A place of passive resistance to the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Kuranda still holds an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. Dive headfirst into its unique culture, quirky market stalls, and stunning scenery.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Djabugay people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
Jump to Section
Kuranda is a quaint rainforest village located in Far North Queensland with a plethora of activities and sights on offer.
It’s located just a 35-minute drive from Cairns, lodged at the top of the scenic Kuranda Range which links the coast to the tablelands.
Nestled in some of the world’s oldest living tropical rainforests, and situated just 25km northwest of Cairns, lies the scenic town of Kuranda.
When taking in all that this charming mountainside town has to offer, it’s no wonder Kuranda has earnt itself a place in destination guides across the globe as one of the top locations to experience when visiting Far North Queensland.
Each year, Kuranda attracts visitors from all over the globe who come to immerse themselves in its pristine rainforest, take photos of the majestic Barron Falls, buy local goods from its array of colourful market stalls, and visit its incredible wildlife sanctuaries.
Getting to Kuranda is part of the experience itself, with the option to access the village via the scenic Kuranda railway, or the rainforest cableway.
Kuranda is a small village, but with plenty to do. To get the most out of your experience, it’s recommended to spend two days and stay overnight, however, if you’re pressed for time, Kuranda’s main sights can still easily be enjoyed within a day.
Kuranda is a place of abundant natural beauty, as well as huge cultural significance. Located next to the vast Barron River, the original inhabitants of this area were the Djabugay people, whose descendants continue to live in this sacred place, sharing their wisdom and culture.
Steeped in history, during the mid-1880s, European settlers commenced farming in the region, predominantly for coffee, timber, and dairy cattle. While in the late 1960s, Kuranda became a popular choice for hippie communes who were involved in the ‘flower power’ revolution and practised passive resistance against the Vietnam War.
With its relaxed atmosphere, stunning natural scenery, and tropical climate, Kuranda has flourished as a popular choice for people wanting to live an alternate life, connected to nature.
Today, Kuranda is a vibrant and colourful rainforest village, which possesses a strong and sacred link to the Djabugay people, and is home to a myriad of artists and musicians.
How to Get to Kuranda – Cars, Trains, and Skyrails!
Kuranda is easily accessed by car, or bus, via the Kuranda Range – a winding 11.5km stretch of road that leads its way up from Smithfield, Cairns, to the village.
However, if you’re looking for an immersive rainforest experience, I recommend taking the scenic Kuranda train and returning to Cairns on the Skyrail.
The Kuranda train departs from either Freshwater Station or Cairns Station and passes through unrivalled scenery: steep ravines, sweeping rainforest, magical waterfalls, and the Barron River, before reaching Kuranda.
It makes a short stop off at the Barron Falls Lookout, where visitors can witness the mammoth waterfall cascading down the side of steep, rocky mountainside.
Visitors can learn of the fascinating history behind the tracks of the Kuranda railway, which officially opened in June 1891, after construction on it commenced in 1887.
Following the path of Buda-dji, The Creation Serpent, the tracks serve as an important link between the coast and tablelands.
The 75 km stretch of railway, with its 15 tunnels, was created purely through man power; it’s safe to say that a lot of sweat, blood, and tears have gone into making this scenic route, which has now become a major tourist attraction, transporting visitors to Kuranda every day.
When leaving Kuranda, I recommend taking the Skyrail down. Starting from the heart of Kuranda, the Skyrail is made up of a rainforest cableway that travels above the pristine Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
At the time of completion, the Kuranda Skyrail became the globe’s longest gondola cableway, making it a first in environmental tourism.
The Skyrail was created as a brilliant means to get up close and personal to the rainforest, without leaving footsteps, or traces, on the land.
Pass over the Barron River, and feast your eyes on panoramic views over the dense tropical rainforest on an exciting journey down to Cairns.
With the incredible transportation options on offer to reach Kuranda village, the sentiment, ‘it’s not the destination, it’s the journey,’ certainly rings true.
Where to Stay in Kuranda
Cedar Park Rainforest Resort
Set amongst dense, tropical rainforest lies Cedar Park Rainforest Resort. Nestled within a private ten-acre property, this accommodation is an absolute sanctuary to come and unwind in after a beautiful day out in Kuranda village.
Honey Bee House
Only a stone’s throw away from Kuranda, visitors can find a home away from home in Honey Bee House. Set amongst lush tropical gardens, this peaceful five-acre property is certainly one to put on the wish list.
Rainforest Sunsets’ cabin-style accommodation creates an experience where visitors will feel like there’s no separation between themselves and the outdoors.
Settle down – with a wine in hand – to watch an epic sunset across the property, and watch the stars from your bed through the large glass windows at night.
Where to Eat in Kuranda
If you haven’t already filled up on local bits and bobs from the markets, Kuranda has a plethora of delicious eateries to choose from.
With plenty of cafes and restaurants on offer, there’s an option to cater to any taste bud. I recommend kicking back with a tropical juice, a fresh sandwich, a homemade pie, or even a specialty crepe from Le Petit Café.
Things to do in Kuranda
Cruise Around the Markets
People flock to Kuranda for its quaint and multi-coloured market stalls. Browse your way through traditional Indigenous art, homemade knick-knacks, jewellery, leather goods, and gourmet food supplies.
There are two markets on offer, The Original Rainforest Market and The Heritage Markets, which currently run from Wednesday through to Sunday.
Allow yourself plenty of time to peruse the stalls, you’re bound to need many a minute to take in all that they have to offer!
As well as the markets, Kuranda also houses various clothing and art stalls. Including the giant Doongal Aboriginal Art and Artefacts Gallery, home to local Aboriginal rainforest art, as well as artwork from Aboriginal artists of Central Australia.
Get up Close and Personal with Wildlife
Wanting to get up close and personal with some Australian wildlife? Between the Kuranda Koala Gardens, Bird World, The Venom Zoo, and The Butterfly Sanctuary, you can say hello to the whole animal kingdom!
Kuranda Koala Gardens
Kuranda Koala Gardens is the top choice to see a diverse range of Australian native wildlife in one spot.
It’s a chance to feed and pet the kangaroos and wallabies, something you should never do in the wild, witness crocodiles and snakes basking in the sun, and even cuddle a koala.
The Koala Gardens is an awesome place to learn about Australia’s incredible and diverse native species.
For all the bird lovers out there, this one’s for you! Bird World replicates the natural habitat of over 350 birds and is home to one of Australia’s biggest collections of free-flying birds.
Step inside the magical world of these feathered friends, with no separation, and immerse yourself in the beautifully landscaped gardens, rainforest, and waterfalls.
The Butterfly Sanctuary
The Butterfly Sanctuary feels like you’ve entered a magical fairyland from the moment you step through that door.
Stroll your way through lush, tropical gardens, watching butterflies flitting above your head. Wear bright colours and you might even have a few coming to perch on your shoulder!
The Venom Zoo
On the other end of the spectrum, if you fancy yourself a bit of a daredevil, then The Venom Zoo could be the place that draws you in.
Operating as a means to educate people on the importance of Australia’s unique venomous animals, the Venom Zoo is home to Australian Tarantulas, centipedes, and scorpions – not for the faint-hearted!
Fancy a Stroll or Maybe a Float?
Get up close to the Barron River, either by ambling along the well-preserved path that runs alongside it, or by taking the River Boat.
Follow the stairs down from the picturesque Kuranda train station to access the river, where walks can be enjoyed in either direction.
Turn right at the bottom of the stairs to walk alongside the river, underneath towering paperbark trees, before linking up onto a rainforest boardwalk.
If you’d rather be on the water, then the 45-minute River Boat Cruise is the perfect option. The trip makes its way steadily along the river, passing by ancient forest.
Sit back and let the wind rustle your hair as you learn about the area through well-informed commentary. You might even get lucky and spot a Freshwater crocodile lounging on the river bank or a Cassowary rambling in the rainforest.
Essential Gear for Kuranda
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Light long-sleeve shirt
Tips for Visiting Kuranda
- Peak season can get busy so we advise booking experiences ahead of time to save missing out on them
- If visiting in Wet Season, drive slowly up the range and check for any road closures prior to going
- Bring lots of water
- Wear comfortable walking shoes
- Cover up from the sun
Where is Kuranda located?
Kuranda is located in Far North Queensland, just 25km northwest of Cairns.
How do you get to Kuranda?
There are multiple ways to reach Kuranda, including by car, bus, train, and skyrail.
When is the best time of year to visit Kuranda?
The best time of year to visit Kuranda is during the region’s cooler months (May-Oct). However, if you’re wishing to see Barron Falls during its peak flow then wet season (Dec-March) is an ideal time to go.
How many days should I spend in Kuranda?
In one day you can see all that Kuranda has to offer, however to fully immerse yourself in the rainforest experience I recommend spending a night.
Can you swim in Kuranda?
It’s not advised to swim in Kuranda. However, there are plenty of ways to get up close to the water, including beautiful viewing platforms, riverside walks, and the riverboat. For those particularly looking to swim, you can venture further up into the tablelands to find swimming spots, such as Davies Creek.