Australia

The Complete Kuranda Rainforest Visitor Guide

The country of Australia is a beautiful place with a seemingly endless amount of amazing things to see and do. However, while there are many travel guides that cover beautiful places like the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Ocean Road, the notorious Outback, and the wonderful cities of Sydney and Melbourne, you will be hard-pressed to find a Kuranda Rainforest guide. That is unfortunate, because this gem of the Tropical North in Australia is something that every visitor to Australia should explore.

Positioned near the begging of the Barron River at the eastern edge of the Atherton Tableland, Kuranda is a hugely important area for biodiversity in the Tropical North of Australia. The area is home to Kuranda National Park and Barron Gorge National Park, which both belong to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and are two of Australia’s most beautiful parks. Completely surrounded by breathtaking rainforest, the Kuranda offers a large array of attractions for visitors to enjoy when they visit.

For wildlife lovers, there is a bird aviary, butterfly sanctuary, wildlife rehabilitation centre, and reptile park and koala sanctuary that visitors can enjoy. If you are interested in shopping, then the famed Kuranda outdoor markets will be right up your alley. Not to mention, the trip to Kuranda from Cairns is an attraction itself. Whether you choose to visit via the Kuranda Scenic Railway or the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, the amazing views of the rainforest, waterfalls, and other beautiful scenery will blow your mind.

In my Kuranda Rainforest guide, I am going to give you all of the information you need to plan a successful trip to see the Kuranda Rainforest. I cover the best times to visit and the best ways to get there so that you can maximize what you are able to see and do on your trip.  In addition, I outline the top things to see and do while you are there and where the best places to stay and eat are.  With this information in hand, you can be confident that your trip to the Kuranda Rainforest will be one that you remember for the rest of your life.

At A Glance
Top Things to See
How to Get There
Best Time to Visit
Where to Stay
Where to Eat
Recommended Tours and Excursions
Photo Gallery

At a Glance

Before you start making any travel plans, you will want to make sure to take care of all of the passport, VISA, and immunization requirements for your trip.   In addition, you will want to make sure you have a clear understanding of what language they speak in Australia and what currency they use so that you can plan any translation needs you might have for your trip and exchange currency before your trip if necessary.  I have included some of this key information below for you to review as you start to make your travel plans.

Passport requirements exist. See below for details.
Immunization recommendations are listed below.
The official language in Australia is English.
The official currency in Australia is the Australian Dollar.

Passport, VISA, and Immunization Requirements

Before you start planning your trip to Australia, you need to make sure that you have all of the entrance requirements covered.  In order to help make sure you are prepared to travel to Australia, I have included a link to my Australia Passport, VISA, Customs, and Immunization Requirements for Visitors Guide below for you to review.  Once you have all of these requirements taken care of, then you can start to make your travel arrangements.

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passport map
Australia Passport, VISA, Customs, and Immunization Requirements for Visitors

Packing Tips

Outside of taking care of the passport, visa, and immunization requirements so that you can get into Australia and don’t get sick, there is no more important pre-travel planning task than making sure you pack the right clothing and gear for your trip.  To help make sure you are properly packed and prepared, I have included links to some of my packing resources in my Kuranda Rainforest guide below for you to review.

READ MORE:
Suitcase Travel  
The Ultimate Travel Packing Check List  
READ MORE:
Overhead Bin Airplane  
The Essential Carry-On Checklist  

Top Things to See and Do

If you are traveling to the Tropical North of Australia to experience the Great Barrier Reef, you won’t want to miss out on seeing some of the north’s other amazing landscapes. I can think of few other day trips from Cairns that are as beautiful or as fun as a trip to Kuranda. With an abundance of amazing things to do and see in this jungle city, you can expect a day of fun and excitement. If you are starting to put together your travel itinerary and would like to plan some fun things to do in Kuranda, I have included a list of my top things to see in Kuranda in my Kuranda Rainforest guide below.

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Kuranda Scenic Railway
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
The Kuranda Markets
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
Birdworld Kuranda
Kuranda Koala Gardens
Rainforestation Nature Park
Barron Gorge National Park
Barron Falls

Kuranda Scenic Railway

One of the best parts about visiting Kuranda is that getting their is an adventure itself. One of the best ways to travel from Cairns to Kuranda is by the Kuranda Scenic Railway. The train ride from the Freshwater station just outside of Cairns to Kuranda takes roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes from start to finish and passes thru some of the most beautiful jungle landscape that you will find in the Tropical North of Australia. Make sure you have your camera out because you will have plenty of opportunities to get some great shots. That is why it is the top thing thing to see or do in my Kuranda Rainforest guide.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Another way to get from Cairns to Kuranda is by the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Just like with the Scenic Railway, the views that you get when you take the Skyrail are absolutely breathtaking. However, instead of winding your way thru the rainforest, with the Skyrail you soar above the forest. There are several stops along the roughly 40 minute trip from the cableway station just outside of Cairns to the terminal in Kuranda that each offer unique views of the rainforest, educational exhibits, and other points of interest for you to explore.

The Kuranda Markets

In addition to the breathtaking rainforest and amazing wildlife sanctuaries, the other thing that Kuranda is well known for is its neat outdoor market. The hippie market, as I like to call it, has a wide variety of souvenirs and hand-made goods that you can purchase from small, locally owned stands. There are also Aboriginal and musical performances that are offered throughout the day. The Kuranda markets are one of the things that make this small jungle city so special, so make sure you check it out when you visit.

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Kuranda is also home to Australia’s largest bottlefly sanctuary. Each year, the lab at the sanctuary breeds around 30,000 caterpillars, mostly from Queensland in the Tropical North of Australia, and releases roughly 24,000 pupae into the aviary. Visitors can marvel at the beauty of around 1,500 different species of butterflies flying about when they visit this amazing place. If you love butterflies, you won’t want to miss out on this when you visit Kuranda.

Birdworld Kuranda

One of the most amazing places that you can visit while in Kuranda is Birdworld Kuranda, which is one of the most unique attractions that you will find in the Tropical North Queensland. If you love beautiful birds, then you are going to absolutely love Birdworld Kuranda as it features roughly 60 different native and exotic bird species from the around Australia and the rest of the world. You can see the beautifully colorful Amazonian macaws, the rare and dangerous cassowary, and the popular lorikeets, galahs, cockatoos, and many more. There is even a Finch Aviary dedicated to these stunning little birds. Not only are the birds beautiful, but the ground of Birdworld are beautiful as well. The planners did a magnificent job with the waterfalls, ponds, and plant life in all of the exhibits. It’s a fun stop for kids as you are guaranteed to see some stunning birds that are very difficult to spot in the wild.

Rainforestation Nature Park

Located just outside of Kuranda, the Rainforestation Nature Park is one of the top visitor attractions in the Kuranda rainforest and one of my favorite things to see that you will find in my Kuranda Rainforest guide. Visitors to this amazing park can take an Army duck land and water tour to explore the rainforest and test their boomerang throwing skills while learning more about the local Pamagirri Aboriginal people’s culture. If that isn’t enough to peak your interest, the park is also home to some of Australia’s most amazing wildlife. You can hand-feed adorable wallabies and kangaroos, see the infamous salt water crocodiles up close, and get an up-close look at other native animals such as koalas, dingoes, and Tasmanian Devils. The Rainforestation Nature Park is the perfect entertainment option for travelers with kids or nature lovers looking to learn more about the beautiful Kuranda Rainforest and its wildlife.

Kuranda Koala Gardens

If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience to remember your time in Australia, without a doubt, the Kuranda Koala Gardens will live up to this more than perhaps any other item on the top things to see list in my Kuranda Rainforest guide. Not only are you able to see this adorable creatures up close, but Tropical North Queensland is one of the few provinces in Australia that still allows people to hold koalas. If you are interest in cuddling with one of these cute creatures, you can either purchase the experience online or check for availability when you get to the park.

Barron Gorge National Park

If you are like me and really enjoy breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, then you are going to want to make sure that you check out Barron Gorge National Park on either your way to or from Kuranda. With rugged jungle peaks, steep gorges, breathtaking waterfalls, and an abundance of beautiful wildlife, the national park is one of the most popular parks in Tropical North Queensland for good reason.

The best way to really explore the park is to take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway either to or from Kuranda. The Skyrail makes several stops within the park and has jungle walkways, ranger-led wildlife tours, and educational displays that help you learn about this beautiful and amazing park. If you have the time, I would strongly recommend taking the ranger-led wildlife tour as it can be difficult to spot the wildlife in the jungle on your own and it is amazing how much you can see and learn when you have an experienced guide leading you.

Barron Falls

One of the most beautiful features that you will find within Barron Gorge National Park is the beautiful Barron Falls. This large, cascading waterfall along the Barron River is breathtakingly beautiful. Visitors who take either the Kuranda Scenic Railway or the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway will have ample opportunity to view the falls from a variety of different platforms. In fact, the train makes a stop at the falls and lets passengers get out and view the falls from a viewpoint along the gorge for about 15 minutes shortly before arriving in Kuranda. Make sure you have your camera ready when you visit because the scenery is absolutely gorgeous.

How to Get There

If you are visiting Cairns, Australia and are thinking about taking a day trip to Kuranda, it is a relatively easy trip to make. If you plan on visiting on your own, you will need to catch a cab or ride share from Cairns to either the Freshwater Station for the Kuranda Scenic Railway or the Brinsmead Kamerunga Skyrail base station if you plan on using the Kuranda Scenic Railway to get to Kuranda. If you would like some additional details on getting to Kuranda using either of these methods, I have included maps in my Kuranda Rainforest guide for you to review below. If you are able, I would strongly suggest taking the train to Kuranda and then the Skyrail back down on your return. This way, you will be able to experience the rainforest two different ways during your visit.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway

If you plan on using the Kuranda Scenic Railway to get to Kuranda, you can either purchase your tickets online or at the Freshwater Station. I would strongly recommend that you plan ahead and purchase your tickets in advance if possible to make sure to get the departure and return times that you want. The ride to Kuranda takes roughly 1.5 hours, including a stop at the Barron Falls, and passes thru some of the most scenic parts of the Kuranda Jungle. If you would like more details on the route of the train ride, I have included a map for you to review below.

View Larger Map

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

For a completely different perspective of the Kuranda Rainforest on your way to or from Kuranda, I would recommend checking out the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. I really enjoyed our ride on the cableway because it takes you high above the rainforest canopy so that you really get a good picture of the sheer size and density of the forest below. While you might not be able to spot much wildlife from way up above, the cableway does make a few stops between Kuranda and the Smithfield terminal where you can get off and explore. For more details on the cableway, please reference the map that I have included in my Kuranda Rainforest guide below.

Australia Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Map

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Best Time to Visit

Average Temperature (°F)

Because Kuranda is located in the Tropical North Queensland, the temperature never gets very cold at any point throughout the year. During the winter months of June thru August, you may see low temperatures that dip down into the 50’s, but it rarely gets much colder than that. On the other hand, the summer months of December thru February can be quite hot and humid. If you aren’t accustomed to or like temps in the upper 80’s and 90’s and humid, you might want to avoid visiting during these months. From a temperature standpoint, the best months to visit in my opinion are during the spring and autumn months of April thru May and September thru October. It isn’t too hot during the day and at night the temperatures are very comfortable.

Average Precipitation (Inches)

Because you will be spending a majority of your time outdoors when you visit Kuranda, you are going to want to pick a day where you have good weather. If you want to improve your odds of having nice weather when you visit, then you are not going to want to visit Kuranda during the rainiest months of the year. This is typically during the summer and early autumn months of December thru April, with December thru February typically having the most rainfall. I would suggest targeting the late spring and early autumn months, where the weather is typically much drier and the temperatures are much more mild.

Where to Stay

One of the most important decisions you are going to have to make when planning your trip to the Kuranda Rainforest is where you will stay.  When you travel, the accommodations you choose are oftentimes amongst the biggest expenditures for your trip.  So not only do you need to be comfortable where you are staying, but you also need to be comfortable with how much you are paying to stay there.  Finding the right accommodations for your trip involves looking at the amenities, the location, and most importantly, the price. 

When visiting the Kuranda Rainforest, I would recommend staying in the nearby city of Cairns. Not only is it relatively close in proximity to the Kuranda Rainforest, but Cairns is also one of the most popular launching spots for tours of the Great Barrier Reef as well. If you are starting to plan your trip to the Cairns area and want some hotel and hostel suggestions, I have included some great options at different price points in my Kuranda Rainforest guide below for you to review.  As always, don’t be afraid to expand your search to room sharing sites such as Airbnb or VRBO if you aren’t finding a hotel or hostel that meets your needs.

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Travellers Oasis ($)
Freedom Hostels Cairns ($)
Cairns City Palms ($$)
Cairns City Sheridan ($$)
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort ($$$)
Mantra Trilogy Cairns ($$$)
Hilton Cairns ($$$$)
Pullman Cairns International ($$$$)
201 Lake Street ($$$$$)
Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort ($$$$$)

Where to Eat

When most people plan a trip, the primary focus is one how to get there, where to stay, and what is on the list of things to see and do.  What many travelers neglect to plan, is where to eat when you are there.  Granted, it is sometimes fun to be spontaneous when choosing a restaurant while traveling, and it is always smart to get recommendations when you arrive.  However, it can also be advantageous to have some ideas of restaurants you would like to try during your trip written down beforehand as well.  This way you can be assured that you won’t miss out on a highly recommended culinary experience that you will regret.  To help you decide on some restaurants in Kuranda to add to your list, I have included a list of some highly recommended options for you to review in my Kuranda Rainforest guide below.

Kuranda Restaurant Recommendations
Restaurant Cuisine Price
Sweet Gossip French, Cafe, European $
Falafellicious Fast Food, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern $
Petit Cafe Kuranda French, Cafe, Veggie $$-$$$
Frogs Kuranda Grill, Australian, Veggie $$-$$$
German Tucker Kuranda German, Fast Food, European $
Cafe Mandala Kuranda Cafe, Australian, Veggie $$-$$$

One of the best ways to visit the Kuranda Rainforest is to take a tour. By booking a tour, you don’t have to worry about arranging your own transportation because it is arranged for you. There are a lot of great tour companies that offer transportation to the Kuranda Rainforest from the city of Cairns to choose from. If you are looking for a recommended tour company to use, I have included some recommendations in my Kuranda Rainforest guide for you to review below.

Kuranda Day Trip from Cairns by Scenic Railway and Skyrail
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Day Trip from Cairns
Classic Kuranda by Skyrail and Scenic Railway Including Rainforestation, Koala and Wildlife Park and Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience
Kuranda Full-Day Small-Group Tour from Port Douglas

The city of Kuranda, the rainforest that surrounds it, and the Barron Gorge National Park just outside the city are all breathtaking places to take photographs. I was absolutely stunned at how many fantastic photo opportunities presented themselves when I visited. If you would like to see some of the pictures that I took during my stay, I have included some of my favorites in a gallery below.

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8 replies »

  1. Incredible guide and photos as ever. It’s not somewhere I was familiar with but definitely needs to go on the Aussie bucketlist. Taking a skyrail for that length of time would be incredible, it looks such a pretty area.

    • Thanks Jason! It’s an amazing place. And it is right by Cairns, which is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef too!

  2. I had no clue there were rainforests in Australia… which I guess illustrates your point about it not being well advertised. It looks lush and beautiful and completely not what I picture when I think about Australia. Thanks for taking me on a tour!

    • You are very welcome Diana! As always, thank you so much for reading and for the kind words! Kuranda is such a hidden gem and I was so excited to cover it! 😀

  3. Wow – this all looks amazing. So much to do and see and so little of it is the “usual Australia stuff.” I guess I’ll be adding another week onto the hypothetical itinerary. Ha ha! That market looks especially appealing. Another very informative post!

    • Thank you so much!! Yes, the market was incredible! Such a hidden gem in an area of Australia where the Great Barrier Reef gets most of the attention 😃

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