One of the most popular activities while visiting Cairns is the Kuranda Railway and Skyrail tour taking you up and back to the historical village of Kuranda. Kuranda is a picturesque village nestled up in the rainforests mountain ranges close to Cairns. The Kuranda Scenic Railway and the Sky Rail are the perfect combinations to get you there and back. Each provides a unique view through the Kuranda range and in particular, the spectacular sight of The Barron Falls.
We booked our tours from one of the online websites (there are several all offering the same tour) and what a DRAMA. We turned up for the 7.50am bus to the train at the Sky Rail, and nope, no one knew who we were, didn’t have our booking, and it ended up being a drama. DONT DO WHAT WE DID. We have been introduced to Get your Guide Tour by our friends over at World Travel Family and have since used them for booking our Hong Kong day tour. Why we didn’t think of them the day we booked this trip, I will never know but do it. They are great AND they guarantee to be the best price. So if you find a better price online at the time of booking, chat with them, and they will refund the difference. Brilliant!! Book your tickets here for the best price guaranteed.
Kuranda Railway and Skyrail
Both the Kuranda Railway and Skyrail both have their own return trips packages, however, choosing the Combination offered, we experienced both options. The package includes transfers either to or from the station from the Sky Rail pick up area plus to your hotel if needed. Chat with them and choose the package that suits your needs best. Having a car meant we parked at the Sky Rail car park, caught a bus transfer to Freshwater Station, then after arriving back down from the Sky Rail ride we just jumped in our car and headed back to our accommodation.
Kuranda Scenic Railway Tour
We decided to go up by train and back down by Sky Rail, but you can choose in reverse if that suits. Pick up was at 7.50 am from Sky Rail car park, and we were transferred by bus over to Freshwater Station for our departure at 8.50 am.
The train trip up is stunning in scenery with an automated audio tour highlighting interesting facts and places of interest along the way.
The train trip takes approximately 1.5 hours winding up through the Kuranda Rainforest Range ending at the historic Kuranda Railway Station. Get your camera out and ready. It’s every photographer’s delight
Kuranda Railway Station
A pretty quaint station full of yesteryear awaits your arrival. A lovely tea house makes available refreshing drinks and yummy treats to purchase if you want to sit and enjoy the station. Head up the stairs and turn left to go straight to Kuranda Village.
TIP : Looking for a scenic rainforest walk? At the top of the stairs turn right and head down to the riverfront to find a 3km (or a shorter 760 metre) rainforest loop walk from the station to Kuranda Village. Signs and information at the bottom of the stairs.
Loving what you see so far? Book your Tickets here to enjoy the same Kuranda Railway and Skyrail Tour.
Kuranda Village – Things to Do
Your tickets will come with an information sheet and discounts to several Kuranda attractions. Check what discounts are on offer before choosing your places of interest.
We had 3 hours in Kuranda before heading back down to Cairns via the Skyrail. Wandering around the quaint streets, enjoying the village, markets, lunch and River kept us busy without time to spare.
Some places to consider are
- Kuranda Riverboat Cruise – 45 mins – We both wish we had taken this tour and enjoyed the River
- Birdworld – 30 mins
- Australian Butterfly Sanctuary – 30 mins – Highly recommended by our tour guide
- Kuranda Candy Kitchen – Candy making demonstrations – 30 mins
- Australian Venom Zoo – 30 mins
- Enjoy local Indigenous Digeridoo Buskers – 15 mins
- Wander the Markets – 1 hour
If you want to buy
There are loads of places to eat meals ranging from Bistros through to coffee shops but we were searching for somewhere offering aircon to cool off while eating. There was only one place in town that offered Air Con and that was “Mandalas”
Mandalas is easy to find located in the main strip from the station 2/3’s of the way down on the left-hand side. Our relief was short-lived when the lunch crowds hit and warm bodies and hot stoves made the room hotter than outside. But we were pleasantly surprised by the menu. Options were minimal but what was on offer was good and food was beautifully presented. Highly recommended if you want to cool down. Get there around 11.30 before the crowds it after midday which warms the place up.
There is no reason why you cannot bring your own picnic. Head down to the river bed over the Railway overpass and enjoy the beautiful cool water, green grass and shady trees. We went down for a swim and a cool off after walking around town just a little too hot. We did visit in January so it was the hottest time of the year to visit.
Yes, there is fresh water crocs in the river (NOT SALT WATER CROCS) – Freshwater crocs are not harmless but they are shy and don’t tend to be attracted to people (Still they are crocs so be aware) and heaps of local kids were swimming. Locals said it was okay to take a dip.
Kuranda Skyrail tour
The Skyrail carriages are located next to the train station so its an easy walk once you decide to return down to base.
Our return tickets we were booked at 1.50 pm, but you can return whenever you like. No one checked our times, and you just line up and head back.
The scenic views were spectacular from the carriages and if you pay a few extra dollars you can book a glass bottom floor carriage. (Not for the faint-hearted)
Sit back and enjoy the return trip which takes approximately 1.5 hours. You have the option to get off at The Barron Falls to enjoy the views.
Don’t worry about being hot in the carriage. The cool breezes are lovely and refreshing as you travel down.
TIP : The carriage will give you a great view of The Barron Falls without having to get off. Just make sure you LOOK BACK. The line up to get back onto the carriages was long so only get off if you are super keen to take further images and enjoy the area.
Discover Family Travel Wrap Up
This tour is an absolute must. You won’t be disappointed taking the Kuranda Railway & Skyrail from Cairns to Kuranda. It was one of our most enjoyable days out and we are glad we went even in the heat of summer.
Keep things easy, prebook your tickets here & don’t go through our dramas.
Have you been? or if not, maybe you are now considering Cairns as a Family Holiday Destination? Let us know your thoughts in comments.