A compact settlement of some 500 people and surrounded by
rainforest, Kuranda has become a major tourist attraction in North
Location: 27 km north west of Cairns on the Atherton Tableland.
For a great day out from Cairns or Port Douglas, you can either take
the 30 minute drive from Cairns into the mountains behind the city, or
opt for a ride on the world renowned Kuranda Scenic Railway, which
winds its way up a gorge through 15 tunnels and over 40 bridges.
The line clings to the rock face and passengers can almost touch the
waterfalls as they climb the mountains towards the Atherton Tableland.
Offering views back across the Coral Sea, the railway was built by John
Robb between 1886 and 1891 and is recognised as a masterpiece of
Kuranda, one of the gateways to the Atherton Tableland from Cairns, has
plenty of shops, galleries and cafes to relieve tourists of their
dollars, and I don't say that in a derogatory way at all. Kuranda is
home to an extraordinary number of artists and craft workers and this
is reflected in the large number of shops and market stalls selling
their beautiful products. There are in fact three markets - Heritage
Markets, Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets and The New Markets -
where locally produced arts, crafts, clothing, Aboriginal artifacts and
souvenirs are available.
If it is Australia's wildlife you've come to see, you won't leave
disappointed. At Kuranda there is a Koala Gardens, Birdworld bird
sanctuary, a butterfly aviary, the Australia Venom Zoo, Cairns Wildlife
Safari Reserve and the BatReach Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation
In addition, tours of the rainforest of all kinds are available - from
walking to 6WD amphibious Army ducks, Hummers, cruising on the Barron
River, or the overhead Skyrail, spanning 7.5km over the rainforest.
Natural features: Kuranda Forest Reserve; Barron River; Barron Falls; Caravonica Lakes
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The rainforest is home to the Djabugay aboriginal people who have
lived here for over 10,000 years. Exploration by Europeans in the early
1800s opened the way for gold prospectors and the timber industry and
settlement by the pioneers. Kuranda was first surveyed in 1888 by
Thomas Behan, and the building of the railway and the road from the new
seaport of Cairns paved the way for trade and the movement of people
over the mountains. Kuranda became a destination for locals on holiday
and honeymooners and word soon spread telling of the magnificent Barron
Falls and the lushness of the rainforest. During the 1940s there was a
big military presence in the area; training and rest and recreation for
troops and Air Force personnel took precedence over tourism.
Origin of name: of Aboriginal origin, probably derived from an
Aboriginal word in the Yindinji language - "kuran" - indicating an
acorn leafed plant (Helmholtzia acorifolia).