Kuranda From Port Douglas

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Kuranda Day Trip From Port Douglas

A day trip to Kuranda from Port Douglas is one of the best-selling tours in the region. This is probably because this tour incorporates five of the best attractions in North Queensland in one day. Visitors reach Kuranda on the Cairns Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, stopping to take a rainforest walk with a guide, and continuing to the Barron River Falls viewing platform. Guests can then enjoy Kuranda and its markets and wildlife attractions before returning to the coastal lowland on the scenic railway, enjoying the falls again on the return trip.

This tour, from Port Douglas, can be booked here on Viator, or here on GetYourGuide.

Kuranda is often described as “The Village in The Rainforest” and it’s a big draw for tourists in Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas.

Day trip to Kuranda fromPort Douglas
As part of your day trip to Kuranda from Port Douglas on the Skyrail, you can take a guided rainforest walk with a ranger at the mid-point of the cableway. This is a really good way to get to know the rainforest.
Kuranda Day Trip From POrt Douglas Skyrail
The beaches are beautiful north of Port Douglas on the Cape, and unspoiled, but you can’t swim, there too many crocodiles.

You can of course drive to Kuranda if you have your own vehicle, but this bundle of attractions make this tour far more convenient. The departure point for the Skyrail and arrival point for the scenic train and not in the same spot, but there is a courtesy bus back to the car park at the Skyrail.

If you choose to hire a vehicle for day trips from Port Douglas, use this tool to find the best deal.

Kuranda is located 25 km from Cairns at the top of the mountain overlooking the northern beaches. You could drive up but the nicer way is to catch the Skyrail cable car which skirts above the rainforest and stops in two places en route to Kuranda to allow you to see nature up close. 

“Forests … are in fact the world’s air-conditioning system-the very lungs of the planet-and help to store the largest body of freshwater on the planet … essential to produce food for our planet’s growing population. The rainforests of the world also provide the livelihoods of more than a billion of the poorest people on this Earth… In simple terms, the rainforests, which encircle the world, are our very life-support system-and we are on the verge of switching it off.”

Prince Charles

The first stop is in the rainforest where rangers will take you on guided walks along a boardwalk to show you the flora and fauna. Local wildlife includes tree kangaroos, cassowaries and gliders.

Barron Falls is the second stop which, if it is wet season or not long after, is a magnificent waterfall. Towards the end of the dry season, the falls can dry up somewhat. The final destination is Kuranda, a sleepy little tourist town atop the mountain. In Kuranda you will find a market selling souvenirs, crafts, clothing and tasty street food, plus more shops, restaurants and several wildlife attractions.

If you plan to see Australian wildlife during your time in Port Douglas, you can do it in Kuranda. Port Douglas has its own very good wildlife park, and we highly recommend their Breakfast With The Birds and crocodile swimming experience, but if time is short, you can see koalas, kangaroos, wombats and more, in Kuranda.

There is also a very nice butterfly park in Kuranda, where you should be able to see iridescent blue Ulysses butterflies along with the giant Cairns Birdwing butterfly. If you’re lucky, you’ll see them in the wild in Port Douglas.

You can either catch the Skyrail down from Kuranda, drive down yourself, or catch the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Doing the journey in reverse is also possible and you can finish the day or morning by catching Skyrail down to Cairns.

You can purchase tickets that include all these options and there are even different gondolas that you can choose depending on how afraid of heights you are. Glass-bottomed gondolas (diamond class) are a treat for the brave.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

Carriages on the Kuranda Scenic Railway
The old carriages on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, your return journey from Kuranda to Port Douglas
Kuranda Scenic Railway logo photo
For train enthusiasts, the Kuranda Scenic Railway is a must-do.

Kuranda railway was originally laid back in 1887 as the tin miners faced famine and hunger due to a bad wet season, which made the road from Port Douglas to Herberton and beyond impassable. It was completed in 1890 and is an engineering feat even to this day.

The hardest and steepest part up and across the Barron Gorge was constructed by hand. It would transform both Cairns (which boomed) and Port Douglas (which became a sleepy backwater once more).

Now the railway just takes passengers to Kuranda from Cairns Central Shopping Centre or Freshwater Station. It is a beautiful way of getting up to Kuranda and is best combined with the Skyrail in this day trip.

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Alyson Long

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