November 28, 2017
After yesterday’s thrilling adventure chasing waterfalls through the Atherton Tablelands, I would have expected myself to fall asleep easily after the day’s events; but, instead I found myself laying in bed thinking about the one waterfall that I was still waiting to see: Barron Falls. However, I did not have long to wait, because I had plans to see Barron Falls in a super unique way the very next day.
For my second day trip from Cairns, I was going to visit Kuranda, a small village located 25km from Cairns in the rolling hills of ancient, heritage listed rainforest. While there are a couple of ways to get to Kuranda, the only way that I even considered traveling to Kuranda was by Skyrail.
Around 10am I was picked up out front my hostel by the Skyrail shuttle. Then, after picking up a van full of cruise-ship travelers, we arrived at the Skyrail station where I received my ticket made out to “The Four Eyed Traveler” and met Marni, the lady who had helped me plan my entire day visiting Kuranda. Marni told me that she had organized for me to ride in the “Diamond View” cable cars as she handed me a diamond-shaped sticker to wear on my shirt. When I found this out, I was very excited because this meant that in addition to getting 360-degree panoramic views of the rainforest canopy to the sides and above, I would also be able to look straight down through the floor of the cable car. This was surely going to be a view I had never before seen of the rainforest! And, as a bonus, the Diamond View status also gave me the ability to by-pass the long lines of people enjoying the Skyrail experience today from the three cruise ships that were docked in Cairns. So, with my tickets and maps for the day in hand, I made my way to the Diamond View line where no one was waiting in front of me and made it on the next clear-bottomed cable car headed up to Kuranda.Riding in the cable car was a blast! I felt like I was riding in Willy-Wonka’s glass elevator as I traveled from ground level up high above the rainforest canopy. At the start, I could watch cars driving along the windy road below, but then it gave way to thick rainforest. I tried to look in gaps between the trees for a cassowary, but wasn’t quite so lucky. However, I felt as though I was the luckiest traveler of the day as I enjoyed the far-reaching views all around me of this stunning and lush tropical landscape.
After a short ride, my cable car pulled into the first station, Red Peak Station, where I had the option to leave my cable car for a short walk along a boardwalk through the rainforest. Of course I also wanted to see the rainforest up close, so I grabbed all of my belongings and stepped out of my cable car as it continued its way up to Kuranda. There was an option to wait for a guided tour of the rainforest boardwalk, however because I wanted to see as much as I could here and up at Kuranda, I opted to take the walk on my own. There was a gorgeous look-out point overlooking the Tablelands. Once I had finished strolling along the boardwalk, I once again went directly to the Diamond View line and was on the next special cable car ready to take me to see Barron Falls a ways farther up the cable line. As I rode along in the Diamond View cable car, this time accompanied by a couple also visiting Kuranda via Skyrail, it started to rain. While usually rain can put a damper on plans, today, I welcomed the rain gladly, because after all, I was visiting a tropical rainforest, so being there during a rain shower only added to the overall experience and made it even more authentic. It was also amazing to look down on raindrops from above as they fell from the sky into the rainforest canopy below. This was truly a unique view of something quite common. Seeing every day things from a different perspective always stretches my mind to think about how I can see other things differently in my day-to-day life.
The second station along the way is the Barron Falls Station. Just like before, I gathered my things and left my cable car to go enjoy more views of the rolling rainforest. A Skyrail attendant kindly handed me an umbrella which I ended up needing as the rain was increasing. The Barron Falls Station has three viewpoints that overlook the Barron Gorge and Barron Falls. These falls measure 125 meters in total height, and are therefore much larger than any of the falls that I saw yesterday. Also, visiting during the rainy season adds to the beauty of the waterfalls by increasing the amount of water raging through. After taking in the views of the mighty Barron Falls, I boarded another Diamond View cable car and finished my ride up to Kuranda. The time it takes to ride from the station in Cairns to Kuranda depends on how long you spend at each of the stations along the way, but I would recommend planning to spend about an hour and a half enjoying your Skyrail journey up to, or returning from, Kuranda. Once I arrived at the Kuranda Station, I smiled for a souvenir photo of me and the other couple before exiting the car and heading off to visit Kuranda’s three wildlife parks. I had a blast traveling by cable car for the first time with Skyrail Cairns today. After exploring the rainforest by foot over many bush walks, at canopy level at the Mamu Skywalk, and now from above via Skyrail, I truly feel as though I have seen the rainforest from all angles. However, even though I have explored the rainforest quite a bit through out my Australian adventures, each time I return, I learn something new, see something I have never seen before, and am amazed by the scale of everything living in this ancient and unique ecosystem.
During your explorations of Far North Queensland, I highly recommend that you take a journey with Skyrail Cairns to see the rainforest from above so that you too can discover something new and leave with a greater appreciation for this landscape that desperately needs conserving world wide. But, be sure to book your Skyrail tickets in advance to ensure that you have a cable car waiting for you no matter how many cruise ships are docked in Cairns that day. I can assure you that this journey is the most beautiful rainforest experience that I have ever seen.