Friday, July 21, 2006

Cairns and Kuranda, Far North Queensland

Cairns is located 1700 km (1056 miles) from Brisbane.

Kuranda Village is just 25km northwest of Cairns in Far North
Queensland, Australia and is surrounded by World Heritage
Rainforest.You can travel to Kuranda on Kuranda’s Historic
Scenic Railway or by car or bus, via the spectacular Kuranda
Range Road or over the rainforest on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

For 34 kilometres, the 100 year old railway climbs more than
300 meters through tropical rainforest, delves through 15 tunnels,
bends around 98 curves and travels precariously over 40 bridges.
Kuranda was first settled by Europeans in 1885 and then
connected to Cairns by rail in 1891.

The Esplanade, Cairns. The city of Cairns is situated on Trinity Bay,
which was named by Captain James Cook in 1770. In October 1876
Cairns was proclaimed a port of settlement. In June 1891 the rail line
was opened to Kuranda. With a population of 10,000 people, Cairns
was proclaimed a city in October 1913. Today the population is
123,760 and Cairns is a thriving vibrant city and a stepping stone to
the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas and the Daintree Rainforest.

Low tide at Trinity Bay by the Esplanade in Cairns. Up until
recently,the Cairns waterfront has been dominated by 16 hectares
of tidal mudflats completely unusable for any beach activities.
It is, however, a home to thousands of small marine creatures.

The new Cairns Esplanade features an outdoor amphitheatre, a large
sandy swimming lagoon, grassy picnic areas, walking tracks, public
barbeques, children's playgrounds, shops and restaurants, an
environmental interpretation centre and a Great Barrier Reef Cruise
departure terminal. This has livened up the area around the
Esplanade and the swimming pool is very popular on weekends and
the restaurants and cafes are crowded on week days and evenings.

In 1884 the first stage of the Kuranda rail line was started. Dense
jungle and cliffs with sheer drops of up to 330 metres and a slope as
steep as 45 degrees were often death traps to the workers. Working
with only picks, shovels, bare hands and dynamite, 2.3 million metres
of earthworks was removed. This section was opened in October 1887
and took nearly 18 months to complete just 16 kilometers of line.
Some 1500 people worked on the railway line. Finally after 23
confirmed deaths in June 1891 the line was opened by the Governer
of Queensland.

The Stoney Creek Bridge is the most outstanding feature of the
railway line. The iron lattice construction was completed in June
1890 and stands on three trestle piers.

Looking back towards the Stoney Creek Falls.

Getting off the Kuranda Scenic Railway to view the Barron Falls.

From the many different lookouts one can view the magnificent
Barron Falls, although mind you as you will see from the next few
photos the views can sometimes be a little disapointing.
The first time we saw the Barron Falls this was the view, it was taken
in September which is the dry season in North Queensland. When
Lake Tinaroo near Atherton was damed the Barron River was reduced
to a trickle and the only time when a lot of water falls is either when
water is released from the dam of during the wet season.

The next time I visited the Barron Falls it was in March and although
there was more water falling it was raining that day and there was
heavy fog, thus making the view of the falls difficult to see.

I'm cheating here as I haven't seen the Barron Falls under this
condition, so I downloaded this photo from the net, just to show that
the falls can be seen in full flood. This was taken in the wet season
(January to March) and the flood gates had been open at Tinaroo Dam
to release some of the overflow.

Finally we completed out journey at Kuranda Station. The Federation
style station is heritaged listed and was completed in 1915 when gas
lighting was installed. Kuranda has been a tourist destination for over
100 years and the trip by either the Scenic Railway or by the Sky
Rail is well worth the visit.


Peter said...

See I told you it would all work out and be worth the trouble in the finish, good post Wazza.

Meow said...

Great post, Warren. And a lovely part of the world. We visited Cairns / Kuranda last August / September, and there was somewhat more water falling down Barron Falls than in your first photo. It was just beautiful (and my hubby's name is Baron, so it was kinda nice to go there and take some photos !!). We didn't go on the railway, unfortunately, but enjoyed visiting the markets.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Take care, Meow

M said...

Hi Warren ~~ Great post with the photos and all the info as well. BUT What are those things in the pool? It sounds like a terrific tourist attraction.
Take care, Merle.

Hale McKay said...

Thanks for the trip, Warren. Great pictures.

Raggedy said...

WOW! Thanks for the tour! That was awesome...The pictures were great!
That is the most colorful engine I have ever seen...It sure looks like a fun trip...

The Heir said...

hey warren, im pretty sure the guy i live with worked on that railway a while back, hes a champion bloke (for a pom) and he basically saved the railway from going bust. its a tourist thing yeah? hes got a big picture of it going past a waterfall in the house, looks pretty similar and v. cool.