Kuranda Rainforest, Cairns, Australia

Dave Clingman and Andrew J. Wharton holding a koala bear

Holding a koala at Kuranda Rainforest

We visited the Kuranda Rainforest on our second big day in Cairns. This was a wonderful place, though it is a bit expensive. There is so much to see and do here, though, that we think it is well worth the cost.

Kuranda Rainforest Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway at waterfall bridge

There are basically three ways to get from Cairns to the Kuranda Rainforest: road, train, and cablecar/gondola. We didn’t want to drive ourselves there, though we did consider that option, nor did we want to ride public transport up the road. We wanted to take the more scenic, albeit expensive, routes.

Kuranda Rainforest Skyrail Cableway and Scenic Railway at waterfall

View of waterfall, Scenic Railway (at top left), and Cableway (click to enlarge)

So, we rode the Kuranda Scenic Railway (A$49 one-way) up the mountain and the Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway (A$47 one-way) back down to Cairns. We can wholeheartedly recommend both routes. The Cableway is much faster, but I think the Scenic Railway is the more scenic. Since we bought the package to ride the Railway one way and the Cableway the other, the fee is slightly more than double (A$105.50) to pay for the bus ride back to our car from the bottom Cableway station.

Kuranda Scenic Railway stop view of Kuranda waterfall

Waterfall from Kuranda Scenic Railway stop

For a closeup view of the tops of the rainforest trees, the Cableway is the better option. For a more leisurely ride up or down the mountain, the Scenic Railway is the better option. The Railway makes a stop at the big waterfall, so that people can get out to stretch their legs if they want to, and to get a view of the waterfall from different angles.

From the Railway station, it is a short walk up the hill to the main part of the Kuranda Rainforest town and all the public attractions. We rode the free bus up the hill to the top of the town. There are many shops and artsy things to see, so at the end of our day, we took our time walking around and back down to the Cableway station.

At the Kuranda Rainforest, there is a Butterfly Sanctuary, Birdworld exhibit, Rainforestation Nature Park, and much more, each with its own entry fee. You can also buy a package that will allow entry, at a discounted price, for multiple things. We toured through only the Kuranda Koala Gardens (A$17 entry + extra to hold a koala).

Koala bear at Kuranda Koala Gardens

Sleeping Koala

Map of Kuranda Koala Gardens

Koala Gardens map (click to enlarge)

There is much more in the Koala Gardens that just koala bears. The first section is across a bridge over an alligator-infested pond. Then there are snakes, lizards, and turtles in a couple of exhibits, and then you reach the koala bears. There are several habitats with the cuddly things sleeping on branches. Since we bought the photo package, we got to hold a koala bear and take photos (as well as having a photo taken and printed for us).

But the best part is yet to come…

Dave Clingman feeding a wallaby

Feeding a wallaby (see her baby? – click to enlarge)

After the koala bears, we entered an enclosed section with kangaroos, wallabies, and other animals roaming free. There is a feed dispenser at the entry gate, and I returned there a few times to get more handfuls of the food to feed to them. This seemed to be one of Andrew’s favourite parts, too. We must have spent an hour or so just sitting and wandering and feeding the animals. It’s great!

Next, the walkway enters a caged-in enclosure with the more dangerous snakes and other reptiles and amphibians. At this point, one of the caretakers entered to do some work and answered many questions we had, as well as pinpointing and uncovering a couple of the more bashful critters.

Kuranda Koala Gardens restaurant feast

3 types of Australian meat

At the exit point, we were back in the market, with a restaurant near at hand, and we decided to stop for a bite of lunch. We wanted to try different meats and couldn’t decide which ones to try, so we opted for a platter of three different meats, each with its own specialized sauce: kangaroo, emu, and crocodile. We both agreed that the crocodile was the best and the emu second best. The kangaroo was a bit boring-flavoured and also very dry.

Then we wandered around the shops and art exhibits a bit before heading back down the hill to the Cableway station and our ride back down the hill.

The next and final stop of our Australia holiday is Sydney


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