Kuranda: a Village in the Australian Rainforest

Kuranda: Village in the Australian Rainforest
Kuranda is a mountain village near Cairns, in Queensland, on Australia's northeast coast. (Image: Rafael Ben Ari via Dreamsworld)

Situated in the Australian rainforest, I was lucky enough to live in Kuranda for over 2 years. Personally, I feel the above title understates how incredible it is. It should be known as something like: “Wow, Kuranda, a village in a rainforest full of such hidden life with nature everywhere you look.” That would be exceptionally long though.

Yes, it has many interesting and beautiful places, including The Butterfly Sanctuary, Birdworld, and Koala Gardens, along with the Original and Heritage markets.

Great cafés and shops teeming with local or handmade products are welcoming. The shopkeepers themselves are full of interest and stories. As you take a deeper look, you’ll find so much more on offer in this wonderful location.

The iconic Kuranda train station in Kuranda, Queensland, Australia
The iconic Kuranda train station in Kuranda, Queensland, Australia. (Image: Filedimage via Dreamstime)

Today, you will be walking down the trails around the village. Leave yourself about an hour and a half to stroll. You will begin your journey near the Kuranda Railway Station.

Kuranda rainforest: luscious gardens with exotic tropical plants bursting with color

The moment you step off the train, or Skyrail, you will be engulfed in luscious gardens, with exotic tropical plants bursting with color. One amazing vine is called the jade vine.  It is aqua blue and actually looks like it is plastic. So unusual.

The jade vine, Strongylodon macrobotrys — this tropical climber can be found in Kuranda.
One amazing vine is called the jade vine.  It is aqua blue and actually looks like it is plastic. (Image: Julie-Anne D’Alcorn via Nspirement)

The Kuranda Railway station is a tropical garden within itself. You could spend a day just on the platform admiring the gardens.

Just beside the station, take the stairs down to the Barron River. Turn right on the tree-lined shady esplanade and you will encounter brush turkeys (also called bush turkeys), masses of colorful birds, and maybe spot a freshwater crocodile sunning itself on a log. If you look across the river, you may be lucky enough to see a Cassowary on the riverbank scratching around for food. And yes, those are bright blue Ulysses butterflies flying all around you.

Continue your walk along the river esplanade until you reach the Jungle Walking Track. Now the fun starts… This is where it can get exciting. 

Bright blue Ulysses Butterfly on green fern.
Ulysses butterfly. Its common name is Mountain Blue Butterfly and is a large swallowtail butterfly found in Kuranda and the surrounding areas. (Image: Rafael Ben Ari via Dreamstime)

The fun begins with walking under the wooden Kuranda Train line via a narrow bridge

The fun begins with walking under the wooden Kuranda Train line via a narrow bridge that takes you over the Jumrum Creek inlet. Stop and listen; so many things jumping in and out of the creek. My first encounter with a python was in this section. It was just lying on the path in front of me, sunning itself. I managed to skirt around it by going off the trail.

The paved track narrows and you find yourself enclosed by large tree ferns and a jungle canopy overhead. Be very careful of the “dangling” vines. These are called “Wait a While or Lawyer Vine. Nasty stuff try to avoid it at all costs as it will rip your skin and clothes. 

The trail goes uphill and has 39 well-spaced steps. Look around and you will hear the lizards and brush turkeys ducking in and out, or was that another tree snake? There is a large goanna at about the halfway point, and he can give you a scare if he unexpectedly crosses the path in front of you.

“You will hear the strong call of the Whip birds and unusual call of the Woompoo fruit dove overhead. It sounds like it is talking to you.”

You will hear the strong call of the whipbirds and the unusual call of the woompoo fruit dove overhead. It sounds just like it is talking to you. Victoria’s riflebird is found in this area. If you are lucky enough to hear its screech and watch it perform its mating dance, you will be amazed. Such a beautiful sight. Look this bird up on Google and you will be surprised.

I may not have walked to the Barron Falls today, but this spectacular view can be seen from the Kuranda train and viewed from the other side on the Skyrail. (Image: Johan Larson via Dreamstime)

When you meander your way to the top of this trail, you come out at Barron Falls Road. If you go left, you can walk to Barron Falls. They are approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 Km) from this point, but it’s a hard slog walking in the hot humid climate. Maybe leave the Barron Falls for another day.

Now, cross over the road and you will find The Jumrum Walking trail. This takes you back to Kuranda Village on a beautiful paved trail and boardwalk that is also full of life.

It starts meandering among the rainforest, again with lots of tree ferns and hanging vines all entangled in each other reaching up for sunlight. Check out the crazy brush turkeys as they scatter leaves all over the path. The males have large dangling yellow collars to attract the females. These males are building nests for the female to lay her eggs. Then the male will guard the nest, scaring away all predators, like the goanna. I once saw a turkey chase away a goanna trying to dig into his nest. It was quite funny to watch.

The steps now go downhill and by memory, there are 71 of them, all easy to navigate. They are spaced out evenly along the way.

Pay attention to the massive trees and look up. You will find basket ferns high up in the canopy. Local legend says never put your hand in the high baskets, as a python may be sleeping in there sunning itself.  Believe me, I wouldn’t even think of doing that.

Freshwater crocodile in the Barron River, in Barron Gorge National Park, near Kuranda, Queensland, Australia
Freshwater crocodile in the Barron River, in Barron Gorge National Park, near Kuranda, Queensland, Australia. (Image: Angela Perryman via Dreamstime)

Now you will come to another section of Jumrum Creek. There, you will find a small, narrow man-made creek crossing, remade after the 2018 “once in a hundred years flood.” I know, I lived there at the time and the original small bridge got washed away. This was quite devastating for the locals, as it meant we had to walk on the boring road to get into town, rather than on this beautiful trail.

“Sit down for a rest on one of the boulders and enjoy the creek as it flows around you.”

Sit down for a rest on one of the boulders and enjoy the creek as it flows around you. You can look in the water for the baby turtles abundant here.

By now, you are probably wondering why so many cats are in the bush. No, they are not cats. What you are hearing is the “catbird.” Yes, it sounds exactly like a cat mewing. If one of them doesn’t’ call back, they get quite frantic.

Catbird in rainforest in Kuranda, Australia.
The catbird is one of our local songbirds you may encounter. The name is because of their wailing calls, which resemble a cat’s meowing. (Image: Beth Baisch via Dreamstime)

Look closely at the tree trunks and you may find tubes running up some of them.  These are termite tunnels; they build them to scale to the tree tops.

If you are walking this trail in the rainy season, you will find some incredible types of mushrooms or fungi.  One unusual variety is colloquially known as stinkhorn.  It has a foul odor and can have lace-like curtains on its side. The tip can be red. Look this one up on Google and you will get a laugh for other reasons.

Another variety found here is the “glow in the dark” mushroom. As I never ventured this trail during nightfall, I didn’t come across it, but many of the locals talk about them. 

Both the Jungle and Jumrum trails come alive at night with pythons, tree snakes, owls, and fruit bats. There are so many types of frogs, and the sound can be quite deafening. 

Life is teeming all around.  

Take it slow, look around, feel it, and absorb all of what this natural rainforest sanctuary offers. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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  • Julie-anne D’Alcorn

    Julie-anne was a long distance runner for nearly 20 years, now finds a good physical and mental balance doing meditation. Born in Australia, Julie-anne loves to travel to Asian countries, exploring not just the tourist sites, but the deep historical and cultural backgrounds. Previously worked in accounting and taxation, now prefers to help others understand the things that really matter. Truthfulness in the media is a very big concern, especially in this electronic age with so much “fake news” and censorship.