Just a few kilometres from Cairns is the picturesque village of Kuranda, nestled within World Heritage Rainforest and home to the aboriginal tribe of the Djabugay people. The “Village in the Rainforest” is packed with attractions and activities all designed enhance your experience of the rainforest, Australian wildlife and aboriginal culture, making it a popular destination for visitors from all over the world.
The Kuranda area is fascinating and can be easily explored by the independent traveller but to make the most of your visit it is best to join one of the specialised tours. Kuranda Rainforest Journeys is a renowned operation, run by a local family offering a truly unique experience. They have been voted by visitors as one of the best nature tours not only in Kuranda but in Australia. The tour ventures deep into the rainforest on ATVs or a multi-seat buggy, exploring pioneer history, exotic fruit orchards and often encountering the magnificent endangered cassowary. It is also possible to glimpse other wildlife as you explore a secluded property on top of the Barron Falls.
You don’t have to be an avid adventure seeker as the tours at Kuranda Rainforest Journeys are designed for beginner riders and speed is not part of the experience. The ATVs are automatic and the tour has a maximum speed of 15 kph making it the best way to cover a lot of ground. This private property boasts 165 of tropical rainforest surrounded by National Park. The tour guide will take you through ancient rainforest tracks where interpretive signs highlight interesting aspects of the area and strategic stops uncover fascinating secrets.
What makes Kuranda Rainforest Journeys an exceptional nature tour? Hosted on the magnificent Barron Falls Estate, the tour takes in numerous tropical plants and timber trees including a spectacular crowsfoot ash with an impressive buttress system and an enormous penda believed to be over 1000 years old. Many of these are labelled so keep an eye out, surprisingly their names can be quite familiar. Your tour guide will also tell you more about the pioneer history of the area and explain some aspects of aboriginal habitation. If you visit during the wet season, you will also be able to try some exotic fruits. Other times of the year, you can also try some bush foods who were part of aboriginal’s diet.
For some visitors, the opportunity to see native wildlife makes the experience even more fascinating. Cassowaries can be seen roaming in their natural habitat and although sightings are not guaranteed chances are very high. Although many rainforest species are nocturnal, it is possible to glimpse other wildlife including three different types of wallaby, echidna, possums and tree kangaroos. Opportunities for great photos are endless so don’t be afraid of asking the tour guide to take some for you, if they haven’t already offered to do it.
Getting to Kuranda is in itself a nature experience and there are three options. You can choose to travel by car following a winding road up the mountain, giving you the opportunity to drive through the rainforest and even spot some native wildlife. You will find Kuranda Rainforest Journeys on the Kuranda Range before you get to the township.
You can also travel to Kuranda via Skyrail, a cableway that glides above the rainforest canopy offering spectacular views of the World Heritage listed tropical rainforest and the Coral Sea. If you want to explore a bit more, join one of the ranger guided tours mid-way on the journey at Red Peak. You can join Kuranda Rainforest Journeys at Skyrail’s Barron Falls Station, popular for the spectacular view of the Barron Falls. This is a perfect enhancement of your tree top experience as Kuranda Rainforest Journeys will take you deep into the underlying forest floor for a different perspective.
If you’re not keen on heights, a railway journey with the Historic Kuranda Scenic Railway will delight with unsurpassed views of rainforest and beautiful waterfalls.
Once you get to the township of Kuranda you will find several activities to explore the outstanding surroundings. If you prefer an experience on your own, it is possible to walk to the stunning Barron Falls from Kuranda Village with interpretive trails along the way through the Jum Rum Creek Conservation Park and the Barron Falls boardwalk.
If you prefer an organised experience, consider Rainforestation to discover more of the aboriginal culture with their Pamagirri Aboriginal Dance show or their rainforest walkabout and also get up close with Australian native wildlife at their Koala and Wildlife Park. The Kuranda Riverboat also offers guided walks through the rainforest where you will find more of the unique flora and fauna of the area as well as its history.
There are other attractions that offer a controlled encounter with native wildlife including the Koala Gardens, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and BirdWorld.
If you are looking to include natural and cultural experiences into your itinerary then Kuranda is definitely worth a visit!