Kuranda -The Rainforest Village

Kuranda, also known as the health resort of far North Queensland, is a village in the rainforest behind Cairns, on the way up to the Atherton Tablelands. It has long been home to the Tjapukai aboriginal people. But since the completion of the rail link to Cairns in 1891 and the hippy invasion of the 1960s it is a thriving market and holiday town, while still retaining a strong sense of aboriginal culture.

The Journey or the Destination? 

A trip to Kuranda is as much about the journey as the destination. It is possible to take the Scenic Kuranda Railway or the Skyrail both to and from Kuranda. A popular option is to get the train up the mountain range and the Skyrail (which is a cable car) back down, enjoying tree canopy views over the rainforest and then views across Cairns and the coral sea on the way down the range. Neither transport is a quick option. It takes about two hours to get to Kuranda on the Scenic Railway, making it feel like a truly remote location.

Things to do in Kuranda

Kuranda is unique. At first glance it is a little town dedicated to tourism. There is a koala park, a bird park, a venomous creatures park (which didn’t tempt me), art galleries, shops and the historic markets. Most of the shops sell locally made produce, such as local honey, mango wine, sweets and candy. The market stalls sell a wonderful array of things including leather goods made from crocodile skin, boomerangs, didgeridoos, food and drinks. I even found a stall selling everything you could imagine making from kangaroo fur, even a bikini!

Kangaroo fur stall in Kuranda Markets

What to eat in Kuranda

It is easy to eat well in Kuranda. There are free tastings of most of the local produce available to snack on and there are also several cafes and restaurants. Good honest pub food is available at the Railway Tavern but my choice was the French crepe café in the Historic markets. The kangaroo proscuitto with cherry tomatoes special sounded good but I went for the smoked salmon and crème fraiche crepe and it was so good I could have been in Brittany. Except, perhaps, for the Chinese lady at a nearby stall selling iced fruit. She had frozen it and then pureed it through a machine and sold it in cups. Her sales tactic was to tell passersby that they must lose weight or they’d have heart attacks and die! I braved the potential telling off about my figure and talked to her for a while. She was great fun.

Frozen fruit smoothies in Kuranda Market

The last train and skyrail trips depart at 3.30pm so by 3pm visitors are making their way to their departure points. I wondered what the residents of Kuranda get up to when all the visitors go home. A visit a few weeks later to Kuranda, at about 3.45pm makes me think they all go home too. The place was deserted!


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