The Kuranda Scenic Railway is a breathtaking journey of spectacular views of dense rainforest, steep ravines and eye-catching waterfalls. This famous railway journey takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from Cairns to Kuranda, the village in the rainforest.
The Cairns-Kuranda Railway was built between 1882 and 1891 and even today is considered an engineering marvel. The 15 hand made tunnels and 37 bridges that make up the 75km track took hundreds of men to complete during the 10 years of construction. Today it stands as a monument to the pioneers of tropical North Queensland, a number of whom lost their lives while working on the railway.
Rising almost 330m from sea level, the journey to Kuranda passes through World Heritage protected tropical rainforest, past spectacular waterfalls and into the awesome Barron Gorge. Upon reaching the village of Kuranda a rich assortment of interesting attractions such as the museum sky rail and bushwalks not to mention the food and unique shopping available.
Take the full journey from Cairns Railway Station or join at it Freshwater Connection for morning departures to Kuranda. Journeys from Kuranda Station to Cairns run in the afternoon. The journey includes an English commentary and all passengers receive a souvenir Z-card portraying the history of the railway's construction and a map of Kuranda and the journey.
Departs daily from Cairns Station 8.30am & 9.30am
Departs daily from Freshwater Station 8.50am & 9.50am
Departs daily from Kuranda Station 2.00pm & 3.30pm
A Brief History
The Kuranda Scenic Railway was originally created to service the tin miners on the Wild River near Herberton. During the prolonged wet season of 1882 they were unable to get supplies due to the road from Port Douglas being impassable. With the settlers close to famine, they complained angrily and began the calls for a railway.
Finally getting approval for the railway, construction commenced in Cairns in 1882 and as expected they found the going particularly tough. The earthworks were especially troublesome, with deep cuttings and extensive embankments that were removed totalling a volume of just over 2.3 million cubic metres. The Barron Valley earth was especially treacherous. Slopes averaged 45 degrees and the entire surface was covered with a 4.6 m – 7.60m layer of disjointed rock, rotting vegetation, mould and soil.
During construction, navvies (workers) camps sprang up at every tunnel and cutting. Even comparatively narrow ledges were used to support stores. Small townships were thriving at Number 3 Tunnel, Stoney Creek, Glacier Rock, Camp Oven Creek and Rainbow Creek. Kamerunga, at the foot of the range, even had five hotels. At one stage, 1500 men, mainly Irish and Italian, were involved in 10 years of construction.