The picturesque mountain town of Kuranda is tucked into forest-clad hills 16 miles (25 kilometers) northwest of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. The journey to Kuranda is part of its appeal; visitors get spectacular views of lush forests and towering waterfalls, whether traveling there by train, skyrail, or road. The laid-back town is known for its outdoor markets, eateries, wildlife tours, and alternative vibe.
Kuranda is one of the most popular day trip destinations from Cairns. Shoppers can browse art galleries, boutiques, and open-air markets for handicrafts, didgeridoos, and Aboriginal art, while nature lovers can explore Australian wildlife in parks and nature preserves nearby. (Both Kuranda National Park and Barron Gorge National Park form part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.) Many travelers opt to ride an enclosed gondola on the 4.5-mile (7.5-kilometer) Skyrail Rainforest Cableway from Kuranda to Smithfield (1.5 hours with stops at its rain forest stations) or round-trip. Among Kuranda’s other popular attractions are the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Kuranda Koala Gardens, the Reforestation Nature Park, and Birdworld Kuranda.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Kuranda is a kid-friendly destination with activities for all ages, from animal lovers to souvenir shoppers.
- Wear sturdy shoes for strolling around Kuranda and nearby park attractions, where most, but not all, paths are well-maintained with wheelchair-accessible facilities.
- Although Kuranda tends to be cooler than the coast, summers are still hot, with January the warmest month.
How to Get There
To get to Kuranda from Cairns in style and enjoy the scenery, ride 90 minutes one-way on the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway. The 1-hour and 45-minute train trip chugs from downtown Cairns through Barron Gorge National Park to Kuranda, offering clear views of landmarks such as Barron Falls and Stoney Creek Falls. By car or bus, it’s about 30 minutes to Kuranda from Cairns.
When to Get There
Kuranda’s mild climate allows for year-round activity, but the summer wet season from January to March is considered the best time to see Kuranda’s rain forest. The winter months span June to August.
Wildlife in Kuranda
To see wildlife in Kuranda, head to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, which shelters thousands of butterflies, or the Rainforestation Nature Park, which offers boat tours and the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience. At Kuranda Koala Gardens, travelers can get close to koalas, kangaroos, and crocodiles under the supervision of trained professionals. Head to the Barron River from Kuranda’s town center to take a wildlife-spotting cruise and see freshwater crocodiles, water dragons, and tropical birds.