The Australian city of Cairns, located in the province of Queensland is well-known for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. Tourists flock to the city nestled between the Coral Sea and Great Dividing Range on the Cape York Peninsula for world-class reef tours and the warm beach weather. While the Reef is no doubt one of the great natural wonders of the world, Cairns has other attractions that should not be missed by travelers planning a trip to the area. For those who would like to witness a synthesis of natural beauty and man-made technological might, a trip along the Kuranda Skyrail is just what the doctor ordered.
The Only Way to Fly
Built in 1993 and opened in 1994, this 7.5 kilometer long skyrail takes visitors over the Barron George National Par, a UNESCO World Heritage listed rainforest. The cable car route begins in the Cairns suburb of Caravonica, and after stopping at two rainforest mid-stations, continues on to Kuranda, Queensland. Guests can choose a one way or round-trip ride, taking approximately 1.5 and 2.5 hours respectively.
At the mid-stations there are rainforest boardwalk trails for visitors to walk along, with guided tours, informative placards, and an information center to educated guests on the flora and fauna of the rainforest. In the run-up to construction there was some hesitation by locals out of fear that it would damage the forest, but the seven years of planning paid off and the Skyrail has now become a fully integrated and appreciated feature of the beautiful setting.
When it comes to riding the Skyrail, there are a variety of tour options available to fit any schedule and budget. In addition to the cable car ride and skywalk, there is also a nearby Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Experience, Kuranda Wildlife Experience, Rainforeststation Experience, Djabugay Aboriginal Guided Tour, and the option to combine your Kuranda Skyrail experience with a guided Great Barrier Reef tour. Every option offers something unique, and given the relaxing nature and scenic beauty of the cable car ride itself, choosing to do multiple packages is a great way to book end a once in a lifetime trip.
The Kuranda Skyrail has been recognized on numerous occasions for its sustainability, winning the Excellence in Sustainable Tourism award in 2008 and 2009 at both the Australian National Tourism Awards and Queensland Tourism Awards. Internationally it won the British Airways “Tourism for Tomorrow” International Environment Award in 2000. The sustainable nature of the project is truly a reflection of the prolonged planning process mentioned earlier, and the care that went into making sure the Skyrail did not do any lasting damage to the beautiful landscape that it was meant to share with the world.
In addition to the awards for sustainability, the Kuranda Skyrail has also been recognized on numerous occasions as a world-class tourist attraction in its own right. From 1996 to 1998 it won either one or both of the Best Major Tourist Attraction Awards at the Australian National Tourism Awards and Queensland Tourism Awards. Offering visitors a stunning panoramic view and a comfortable seat to take it in from, the accolades collected come as no surprise.
Come for the Landmarks, Stay for the Atmosphere
While the Great Barrier Reef and Karanda Skyrail may be the big attractions that draw people to Carins, it is the city’s welcoming atmosphere and laid-back style that keep them coming back. Even after you’ve spent a few days snorkeling at the reef and riding through the rainforest canopy, there is still plenty to see, do, and explore in and around the city. Founded in the 1870s as a mining settlement, and used as a base for launching airborne operations during World War II by the Allies, Cairns has a rich history. During the famous Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942, key combat missions were flown from the city in support.
Traveling around the city is simple with the extensive public transport system, with connections to Kuranda, and the Atherton Tableland as well. If you are looking for a base of operations for some more far flung outback adventures, Carins’ railway station is the main terminal for the Queensland North Coast railway line. Additionally, the Kurand Scenic Railway operated from Carins, giving you plenty of options when it comes to exploring the neighboring regions.