Kuranda "The Village in the Rainforest" is situated 25km northwest of Cairns. It lies on the eastern edge of the Atherton Tableland where the Barron River begins to plunge to its coastal floodplain. It is fringed by a pristine rainforest that naturally filters the air. This small scenic town is governed by the Mareeba Shire Council.
Djabugay is the name of the tribe of Aboriginal people that inhabits the Kuranda region. Ngunbay or place of the platypus is an important area for camping which is a good hunting and fishing ground for locals. It all changed when the hinterland along the tracks of the “Bama” (rainforest) people and through their country was opened for tin and gold mining. White man and "Gadja" (ghost spirit) had an instantaneous influence on the Djabugay people.
On the way to Kuranda, visitors can enjoy the crisscrossing road through the rainforest which has a lookout spot where panoramic views over the Barron River delta across Cairns beaches. Green Island can be viewed from the lookout if the weather permits. Kuranda is famous for its arts and crafts and indigenous artefacts. For the best experience, visitors are recommended to combine the award-winning attractions Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for a harmonious yet distinctive journey across the Barron Gorge National Park. Other popular attractions are the Butterfly Sanctuary, Koala Gardens, Birdworld and the Aviary.
Kuranda is also famous for its markets offering a wide range of crafts and locally made products. It's just a short walk from the Skyrail or the Kuranda Scenic Railway station to the village. Markets are open from 9.00AM and many close around 3:00-4:00PM when the last train departs. The Original Rainforest Markets are located in Therwine Street behind the famous Honey House.
The town has two seasons, wet and dry seasons. Best time to visit Kuranda is during the dry season that runs from June to October, and the most favourable month to visit is July. July is also the peak month for tourists. The wet season runs from November to May. February is the month when rain is rigourous.
Image Attribution: Sheba_Also 43,000 photos [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
Getting to Kuranda is very easy and an experience in itself.
Take the scenic route through the sections of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Listed Rainforest which takes approximately a 40-minute drive. Enjoy the views out to Green and Fitzroy Islands, from Cairns via Captain Cook and Kennedy Highways during the trip.
Aside from driving your own car or campervan, there are several other options like hiring an Uber, a taxi, or a local driver.
By Kuranda Scenic Railway
This option is a one and a half hour trip from Cairns. There are two services available every day in each direction. For a better trip, it is advised for visitors to make reservations. The services depart from Cairns Central Railway Station, close to the centre of Cairns, and Freshwater Railway Station which is near Redlynch.
By Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
Ride through the rainforest treetops in a gondola while enjoying the great views of the rainforest canopy. The trip involves a couple of stops to change cars. Booking online will give visitors a 5% discount and a one-way Skyrail. Transfers from both Cairns, Cairns Beaches and Port Douglas are available. The local public transport company, Sunbus, service the Skyrail base station at Caravonica from Cairns every hour or so.
For those in a budget, catch a shuttle bus between Cairns and Kuranda where two bus companies run regularly scheduled services. This option is ideal for travellers who want to save time and money over the other scenic options.
For at least 10,000 years, the Indigenous Djabugay (can be spelled as Tjapukai) were the first ones to inhabit Kuranda and called this ancient rainforest their home. While the Djabugay people roamed in the vast land cut by the Great Dividing Range, they were able to preserve their strong cultural ties with the rainforest west of Cairns up to this day. The descendants of the Aboriginal people continue to contribute to the rich cultural fabric until nowadays.
Before Kuranda was officially surveyed in 1888, the early European settlers had already taken farming sites in the mid-1880s. But it did not stop their growth, in the early years, Kuranda became known as an area that produces dairy cattle, timber, and coffee. The village continued to evolve, and it is now a vibrant place that can be enjoyed by both locals and visitors.
In 2004, the Indigenous Australians who fought long and hard for recognition got a significant win. It was when a Djabugay native claim guaranteed their Dreamtime connections through ancestral beings to Djabugay country based on spiritual and physical landscapes, as well as traditional story places.
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