28 May 1999


Train to Kuranda


We came down to breakfast a bit late - most of the stuff was taken.  It mainly consisted of hot things to put on toast: beans, tomatoes, a beef mince, and spaghetti.  Seems to be a popular thing here.

The skyrail shuttle picked us up at the motel and took us to a train station.  On the way, the shuttle picked up a group of older people sporting all sorts of biker memorabilia: shirts, hats and tatoos.  We later learned that these people were members of the Ulysses Club, a biker club for older people.  You have to be at least 40 to join.  The club was having their annual meeting in Cairns. [Ulysses is also the name of a native blue and black butterfly.]


  • View of the mountains from inside the train
  • A waterfall sprays the train
  • Waiting for the train to be repaired
  • The train slowly wound its way up the forest-covered mountains.  We talked with the people sitting in our booth - it was an old-style train booth with wooden seats that faced each other.  An older couple was part of a larger group that gets together every once in a while to tour different parts of Australia.  They were from Melbourne, although the man was originally bron in Scotland.  They had their grandson with them, who spent a good deal of the time taking a nap.  The other couple was from a suburb of Sydney and was here to celebrate their anniversary.  Because the train broke down at a scenic overlook, we had plenty of time to get to know each other.  Everyone was friendly.


  • Barron Falls lookout from train stop
  • The overlook was of the Barron Falls, which had a long drop into the valley below.  Most of the train ride wasn't as scenic; the views were obscured by the thick covering of trees.  We had passed through 15 tunnels before reaching Kuranda.


  • Daria at the Rainforest View Cafe
  • We stepped off the train and followed the herd of tourists into the town of Kuranda.  It seems that this town's sole purpose was to get money from the tourists while they transfer from the train to the skyrail.  Today was a market day, which meant double the number of people selling stuff.  Here's a sample of the things for sale: little deformable heads, kangaroo fur postcards, all sorts of t-shirts.  We ate at the Rainforest View Cafe, which had a deck facing the rainforest valley.  They featured a buffet of Thai and Italian foods, so we both had that.  While we stayed there, two whole tour bus loads of Asians had eaten lunch.  We noticed that the food didn't sit well with some of them, but we had no problems.



    The Skyrail Over Rainforests


  • Daria walking in the rainforest
  • Barron Falls lookout from skyrail stop
  • View of the rainforest treetops
  • Barron Gorge
  • Ascending the last mountain
  • View of the coast while descending
  • Us in the gondola
  • The trip back on the skyrail gondolas made the whole trip worthwhile.  We were lifted above Kuranda Village, above the level of the trees until we could see the whole of the valley.  Apart from a slight wind and the hum of the machinery, the trip was very peaceful.  There were two stops along the way, which made for 3 legs of the journey.  The first leg, we shared a ride with a woman from Cairns and her friend visiting from Perth.  We got off at the first station, which had several lookouts over the Barron Falls.  From this angle, we could see the hydroelectric plant.  There was also a museum which described what made this a rainforest, what creatures we might see, and how delicate the enivornment is.  Our travel companion for the second and third legs was a quiet German student.  The second leg featured a panoramic view of the mountains, plus we could stare down into the depths of the rain forest.  We could not see the bottom!  The third leg descended to the ground station; at the highest point, we could see the coastline and the town of Cairns to the south.

    While we waited for our bus at the ground staion, we talked with a couple who were members of the Ulysses Club.  They lived outside of Brisbane and had rode up to Cairns on their bikes.  The gentleman said they travelled as fast as 200 kmph. [I don't know what the speed limits are on the coast, but I'm sure it's not that fast!]  They mentioned that they'll be in a parade tomorrow morning with the other bikes - a total of 3,000 riders.

    Once we retuned to our hotel, we relaxed by the pool before heading tinto town.  We walked 9 blocks to a place called the Red Ochre Grill; they specialized in recipies featuring Aboriginal ingredients.  I had a kangaroo steak, and Daria had emu - the two animals featured in Australia's coat of arms.  The kangaroo was a bit sinewy, but the sauce was sweet and tasty.  The emu tasted like ostrich, which is a dense meat.  As strange as it was, this was my favorite meal to date.  The wines were delicious, but they made me sleepy.  During the course of the meal, we were served by each of the people working there.  One waitress mentioned that many of the staff were vegans.  I wondered what they thought of our meal.

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