Friday 24th - Saturday 25th August - Kuranda
Wild Carol does Australia
John and Fiona Fraser
Sat 25 Aug 2018 17:00
So the day has finally arrived - the day when we stop being ‘travellers’ and turn into ‘tourists’. I don’t think either of us has been particularly looking forward to this part and, with hindsight, we wish we’d budgeted a bit more and kept the Landcruiser another couple of weeks, but hey ho, here we are and it’s off to Kuranda, probably the most touristy place you can go to from Cairns. It’s a village in the mountains above Cairns which essentially began as a hippy camp in the 70s. They were making crafty stuff, jewellery and the like, but didn’t have any customers so they started running and promoting a special train service from Cairns. Now the train has about 20 carriages and runs about 4 times a day, disgorging Japanese and Chinese tourists. There are two other ways to get there - the ‘Skyrail’ which is a gondola over the jungle, or you can drive up a windy road. It’s not very far from Cairns so that is what we did. The original attraction, the hippy market, is still there but the various cafes in the market were the ones making the money. There seems to be a heavy French presence and when we arrived late on Friday we bought a takeaway creme brûlée from a nice French cafe just as they were closing up. Chef was happy to sell us a takeaway and said we could keep the clay pot as a memento.
We headed for the Rainforest caravan park and claimed our space (with power for the microwave and fridge). One thing about this van, it takes a fraction of the time to set up camp but it’s not as much fun. Stir fry and noodles followed by the aforementioned crème brûlée and off to bed.
The van proved surprisingly comfortable. We used the upstairs cushions to double up across the gaps in the downstairs. The bed is much wider than the one in our van. As we drifted off we became aware that every 30 secs or so the fridge compressor wound kick in with a noise like a 30-year old central heating boiler! The earplugs were called into service. Clearly the fridge has seen better days but it seems to keep everything cold and, importantly, the ice frozen! I don’t think we’ll be camping anywhere without a power connection, though!
We were up early and after breakfast we took the path from the campsite through the rainforest to the railway line, which we walked along for about 400m then we picked up the path along the Barron river. We spotted a little jetty with a small river tour boat getting ready. First trip 10:45. We had a bit of time in hand so we walked up to the station and watched the first train from Cairns arriving at 10:30. It seemed never-ending, but eventually stopped and disgorged the hoards.
Most of them headed straight for the markets so we decided the boat would be a better option and so it proved. Only about 10 on board and Warren gave us an entertaining tour. We fed the fish, trying to make sure the turtles got some too. We cruised downstream as far as the dams - the Barron river has a hydro-electric power station at the bottom of the gorge. We saw a couple of freshies and lots of birds then headed back to the jetty.
Then off up the Main Street where there were several fairly nice aboriginal art and craft shops then on to the markets where we headed first to the cafe to return the brûlée pot and buy a coffee and a crepe at the next door cafe. A quick wander around the stalls then we had to go to see the koalas as we hadn’t seen any yet. We also saw some drowsy wombats and a few kangaroos, but the koalas were undoubtedly the stars, even though they mostly slept.
By the time we were finished there it was nearly 3pm which is closing time in Kuranda so we took the jungle path back to the river and retraced our route back to the campsite.
A couple of hours reading our books then it was time to prepare dinner and get the van ready for the night again.
Kuranda railway station
First train arriving
Warren gave us an entertaining river tour
Turtles vying for the scraps
The Barron river with the ‘Skytrain’ passing overhead
Thick jungle right down to the river
A green snake
Was meant to be this pic of the green snake! Think it’s a python.
Sleeping off all those leaves!