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The Tour Specialists Tour Blog

Apr 25

Kuranda – A scenic railway trip with a visit to the Butterfly Sanctuary

Posted on April 25, 2008 by

Last Saturday I had the most wonderful experience of traveling up to Kuranda on the Kuranda Scenic Railway.  All the feedback I had heard back about this delightful journey was all excellent, but having lived in Sydney for a few years and commuting from Cronulla to Sydney City every day I was very put off by all forms of train travel for a few years!
We decided on the 9.45 am departure as it was a Saturday and after waking up early all week a little sleep in was in order.  We arrived at the picturesque Freshwater Station.  The train starts in Cairns then makes its way to Freshwater Station which is closer for those people who are based on the Northern Beaches.  Freshwater Station has a lovely little gift shop and a fantastic café which I believe serves a fantastic breakfast before your journey begins.  The station also provides a few historic buildings such as a Railway Construction workers hut and a Museum.

Well all aboard and at 9.45 am the train departs for Kuranda. We traveled up standard fare and were impressed.  Our carriage was very quiet this enabled us to both sit near the window and enjoy the view.  On arrival at the station we were provided with and information card and this pointed out various points of interest throughout the journey, along with a running audio commentary provided in the carriage.  The train traveled out though Redlynch then started to climb up the Freshwater Valley to Kuranda traveling through many hand carved tunnels and areas where you are able to capture spectacular views of the Coral Sea and Cairns City.  On a clear day you can even see Green Island on the horizon.  Towards the end of the journey a stop is made at Barron Falls Waterfall this Waterfall is 329 metres above sea level the falls drop is 265 metres.  Back in the early days a Flying Fox provided a view of the falls and a method of commuting to work!
In the wet season this waterfall is just amazing and leaves many a jaw dropped.
The stop at the falls is for around 10 minutes and this allows for plenty of time to take photos.  Once the whistle blew it was all aboard and onto Kuranda Station. 

The Kuranda Station is very impressive, this federation style station is heritage listed.  The building was completed in 1915 and is the only remaining example of a railway station of precast concrete construction.  The station is home to many local and introduced tropical plants and flowers making it one of the most beautiful railway stations in Australia.

We arrived at Kuranda just after 11.00 am so we had three hours to filling in which I think was about the perfect time to have a look around.  I have a fascination for butterflies so I new the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary was on my radar!  So after a quick coffee at one of the many coffee shops dotted along our walk we arrived at the Butterfly Sanctuary.

The butterfly sanctuary was fantastic and we happened to arrive at perfect timing as they had a tour about to start.  Our guide was Tina and she was brilliant her enthusiasm and passion really shined through!  I learnt so much about the life of a butterfly through Tina’s commentary.  Such as most butterflies live for several weeks while some can live as long as 9 months or even a year!  How butterflies feed! How butterflies protect themselves!  The cycle of a butterfly!  Which I am not going of course to tell you as you will have to go and find out for yourself!!!!
The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is one of the largest butterfly farms in the world in terms of enclosed space.  The main aviary is a large all weather glass house it has an average height of 25 feet.  The Sanctuary itself is seven acres and some of the three acres are used for the cultivation of butterfly food plants whilst the remaining four acres are rainforest. 

We were extremely lucky as on the day we went as it was mating season!! The very large moth, Hercules Moth was mating this was a great chance to get up close and take a picture of this amazing moth as they stay very still whilst mating and this is not a very regular occurrence!  After walking through this lovely environment you then come to a room that has a display of all the types of butterflies throughout the world.  This was amazing as there were hundreds of butterflies on display some with fantastic brilliant iridescent colours.

The camouflage butterflies where incredible such as having two snake heads on there wings to discourage predators to taking on the appearance of a leaf  even down to the fine details of having markings that depict water drops…….absolutely incredible!!!

After the butterflies it was time for a look around the shops and markets then off for some lunch!  Well it was getting on to around 2.00 pm and time for our Journey back!
This time we were traveling Gold Class.  Gold Class is a special exclusive section of the train where two special railway carriages have been restored to former grandeur.  Gold class has free seating so it is best to get there a little early so you can obtain a window seat.  The seats are not fixed so are very comfortable and easy to move near the window.  Once settled in you take in you surrounds of this premier carriage.  The Gold Class attendant then came around and introduces himself and asked what type of beverage we would like.  Beer, wine, juice and sparkling wine were all on offer.  I opted for a lovely glass of sparkling so I could sit back and enjoy the surrounds.  Once the train was off it was then time for the canapés to come out and this was in the form of an individual cheese & biscuits and dried fruit plate for all which was the perfect companion to my glass of sparkling!!  Gold Class still also provides the running commentary at the end of you journey you are presented with a souvenir pack of a gold class pen, postcard and pin something to take home and remind you of you day!  It was lovely to come home in a bit of luxury and style.

Tammy – The Tour Specialists Palm Cove

For more information about related tours to Kuranda, please visit The Tour Specialists

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