Scenic Jungle Train Ride through the Rainforest

Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway train journey is one of the most scenic and historical train journeys in the world. This train journey takes you through the heart of lush tropical rainforest with amazing views will take your breathaway.

Kuranda Scenic Railway in Brief

This busy tourist train travels a distance of 34 kilometres between Cairns and Kuranda. It is a two hour day trip train, which means you have plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular scenery of rivers, beautiful waterfalls and jaw-dropping steep cliffs. The route traverses 37 bridges and 15 tunnels, including the jaw-dropping Stoney Creek Falls bridge. You’ll definitely want to be near a window when the train cross over.

The construction of the railway began in 1886 and took five years to complete in 1891. During the construction, many lives were lost as hand-made tunnels and bridges were built to climb from seal level to 329 metres up the Macalister Range which still operational today. It began its passenger service operation on 25th June 1891 and first operated has a tourist train from Cairns to Kuranda township in 1936. Since then, it has been actively operating has one of the Australia’s best and longest serving scenic train rides in the country.

Why Go?

The city of Cairns, known as the Australia’s nature capital, famed for its world-class access to the Great Barrier Reef and the world Heritage-protected Daintree Rainforest are two of the biggest drawcards for visitors traveling to this tropical region. However, Cairns city is home to one of the best and most scenic train rides in Australia that takes you through the heart of natures tropical rainforest, waterfalls and breathtaking views. For any traveler, visiting Cairns don’t leave without traveling on this iconic scenic train ride. This scenic train rides leaves you with memories that you will never forget. In simple, it is one of the most rewarding way to travel up the mountain to this beautiful village in the rainforest – Kuranda.

With this train journey that covers only the length of 39 kilometres from the coastal city of Cairns to the township of Kuranda, located in the rainforest will actually make your heart pound harder. This train trip is one of the most traveled train journey in Far North Queensland and probably in Australia as it winds its way up through the Macalister Range and along the way you can witness steep ravines and beautiful waterfalls. Though, this train may sound only a short trip but it is an intriguing journey with the train winding in and out of tunnels and bridges with incredible views in every corner it turns. It makes it an amazing and adventurous train ride you will ever experience.

Knowing that this train is one of the best and most scenic and photographed train journeys in Far North Queensland and probably in Australia, it was no mistake in my decision to take this train journey and experience this train ride the region has to offer.

Getting there?

To began this amazing train journey, I arrived at Freshwater Railway station 30 minutes before the departure of our train journey which begins in the heart of Cairns city. Freshwater train station, situated on the outskirts, north of Cairns city is only ten minutes drive from the city among the sugar-cane fields. Getting early to train station before my scheduled departure means, I have the opportunity to observe and absorb the overwhelming experience that I am about to discover as a tourist traveler and most likely, I will not miss my train.

At Freshwater station, I was greeted by the friendly train attendants with a welcome “mocktail” drink while waiting for the train to pull into Freshwater station from Cairns city. It seems more like a picnic spot with everyone relaxed, sitting in groups and chatting while they sipped their mocktail drinks. Having to live in small regional city, traveling on the train to work and home is non-existence, so when an opportunity arose to travel on the train as a passenger, I grabbed it as well as I upgraded my train travel to gold-class and it was a complete treat for me.

Train Class

The Kuranda Scenic Railway offers its visitors two classes – Gold Class and Heritage Class. Gold class have limited number of seats and your required to pay a little extra than Heriatge class. Most travelers tend to choose the Heritage class which is more economical for families and suits all budget travelers. With 15 carriages and carries almost 700 passengers when in full capacity on a single trip, it can be mind boggling. In heritage carriages, it can be a little crowded with less leg room.

Heritage Class

The Heritage or standard carriges have booths that face each other which creates a section and there are five of these sections in each carriage. The carriages are very rustic and have been restored to look like the original ones and everything about the carriages is like being sent back in time. The heritage carriage seats are in bright red vinyl covers but this red leather seats can become very hot and the breeze in the train is very minimal, especially during summer periods. However, the carriages are quite very impressive. With no services provided on the standard carriages, passengers are allowed to take onboard food and non-alcohol drinks. For families, packing your own lunch is always worth it and economical.

Gold Class

For those who want to travel in style, can upgrade to Gold-class carriage – a premium option. The gold-class carriages have semi-lounge style seatings and have attractive green covers. Every passengers travel in comfortable singled lounge-like arm chair seats. In upgrading to gold class, refreshments and finger foods are served on the journey. The refreshments served range from hot to cold drinks including wines and beers are all inclusive.

Train Journey

I always been fascinated by train rides. This was my first journey on the train as a passenger and upgrading to gold-class just added to my excitment and was the best choice. As the train arrived at Freshwater station and came to a complete stop, I finally located the gold class carriage and boarded the train. My excitement began as I step inside the carriage and found my allocated seat and made myself comfortable. I was glad that I’ve booked myself in goldclass. The inside of the carriage was very clean, including the toilets and odourless.

Once we all settled in our allocated seats, shortly after, the goldclass attendant gave us the onboard menu and explained what was on offer and served during the journey. The journey was very interesting and within minutes of leaving the Freshwater station in the morning, the train went through Cairns outter suburbs, like semi-countryside. As we witness the lifestyle of residents in their newly built and old houses as they go about doing their daily things as the train went by. By than, I was already half-way through my second glass of authentic Australian sparkling while indulging with savoury muffin and fetta cheese and spinach roll. I was totally spoiled with numerous of food and drinks. I must add, I did eat everything that was offered. It was just perfect start to the journey.

As we slowly ascend upwards, while enjoying the drinks, food and the incredible views of the surrounding areas below and outwards to the Barrier Reef and the coastline, until we crossed the famous Stoney Creek Falls. This waterfall is just metres away from the train.

Along the way up, a detailed and informative commentary of the railway’s historical construction is provided, including the views that we are about to see. As I enjoy the stunning and jaw-dropping views almost on every corner we turned while enjoying more drinks, this gave me a platform for fresh air and reflection-free photography. Looking out from the window to gasp the breathtaking views and going through some of the finest scenery in Australia was just an amazing experience. All I simply have to do was to sit back and relax in my comfortable seat as scenes glide by my window. Within few minutes, we arrived at Barron Falls station. The view of the waterfall was incredibly beautiful and it was definitely an experience that no-one could take away from me. Stopping here for 10-minutes to give us enough time to capture some of the stunning views of the waterfall and surrounding greenery rainforest before heading into Kuranda train station.

Kuranda Station

Arriving in Kuranda train station, only 5-minutes train ride from Barron Falls station, we were greeted with well manicured and lush tropical gardens at the Kuranda rail station. Locals say, it is well-known attraction in the area. We disembarked as we were farwell by our host was a perfect ending to this incredible train journey. Taking time to enjoy this beautiful station surrounded by tropical plants, I could feel the fresher rainforest atmosphere before making my way into Kuranda township. From the train station, it was a 15-minutes easy walk to the end of the township where there is a reptile zoo, markets, art galleries, butterfly sanctuary and bird world, where you get the option to hug a Koala or feed a kangaroo. The town has plenty to offer from side street cafes, restaurants to food stalls and more.

This train has taken me on a majestic journey through the rainforest and unparalleled scenery, matched with a level of hospitality that I have not found anywhere else during my travels globally. Yes, this scenic train ride leaves me with memories in years to come. It was the most rewarding way to travel up the mountain to this beautiful village in the rainforest. Taking this scenic train trip has taken me beneath vast mountains, through heritage-listed rainforest, jaw-dropping hillsde and cligg-drops along Barron Gorge and over-looking to glittering sea – Great Barrier Reef. All I did was to sit back and relax in my Goldclass carriage as scenes glide by my window like something from a movie. To do this amazing train ride through the rainofrest while visiting Cairns was an incredible experience.

Thanks to impressive feats of engineering and for those who lost their lives in building this great train journey. Today we marvel this sightseeing experience as well as offering us an unique insight into Indigenous culture and the history of this rail route.

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