Australasia | Australia | Queensland | Wet Tropics | Kuranda – Up into the Rainforest and back down again
Today we went up the hill to Kuranda and back down again, seeing the rainforest and the aboriginals on the way.
We were picked up at about seven AM to ride out to the Kuranda rail station. Cairns is really a tourist town, and it seems like all the tourist packages come with a van to pick you up in the morning and take you home at night. Once at the train station, we stood in line for our tickets, which were laminated seat numbers. The cars are numbered, along with the seats, so the staff works hard to get everyone organized on the platform before the train comes. They took the logic of a Japanese train station and moved it into Australia, but all the Anglos don’t get it. I am sure the Japanese understood the system in a second.
The train has open windows and winds its way up the mountain passing scenic views and flowing waterfalls. The train was constructed between 1882 and 1891 with 15 hand dug tunnels and 37 bridges to get supplies to tin miners. Now it goes up the hill to Kuranda so the tourists can get to all the shopping at the top of the rainforest.
In Kuranda there are lots of touristy things to see like a butterfly park and a petting zoo. No botanical garden, or any plant signage up here though. We strolled the shops until it was time to go back down, this time by the scenic skyrail.
The signage tries to make it seem like the skyrail was useful to the miners, but I think it was all for the thrill of flying over everything. We did get a great view of down below from up here. This part of the rainforest is listed as a World Heritage Site.
At the bottom of the skyrail is the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Depending on how you look at the world, this could be a really enlightening place, or a place that is ripping off the culture of the aboriginals to get the dollar of the tourist. Or maybe it is just a bunch of actors ripping off the tourists. No matter how you look at it, they do have a really great buffet here. And with a buffet with miso soup, vienersnitzel, pasta lamb chops and steak, you know the tourists come from everywhere.
The Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park was created in 1987 to offer an “opportunity for tourist visitors to experience and interact with Australias 40,000 year old culture.” They do refer to it as a “stunning theatrical interpretation of Aboriginal culture”, so you don’t have to take it as too real if you don’t want to. We did see them dance and we learned about tribal medicine and how to play the didgeridoo (or a pvc pipe if you are short a didgeridoo). We both tried our hands at throwing spears and boomerangs. John’s boomerang went around the netted safety hut the rest of us were in twice!