The famous, historic Kuranda Scenic Railway in Far North Queensland winds its way through the World Heritage-listed rainforest, among the oldest on earth known as the Wet Tropics. The stunning 37-kilometre train journey takes you from Cairns via Freshwater to the village of Kuranda. You’ll travel aboard authentic vintage carriages rising from sea level to 327 metres through the Barron Gorge National Park, passing spectacular waterfalls.
Combine Kuranda Scenic Rail and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for a truly magical experience. Skyrail provides a unique and breathtaking view of the rainforest as you glide just above the pristine jungle canopy. Take the Kuranda Scenic Railway journey up and Skyrail back down, or the other way around. Either way, you’ll enjoy a bird’s eye view of the beautiful, lush landscape on a must-do Far North Queensland adventure.
Fly into Cairns and ride the Kuranda Scenic Rail marveling at the ancient rainforests, dramatic gorges, and UNESCO World Heritage listed landscapes of Queensland’s tropical north. We then see the outback come to life as we traverse through the heart of the Gulf Savannah regions riding the legendary Gulflander and Savannahlander trains before an unforgettable tour of the Undara Lava Tubes in Cobbold Gorge.
The Kuranda Scenic Railway has a long and fascinating history. A prolonged wet season in 1882 led to desperate calls for a railway to the coast. Supplies were unable to get through to tin miners on the Wild River near Herberton and they were on the verge of famine.
The Government commissioned Christie Palmerston, an expert bushman, to find a suitable route from the Atherton Tablelands to the coast. While three coastal towns -Port Douglas, Cairns, and Geraldton (later named Innisfail) - fought for the right to the railway, Palmerston marked several possible routes. In March 1884, the Barron Valley gorge route was chosen, much to the delight of Cairns settlers.
Construction of the rail line began in 1886 and became a daring feat of engineering on a remarkable scale. Carving a path for the line through treacherous terrain took strength, strategy, determination, dynamite, buckets, and bare hands. Hundreds of men worked on the line and sadly, many lost their lives. The completed Cairns-Kuranda Railway line was opened to passenger travel in 1891.
Passengers learn about the heritage-style carriages that originally featured open-end verandas and sunshades over the windows but have been modified over the years. Four special carriages known as ‘Grandstand’ cars were built from 1909 to 1910 for specific use by tourists, as the North was an attractive holiday destination even back then.
It is a leisurely 1.5 - 2-hour journey from Cairns Railway Station to Kuranda, travelling across 55 bridges, around 98 curves, and through 15 hand-carved tunnels. The onboard commentary provides historical information along the way.
The Kuranda Scenic Rail today takes travellers into rainforests, past waterfalls, and through gorges, arriving at Kuranda famous for its markets, wildlife, and relaxed ambience. It’s a train ride you’ll long remember.
Yes, the Kuranda Scenic Rail ride features stops at Barron Falls and Freshwater Station. The Barron Falls stop allows passengers to disembark and take in the impressive views of the falls and gorge from the lookout. At Freshwater Station, passengers can learn about the history of the railway and its construction.
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