Our day riding the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is memorable for all the right reasons. It was an experience the whole family enjoyed. There was lots of giggling and silliness from the kids and wonderful things to see and do.
In my opinion the Skyrail is a must-see attraction if you are staying in the Cairns area. This was our second time visiting the Skyrail, our first visit was when BJ was about 4 years old. Having travelled extensively in between and seeing lots of attractions in that time I think gave me an even greater appreciation of what an absolute feat it would have been to construct and what a unique view it gives of the area.
The Skyrail takes you on a ride of 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles) over world heritage rainforest. From the Skyrail we had a fabulous view of gorges and the stunning scenery in the area. It is wonderfully quiet except for the birdlife and of course the excited AJ and BJ who giggled and chatted all the way.
BJ was very keen to get into the gondola and be on our way. He decided he wanted to sit on the seat rather than in his wheelchair but wheelchair users are able to ride in a wheelchair if needed or desired (please see my notes at the end of this blog regarding restrictions).
We started off from the Smithfield Terminal and on a clear day you can see out to sea. It was drizzling when we started out but on our return the sun had emerged and we had a wonderful view (see photos below).
There are two stations where passengers have the opportunity to get out and explore the rainforest. Red Peak Station is the first stop and has a wonderfully accessible boardwalk. I highly recommend joining one of the ranger tours available at this stop. I am always amazed at how many new and random facts I pick up from these tours. I learned that a snake shivers to raise its body temperature. I have no idea when this will come in handy but come trivia night I’m your girl.
Next stop is Barron Falls Station which is once again wheelchair accessible and offers three different look outs to view Barron Falls. I would suggest sticking to the first two lookouts as the third is a bit steep. The views are very similar from all three so if you want to save on push power then miss the last one.
The Rainforest Interpretation Centre was a hit with the kids with lots of hands-on learning opportunities.
Along with accessible walkways there are also accessible bathrooms at the stations. The bathrooms at Smithfield and Kuranda terminals are not “nature based” (in other words the great Aussie drop toilet). The “nature based” ones at the other stations are clean and have good access.
My tip – Due to the size of the gondolas on the Skyrail you need to check that the width of your wheelchair is suitable. Please see the Skyrail website for extensive information regarding access.
DIAMOND VIEWING on SKYRAIL
The Skyrail offers an optional upgrade (at an additional cost) to Diamond Viewing in the gondola. These gondolas have a glass floor to give an entirely different view. It gives a unique perspective of the rainforest canopy and its density.
If a passenger is remaining in their wheelchair the wheelchair will obscure the view through the glass floor. BJ transferred out of his wheelchair and his chair travelled in the next gondola.
I thought Diamond view was novel and enjoyed the experience. I loved the fact that staff just got it and popped the wheelchair in the gondola behind us. Fabulous.
Kuranda scenic railway
When we visited Kuranda when BJ was little we used the Skyrail to Kuranda and then returned on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. We felt that BJ would be restless on a train now so we chose to use the Skyrail both ways and this was the perfect option for us. However, we were on a walk on another day and were lucky enough to see the Kuranda Scenic Railway at the Barron Falls stop. I took the opportunity to jump on board and check the wheelchair access. We have had some of our facebook friends share photos of their experience in the past and they have had nothing but positive reviews.
After getting off the train I wondered why we don’t have access in many other places. If they can make a historic train so accessible for wheelchairs it seems anything should be possible. There are specific places on the train for wheelchairs, access on and off the train at all stations except Barron Falls and a fully accessible bathroom. I feel other attractions need to lift their game!
For more information about wheelchair access on the Kuranda Scenic Railway head to their website.
If you are wondering what you do when you get to Kuranda, well, the answer is plenty. One of the major past times is shopping but I feel the majority of stores are aimed at overseas tourists with lots of Australiana memorabilia. There are some lovely art and craft stores in between the tourist stores and that was where I headed.
For us the highlight of our visit to Kuranda was Australia Butterfly Sanctuary.
AUSTRALIAN BUTTERFLY Sanctuary
When I travel I love the places that are a surprise hit. Australian Butterfly Sanctuary was one of those places for us. It is the largest butterfly flight aviary and exhibit in Australia and home to over 1500 magnificent tropical butterflies that are hand reared on the premises.
The butterflies are in abundance and if you are lucky, quite interactive, in a butterfly kind of way. The Ulysses butterfly which tends to be quite elusive, danced and teased us as we tried to take photos. The brilliant blue is just stunning.
I was surprised the butterflies were so attracted to my white top but it turns out I was wearing one of the best colours to attract them. If you plan a visit I recommend dressing for the occasion in either white, pink or red as these are the colours that are most likely to draw them to you. AJ had the orange butterfly (pictured on the camera above) land on her nose and not really want to leave. As beautiful as it was, it was not a good look.
We joined the free tour which provided lots of facts and figures about the butterflies and a tour to the caterpillar breeding nursery. If you are short on time or prefer to go at your own pace, there are information boards throughout the butterfly house which will ensure you leave with a good butterfly education.
The butterfly aviary is wheelchair accessible with a few steep ramps towards the bottom of the aviary.
For more information about the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary head to their website.
Birdworld Kuranda was our second favourite attraction and apparently my white top was equally attractive to the birds……………..just in a less delightful way. At the butterfly aviary it attracted the butterflies to me but at Birdworld it attracted the most spectacular spray of bird poo I have ever witnessed in my life. The thoroughness of the drop was remarkable. Funny to the rest of the family who missed the action. A special added bonus just for me.
Birdworld is naturally landscaped with waterfalls, ponds, exotic and native plants and replicates the natural habitats of almost 60 species that roam this unique rainforest immersion exhibit. We purchased some food and it was a lovely way to get up close to the birds and interact with them.
Birdworld is ramped and we managed to get around with BJ’s wheelchair easily. There are some steep ramps within the aviary so it may not be suitable for all manual chair users. The top platform, near the entrance, is where the birds perch themselves to be hand fed. They come and go but while we were visiting there was a good selection of the birds in this section.
For more information about Birdworld Kuranda head to their website here.
KURANDA KOALA GARDENS
Kuranda Koala Gardens is a small animal park at the top of the Kuranda village. Although it is ramped we did find it very steep with BJ’s manual wheelchair.
The park is best suited to tourists wanting to see Australian animals during their visit to Kuranda.
Even though I have seen hundreds of koalas at animal parks over my lifetime, I was thrilled to spy little Hazel the koala joey. She was hanging on to her mum Lotus who seemed less interested in moving and planned to stay put in the fork of the tree. Hazel however, looked keen to see what the world had to offer.
I spent most of my visit watching Hazel but the kids and Hubby fed the kangaroos, checked out the snakes and other animals. My camera worked overtime on little Hazel.
For more information on Kuranda Koala Gardens head to their website.
A large public disabled bathroom is available in Kuranda, near the information centre on the the town green.
Our family received complimentary passes to all the attractions for the purposes of writing a review. We had a really wonderful and memorable day in Kuranda and rate the Skyrail and Australian Butterfly Sanctuary as highlights of our time in the Cairns area.
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