How To Spend 24 Hours in Kuranda, Australia 

Kurandas characterful charms make this Queensland spot a draw for visitors
Kuranda's characterful charms make this Queensland spot a draw for visitors | © Chameleonseye / Getty Images
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

Kuranda is an artistic community near Cairns in Australia. It has established a thriving art hub left over from the 1960s that attracts visitors from around the globe.

Originally settled by the indigenous Djabugay people, who called the place Ngunbay, or ‘Place of the Platypus’, Kuranda was first surveyed in 1888 for the building of the railway and road that were to connect the new seaport of Cairns with the people across the mountain range. With the establishment of the railway, Kuranda soon became a vacation and honeymoon hotspot for local couples who took the train through the forest and stayed in pretty towns and visited the Barron Gorge. Here is a guide to making the most of your day in Kuranda and which local attractions to seek out during your stay.


Enjoy art, shopping and the local wildlife

Take the Skyrail Cableway over tropical jungle

Kuranda is small and located along one high street. Walk along the main drag and visit the many art galleries before heading to the indoor Kuranda Original Rainforest Market, brimming with arts and crafts and lots of fun souvenirs. For a mid-morning snack have a superb German sausage hot dog at German Tucker before heading on to meet some local wildlife.

Kuranda Original Rainforest Market is a great place to pick up a souvenir

Opposite from the market you’ll find the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Birdworld Kuranda and Kuranda Koala Gardens, which are all great places to explore and get up close and personal with the local fauna.

A sun parakeet soaks up some rays

Stop for lunch at the cosy Village Vibe, where you can get a light lunch in the shape of sandwiches made to order with fresh ingredients and a choice of breads; warmed paninis, and healthy salads, all washed down with an excellent selection of teas or a decent cup of coffee.

Pro tip: If you can’t decide which is your favourite, book a ticket at any of the entrances for the Kuranda Wildlife Experience, which allows you to pop into all the wildlife attractions for a reduced price.


Time for a walk

Explore the rainforest of Kuranda

Kuranda is located in a forest and there are plenty of scenic self-guided walks through which to enjoy the surroundings, both going along the river or through the trees. They last anything from 40 minutes to one and half hours. Pick up a map and get directions at the Kuranda Visitor Information.

Alternatively, you can catch a boat on the river and spot the estuarine crocodiles sleeping on the logs, the birds on the trees and sit back for 45 minutes of natural beauty.

Pro tip: Be sure to cover yourself in mosquito spray and wear decent shoes for the walks, it’ll make your walk more enjoyable.

Late afternoon

Catch a train

Experience the Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda shuts down by 4pm, so you might as well catch the last train back home, leaving Kuranda at 3.30pm. But not just any old train, but the Kuranda Scenic Railway.

Constructed between 1882 and 1891 the beautifully restored train takes you through incredible scenery, deep gorges and even stops for a little break to enjoy the other side of the Barron Falls you saw on the way to Kuranda. There are two classes called Heritage and Gold, and if you treat yourself to Gold, you’ll get a glass of wine and some excellent locally produced nibbles while you enjoy the ride.

Pro tip: If you did’t leave a hire car at the Skyrail Station, you can stay on the train to Cairns.


Spend a quiet night in town

Soak up the atmosphere with an overnight stay in town

While Kuranda’s visitors may leave in the afternoon and the attractions close between 3pm and 4pm, there are some great choices for dinner, such as the Kuranda Veranda Restaurant. During the evening, you can enjoy the walks without the crowds and explore the numerous art installations dotted throughout the village, which you may have missed earlier because of the crowds. Spend a leisurely evening at Platypus Springs, a self-contained and self-catered house set in the forest. With perfect privacy and seclusion, this is a lovely place to retreat to for a night.

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