Today was our last full day in Cairns and it was an unforgettable day to say the least. We decided to take the train to Kuranda and the rainforest, and we were amazed at the beauty we saw along the way.
This was a last-minute excursion as we really hadn’t planned anything for today ahead of time. A week into our trip, I didn’t know whether or not we would need a down day. However, last night we both agreed that we were up for more adventure, so we booked this tour thru our hotel concierge.
At 7:30 this morning our tour company, Down Under Tours, picked us up to deliver us to the Kuranda Historic Railway station in nearby Freshwater. There, we would catch our 1.5 hour train ride up into the rainforest to Kuranda.
The inside of the train was really neat. There we old photographs of the railroad in each car and our tour guide on the train narrated the journey with facts about the railroad as we made our way thru the rainforest.
There is one stop that the train makes as it ascends to Kuranda and the rainforest, and that is at a viewpoint for Barron Falls. The train stops at this breathtaking waterfall for 15 minutes so that passengers can disembark, grab some photos, then re-board the train.
I talk about this waterfall a bit more later in this journal entry and include a picture as you see the waterfall on your way down from Kuranda as well.
The final stop for the train is the village of Kuranda. From the station, you can either take a short shuttle ride up to the village or take the stairs and winding walkway. We chose to walk to catch the views on the way up.
One of the biggest attractions in the village of Kuranda is the hippie market. This market should not be confused with the small shops that line the village when you first enter. Those shops are worth exploring as well, but they are much different than the hippie market.
In the hippie market you can find everything from home-made bread and pizza, to incense, to artwork. It really is a fascinating place because everything is handmade and everything is sold by the people who hand-crafted the products. Even if you aren’t interested in purchasing anything, it is interesting to walk thru and experience.
After checking out the shops and markets we decided to head to the Kuranda Koala Gardens to check out the koala bears and possibly hold them. There weren’t a ton of animals in the Koala Gardens, but we did see, among other things, koalas, wombats, and kangaroos.
By far, getting to hold the koalas was the neatest experience of the day, if not the trip thus far. They are such cute, but incredibly rare creatures. It reminds you of how much work we have left to do to protect the beautiful creatures that live in this world with us.
In addition to the Koala Gardens, Kuranda also has a bird and a butterfly sanctuary that you can pay to tour. We were limited in time and had less interest in seeing those exhibits, so we passed on touring them.
Instead, we headed to a nearby restaurant to have lunch with a rainforest view. While the food we ate was just average, the view we had as we ate was beautiful. It isn’t too often that you get to eat lunch in a rainforest.
After lunch, it was time to head back down. Instead of taking the train back down, we took the Sky Rail gondolas instead. I am do thrilled that we did because the views that we got were absolutely breathtaking.
The Gondolas make two separate stops on their way back down. The first is at Barron Falls (pictured below), where there is a skywalk viewing platform and several other viewpoints from which to view the falls. I would definitely recommend stopping here.
The second stop the gondolas make is at a place called Red Peak, which is the highest point on the Sky Rail gondola track. At this stop you can take a rainforest walk and take a 20-minute guided hike with a ranger. There is also a detailed set of displays that teach you more about the rainforest to check out as well.
That was our adventure for the day. Tomorrow morning we leave Cairns and head to Melbourne. We are so excited for this leg of our trip to begin and we both cannot wait to tour the Great Ocean Road.
We also got some great pointers from some nice ladies from Toronto who are living in Melbourne right now, so we may have a surprise adventure in Melbourne to report back to you on as well. Until then!