Skyrail Wet Tropics Rainforest

Our Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Ride Above Barron Gorge National Park

By: Heather

After asking several locals what we shouldn’t miss while in Cairns, we were told every time to visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest. We didn’t know much about the rainforest in the area and were advised the best and easiest introduction to see Barron Gorge National Park was gliding above it with Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

The 7.5 kms/4.7 miles of Skyrail was completed in 1995. To preserve the pristine conditions of the rainforest and to provide minimal disturbance to the ecosystem, helicopters were used to lift the majority of the 33 towers into place. The tallest tower stands at 40.4m/133ft, and the highest point stands at the Red Peak Station.

One of the Many Views on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

One of the Many Views on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

Heather enjoying the serene sights.

Heather enjoying the serene sights.

We made a plan to spend a good portion of a day investigating what Skyrail had to offer. Upon arrival, the employees were more than welcoming. Everyone was smiling and providing directions and tips for what to see and do. I know their job is to be nice, but the positive attitudes we encountered were exceptionally noteworthy.

Before your ride grab the Skyrail Trip Guide pamphlet located at any of the boarding entrances. It was packed with information about each tower, the different sections of the forest canopy, what species and individually significant trees are present, maps for the Red Station and Barron Falls sojourns, and details regarding their World Heritage listing. The insights heightened the Skyrail experience because we knew what we were looking at instead of just looking at a mass of trees.

We started our Skyrail journey at the Smithfield station located at the lowest point of the Skyrail. With 103 regular gondola cabins and 11, Diamond View (glass bottom) cabins the lines to board were relatively short and moved quickly. Our first stop was the Red Peak Station at 545 meters above sea level. We chose to walk the 175-meter boardwalk on our own to kill time before joining the free guided tour. Take the tour! We had no idea what we were looking at. The tour made it much more enjoyable, and the local Aboriginal guide was full of stories both historical and personal. Tour times were posted at the entrance of the boardwalk, which made it quite easy to plan your time. Be sure to look for the 400-year-old Kauri Pine tree.

Looking out over the rainforest from Red Peak Station.

Looking out over the rainforest from Red Peak Station.

One of a few critters we found while in the rainforest.

One of a few critters we found while in the rainforest.

Next and arguably most impressive, were the three different views at the Barron Falls station. Sadly, there was not a guided tour, but there were a few information boards at each of the overlooks. Along with beautiful up close views of Barron Falls waterfall, look for a glimpse of the Kuranda Scenic train. Depending on the time of day, you may be able to spot the train stopped on the other side of Barron Gorge. Also, make time to walk through the CISRO’s Interactive Rainforest Interpretation Centre before heading to your next Skyrail depot.

A small glimpse of Barron Falls.

A small glimpse of Barron Falls.

The town of Kuranda was our last exploration on our journey. The town was charming and full of perfect lunch restaurants, shops, and a few museum type activities. Give yourself at least an hour in Kuranda to have lunch and wander the streets. If you plan to visit, any of the animal attractions add on another hour or so. We found the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary to be enjoyable and very informative. For locally made and sourced goods head to the community market erected around the entrances to the Koala Gardens and Birdworld parks.

Gliding over the Barron River to Kuranda.

Gliding over the Barron River to Kuranda.

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

In hindsight, our regret was not riding the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Had we to do all over again we would ride the train from Cairns to Kuranda and take the Skyrail from Kuranda down to the Smithfield station. After seeing the forest from the top and getting a taste of lower forest from the Red Peak and Barron Falls stations, we wanted to see more from inside the woods. The train would have been a great way to see more from inside the forest.

Whichever direction you decide to ride the Skyrail, we highly recommend you don’t miss the ride down from Kuranda to the Smithfield station after lunchtime. The afternoon sun radiates behind your Skyrail cabin and lights up the greenery of the trees and the blues in the water. The views of the Great Barrier Reef and the shoreline in the afternoon were breathtaking.

Our ride down the Skyrail looking out over the coast.

Our ride down the Skyrail looking out over the coast.

Tips For Your Visit

  • Bring water, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, and your fun attitude. Beverages and some snacks are available at each stop station.
  • Check the Skyrail website to choose a Skyrail/Kuranda Scenic Railway adventure which fits you best.
  • Be sure to note three different types of Skyrail cabins are available for transport- Regular, Diamond View, and Canopy Glider. If you are really set on taking canopy photos, you may want to consider the windowless Canopy Glider ride.
  • Book your tickets and departure times online. Booking ahead is not required, but it helps cut down wait times at first arrival.
  • Free wifi was available at all stations except Red Peak.

Travelasics

Skyrail Website: https://www.skyrail.com.au/

Prices: Check the Skyrail website for current prices and discounts.

How to Get There: We took the city bus from downtown Cairns. It took less than an hour and was so easy. Check out the TransLink website for details.

If you are driving to Skyrail, their website provides directions and tips. Also, ample parking is available on site.

Travelationship Rating:

3.5 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives. We enjoyed the Skyrail a lot. The staff was friendly and very helpful. We wished there was a guided tour available at the Barron Falls stop. The prices were on the high side. Be sure to check their website for current discounts and package deals. Type of traveler who may like Skyrail – Adventurer, nature lover, romantic, relaxation addict, history lover, bucket lister, families, couples, singles

Skyrail Selfie!

Skyrail Selfie!

See More Photos on Flickr and Please look for us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

* Thank you to Skyrail for our complimentary Skyrail experience including our visits to Kuranda Koala Gardens, Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, and Birdworld Kuranda. As always, our opinions are ours – honest, not biased and as we experienced.

Comments 22

  1. High up in the cable car, with the wind in your hair, floating amidst awesome landscapes and verdant greenery. Surely this has to rank very high in terms of an immersive experience amidst nature. Your pictures are stunning, especially the colours of the butterfly are captured so endearingly.

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  2. We skipped the Skyrail when we were in Cairns – at the time we were stapped by our budget (Cairns was the last stop on a 2 month tour of AUS). In hindsight, we should have done it! Instead, we got a ride to Kuranda and took the train down (which was pretty cool). I think we would have enjoyed it more to have the guided tours and information. Thanks for the great tips and pictures!

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  3. Looks beautiful! You certainly won’t miss the forest for the trees with this experience. I’ve always enjoyed cable car rides…they offer a unique perspective and for those few moments, you feel suspended between heaven and earth…or sometimes, above heaven on earth. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love taking cable cars. It offers such a great view of the surrounding countryside. Too bad you didn’t get a closer view of the falls though. Windowless options are always great when the weather is good.

  5. Looks amazing! However where as you were sad there was not a guided tour at Barron Falls, I would actually have taken great pleasure in that. Leaves you free to soak up the nature by yourself in peace and for as long as you want, without being rushed on to the next “sight”

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  6. I’m afraid of heights but this looks amazing! I think I’ll give it a try if we ever get to visit!

  7. We love cable cars and this one looks amazing!! Typically it is hard to get great photos because most of the one we’ve been on have windows. Riding on a windowless one would be awesome!!! We will make sure to check this out whenever we make it to that area. Thanks for the great info!

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  8. I love that there’s a windowless option for the cabelway. I recently did two different ones and neither had sufficient gaps to get any great shots despite the incredible views. This sounds awesome, especially as this has recently become one of my favorite ways to experience an area.

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