Kuranda's Main Street
Kuranda is a little town perched on the edge of the Atherton tablelands, about 40 minutes from Cairns. It lies amidst ancient rainforest alongside the Barron River and attracts tourists who arrive via the Kuranda Steam train up the Barron Gorge or over the hills and river by Skyrail (cable car), or by bus or car.
Kuranda Skyrail from Cairns
Kuranda is a very special place surrounded by tropical rainforest. The air and energy here is revitalizing. To experience the real Kuranda, there's several excellent trails in the area. I recommend the Jumrum Creek trail and the elevated boardwalk thru the forest canopy to Barron Falls where you can take in the spectacular sight of the Barron river plunging 853 feet (260 meters). There's also a very easy, pleasant walk along the Barron River, accessible by crossing over the train tracks. Or behind the Kuranda markets, you can access the River Esplanade walk.
Kuranda Steam Train Station
Kuranda was once a sleepy little town, but back in the 1970s backpackers discovered the place and hippies began opening up small stalls at the market. Back then, Mrs. Miller's Hostel was the place to stay. It even had a nice restaurant downstairs, the Rainforest Restaurant (I know cause I once worked there!). Now the place is a bit more run down, up for sale and pretty empty. It's now called the Kuranda Backpacker's Hostel, and it's still a great, low-key place to stay, even if Mrs. Miller is no longer around.
Spectacular Barron Falls
The backpackers have now given way to hordes of tourists and Kuranda is packed everyday from around 10am to 3pm. After 3pm the place becomes a ghost town, the shops close up, and it once again takes on the unique ambiance that makes Kuranda such a special place.
The big tourist attractions these days are the Kuranda Markets, including a produce market, as well as an arts and crafts and souvenir market. Kids love Kuranda's Birdworld, the Butterfly Sanctuary and the Koala Gardens.
Kuranda is about a 45 minute drive from the center of Cairns. If you plan on visiting the markets, it's good to arrive early to beat the crowds. If you want to experience "natural" Kuranda, you might want to come in the afternoon when most tourists have left.
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