Riding the Scenic Rail & Skyrail to Kuranda and back
This week Conor and I decided to do two things that we had wanted to do for ages: the Kuranda Scenic Rail and the Skyrail. The scenic rail runs from Cairns to Kuranda and back, or you can do what we did and hop on at Freshwater station before it heads up into the rainforest.
The Skyrail runs from Smithfield to Kuranda and back. We opted to the the Scenic Rail up to Kuranda to avoid the constant braking when it heads down the range, and have more flexibility on times when we returned on the Skyrail.
So our day began bright and early as we left our apartment shortly before 7am. We arrived at the Skyrail terminal in Smithfield, where we parked our car and took a shuttle bus to Freshwater Station. It’s an old-fashioned train station, with signs telling the history of the Kuranda railway line, and the challenges faced during its construction. There is a lovely tearoom where you can purchase hot food, snacks, and hot and cold drinks. I bought a coffee to take on the train as, unless you’re in Gold class, you will not be provided with food or drinks on the journey.
We boarded the train in our assigned seats at 8:55am, and settled in for our 1.5 hour journey. The carriages have kept their authentic heritage feel, and the interior features black and white photos of the rail and surrounding area from many years ago. There are toilets in most carriages and filtered water in all of them.
Throughout the journey audio information is provided to inform passengers of facts about the building of the rail, as well as where to look for the best views and photo opportunities. We both found it fascinating to hear about the construction of the railway line all those years ago – it must have seemed like an impossible task. It doesn’t take long for the scenery to become simply stunning as you climb the range.
Highlights included passing Stoney Creek Falls, and stopping at Barron Falls, where you can leave the train and take photos. Conor and I both thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
At 10:30 we arrived at Kuranda Station, another lovely authentic railway station. There’s also a souvenir shop here, selling unique products.
Although we usually head to German Tucker for a tasty bratwurst when we’re in Kuranda, we were craving chicken parmas, so we made our way to the Kuranda Hotel, conveniently located by the train station. It’s a lovely, large pub selling a wide range of beverages and delicious food. We sat on the lovely big veranda and enjoyed views of the surrounding greenery as we ate.
Having been to Kuranda several times before, we decided to do something we hadn’t done before, and went for a walk by the river. There are boat cruises available here too, as well as several different walks.
After a short but very scenic stroll we headed to the shops for a mooch. It was a particularly hot day so we treated ourselves to an ice cream before heading to the Skyrail terminal for about 1pm. Skyrail times are flexible when you book, and often you will be allowed to go earlier than your booked time.
We climbed into our gondola and settled in. There is space for six people, and on a busy day you may have to share with strangers, however we were pretty happy to have ours to ourselves. We loved the stunning view as we travelled above the treetops. It’s such a unique way to gain a birds-eye-view of the rainforest.
We had the option to disembark at Barron Falls, where we enjoyed a beautiful view of the waterfall from a different angle to earlier.
The first loop ends at Redlynch, so it is necessary to disembark here, too. You can enjoy a scenic wander along the boardwalks before beginning the second loop. Altogether it took us about 40 minutes to get back to Smithfield, however the time flew by and we loved every minute.
Overall, this was a really enjoyable day out, and a fantastic way to visit Kuranda.