Sunday, August 4, 2013

Northern Queensland travels - Cairns (part 2)

In my previous Cairns post, I focused on the things we did in Cairns itself. This post is all about the trip we did from Cairns up to Kuranda, a small rainforest village inland and uphill from the coast. The journey can be done by skyrail, rail or a combination of both; we took the skyrail out and the train home.

Skyrail images

The skyrail leaves from Caravonica, just outside of Cairns, and covers 7.5km of rainforest views. It is a breathtaking experience. I had actually done the skyrail once before, when I was in the area for a conference in Port Douglas in 2006 (the perks of a conference in Port Douglas are another story), but that trip was rushed. Doing the journey on holiday and with Mr Bite instead of work colleagues was immeasurably better.


The skyrail has 114 gondolas and in peak periods I believe they are full. On a week day we had a gondola car to ourselves, and few people to share the rainforest stations with.

Red Peak Station

There are two rainforest stations on the journey from Cairns to Kuranda. The first, Red Peak Station, has an elevated boardwalk that was clouded in mist when we visited. The second, Barron Falls Station, offers views over the Barron Falls area.


Allowing time for short stops at the two stations, the skyrail journey takes 1.5 - 2 hours. Once reaching the top, you arrive at Kuranda Village, a small tourist-focused town with a casual atmosphere and hippy roots. We took the indirect route from the skyrail terminus to the town centre, taking in more rainforest along the way.

Rainforest paths into Kuranda

There are some paid attractions in Kuranda, including a bat sanctuary, butterfly park and bird park. We bypassed those to wander the historic markets and seek out somewhere for lunch. The main street is crowded with cafes and eating options, ranging from super casual to slightly fancy, and mostly somewhere in between.


We settled on the Village Vibe Cafe, which had sandwiches and paninis to appeal to Mr Bite and a beautiful sweet potato and walnut salad that appealed to me. They did great coffee too.

Village Vibe Cafe, sweet potato and walnut salad

If it had been open, there was also a vegan cafe in the markets, as well as a stall selling vegan 'bliss ball' truffles. I took a photo to share what could have been...


Kuranda also has various sculptures and artwork scattered about, which made wandering the streets more interesting. Why can't everywhere include similar public art?


Mid-afternoon, we boarded the Kuranda scenic railway to take us back to Cairns. This railway line opened in 1891 after years of tough construction work, but is used mostly for tourist purposes these days.

Kuranda train station

It is a slow, leisurely ride but takes in some beautiful views, including another vista of the Barron Falls (not in full stream on our visit) and some gorgeous shots as the train hugged around hillsides covered in trees.

Barron Falls from the train

It was a wonderful day out, and one I would recommend to everyone as a 'do one day' outing. The skyrail and railway trips are not cheap, approximately $100 per adult for both when we visited, but they are very much worth their cost.

Kuranda scenic railway

Details of the Cairns-Kuranda skyrail can be found at http://www.skyrail.com.au/.

Details of the Kuranda scenic railway can be found at http://www.ksr.com.

Information on Kuranda village can be found at http://www.kuranda.org.

This is, just to confirm, not a sponsored post.

What is on your highly recommended travel list?

25 comments:

  1. Lovely photos. I think your sweet potato and walnut salad looks devine.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - it was a lovely salad.

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  2. I've been to Kuranda and I've done the sky-rail. It's a great day out and the scenery is just stunning. I never tire of holidaying in Far-North Queensland xx

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    1. I don't think I'll ever tire of it either - stunning is the right word.

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  3. After reading this post I am wishing this was my next holiday destination - looks amazing. I love your salad and that street art is wonderful. Street art shows a sense of pride in a place and time to enjoy it - I am heartened that it seems to be on the rise.

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    1. You're right, street art is about much more than the art itself - it does reflect nicely on the place in question. Let's hope it keeps increasing Australia wide!

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  4. That salad looked delicious! Can't believe you resisted the truffles :)

    I'd love to go there especially to do that rainforest walk as it looked beautiful.

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    1. Oops, had to update my post to clarify that the truffle ball shop was closed - I definitely wouldn't have resisted otherwise!

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  5. GORGEOUS pics! And such a beautiful part of the country!

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  6. Oh my...what a lovely place to visit and your pictures are gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing and taking us along with you on your journey.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Amy - thanks!

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  7. The views from that skyrail are absurdly amazing!!

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    1. Aren't they just? I kept thinking that the whole way up!

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  8. Oh, Your trip is bring back so many memories!!!
    I wish I were back up there too... Although I was terrified on the chairlift, yummy salad :)

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    1. I was surprisingly fine on the chairlift, thus proving that my anxiety is as irrational as it is unpredictable :P

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  9. I'm glad you did this day trip and enjoyed it so much. Yay that you found some decent food for both of you too! My experience was a bit like yours as I was fortunate to do the Sky Rail and train trip as part of a work trip many years ago. Not quite as enjoyable as spending it with your partner but at least it was paid for. I was daring enough to do a bungee jump up at Kuranda - that was definitely a one time only experience!

    Love all of your photos, they are making me want to go back!

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    1. I am impressed with your bungee jumping!! I don't know if I'll ever work up to that experience, but Kuranda would certainly be a great place to do it.

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  10. Tyler and I are looking at going to Cairns next month. It is the only week we have until next year to get away. I will be taking your guide if we do! I also have my heart set on Vietnam and Cambodia...

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  11. Beautiful, what a nice trip. :)

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  12. Along with exploring scenic beauty of the region, the tourists can spend some time in Cairns to observe the lifestyle, customs and habits of aboriginals. They must spend some time with the aboriginal people to make their trip memorable.

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  13. Last year, when I brought the news of becoming a topper in my class, my father agreed to fulfil his promise to go out for a day trip to my favourite picnic spot in a car rental France with 7 seats, along with my sisters and cousins.

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