About a half hour drive west of Cairns city is the Atherton Tableland and at the top of the Kuranda Range on the Kennedy Highway is Kuranda. Running from the Bellenden Ker Range in the south to the Great Dividing Range in the north, the Atherton Tablelands range from 600m to 1100m above sea level and are a cool getaway from the coastal plain around Cairns city.
Known as the village in the rainforest, Kuranda has a wealth of nature-based attractions, art, culture and shopping to enjoy. At the top of the range is the village, founded in 1888 after the area was discovered in 1876. It is known as a somewhat alternate location, and therefore is home to many 'alternate' gay and lesbians.
Getting to Kuranda: To the north of Cairns is the Kennedy Highway that runs up the Kuranda Range and begins in the suburb of Smithfield about 14km north of Cairns city. Commonly known as the ‘Kuranda Range’, the road is about 12km long and rises to a level of about 430m about sea level. It’s mainly two lanes with a number of overtaking bays and lookouts on the way up. It's a windy road- but well worth the effort.
A trip to Kuranda is not complete without a visit to the world famous Barron Falls, which during the wet season is one of Australia's most spectacular waterfalls.
Whether you choose a trip back through time on an historic train or the modern technology of a cable car gliding through the treetops, getting to Kuranda is an exciting experience.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway takes you on a 7.5km trip over the top of the World Heritage listed tropical rainforest. Gliding just metres above the rain forest canopy in comfortable six‑person gondola cabins, the Skyrail journey immerses you in an intimate rainforest experience where you’ll see, hear, smell and become part of the rain forest environment. We here at Gay Cairns recommend every visitor to the region take this spectacular trip!
Kuranda Scenic Railway is the original rail journey to the village. The historic Kuranda train travels over bridges and through tunnels hand-made by North Queensland’s pioneers more than 100 years ago. Traversing the World Heritage listed rain forest of the Barron Gorge National Park; it is one of the world’s great railway journeys.
Once in Kuranda you can wander the picturesque village admiring the quaint buildings which have been restored and now house a variety of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops selling handcrafted goods, Aboriginal artefacts and art. Take the time to visit some the nature-based Kuranda tourist attractions. With about 500 birds, Birdworld Kuranda is home to Australia’s largest collection of free flying birds which can be seen in their natural habitat. The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary’s 3666 cubic metre aviary is home to more than 1500 magnificent tropical butterflies, all local to the area, including the electric blue Ulysses butterfly and the largest butterfly in Australia, the Cairns or Australian Bird wing.
Further west from Kuranda lay the Atherton tablelands.... with plently to see in itself.