Kuranda – Village in the Rainforest
Once a gateway to the rich goldfields further inland, the cultural rainforest village of Kuranda is nestled high within the World Heritage listed rainforests of the Great Dividing Range. The local Djabuguy aboriginal people call the area Ngunbay – Place of Platypus; and just getting there is an experience you will cherish.
At an altitude of 380 metres above sea level and situated on top of the range 25km northwest from Cairns, lies the picturesque Kuranda Village, a relaxed little township founded in 1876. Kuranda is a cool mountain retreat surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest, which due to its elevation has temperatures several degrees cooler and less humid than on the coast.
Tourism came to the area in the early 1900s and Kuranda, with its famous untamed Barron Falls, was a big attraction for honeymooners. In the 1960s the hippie generation found it a most desirable location, and the Kuranda Markets soon followed selling their arts and crafts and home-grown produce.
The township may be reached by road via the Kennedy Highway from Cairns, stopping on the way to enjoy the magnificent view of the Coral Sea from the Henry Ross Lookout. Alternatively, the ascent may be made by way of the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway with its quaint old carriages, or by the environmentally friendly Skyrail skimming the rainforest canopy. Many visitors make the choice to combine both of these experiences. Each trip takes in a multitude of sceneries, charting the transition from the rich earthy tones of the region's cane fields to the cool embrace of the rainforest clad mountains.
Working its way through lush green canopies, past deep gorges and beside rugged mountains, before reaching the breathtaking Barron Falls, the Kuranda Railway trip presents a range of unforgettable imagery throughout its 90 minute passage. This is a view that was originally captured more than a century ago by teams of railway pioneers, armed only with picks and shovels. Today, that 34km track still winds its way through 15 hand made tunnels up to Kuranda Station - a station which looks more like a beautiful botanical garden.
The increasingly adventurous ascension by riding the spectacular Skyrail, the longest gondola cableway in the world, takes visitors on a birds-eye ride spanning a total distance of 7.5 kilometres over the top of the rainforest, departing from Smithfield. Seated in a Skyrail gondola, people of all ages and abilities may experience a tropical rainforest at close quarters without impacting on the fragile environment, gliding silently just metres above the treetops of the World Heritage Barron Falls National Park.As with the Kuranda Railway passage, Skyrail ventures past the spectacular Barron Falls as it progresses up the MacAlister Range. While aboard the Skyrail, passengers are presented with revealing views of the Coral Sea and Cairns city, prior to their arrival at Red Peak Station.
At Red Peak station, visitors are welcome to experience the forest floor from the safety and comfort of a boardwalk. The station also houses a state of the art Rainforest Interpretive Centre. Rainforest displays and interpretative signage help to provide you with additional information on the forest plants and wildlife. Easy access walkways at the next stop, Barron Falls Station, lead you to three lookouts. Here you can witness breathtaking views of the Barron River, Gorge and Falls. In the wet season, the Barron Falls in flood can be the most magnificent sight. Skyrail has received numerous environmental and tourism awards including being voted Australia's Best Major Tourist Attraction and, as Cairns' single most popular visitor attraction, this ride will provide a most memorable experience. The Skyrail Kuranda terminal is situated a short walk from the centre of Kuranda.
The rainforest setting of Kuranda, with its postcard village of old timber houses under shady rainforest trees, has long remained a source of inspiration for countless artists. Since the 1960s, the township has attracted some of the world's best painters, potters, photographers, glass and wood workers to reside in or near the village alongside the Djabugay people; and today it is a haven for those drawn from all corners of the globe with art, music and mutual respect being a unifying force.
The stroll up from the train station or Skyrail station will bring you to Australis Art Gallery at 40 Coondoo Street (the main street), and Ian Stephens Fine Art Gallery a little further up at 25 Coondoo Street. At the end of Coondoo Street in Rob Vievers Drive, the Claire Souter Gallery exhibits Claire's wonderful perspective of nature in her working artist's studio.
Kuranda is also host to a number of spectacular flora and fauna sanctuaries. A comprehensive, live butterfly exhibition, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, is home to hundreds of colourful tropical butterflies, which are free to flutter amidst an all-weather rainforest environment. The Butterfly Sanctuary is renowned as the most successful butterfly breeding facility in the world, breeding its butterflies from eggs laid naturally in its huge aviary. This provides them with not only all the eggs they need in order to maintain their usual population of between 1500 and 2000 butterflies, but also enough in surplus to supply other breeders in Australia - including the Melbourne Zoo butterfly house. The exotic blue Ulysses butterfly, the Cairns birdwing and the red lacewing are just a few of the colourful insects that may choose to land on your shoulder.
Adjacent to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Birdworld houses the giant cassowary, Australia's endangered 'big bird', as well as a collection of free flying birds in a beautiful rainforest setting.
Located within Kuranda Village and adjacent to the Butterfly Sanctuary and Birdworld, the Kuranda Heritage Markets are situated in a beautiful rainforest setting. Ninety stalls show local artists at work and provide an innovative range of handmade local crafts plus Australian opals, gemstones, crocodile and kangaroo leather goods. Locally designed and produced clothing, Aboriginal arts and crafts, mystical gifts, sculptures, Australian made adventure wear as well as quality Akubra hats, whips, belts and accessories are just some of the goods to be found within the quaint shopping village.
Across the road in Therwine Street, adjacent to Centenary Park, the Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets began in 1978 on Honey House land by a group of local people trying to attract visitors to Kuranda. At that time, the village was very small and the markets needed to operate their own train for two seasons to prove the viability of the service to the Railway Department. Now the markets have been an amazing success, providing employment for many, while the town is recognized as a unique Australian rainforest destination.
In 2006 the current owners began an ambitious undertaking to completely renovate the original market site. In keeping with the rustic atmosphere that the original markets were famous for, they have created a miniature village in the rainforest, with interesting curios at every turn, tropical gardens and colourful characters to make your visit memorable.
Here fronting Therwine Street as part of the markets, you will find Kuranda's longest running tourist attraction, the world famous Honey House where you can sample unique honey varieties from the local region, watch live bees working the hive and discover the amazing range of beauty and health products made from honey. Then wander along the boardwalk to the full size replica of a Allosaurus skeleton and fossil museum.
The Original Markets are predominantly represented by artisans and craftspeople and you will find locally designed and produced fashions, hand crafted jewellery, indigenous artists, leather workers, masseurs, woodworkers and gemstone specialists, as well as North Queensland's best range of local coffee, tropical fruits, coconuts and macadamia nuts. There is a mini-golf course within the complex for a bit of family fun.
For your convenience the Kuranda Heritage Markets and the Kuranda Original Rainforest Market operate their own free bus service to and from the Kuranda Scenic Railway Station and Skyrail Station.
Kuranda Village, however, contains far more than the quaint shops and galleries.
Sensational tastes abound under the roofs of inviting restaurants and roadside cafes that provide the peaceful, rejuvenating experience of dining in harmony with nature. Outdoor dining is one of the joys of warm climate living and leisurely meals in comfortable surroundings with charming views add to the pleasures of good food and superb Australian wines and beers.
Easily accessible from the village centre are a range of rainforest and riverside walks, which introduce visitors to the dwarfing majesty of Kuranda's wilderness from another perspective altogether.
Kuranda's elevation ensures temperatures several degrees cooler than the coast, and makes an escape to the tree-lined streets of Kuranda a pleasure any day of the week. This will be a time to relax, to wander at leisure and to absorb an atmosphere rich in culture and pure in natural elegance. Time spent in the fresh, clear air of Kuranda brings a sense of calming regeneration of body and mind, as does enjoyment of an alternate lifestyle high above the coast, in the rainforest of Tropical North Queensland.
More information can be obtained at www.kuranda.org
Australis Art Gallery
Surrounded by lush World Heritage rainforest, high in the village of Kuranda, the Australis Art Gallery reflects the surrounding tropical beauty as seen through the eyes of celebrated Australian painters, glass artisans and potters.
Artists represented include
Claire Souter Gallery
Claire Souter Gallery is located in the beautiful rainforest village of Kuranda.
The gallery can be found in the 'Kuranda Settlement' building next to the Butterfly Sanctuary. When visiting Kuranda, be sure to stop in at Claire Souter Gallery to see Claire's paintings for yourself.
The entire gallery contains original oil and water colour paintings. Limited edition prints are also for...Read more...
Ian Stephens Fine Art Gallery
Just a short stroll along Coondoo street from the Kuranda Railway station and Skyrail, the Ian Stephens fine art Gallery showcases a diverse collection of original artwork and prints depicting local fauna and scenery.
A wide selection of handcrafted jewellery, glass, ceramics, sculpture and handpainted silks is also available.
Kuranda - Village in the Rainforest
The picturesque mountain retreat of Kuranda Village is just 25km northwest of Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia and is surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest. Visitors can travel to Kuranda on Kuranda’s Historic Scenic Railway or by car or bus, via the spectacular Kuranda Range Road or over the rainforest on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
Kuranda has come a long way from ...Read more...
Kuranda Heritage Markets
Local arts, crafts, souvenirs with licensed cafe.
Home to the Kuranda wildlife experience - Birdworld, Kuranda Koala Gardens, and the world renowned Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.
Free courtesy coach from Skyrail and Kuranda Railway Station.