Cairns, nowadays being the base for exploring the nearby Great Barrier Reef offshore Queensland, as well as trekking in the surrounding rain forests and discovering its immense wildlife, once was founded in the mid 1870’s, when tin was mined inland and gold was found in the area and therefore, a port was needed for trading. Some 10 years later, an urgently needed railway thru the mountains and rainforest was built - under unbelievable tough circumstances! Nowadays, this scenic railway to Kuranda, a village up in the mountains, is a tourist attraction, and we took this train - again, since it is a really nice ride (of 37 kms), with great scenery en route. Starting from Freshwater Station in the plains near Cairns, the train works its way in many curves thru the rainforest and up the mountains, crossing 55 bridges, coming thru 15 hand carved (!) tunnels and passing by a couple amazing waterfalls. Kuranda itself is not an interesting village, consists basically of shops for all the many tourists, but also hosts a beautiful butterfly sanctuary (which we had visited on a previous visit).
For getting back to Cairns, we used Skyrail, a cableway above the canopy of the rainforest, where one sits in small gondolas and can enjoy the beautiful views of the lush nature below (that`s what we had experienced on our previous visit), however this time, we were not so fortunate with the weather and could hardly see anything because of heavy rain which had started again. Nevertheless, the ride and 2 stops to see the big Barron waterfall (now from the other side) as well as a 1/2 hour walk thru the interesting and beautiful rainforest were fun!
In Cairns, our ways separated: Michael returned to the ship, which sailed off in the evening, while I stayed overnight in Cairns, enjoyed an evening at the Tjapukai Cultural Centre with a show about the Aborigines customs & culture, followed by a good Buffet-Dinner, and then was ready for another exciting tour to start very very early the next morning: my overland to Australia`s Outback :-)