Kuranda Scenic Railway

kuranda scenic railway train arrives

Unwind on the Kuranda Scenic Railway as you go through a tropical rainforest nestled in rugged mountains with waterfalls cascading into a deep gorge. The journey from Cairns to Kuranda Village aboard this historical and famous railway in Far North Queensland. (Part of the Tablelands railway line.)

There are three railway stations; Cairns, Freshwater, and Kuranda stations. Cairns Station (CBD) is located near the Cairns Shopping Centre. The next stop is Freshwater Station, where there are shops, a railway museum, and a cafe. The last stop is Kuranda Station also containing Tea Rooms with a variety of souvenirs and snacks.

Parking and Transportation

There is free parking located at or near all of the railway stations. Many paid shuttles are available, but we decided to self-drive. Our package specified a ride on the railway to Kuranda, and a Skyway return, so we parked at the Skyrail Station near Freshwater, so our car would be available upon our return.

After a 10-minute coach transfer service from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway parking lot, we arrived at Kuranda Scenic Railway station’s Freshwater connection.

kuranda scenic railway sign
Kuranda Scenic Railway Museum located at the Freshwater Station.

Museum at Freshwater Station

The Freshwater Station was built in 1984, and the museum portrays the history of the Kuranda Scenic Railway and the surrounding area. It got its name because this was the first place the construction crews could get fresh water before going to Kuranda.

kuranda scenic railway museum
Old train tickets in a vintage display.

Within the small structures are their museum displaying train artifacts from the railway’s history.

kuranda scenic railway museum artifacts
Train lanterns and other artifacts from the railway’s long history.

On the grounds outside of the buildings are artifacts and information boards to discover.

kuranda scenic railway push cart
Old maintenance push cart.

Depot Platform

A restaurant is located on the main platform at Freshwater Station. Patrons can eat inside the decommissioned train cars or enjoy the open-air decor on the covered platform. The ticket counter and gift shop are filled with a variety of souvenirs located at the end of the platform.

kuranda scenic railway station
Open-air train station with a little coffee shop and gift store.

Train Ride and Views

The train has a total of 15 heritage carriages date back to the early 1900s. Two carriages are used for Gold Class passengers, where they serve beverages and finger foods. We chose to sit in the heritage train cars with its spectacular views, listening to the commentary from the announcer, and looking through the complementary companion booklet. We enjoyed the 1 hour and 40-minute train ride.

kuranda scenic railway view
The family enjoyed the scenic views

Traveling in a historic railway car through hand-carved tunnels, seeing grandiose mountain side bluffs, and passing by waterfalls created a magical experience. The many curves of the track allow different landscape viewpoints of Cairns and the tropical rainforest.

kuranda scenic railway waterfall
The train passes by Stoney Creek Falls but doesn’t stop there.

Barron Falls Station

A quick 10-minute stop gave a chance to stretch our legs and get a great view of Barron Falls. The lookout platform provides information with details about the falls, tracks, and trails. It was very crowded, and if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to lose members of our group.

kuranda scenic railway barron falls stop
The train stops at Barron falls so that we can get out and take pictures of the waterfall.

If you want a great view of the Barron Falls, don’t waste your time walking to the front of the train; The best views are near the caboose.

kuranda scenic railway baroron falls aug
August is the end of Cairns “dry season” so the waterfall wasn’t very impressive.

Back aboard the train, we enjoyed our last moments before arriving at the Kuranda Station. From Kuranda Station, we had a short walk to the village and our day at RainForeStation.

We enjoyed taking this locomotive as it wound its way through the mountain range and rainforest. The passengers and staff were friendly, and it was a great way to partake in a piece of Australia’s history.

Tips:

  • Purchase tickets online that best suit your desired itinerary for the day. We chose to go through a travel agency for a package deal including a return on the Skyrail and tickets for RainForeStation.
  • Make sure to arrive early to look through the museum, shopping at the gift shop, or catch a bite at the cafe.
  • Bring a high quality camera.
  • Bring sunblock and motion sickness tablets if needed.
  • Bring insect repellent if you want to walk on any of the rainforest trails.
  • Get a free train guide to use while on board.
  • Check out the Kurunda Scenic Railways website for updated information about their service.

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