This amazing piece of engineering travels over the Barron Gorge National Park, an area added to the World Heritage list in 1988. The 7.5km of cableway was completed in 1995, a mammoth task as the contractors were not allowed to build road or take machinery into the rain forest. The 33 pylons were helicoptered into place to avoid disturbances, using natural clearings. The top soil and and any seedlings were carefully removed, labeled, and returned when each pylon was in place, enabling the bush to continue growing as before.
Off on the Skyrail
Joining the queue of others just as eager to experience this trip, we slowly moved forward and finally climbed aboard with a young couple and were whisked away, quietly gliding over the tree top canopy. As we left the rolling farmland behind, the vast area of the rainforest lay beneath us.
Riding the Skyrail
There are two stops along the way, and we decided to take advantage of both, although some other passengers, we noticed, stayed aboard the whole trip. We exited at Red Peak Station and walked through the forest along a boardwalk, passing by a huge 400 year old Kauri Pine, looking remarkably like our NZ Kauri tree, and ending our walk at the lookout point.
At Red Peak Station in the rainforest
The next stop on the journey was Barron Falls Station, where the main attraction was of course, the falls. Although quite pretty, these falls really come into their own during the wet season, where the water roars down the bare rocks in a fierce display of Mother Nature at her best. The falls were named for Thomas Henry Bowman Barron, the Chief Clerk of Police in Brisbane in the 1860s.
Boarding the Skyrail once more, we glided the short distance into the pretty little town of Kuranda. We took advantage of the free shuttle bus taking passengers up the steep hill, passing this delightful old pub, built in 1890 on the way up to the top of the village. A great place for lunch, our friendly bus driver informed us.
What to do once we arrived? There was a choice of visits to The Butterfly Sanctuary, Birdworld, or Koala Gardens – and the birds won. Birdworld has both exotic species, and native birds, so we paid our entry fees and walked inside to see people and parrots getting up close and personal with each other. And it wasn’t too long before they decided to jump on our shoulders too. Nibble, nibble, they went, as they tried to get their beaks around earrings, cords for glasses, necklaces, and they especially loved chewing the buttons off men’s caps, we were told. That’s why Robin has removed his cap and put it out of their reach.
Help, trapped with the birds
Robin especially loves the glamourous Macaw parrots and there were plenty of these beauties sitting quietly, or flying around, as the fancy took them.
I was thrilled to finally see a cassowary up close. These magnificent birds are covered in a thick “mane” of silky black hair, which doesn’t really look like feathers at all. With their striking “horn” on top, swinging wattles, strong beak and those dangerous clawed feet, they are certainly an imposing bird. We were carefully snapping photos, hoping that the large bird didn’t rear up to the top of the fence wire, or peck our fingers through the wire. Luckily, we came away uninjured and unscathed, but have read that these birds, although shy, can disembowel a person if surprised. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?
Lunch was next, and we enjoyed a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato in a bread roll), plus a nice cool milkshake and iced coffee at the Frog Café. Then I heard the man at the next table order crocodile curry – why didn’t I think to give that a try? Everyone was most interested when a large lizard appeared in the café and all the children ran over to have a look. Just look at those claws!
Lizard at large
We had a quick look around the markets then slowly made our way down to the station. After arriving on the Skyrail, our return journey was to be by train, on the Kuranda Scenic railway. Part two of our big day out tomorrow.