between granite boulders that create rapids and natural rockslides.
Just getting to Kuranda is an experience in itself. You can drive or catch a bus through the rainforest-fringed road from Cairns; take an historic journey on the Kuranda Scenic Railway; or glide above the rainforest canopy in the comfort of a gondola on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.