The last time I rode the Kuranda Scenic Railway I was 4. It’s 40 years later and I’m still just as excited to be choo-chooing my way up the hill through a World Heritage listed rainforest.
I have with me an equally excited 6 and 9 year old. They can’t even comprehend that I was once a child, believing that perhaps I was alive in the ‘olden days’ when it was first built.
The little train that could
Setting off from Freshwater Station the Kuranda Scenic Railway journeys though man-made tunnels, over bridges, past now abandoned townships and stop at the Kodak moment location of Barron Gorge Lookout.
(Mental note: ask my folks to unearth our own Kodak footage from said trip years earlier, I was a similar age to my Squids and want to compare happy faces).
Throughout the trip a running commentary plays giving us a really great insight into the creation of the tracks which were completed in 1891. Given I was keen to experience the trip again for the scenic views, I was equally delighted to be entertained by a ripping yarn of pioneering ingenuity and determination as 15oo men endured an unforgiving landscape to lay a 37 km track. I can’t help but think our forbears were made of stronger stuff than we are, as I pondered the three million cubic metres of earth they removed with picks, shovels and dynamite. No high-vis vests, donger accommodation and catering, or 4 weeks on and 3 weeks off rosters for them.
Bloody sheer determination. And desperation to retain some form of employment. I gave them all a silent salute as we chugged past the whisper of camps and townships which were now no longer.
The atmospheric 1720 class locomotive carriages pull us along, some painted in bright colours and motifs to represent the Legend of Buda-Dji, the carpet snake said to have carved out the spectacular Barron Gorge.
At 329 metres above sea level the actual granite-faced Barron falls themselves drop a spectacular 265 metres. It’s hard to fathom that in the early days a ‘Flying Fox’ traversed the gorge providing transport for supplies, staff and livestock! Happy to enjoy this view from the comfort of our good old fashioned train carriage.
Winding our way like a snake up through this tropical paradise, we ogle over rugged mountains and deep ravines.
Cairns disappeared into the distance as we climb higher and further into the dense rainforest.
The train traverses through a 2,820 hectare paradise that is Barron Gorge National Park, a natural corridor for rainforest wild-life, linking the northern and southern reaches of Australia’s tropical rainforests.
We’ve purchased a Heritage Class Family pack for $270 which takes us from Freshwater station to the town of Kuranda on the scenic railway, and a return trip on the Skyrail Rainforest Cablecar.
And just like I did when I was 4, the Squids don’t want to pause to see the historic displays at Kuranda Station, or watch sunbirds making their hanging nests or wander under the leafy hanging plants – all they want is an ice-cream.
Ah, it’s all coming back to me now!