Have you stomached the sky-rail up to Kuranda, marveled at the impressive Baron Falls, wandered through the funky markets and caught the scenic rail back to Cairns? Do you think you have seen all there is to see of Kuranda? Think again.
There is another way to get close-up and explore the region while having a ton of fun. Billabong Horseback Adventures offers guided rides for all ages and experience. The establishment keeps up its end of the bargain with a pretty billabong, a small kangaroo sanctuary and over twenty well-trained horses. They offer small group rides to suit your experience or private rides for those who want their own tailored adventure.
We opted for the three-hour morning ride for beginners. After fitting helmets and a quick debrief, horse expert and operations manager Tom has us mounted and raring (hopefully not rearing) to go.
The ride takes off slowly as we all get acquainted with our horses. Mine is a feisty old fellow, actually a bit of a stubborn mule. He would have enjoyed his "hay-day", with a steely name like Magnum, but in his old age, as with most male species, he has become a bit of a flatulent grump. Despite this, we get along very well and I throw affection at him wantonly.
The scenery offers expansive vistas of the valleys below. We ride up through thirsty bushland and then descend into the cool, soothing rainforest. We cross creek-beds still flowing with water, where the sweaty horses stop to drink. In the scrubby, bushland we see enormous termite mounds.
Tom offers excellent knowledge of the region, flora and fauna. He is passionate about horses and it really shows in his manner. On Tom's queue we take off in a trot. I know I will feel it tomorrow.
Back at the ranch, a lovely lunch spread is waiting for us – fresh fruit, salad, pasta, bread rolls, snags and refreshing drinks. There is a relaxed atmosphere and our group chat together, while country tunes blow in the wind.
A local whip-crackin' cowboy has come to see Tom. His name is Tim and he patiently shows us a few of his tricks. It's a nice way to finish our tour, with a taste of Aussie country life, far removed from most of our city-slicking ways.
Billabong Horseback Adventures offer a range of combo's and packages you can book through their website. Combine the day with either an ATV ride, sky-rail and scenic rail passes, a nature park package or skydive the reef! They also offer return transfers for guests staying in Cairns and the Northern Beaches. School holiday camps are available, as are private lessons.