KURANDA SCENIC RAILWAY IS A MUST DO ON ANYONE’S VISIT TO FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND.
What a wonderful rail journey to take! The Kuranda Scenic railway winds its way through one of the oldest rainforests in the world on a railway line that is an engineering feat.
The lovely ladies at Reception from Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut where we were staying booked this tour for us.
We boarded the over 100 year old full of character red wooden train in a Heritage Class carriage at its departure point at Cairns Railway Station for the 2 hour journey to Kuranda Station. We stopped to pick up passengers at Freshwater Station before starting up the mountain to Kuranda. Due to COVID 19 restrictions there were limited passengers per carriage which meant every family was guaranteed a window seat. A clean single toilet was available in each carriage. Wheelchair access is available at Cairns, Freshwater and Kuranda Stations. There is also an accessibility carriage and a lift at Kuranda Station if you are not able to use stairs.
The kids loved the rattling of the old train especially as it wound its way through 15 handmade tunnels and over 55 bridges. It’s a slow but enjoyable trip. The entire journey is a visual adventure that’s for sure. There is a very interesting and informative narration during the trip which gives you the history of the railway construction and the development of the region. You need to be on the left side of the train on the way up to get a good view of stunning Stoney Creek Falls as the train passes within metres on a curved lattice railway bridge. The train does not stop here but slows down for you to enjoy the view of the falls.
The train stops briefly at a viewing platform at Barron Gorge where we disembarked to view the steep tiered cascade waterfall that is Barron Falls. Because it was the dry season the waterfall was only a trickle. We have seen this waterfall in full force during the wet season and it is nothing short of spectacular.
Kuranda Station, one of the earliest stations to be built in Australia was where the train stopped for a few hours. It is one of the most photographed railway stations in the world and the moment you step off the train you can see why. It is delightful. It is bursting with old world charm. So pretty, with lovely tended pot plants and hanging baskets everywhere. It is worth the trip alone just to see this quaint station.
Whilst on top of the mountain we visited Birdworld Kuranda. A small but amazing free-flight aviary with so many varieties of birds. We were given some bird food and were bombarded by feathered friends. The variety of birds…. parrots, galahs, swans, ducks, cassowary, cheeky lorikeets, macaws, black cockatoos walking around our feet, the interaction you get here is incredible. An unforgettable place and the best thing to do whilst in Kuranda. Word of warning….Don't wear jewellery or sunglasses, the Macaws will try to remove anything!
Ideally we would have chosen to return down the mountain via the Skyrail but unfortunately that was still closed due to COVID. But, as luck would have it, when we left Birdworld we stopped for a yummy lunch at Frog’s Restaurant (located just outside Birdworld) and a family seated next to us who also came up on the scenic railway were not able to do the return trip so they generously gifted us their return GOLD CLASS tickets. So we got to experience our return journey in a Gold Class carriage. Now, I must say, yes, the club lounge seats in Victorian inspired décor were very comfy and it was great to have our own host, a welcome drink, locally sourced appetisers (best macadamia nuts ever) and a delicious cheese platter but I can honestly say that I could not justify the price difference if we had paid ourselves, maybe if it was just adults but not for a family with children. Although having said that it certainly was great to experience that extra comfort and luxury.
While returning through the suburbs of Cairns we saw many people coming out of their houses to wave at the train as we went past. The kids thought this was fantastic. We all waved back and even the adults felt like kids again. A wonderful end to a wonderful day.