Winding its way through the ancient rainforests, dramatic gorges, and UNESCO World Heritage-listed landscapes of Queensland’s tropical north, the Kuranda Scenic Railway is one of Australia’s most spectacular train journeys. Running 23 miles (37 kilometers) from Cairns in the south to Kuranda in the north, the route is a thrilling one. As it passes through an impressive 15 tunnels and across 37 bridges, the railway affords panoramic views of the Barron Gorge National Park.
Most tours set out from Cairns, Port Douglas, or the northern beaches, from where it’s a two-hour one-way journey to the end of the line at Kuranda. Passengers can choose standard heritage carriages or the more luxurious Gold Class or Royale Class service, in which refreshments are served. For the best value, combine your tour with other North Queensland activities such as a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, an Army Duck tour of the Rainforestation Nature Park, a helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef, or a visit to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.
Things to Know Before You Go
- English-language commentary is provided on the train.
- Luggage space is limited, so bring a day bag and be sure to pack sunscreen, insect repellent, and comfortable shoes if you plan on exploring the rainforest.
- Wheelchair access is available at all stations except Barron Falls station, but it must be requested in advance.
How to Get There
It’s possible to ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway in either direction, starting your journey at Cairns Station, Freshwater Station, or Kuranda Station. Cairns Station is located right in the center of Cairns, about five miles (eight kilometers) or a 1-hour train ride south of Cairns Airport.
When to Get There
The Kuranda Scenic Railway runs twice daily, with morning departures from Cairns and afternoon departures from Kuranda. Trains run year-round, but with no air-conditioning on-board the historic trains, it can get hot in summer.
Natural Landscapes of the Wet Tropics
The Kuranda Scenic Railway runs right through the heart of the UNESCO-protected Wet Tropics, climbing through the jungle-clad mountains of the Barron Gorge. Jump off along the way to marvel at the Barron Falls, admire Stoney Creek Falls, or take a hike through the ancient woodlands, looking out for wildlife such as rainbow lorikeets, wild orchids, and Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos.