The Kuranda Scenic Railway is the historical railway that runs from Cairns to Kuranda, in Tropical North Queensland.
Built more than 100 years ago as a means of transportation, it is now a must-do tourist actitvity when visiting the Cairns region.
Kuranda Scenic Railway History
The construction of the Cairns-Kuranda railway was started in 1886 as a means of transport to the Tablelands. Due to flooding, the roads were cut and people in the tableland communities were starving.
It took more than three years to complete the project and many lives were lost in the building of the railway, which includes 15 handmade tunnels, 93 curves and dozens of bridges mounted metres above breathtaking waterfalls. Modern equipment was not available and the construction of the railway consisted largely of hand tools, buckets, dynamite and bare hands.
The railway was opened in 1889 and was first operated as a tourist train in 1936.
The Kuranda Scenic Rail Experience
The train leaves daily at 8:30 am and 9:30 am from Cairns Station, located in the centre of the city. The 1 hour, 45 minute journey rises from sea level to 328m through World Heritage Tropical Rainforest, past waterfalls such as the impressive Stoney Creek Falls and the famous Barron Falls Gorge.
The train ride includes informative commentary along the way, the history of the railway and a map of Kuranda which is useful when you reach the small village. Allow 2-3 hours in Kuranda to have lunch at one of the many cafes, explore the markets or visit the butterfly sanctuary, koala gardens or birdworld.
When you have had enough, return trips back to Cairns leave daily at 2 and 3:30 pm.
Cost and Bookings
The Kuranda Scenic Railway is open every day except Christmas Day and bookings are highly recommended. The Cairns Railway Station is walking distance to the majority of Cairns hotels, which is where your day begins and ends. Return railways tickets are $61 for adults, $31 for children and $153 for a family.
To get the most out of your Tropical Rainforest Experience and time in Cairns, you may wish to take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway in one direction and the Kuranda Scenic Railway in the other direction. The Skyrail Cableway and the Train Station are located next to each other in Kuranda village, which makes it easy to know where you are to check in for your return journey.
If you wish to combine both actitvities, it costs $92.50 for adults, $46.75 for children of $231.75 for a family, which includes a one-way transfer. As the Skyrail Cableway is located 15 minutes out of Cairns, a one-way transfer is required. The Kuranda Skyrail and Scenic Rail is an experience like no other, and you will go home with some amazing memories and photos of the region.