All Aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway!

“All Aboard the Kuranda Express!”

To reach the scenic treetop village of Kuranda in the rainforest of Far North Queensland, the preferred way of getting there is to hop aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which is one of the most scenic rail trips in all of Australia.  Step on board these old rail carriages, and take a trip through thick jungle foliage, towering waterfalls, teeter on the edge of cliffs, sail through solid rock tunnels en route to one of the greenest, prettiest, and campiest towns in the land down under!

“Through we go…”

“So, when’s the train gonna get here?”

The railway is 37 km (23 mi) in length.  It takes about one and three quarters of an hour to climb one way.  Each rail carriage is fitted with television sets to provide passengers with a history of the Kuranda railway.  It also provides passengers with information about the nearby Barron Falls.  There are also two gold class carriages where refreshments and finger food are served on the journey.  The cool thing was that the carriages looked so much like toy-train cars; I could just as easily picture them on my old train set.  They were two-toned color (cream-color on top and a burgundy color on the bottom).  From the beginning, visitors pick up their ticket stubs inside a lovely depot near the city of Cairns; the origin station of the trip.  I remember standing on the platform of the Cairns depot waiting to embark.  I loved the combination of palm trees, tropical jungles, a towering mountain in the distance, all in the comfort of a choo-choo train (well, actually an old diesel, but close enough!).  I guess being a Long Islander, I am used to only seeing train travel in either colder environments or underground.  To have the fun of a train combined with sunny, summer weather was like having the best of both worlds!  Makes me wonder why places like Miami, Los Angeles, or Honolulu don’t have train tracks.  Think how much nicer a commuter train trip would be if there was summer weather involved.  Of course, who could enjoy it when one is wearing a heavy three-piece suit for the office?

“An Aboriginal choo-choo!”

The locomotive was painted in an Aboriginal Dreamtime motif.  You’d be surprised how a simple, yet colorful design on something as ghastly as a noisy locomotive could turn it into such a piece of eye-candy!  Think how much happier people commuting in New York and New Jersey would feel if the Long Island Railroad or the New Jersey Transit had a vibrant paint job, especially with an Aussie motif!

The train ride up to Kuranda was a hot one!  The weather was steamy, hot, and rather unbearable.  My entire time in Cairns had been defined mostly by humidity; it was so bloody hot!  I was hoping me sticking my head out of window would yield a nice breeze; it barely worked.

“Barron Falls water is as clear as mud!”

One of the coolest parts of the trip happened when our train made a brief pit stop by Barron Falls.  Barron Falls is where the Barron River makes its descent from the Atherton Tablelands to the Cairns coastal plain.  The waterfall was quite impressive; it was loud, big, and I felt a nice wet breeze.  It was not a  perfect waterfall like Angel Falls, Victoria Falls, or Niagara Falls.  The waterfall seemed to break off various rocks; think of it as if someone were to stare at a set of river rapids, but vertically.  I noticed that the water looked rather brown, as if the water was made out of Yoo-Hoo.  My tour guide Tony assured me that it was not pollution, but rather an abundance of minerals and sediments that affected the color of the water, like how seaweed and algae can make seawater turn green.  Nonetheless, it was pretty gnarly looking.

“Guide to Barron Gorge Hydro…”

Tony told me that the water from Barron Falls are harnessed by the Barron Falls Hydroelectric Plant, which was Queensland’s first hydroelectric plant opened in 1935 to bring electricity to the tropical north of Queensland.

By the time the train ride ended, our train pulled into the little depot atop the village of Kuranda.  Now I can say that I have successfully ridden not one, but two historic trains in Australia: Puffing Billy in Victoria and the Kuranda Scenic Railway in Queensland.  This is such a wonderful way to see the country up close.  With Puffing Billy, I got up close to the flora and fauna in the bush.  With Kuranda, I got to see the jungles and waterfalls in tropical Queensland.  Why can’t more trains back home have this essence of adventure?  Why can’t the LIRR paint its double-decker trains in the hamptons with some Aboriginal prints?


About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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