Nestled in rainforest just 25km from Cairns, Kuranda is an adorable “Village in the Rainforest” with plenty of bohemian character. Check out the colourful craft markets, indulge in some delicious coffee at one of the many cafes, or get closer to nature by visiting the nearby waterfalls or local animals.
The rainforest around Kuranda was the home of the Djaybugay people for thousands of years, before the white settlers turned up in 1885. The construction of a railway to connect Cairns with Herberton went through Kuranda in 1891 and it was around this time that the Kuranda Post office opened. Timber was the town’s primary industry for a long time, until it turned into the tourist destination that it is today. It uses the railway to receive thousands of tourists who travel from Cairns on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Other ways to get to Kuranda are by coach or the Skyrail.
During our stay in Cairns, we had both Juz’s mum and dad visit on separate occasions, and we took them both to Kuranda. If you have a day to spare while you’re in the Cairns/Port Douglas region, it would be worth spending some or all of that day in Kuranda.
Points of Interest
There are two markets in Kuranda.
The Heritage Market started around 20 years ago and is an undercover market nestled between the Wildlife Experience destinations. The main things on offer are various Australiana products, like didgeridoos, vests and wallets made from kangaroo fur, handmade jewellery, crafts and leather goods. There is also a nice cafe with a deck that overlooks lush rainforest.
The original Kuranda Market is located across the road, behind the shops and was established in 1978. It’s laid out over a sloped landscape with little pathways winding around colourful huts that host the stalls. This market has a very hippy, colourful, free-spirited feel to it, and the stalls vary from health smoothies and rainbow dresses to dreadlocking and a mini golf course! The highlights of the original market are the hippy photo op and Petit Cafe…
A popular destination for locals and visitors, Petit Cafe offers an entire menu of various crepes with delicious coffee. During busy times, you might have to wait to get a table, but it is worth it. The kangaroo prosciutto and goats cheese crepe is heaven. We took Juz’s mum here when she visited and we all had a savoury crepe each, and a dessert crepe to share. Scrumptious.
One of the cafes in Kuranda offers Kuranda Draught, a beer made by Red Dragon Brewery in Cairns. We stopped in to sample and found that this beer was really nice. The banana and other fruity aromas gave it a real ‘breakfast beer’ taste. It was crisp and lightly bubbly with a delicate hops aftertaste that left a pleasant lingering bitterness and dryness in the mouth. YUMMO!
If you don’t mind a bit of sausage, these guys claim to have the best German sausages in Australia. Yes, they’re delicious, and come with a variety of sides like caramelised onion, sauerkraut and potato salad, but surely there are other ‘best German sausages’ in Australia… right?
Kuranda Wildlife Experience
If you have at least 6 hours to spare, we highly recommend treating yourself to the Kuranda Wildlife Experience. This package includes three destinations – the Kuranda Koala Gardens, Birdworld Kuranda and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary. You’ll get to meet a whole range of animals, from koalas, wallabies and gliders to lizards, turtles and cheeky parrots. Check out our post about the Kuranda Wildlife Experience here…
Barron River Falls
The best time to visit the Barron Falls is once the Wet Season has started (around January), because at this time, the torrent of white water that falls over the Barron Falls Weir is more fierce and really impressive. We visited just before the wet and while we weren’t expecting much, it was still a pretty sight.