Cairns Skyrail and Kuranda village

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Fri 17 Aug 2012 04:16
While staying in Cairns we took the Skyrail cable car up to Kuranda village.  The cableway runs over the rainforest so you can get to see the tree canopy close up from above.  There are walkways through the forest at each of the stops
Kuranda village was larger and more touristy than we expected.  Andrea bought a silver wire necklace at one of the craft stalls.  We managed to resist buying a certified authentic digeridoo.
We visited the butterfly house, which is the largest in Australia, and where they breed local species of butterfly for display to the public.  One of these is the bright blue Ulysses butterfly, which is the unofficial emblem of Queensland.  It only lives for three days so there has to be a continual breeding cycle of the butterflies in order to have plenty on display.  Breeding them is not simply a question of providing a house and some nectar for the butterflies, they have to collect the eggs and take them back to the breeding station to wash off the microscopic parasitic wasps that would infect most of the caterpillars otherwise.  They also have to allow the females to develop separately from the males because, being in such close proximity, the females would otherwise be mobbed on emerging from the chrysalis, before they could inflate their wings.
Our return trip was on the classic Kuranda scenic railway which was built by hand in 1887-91, to link the mining belt to the sea.
The Skyrail crosses the Barron river
A good view of the Barron river falls from the cable car.
The Cairns Birdwing butterfly
The elusive Ulysses butterfly, on the wing.  (They hide their wings after landing to avoid attracting birds.)
The Kuranda train
The railway line was carved out of the rock using picks and shovels