Kuranda Visitor Information
Kuranda is a peaceful rainforest retreat nestled on top of a mountain and amongst World Heritage-listed rainforest. This charming village is only 25 km northwest of Cairns and enjoys a much cooler and less humid climate.
Tourism began in Kuranda during the 1920s and today it is a bustling tourist hub where travellers can enjoy a pristine rainforest environment with thriving indigenous culture and plenty of rainforest attractions suitable for all ages.
The Djabugay people are the traditional owners of the land in Kuranda and their presence dates back over 10,000 years.
Aboriginal influence is ever present still today and visitors are able to experience authentic indigenous culture while visiting Kuranda.
Kuranda was first settled by Europeans in 1881, and remnants of its European origins are still apparent in the architecture, shops and restaurants including the famous German Tucker sausage shop. When first settled by white people, Kuranda was visited by many pioneer gold prospectors and workers in the timber industry. In 1891 Kuranda was linked to Cairns via the Kuranda Railway which today is a characteristic tour attraction that tourists come to see to experience the history and scenic beauty of Kuranda.
After the railway was built residents of Kuranda began to grow crops of coffee, until all the plantations were devastatingly wiped out in the frosts of the early 1900s. In the 1940s Kuranda was home to a large military presence and from military base it turned into an alternative ‘hippie commune’ in the 1960s.
Glorious natural scenery, an easygoing climate, the ability to grow your own food and do as you please attracted the bohemian scene to Kuranda and the hippie past is still omnipresent when visiting Kuranda on a day tour or self drive option. The Kuranda amphitheatre was built in 1979 and attracted musicians and artisans from around Australia. Today, Kuranda hosts daily heritage and new markets that showcase the work of these talented artists. Many of the arts and crafts are indigenous inspired and embrace the unique rainforest theme and cultural history of Kuranda.
The history of Kuranda is only surpassed by the wonderful natural beauty in which the village thrives. The Wet Tropics World Heritage-listed rainforest found in Queensland and particularly Kuranda received its UNESCO World Heritage Listed accreditation title after fulfilling the following requirements:
- Contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
- Is an outstanding example representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.
- Is an outstanding example representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.
- Contains the most important and significant natural habitats for on-site conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
There are plenty of sightseeing walks and photo worthy spots to see while touring Kuranda. The mighty Barron River and Barron Gorge National Park are accessible from the village of Kuranda. This network of historical trails was first implemented by the Djabugay people when they first hunted and gathered their food. This extensive trail system can be briefly experienced during a simple rainforest stroll or can be more thoroughly examined throughout a full day of hiking. Although wildlife may be difficult to spot during the day, as many of the rainforest fauna are nocturnal, keep your eyes peeled for the elusive cassowary, curious brush-turkey or playful Musky Rat-kangaroo. The birdlife at Barron Gorge Natural Park is plentiful, early morning or late afternoon is the best time to catch a glimpse of these animated creatures.
The following are historical walking tracks around Barron Gorge National Park:
This is a moderate 4.8 kilometre track that takes approximately two hours to complete. This hike will take you to the lovely surprise creek (the walk to surprise creek is 1.4 kilometres and is a beautiful walk in its own right). During this hike you will encounter dense rainforest, vine forests, grasslands and lookouts.
This is another moderate track that is 6 hours one way and is 6.3 kilometres. This historical walk follows the trail that was blazed from the Tablelands goldfield to Cairns in the 1870s. Enjoy stunning lookouts, dense rainforest; wind through the rainforest of Glacier Rock and then descend to the Douglas Track Road Trailhead to Rainforest Estate, Kamerunga.
Is a strenuous hike that is 6 hours one way and covers 7.9 kilometres. You will trek through rainforest and grasslands and this hike is suitable only for fit hikers.
Yalbogie trail is 3.6 kilometres, takes one hour to complete one way and is rated moderate. View mammoth Kauri Pine trees, enjoy Tobys lookout and stunning rainforest vistas.
This easy walk is only 15 minutes long and is less than a kilometre in length; although short, Djina-Wu offers some great rainforest views.
This is an easy 25 minute hike that is 1.5 kilometres. You will see mixed rainforest sights and Stoney Creek Gorge.
Hand in hand with the spectacular Kuranda rainforest comes the characteristic wildlife that calls this rainforest home. The best way to see wildlife in Kuranda is at one of the several wildlife attractions but if you are interested in viewing fauna in a natural environment, the best time is during the morning, evening or night.
During the evening the village of Kuranda comes alive with the playful squalling and chirping of several different bird species such as Emerald doves, Laughing kookaburras, Noisy pittas and Rainbow lorikeets. The Wet Tropics area is home to 50 unique native species, in fact, living in the World Heritage-listed rainforest you will find 30% of Australia’s marsupial species, 25% of Australia’s frog species and reptiles and 60% of bat and butterfly species in Australia. Some unique animals that live in the Kuranda Rainforest include the Eastern Water Dragon, Green Tree Frog and Spotted Tree Monitor.
The unique blend of natural beauty, historical charisma, cultural diversity and bohemian flavour makes Kuranda an ideal place for tourists to visit and sets it apart from other destinations around the world. Visitors come to Kuranda for a variety of reasons. Some come to Kuranda to engage themselves with the World Heritage-listed rainforest; they come to learn about the rich flora and fauna, bask in the tropical serenity and visit some of the world class wildlife parks.
Other visitors come to check out the fabulous markets and shops, rich with indigenous art, opals and gems, leathers and pelts amongst many other fabulous and unique pieces. Many visitors to Kuranda visit for the diverse music scene highlighted at the Kuranda amphitheatre and noticeable on the street corner with traditional aborigines playing the didgeridoo. The diverse restaurants and eateries welcome guests of all types and the many galleries are enjoyed by art connoisseurs from around the world. Visitors to Kuranda can come up for the day but there are plenty of wonderful accommodation choices if you want to visit for a weekend or longer.
The village of Kuranda is definitely not short of attractions to visit. The world class attractions in Kuranda offer visitors a great way of learning about the rainforest environment and interacting with the unique plants and animals that call this area home. The attractions in Kuranda are great for all ages, kids and retirees alike will be amazed at the diversity and distinctiveness that Kuranda has to offer.
Skyrail (combined with the Kuranda Scenic Rail) is by far the best way of seeing the Wet Tropics World Heritage-listed rainforest. Skyrail is an aerial cableway that drifts silently on top of the rainforest canopy exposing rivers, waterfalls, crests and peaks that otherwise would be hidden from the human gaze. Skyrail is an eco-certified attraction that has set sustainable benchmarks for other tourism operations to follow. Skyrail exists in natural harmony with its surrounding rainforest and gives you the opportunity to view the immensity of the rainforest, spectacular views of Cairns and picturesque views of the Great Barrier Reef. Skyrail is 7.5 kilometres long and runs between Cairns and Kuranda; the entire journey takes one and a half hours to complete and stops at two terminals along the way. Depending on which way you are heading (to or from Kuranda) you will stop at Red Peak Station where you will be taken on a guided boardwalk tour, encountering unique rainforest plants and having chance encounters with local wildlife. The next stop is Barron Gorge where you can be amazed at the powerful Barron Falls or check out the UNESCO rainforest interpretation centre.
Kuranda Scenic Rail is a historical train that connects Kuranda and the Tablelands to Cairns. The train was built in 1891 after much upheaval from the locals who after a season of famine desired a transport link between Kuranda and Cairns. The construction of the Kuranda Rail was complicated because of the dense rainforest, rugged mountainous terrain and aboriginals defending their land. Today Kuranda Scenic Rail is enjoyed by hundreds of tourists everyday who come to marvel at the spectacular rainforest and evident character of the legendary journey. Surge under tunnels, on top of bridges and watch stunning rainforest, waterfall and river views dart past. Gold Class is the ultimate way to experience the Kuranda Scenic Rail as you get a first-class window seat that provides uninterrupted views, as well as snacks and refreshments. The train stops at the Barron Falls along the way where passengers have a chance to snap some lovely shots of the magnificent falls. The trip from Cairns to Kuranda is an hour and forty five minutes one way and it is best done in conjunction with the Skyrail, these trips can be booked as part of a tour or chose a self drive option.
A nature park that enables you to experience wildlife, indigenous culture and Wet Tropics rainforest at one sight. The park is set amongst 100 acres of lush tropical rainforest. Visitors have the chance to ride upon the Amphibious Army Duck, a land and water ride that takes you through the rainforest to view ferns, vines, Strangler Fig trees and Stinging Trees as well as rainforest creatures such as the Azure Kingfisher. For an aboriginal experience watch the Pamagirri dancers perform dances depicting hunting, food gathering and animals whilst playing music on their didgeridoos and clap sticks; you will feel as if you have stepped back in time as you enjoy this traditional celebration amongst a natural rainforest theatre. Have a try at throwing a boomerang, watch a spear throwing demonstration and try playing the didgeridoo during your mythical dreamtime walk. After this why not check out the koala and wildlife park where you can view crocodiles, wombats, dingoes, snakes, lizards, and the cassowary. At the wildlife park you can hand feed kangaroos and wallabies or get your photo taken as you cuddle a koala. You can visit Rainforestation as part of a full day tour of Kuranda or choose a self drive option.
Another great place to include in your tour of Kuranda. As you immerse yourself in this rainforest habitat with naturally landscaped waterfalls, lakes, exotic and native plants you will be amazed at the colour and variety of the collection of birds. See cockatoos, Rainbow lorikeets, galahs and don’t miss the endangered cassowary. Offer the birds some treats and they will land on your shoulder to say hello. Bird World contains the largest collection of free flying birds in Australia, with almost 500 birds calling this spot home.
On your next tour to Kuranda make sure you experience the magic of Kuranda’s Butterfly Sanctuary, which is Australia’s largest butterfly exhibit and home to over 1500 tropical butterflies. At this magical exhibit view some of the most intricate butterflies in Australia including its largest, the Cairns Birdwing Butterfly, and the stunning electric blue Ulysses Butterfly. Join a free guided tour and learn about these fluttering friends, and make sure you wear a bright coloured T-shirt as these beautiful creatures may mistake you as a flower and come for a visit.
Another attraction not to miss when touring Kuranda Village. Koala Gardens is situated in the heart of Kuranda and allows you to get up close and personal with Australia’s most treasured animal. Observe these cute creatures as they eat, sleep and look adorable and get your photo taken cuddling one! Other animals that can be seen at the Koala Gardens include kangaroos, wallabies, crocodiles, wombats, snakes and lizards.
Australian Venom Zoo
View and learn about some of Australia’s most venomous creepy crawlies and how the captivation and breeding of these species will lead the way for producing some of the most advanced medicines in the world. Tarantulas, centipedes and scorpions are the main focus of the venom zoo although you will find plenty more venomous creatures upon closer inspection.
Kuranda hosts loads of dining options whether it is a quick bite to eat whilst on tour or a hearty star meal you are after. Many of the restaurants in Kuranda incorporate the natural rainforest backdrop to make a unique tropical dining experience.
Frog’s Restaurant was built in 1923 and was one of Kuranda’s first eateries. The restaurant uses only the freshest local product and has an extensive wine and beer menu. Despite the popularity and excellent quality, Frog’s remains well priced.
Kuranda Verandah Restaurant and Bar
Kuranda Verandah Restaurant and Bar offers stunning rainforest views and is situated on a pool deck. The Asian inspired menu is ever changing and diners return time after time to sample the fine flavours.
The Kuranda Trading Post
The Kuranda Trading Post is a modern tourist complex comprising a licensed 300 seat restaurant, a 150 seat café with internet facilities, souvenir shop and foreign currency exchange. The building has been designed in true Australian tradition so as to fit in with the atmosphere of Kuranda. The complex is in the centre of town within walking distance of all attractions, including the Kuranda Scenic Railway Station, the Skyrail terminal and Kuranda Markets.
Cedar Park Rainforest Resort, located just west of Kuranda, offers an al fresco restaurant open to the general public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for lunch and dinner. The restaurant caters for 55 people and up to 100 people for a cocktail party. Cedar Park Rainforest Resort is located in a stunning setting and is perfect for any type of celebration.
Local Pubs and Nightlife
There is no shortage of lively pubs in Kuranda that offer substantial meals at cheap prices. Fitzpatrick Tavern and Billy’s Garden Bar is legendary in Kuranda and offers great BBQ food as well as entertaining nightlife.
Cafés and Takeaway
While wandering the streets in Kuranda you will come across several cafes and takeaways that serve burgers, salads, wraps and much more for travellers on the run or enjoying a full day tour with a short stop in Kuranda.
Accommodation in Kuranda is plentiful, whether you are looking for a luxury retreat, backpacker’s hostel or a quiet self-contained home.
Kuranda Villas in Kuranda is a two bedroom self-contained villa nestled amongst the rainforest and is centrally located amongst all Kuranda’s attractions. The second villa on the property is a wellness spa, perfect for those coming to the rainforest to rest and rejuvenate their mind, body and spirit.
Cadaghi House is a private cottage that sleeps two people and exudes privacy and romance.
Hilton’s Haven is a luxury retreat that overlooks the rainforested Grove’s Creek. These well appointed units serve as a great accommodation option for groups and families.
Kuranda Resort and Spa
Kuranda Resort and Spa features world class facilities in the World Heritage-listed rainforest. Relax and unwind in the rainforest spa or swim in their luxurious swimming pool.
Cedar Park Rainforest Resort provides a unique style of accommodation, featuring Gothic arches reminiscent of an old European monastery or castle. Cedar Park Rainforest Resort also has a lovely al fresco restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and overlooks the magnificent rainforest.
Just north of Cairns the Kuranda Range Road climbs the coastal range to the cultural rainforest village of Kuranda.
Drive or take a tour to the base of the Skyrail Cableway located in Caravonica, Cairns; it is only one and a half hours to Kuranda on the Skyrail.
Kuranda Scenic Rail departs twice daily from Cairns to Kuranda from either Cairns Central Station or Freshwater Station (8:30am/9:30am- 8:45am/9:45am retrospectively). It is a one hour and forty five minute journey.
From Cairns drive north along the Captain Cook Highway, make a left hand turn at Smithfield roundabout and follow the picturesque and winding Kuranda Range for approximately 25 minutes. You will see the turn-off to Kuranda on your left once you reach the top of the range.
There is a wide selection of day tours to Kuranda that include as many or as few attractions in a day or half day experience.
Kuranda has a much cooler and less humid climate than Cairns, averaging about 21 degrees during the winter and 30 degrees in summer months. Yearly rainfall averages about 2000mm with the majority of the rain falling between January and March. The humidity in Kuranda is much more bearable than Cairns sitting at about 70% during the wet season (January-March).