For over 10,000 years, the Djabugay people lived in the rainforests around Kuranda. Europeans began to explore it in the early 1800s, paving the way for gold prospectors. Word spread of Barron Falls’ beauty, and the area grew into a tourist destination. By the 1960s, it was a place where hippy communes grew their own food and lived cheaply.
A lot of that free-spirited vibe has survived into the present day. In fact, a walk through Kuranda’s streets can make you feel like you’re in a fantasy novel. Fig trees with long, thin roots line roads with quirky cafes, restaurants and art galleries on either side. The star of the show is the local markets, and there are two of them to choose from. Better yet, both of them are open every day! The Original Markets, which opened in 1978, has heaps of local fashions and hand-made jewellery while the Heritage Markets has great souvenirs, local art and buskers. Also drop by the local bird and animal sanctuaries, like Birdworld, The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and Koala Gardens. Come get your Dr. Dolittle on!
Barron Falls is one destination you can’t miss, and it’s a three-kilometre drive along Barron Falls Road. Don’t feel like driving? Take a more exciting route! The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway will give you stunning views of the rainforest, while the Kuranda Scenic Railway will take you on a journey through tunnels and over bridges as you take in the rainforest sights. There’s even a shuttle bus that leaves every half hour. Barron Falls isn’t the cutesy novelty waterfall you’ll find in your local shopping mall, but a monstrous wall of rock in the middle of Barron Gorge National Park that the water ferociously gushes down in the wet season. While you’re here, you can also take the Barron Falls Lookout Walk just below the canopy.
Need more activities? Head to Emu Ridge Gallery to see cool fossils and gemstones – and meet and greet a nine-metre dinosaur replica. If that’s not scary enough, come face to face with five of Australia’s deadliest snakes at the Australian Venom Zoo or take a Riverboat Tour to drift down the Barron River and spot crocodiles and turtles. You can even enjoy a bit of nightlife, with concerts, theatre, extreme sports and even festivals all dropping into the Kuranda Amphitheatre, set in the open-air surrounds of sculptured rainforest.
Wot more do you need? A 30-minute drive from Cairns, Kuranda is in a top location for a day trip. But you’ll probably want to stay longer, so plan ahead and book your Kuranda accommodation with us!
Image credit Jkather under Creative Commons
Hotels in Kuranda start at AU$114 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.