For the first day of the trip with Dad and Gill we’d booked tickets for the Skyrail just outside of Cairns, as we thought they would be arriving the night before we should have had plenty of time to get there but as it turned out the flight being delayed the night prior meant we arrived at the Skyrail terminal just a few minutes before the slot we’d booked, talk about cutting it fine! Luckily though we made it and hopped straight in one of the gondolas, where we made our first ascent over the rainforest. The cable cars are pretty big and offer amazing views of the scenery, I’d forgotten I’m scared of flying but once we reached a bit of a height I quickly felt a bit shaky! You’re in the air for about 10 minutes before you reach the first stop, Red Peak. There’s a lovely boardwalk through the rainforest and information boards that tell you a bit about the forests history etc.
Hopping back in the gondola and continuing further north over the forest you then reach Barron Falls, you can see the hydroelectricity station as you pull in too. There were a few different look out points which had amazing views of the falls, they must look even better during the wet season when it’s rained a lot. The rainforest interpretation center is also at this station, which features tons of info about the forest, how it was formed and how man has affected it, so interesting. The final cable car journey was 1.7km, lasting about 10 minutes, a little bit terrifying as you fly over the river!
Out last stop was Kuranda, a small and beautiful little quirky town, filled with unique markets and shops, cafes and attractions. We had a couple of hours to explore the area before our train in the afternoon so we walked round each of the markets for a while, past the Koala Park, Bird Aviary and butterfly sanctuary. We were also hoping to book a tour for the Great Barrier Reef the next day, but as we weren’t going to make it back to Cairns until the evening we were a bit worried our options were going to be running out fast, and not wanting to stay any longer in Cairns any longer than we needed to we thought we’d better pop into a tourism agency that we walked past on the main street. Luckily a wonderful man called Fred at Buzz Tours was there to help us get something sorted and crikey he had a job on his hands! All four of us had different things we wanted to see and do, different things we’d heard were good, different islands that had been recommended to us, oh and as well as accommodating all that he then had to find a company that could fit us on their tour in less than 24 hours time, we don’t ask for much…
By some miracle Fred managed to sit there and listen to everything we wanted, tell us what was good and what was overrated, find us a great deal, get us on a tour leaving the next morning, and even better it left from Port Douglas rather than Cairns, so we didn’t have to spend any more time there! When Dad and Gill tried to exchange American dollars with him he even told us that his rate wasn’t that good and where we should go instead to get a good deal, even better he told us about a fella called Claus at a nearby stall who was looking for American dollars to exchange.
Before we went looking for Claus we went and had some great nachos from a little café a couple of doors down, the biggest plate of nachos I’ve ever seen, I didn’t even manage to finish them all which is very unlike me! On the way to catch our train we passed Claus selling opal, so we exchanged some American for Australian dollars at a good exchange rate, which helped us both out. Finally we boarded the Kuranda Scenic Railway and started the journey through the rainforest and back to Cairns.
The train journey lasts around 2 hours and offers beautiful views of the rainforest. There’s a stop at Barron Falls station for around 10 minutes where you can get off and take some pictures from viewpoints that you don’t see from the Skyrail stations. The train itself is very old school, original decoration, pictures on the walls from when the line was being built; even the station that you first board from is incredibly picturesque and looks like it hasn’t been updated since it was first built, so lovely! The journey takes you through little tunnels, past waterfalls, along Barron Gorge and finally finishes at Freshwater Station, where coaches are waiting to take you back to the carpark at the Skyrail Terminal. You can also continue all the way back to Cairns which is a further 20 minutes journey.
We had an amazing day and jetlag didn’t kick in for our visitors which was great, we went back to our apartment in Cairns and had a lovely dinner and drinks before an early night, ready for another early start the next morning.