Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, soaring over the rainforest, and stopping in what is, quite possibly, the most picturesque town I’ve seen in all of Australia. Could Tropical North Queensland be any cooler? You may remember my recent adventure on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Its terminus is the “village in the rainforest”, Kuranda, population 3000 but sights and activities aplenty.
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
We began with a stop at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, which is the largest butterfly aviary in Australia and home to over 1500 tropical butterflies. Immediately upon entering, you’re greeted by countless butterflies everywhere you turn, all spectacularly colorful and like nothing you’d see anywhere else in the world. Stand still, and you’re likely to have dozens brush past you or rest on your shoulder.
The sanctuary also rears its own butterflies and allows visitors to observe their caterpillar nurseries. Free guided tours run throughout the day.
Setting off to explore Kuranda and find lunch, we found ourselves walking through the colorful hippie Kuranda Markets, where you can find international cafés and artisan craft stalls hidden amongst tropical ferns. Nearby, we chose an Australian classic for lunch, meat pies. We then continued on through the markets, as well as the Kuranda Heritage Markets across the way, which feature local and indigenous-inspired souvenirs.
Kuranda Koala Gardens
I’ve always thought that Australia’s wildlife is one of the absolute best features of this country, and the Kuranda Koala Gardens allowed us to get up close and personal with Aussie favorites. Holding koalas is forbidden through most of Australia but is still allowed in Queensland, as I discovered last year in Brisbane, and these gardens allow you to pose with the cuddly marsupials for a fee. We skipped that but still said g’day to a few hanging in a tree before checking out the crocodiles, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, snakes, and more that call the Kuranda Koala Gardens home.
Next stop: Birdworld Kuranda, which I have to admit I was a bit hesitant about prior to entering. To be honest, birds sort of gross me out (sorry!), and I typically want them nowhere near me – especially ibis birds. Yet, somehow, I found myself loving the residents of Birdworld! Birds of all shapes and colors fly freely through this aviary (careful to remove your jewelry or they’ll snatch it away!), and they’re friendly enough to perch on your shoulder if you’re lucky.
Consider me a bird convert. The time came for us to return to Skyrail to continue exploring the rainforest, but first we had a quick visit to the river (a river cruise would be great with more time) and the train station (the Kuranda Scenic Railway transports visitors through the rainforest, which would also be great with more time).
Although our time in Kuranda was brief, I absolutely fell in love with its colors and atmosphere, making our trip on Skyrail all the more special. I’d love one day to escape from the world for a week with a stay in this rainforest village. What a first impression it made, though!