Cairns Australia Day Trip Ideas – Kurunda
Most travellers to Australia will find themselves in Cairns. Cairns is a great place to base yourself to explore the Daintree rainforest or the Great Barrier Reef. The town itself is also a great place to keep you occupied for a day or two.
For those wanting to get out of town for the day, and a little bit off the beaten path, there is the small town of Kurunda.
How to get to Kurunda
There are three ways to get to Kurunda; by scenic railroad, by shuttle bus, or by car. If you do not have your own transportation available, then by shuttle bus is by far the most budget friendly option.
Several companies operate shuttle buses to Kurunda and you can get a return ticket for $10. There are limited departures each day, so arrive a bit early to ensure you get a seat on the shuttle bus.
The most scenic and enjoyable way to get to Kurunda is via the scenic rail road or scenic cable car. Fares start at $48 one way for an adult ticket, and can be combined in a number of different ways for different experiences. Visit the scenic railroad website for more info.
What to do in Kurunda
Rainforest Hike and Waterfall
There are several hiking options just outside of the small town, in the UNESCO world heritage rain forest that surrounds it. The most popular walk, and the one that I did, is the Baron Falls walk. The walk is not particularly strenuous and I did it in shoes that are definitely not meant for hiking. Baron Falls is also the stopping point of the scenic railway, so if you opt to travel to Kurunda by this option then you don’t even need to hike at all! However the boardwalk that meanders through the rain forest was delightful with plenty of information boards about the native flora and fauna along the way.
The Kurunda markets are the main draw to this small town. The markets run every day of the week from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. The markets are an eclectic mix of anything and everything you can think of: from tourist kitsch to unique homemade goods, and even works of art. And of course, there are plenty of food stalls and cafes to keep you fed and watered while on your shopping quest.
If you want somewhere to stock up on gifts for friends and family back home, or if you just need a break from the tourist overdrive that is Cairns, the Kurunda markets offer that little bit of retail therapy combined with small town charm.
Butterfly and Bird exhibition
The butterfly sanctuary in Kurunda is the largest in Australia and contains more than 2000 species of tropical butterflies. The enclosure is open every day but Christmas day and tickets can be bought separately or in combination with Bird World – the bird sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to around 80 species of native bird. A highlight of the exhibition is the cassowary. This large flightless bird is native to this part of Australia, but unfortunately due to habitat destruction it is difficult to spot them other than in a sanctuary such as BirdWorld.
I visited Kurunda as a day trip from Cairns. In Cairns I found affordable backpacker accommodation with Base Hostels. My stay at Base was provided complimentary, but all opinions remain my own.