Kuranda Scenic Railway

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April 9th 2012
Published: May 13th 2012
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This morning we headed off to ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway up to the small township of Kuranda. The railway line was built in the late 1800s to ensure an all weather supply route to settlements on the Atherton Tablelands, in particular the township of Herberton which was regularly left isolated during the wet season and its citizens left at risk of starving before the road became passable again.

We drove the car to the car park for the Skyrail as we had booked to return via the Skyrail cable cars. We were collected by minibus from the car park and driven to the Freshwater Station on the Cairns to Kuranda railway line to catch the train. Jocelyn, the manager of our apartments, booked this tour for us over the weekend and convinced us to upgrade to the Gold Class package. The train has a couple of Gold Class carriages that have more comfortable lounge chairs to sit in and food and drinks are served during the train ride up to Kuranda. It was very pleasant traveling up the Barron Gorge by vintage train eating croissants and pastries and sipping on mimosas!!

From Freshwater Station we traveled through Redlynch and Jungara before negotiating the 180 degree bend at Horseshoe Bend that marks the point where the railway line begins the steep climb from the Freshwater Valley to Kuranda. Before long we entered the first of 13 tunnels that we had to travel through before reaching the Stony Creek Falls. The bridge at the falls is an iron lattice construction that is considered one of the most outstanding features of the railway line. The falls are quite pretty too.

After Tunnel 14 we were treated to spectacular views down over the Coral Sea and Cairns. These views were followed by Tunnel 15, the last and the longest tunnel on the railway line at 490 metres. The last point of interest was the Barron Falls that drop 265 metres into the Barron Gorge. Following the wet weather there was a reasonable amount of water coming over the falls. The train stops for a 10 minute photo op overlooking the falls before continuing on to Kuranda Station.

After all of the food that we ate on the trip up we didn't need any lunch in Kuranda!! We settled for a walk along the main street and, after a couple of minor purchases, we ventured back to the Skyrail Station to take our 7.5 kilometre cable car journey back down to sea level. Only a few minutes into our journey back down the mountain we approached Barron Falls ... from the other side of the gorge. From this side we were treated to more spectacular views of the deep chasm of Barron Gorge lined with dense rainforest vegetation.

At Barron Falls Station we disembarked to explore the rainforest mid-station. Easy access walkways took us through the rainforest to three separate lookouts providing breathtaking views of the Gorge and Falls. The Falls are at their best during the wet season, December through to March, but in early April they were still quite impressive.

Another quarter of an hour on the Skyrail and we were approaching the rainforest mid-station, Red Peak. Our gondola descended through the canopy layers and deep into the forest. Red Peak Station is nestled amongst pristine rainforest with a 175 metre boardwalk providing the perfect opportunity to explore the forest from ground level. The Station is surrounded by towering trees, lush palms, giant ferns and a diverse array of plants and wildlife. Here we took a guided walk along the boardwalk which was really interesting ... especially the reaction of some of the tourists when they saw the golden orb spider suspended in its web!! Mind you, it was a BIG spider.

After communing with the rainforest it was back into a gondala and off down the side of Red Peak to Caravonica Terminal. On the trip down we had an excellent view over the cable ski centre which was fascinating - people water skiing without a boat in sight!! How bizarre. They hook up to an overhead cable instead to ski around the lake. With barely a glance at our photo - taken by the green tree frog as our gondola entered the terminal - we headed out to the car for the drive back to Palm Cove.

Since we have a small apartment with a small kitchen we decided to eat in tonight. We stopped in at the supermarket to buy a few things for dinner and then headed back to the apartment. We tried out the pool area this afternoon until the sun set before cooking dinner and having a quiet night in watching the telly.

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