No visit to Cairns is complete without going for a ride on the world-famous Kuranda Train. What an inspiring and relaxing way to spend the day! The train ride to Kuranda is about an hour and 45 minutes and takes you up the escarpment of the Great Dividing Range through magnificent scenery.
The train winds its way along deep gorges clothed in luxuriant rainforest, past gushing streams and waterfalls. This is some of the best rainforest you’ll see in Tropical North Queensland.
Work on the railway began in 1882 when tin miners at Herberton (highest town in Queensland) were cut off from supplies by flooding and nearly died of starvation. The line was completed 9 years later in June 1891 and is now one of the great railway journeys of the world.
The railway line from Cairns to Kuranda passes through 15 tunnels and 93 curves and is an impressive feat of engineering.
We did the journey years ago when my eldest daughter was just three years old and again a few weeks ago when a friend was visiting from England. Both times I spent most of the trip leaning out of windows snapping pictures of the train curving its way through the magnificent scenery.
The Kuranda Railway Station is easily the most beautiful railway station in Australia and is famous for its hanging gardens. This is an opportunity for spectacular photos so please don’t forget your camera!
Once you’ve arrived in Kuranda there are lots of fun and interesting places to visit. Click here for Kuranda Activities.
There are two trains going up each day and two trains coming down:
- Leaves Cairns Station daily at 8.30am & 9.30am
– Leaves Freshwater Station daily at 8.50am & 9.50am
- Leaves Kuranda Station daily at 2.00pm & 3.30pm
Combine with Skyrail
For a truly amazing day, go up on the train and come down on Skyrail. Or you could do it the other way round – go up on Skyrail and come down on the train.
Most people prefer to go down by Skyrail because that way you’re facing the ocean and you get amazing views of the rainforest with the Cairns coast as a backdrop.
However, if you prefer to avoid crowds, you might want to do it the other way around.
The tour operators send people up on the train and down by Skyrail which means that the train going up is very often full.
So if you want to do the train ride in peace and quiet it might be better to come up by Skyrail and go down by train (the train is often three-quarters empty on the way down).
Freshwater Railway Station
The train journey to Kuranda begins at the railway station at Cairns Central Shopping Centre (ground floor) but most people catch the Kuranda train a few kilometres further on at the Freshwater Station.
The advantage of catching the Kuranda Scenic Railway at Freshwater is that the Freshwater Station has a restaurant that provides a delicious breakfast with coffee which you can enjoy as the train goes up the Range.