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Kuranda Scenic Rail

Home > Port Douglas > Day Trips | Escape the City | Trains | Travel
by Kerry Williams (subscribe)
Kerry Williams is a freelance writer from England, who is now living in Far North Queensland, Australia. To find out more visit
Published November 14th 2019
A unique way to see the rainforest and Kuranda
The Scenic Rail runs from Cairns to Kuranda, via Freshwater Station and back, twice daily. You can opt to depart from Cairns at 8:30 am or 9:30 am, join at Freshwater at 8:55 am or 9:55 am, and depart from Kuranda at 2:00 pm or 3:30 pm. You may also choose the standard Heritage Class at $50 per adult and $25 per child one-way, or the premium Gold Class, at $99 per adult and $74 per child one-way, which includes more comfortable seats and complimentary food and beverages. You may also decide to purchase a return ticket. Transfers can also be arranged, and you can purchase packages including various Kuranda activities.

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Freshwater Station

I decided to experience the Kuranda Scenic Rail with my partner recently. We chose the 8:55 am departure from Freshwater, as it is closer to our home that the Cairns station is, and the Cairns-Freshwater portion of the journey isn't particularly scenic. We opted for Heritage Class one-way and took the Skyrail back down to Smithfield from Kuranda. We chose to take the train up and the Skyrail down as the Skyrail offers more flexibility on times for the return journey.

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Freshwater Station tea room

So our day began at Freshwater Station, a charming old-fashioned train station. There are signs dotted around telling the history of the railway line, and the challenges faced by those constructing a railway line in this remote rainforest location. There is a delightful tea room where you can purchase hot food, snacks, and hot and cold drinks. I bought a coffee to take on the train, as in Heritage Class there is no drinks service.

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Kuranda Scenic Rail

As we boarded the train we were pleased to see that the carriages had maintained their authentic heritage feel. The vintage interior features black and white photos of the rail and surrounding area from many years ago. The seats are cushioned benches that can seat 3-4 people, and we found them comfortable enough. There are toilets in most carriages and filtered water in all of them. The journey from Freshwater Kuranda takes approximately 1.5 hours (2 hours from Cairns Kuranda).

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Kuranda Scenic Rail journey

Audio announcements throughout the trip informed us of facts about the building of the rail, as well as where to look for the best views and photo opportunities. We both found it fascinating to hear about the construction of the railway line all those years ago it must have seemed like an impossible task. It doesn't take long for the scenery to become simply beautiful as you climb the range.

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Stoney Creek Falls

We passed the stunning Stoney Creek Falls and stepped off the train to take photos at Barron Falls. At 10:30 am we arrived at Kuranda Station, another delightful old-fashioned railway station, with a souvenir shop.

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Kuranda Station

Once you're in Kuranda there are markets, shops, wildlife experiences, and cultural experiences to fill your day with.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Kuranda Scenic Rail and would definitely recommend it for an educational, scenic, and unique way to visit Kuranda.
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Why? An educational, scenic, and unique way to travel to Kuranda
When: Twice each way daily
Phone: 61 7 4036 9333
Where: Kuranda Range, Far North Queensland
Cost: From $50 per adult and $25 per child one-way
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