Cairns: Kuranda scenic rail and Skyrail

There’s a lot to be said for supporting our state’s tourism industry.  Rather than go further afield for this holiday, we decided to stay within Queensland and beat the winter blues, by heading north to the tropical coast and Cairns.  That being said, Cairns is by most standards, still quite a distance from Brisbane – 1700km, so to maximise our time there, we flew there and settled for a week in Cairns Coconut Resort.

One of the reasons for staying here (voted 5* and top accommodation in Cairns on Trip Advisor and RACQ) was that it gave us a multitude of in-house activity options.  Pools, waterpark, putt-putt, jumping pillows, playground – this list just scrapes the surface.

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The dumping pineapple in the splash park was a definite fave

So about a third of our time went to just relaxing around the site, something we don’t often do but thoroughly enjoyed.

Therefore, a number of our experiences were half days and they will be written about together.  And our full day trips, like this one, will get a post of their own.

Visiting the hinterland town of Kuranda via train or Skyrail (cable car) is touted as one of the must-do day trips from Cairns.  Certainly, had the weather been better, I would probably agree.  However, as is apt to do in the tropical north, it poured most of the day.

We decided on taking the train up and the cable car back down so we could control the amount of time we spent in the rainforest on our return leg.  Doing it the other way, you are more aware that you must catch a timetabled train and therefore might be constantly thinking about time and connections.

Any kind of train trip is a hit with our kids, regardless of the weather.  The trip up on the Kuranda scenic rail features seating in a heritage carriage pulled by a diesel engine.

On a better weather day, I’m sure this trip would indeed have been quite scenic.  Apparently on a blue-sky day, you can see all the way to Green Island.  Unfortunately, on our day, we were lucky to see 50 metres.

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Visibility was low

At our short stop at Barron Falls, we spent more time getting us in and out of our plastic ponchos, than taking shots, such was the abysmal conditions.

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The best shot at Barron Falls

 

Avoiding the rain meant that we spent longer than most at the historic Kuranda railway station, filling our bellies with a warm lunch and psyching ourselves up for the walk through the town in the drenching rain.

 

Avoiding the rain meant that we spent longer than most at the historic Kuranda railway station, filling our bellies with a warm lunch and psyching ourselves up for the walk through the town in the drenching rain.

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Staying at the station longer meant tourist free platform photos

Not being shoppers, we found the town disappointingly full of mostly tourist tat.  There are many activities that you can pay to do, but most seemed a little humdrum and expensive.  Due to it being completely undercover, we decided on the butterfly sanctuary.  It is apparently the biggest butterfly aviary in the southern hemisphere.  The included tour gave us a greater insight into the insects and their life-cycle, but ultimately we have been to better butterfly houses overseas.

The Skyrail from Kuranda affords you two chances to get off and wander through the rainforest.  The first stop gives you views of the other side of Barron Falls.  Although it was again raining and the falls were shrouded in mist, it was still well worth getting out of the cable car for.

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Emerging from the mist

Warning signs say that cassowaries are also present but we saw no evidence of them.  I doubt they would be so close to the tourist-heavy lookouts, especially as they can be dangerous.

The second enforced stop (you have to change cable cars) gives you the chance to take a short stroll on a boardwalk through the rainforest.  There was a certain charm to experiencing the rainforest in rain.  Although we missed out on the views, the glossy dark green foliage and drip of a wet rainforest has a certain charm.

And as we kept telling the kids as they whinged about their ponchos for the umpteenth time, it’s not called a RAINforest for nothing.

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It isn’t called the wet tropics for nothing

 

 

 

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