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"Kuranda Scenic Railway" Kuranda Scenic Railway Tip by sirgaw

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Cairns: 18 reviews and 46 photos

As I’m a volunteer conductor on Melbourne’s iconic Puffing Billy Railway, it was compulsory that I ride and enjoy the experience of the Kuranda Scenic Railway. I had pre-booked tickets from Melbourne, but judging on the number of people on the train, I didn’t need to bother – perhaps I was there on a quiet day.

We decided to “lash out” and travel first class for the forward journey and heritage class for the return. Whilst I would have liked to combine the train with the Skyrail, sadly Lady Gaw is a wimp when it comes to such overhead rides and experiences.

We boarded the train and settled in to the luxury of first class (called Gold Class) from Cairns that left at 9.30am. We headed through the suburbs of the city while peering into private back gardens, past the international airport before we arrived at what is considered the main station of Freshwater, which looked like a sleepy hamlet that only came to life with the arrival of each train – then the real fun started.

The train line was an engineering and rail building challenge as it was originally built in a number of stages from Cairns to the gold mining area of Herberton and finally completed in 1910. Perhaps the most difficult section of the line is through the Barron Gorge, which meant a large number of tunnels, very sharp bends and bridges all had to be built. It is a very spectacular trip to the terminus of the scenic railway at the small and I think over-rated town of Kuranda. We enjoyed the ride while nibbling away on the pastries as supplied in Gold Class. There was a stop and a chance to get out and enjoy the panoramic view of the Barron River Falls.

We explored the town of Kuranda before returning to the spectacular railway station and then the trip back to Cairns in Heritage Class.

I felt the Gold Class was overpriced at $46 per person. It did include a selection of drinks, various savories, sweet treats and finally coffee or tea as well as a souvenir pack containing a pen, brass hat or lapel badge and a postcard. I would have liked to travel on the scenic railway when the river was in full flow over the spectacular falls. Heritage class offers harder seats, less panoramic windows and no in-train catering. There are toilets and a water cooler in all carriages.

Overall a great experience and particularly for the train buffs like me.

About the photos:
1. Two locomotives and part of the string of carriages crossing the famous Stoney Creek Bridge.
2. Interior of the Gold Class carriage - opposite direction is catering section.
3. Barron Falls - would love to see in full flood.
4. Robb's Monument - 2 large rock formations left in place as a monument to those who built the line.
5. Up close and personal with the hard working locos - and note the sign celebrating 120 years of train service on the line.

Address: Cairns, Freshwater and Kuranda railway stations
Phone: (07) 4036 9333

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 2, 2012
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Comments (1)

  • Usctwin's Profile Photo
    Apr 2, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    This is a great tip! We are considering doing the Train/Skyrail later this year. We will be with my son who will be 1 at the time. Do you think he will be fine in the Skyrail? Also, from the sound of your review, the upgrade to Gold Class is not worth it? Thanks!

    • sirgaw's Profile Photo
      Apr 3, 2014 at 2:55 AM

      Hi - sorry I can't comment on Skyrail as Lady Gaw just will not go on such death defying devises - she's a wimp - LOL Not sure the upgrade to Gold Class is worth the extra. Suggest stocking up at the supermarket at the same building where the rail station is and save there.

    • Usctwin's Profile Photo
      Apr 3, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      Sorry, I saw that on your review re: Skyrail :) But thanks for the information!


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