A bus met us at the Skyrail entrance and took us on a short 10 minute ride to Freshwater station for our 8.50 train trip up to Kuranda. The Freshwater station is in a quiet suburb of Cairns and you get a chance to grab a bite to eat or a coffee prior to your trip up to Kuranda. The station also has a museum, a pioneer cottage, theatrette and restaurant. The train trip, in authentic timber carriages, takes around one and a half hours with one stop near the end of the ride for a close look at the spectacular Barron Falls. The train is open air with plenty of room to move around and some fantastic photo opportunities as the train climbs up into the mountains into the rainforest through a series of tunnels and across plenty of bridges (try to get a window seat). There are toilet facilities on the train but no shops so you need bring your own supplies.
Kuranda train station. image © Kids Holidays
Once you arrive in Kuranda it's a short 10 minute uphill walk from the station to the start of town. There is a free shuttle bus available at the station that will take you into town and drop you near the markets area. Kuranda has plenty of things to see and do. There are countless souvenir shops to visit, a couple of markets (original and heritage) to spend your money and plenty of places to eat. There's a Butterfly Sanctuary (around $45 for a family) which takes around 30 minutes to see, Birdworld, located in the heritage markets where you get to see the birds in a rainforest setting (around $50 for a family) and the Koala gardens (again around $50 for a family but you can save with a multipass for all three attractions). There may not be enough time to see and do everything doing the train and rail tour, but you can visit Kuranda anytime by car. There are also riverboat tours available along the Barron River where you get to see crocs, snakes and turtles. The tour lasts around 45 minutes and is around $37 for a family.
The trip back down is on the scenic skyrail and takes around 40 minutes from Kuranda, but allow well over an hour if you plan to get off and look around at each of the stops. Each car seats about 8 people and you get a great view of the rainforest and the Barron river from, at times, a great height. The first stop is at the Barron falls, which is on the other side of the river from where the train stopped. There are a few different viewing platforms available to see the falls and depending on the time of year they may be a raging torrent or just a trickle. Next stop is deep in the rainforest at Red Peak which is the top of the mountain overlooking Cairns. You need to change cars here anyway so it's worth stopping and taking the 10 minute walk through the rainforest. From there it's around 15 minutes down to the main station with some fantastic views of Cairns and out to Green Island and all the way north up the coast. At the bottom is your last chance to grab some souvenirs.
Cairns skyrail. image © Kids Holidays
Make sure you take insect repellant, hat, sunnies and plenty to drink. You'll also need a camera and as there's plenty of walking involved, shoes are recommended. A fantastic day out for all ages.
For more info check the Skyrail website.