Kuranda - Koala Cuddling and Cane Toad Contortion

Trip Start Feb 05, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Nomads Serpent Hostel

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kuranda sits 1000 feet above Cairns, nestled into the midst of the World Heritage Rainforest. It is a laid back, bohemian market village with a population comprised mainly of hippies and aboriginal people.

We got a bus up to the village in the morning. There is an option to get a scenic train up and skyrail back down - which the tour operators big-up - But this comes at a cost of $150. You can still enjoy spectacular views on the bus journey up there and as we approached the Mountains I recalled something Becky had mentioned previously. Apparently, when it rains steam rises from the rainforests like a giant kettle building up to the boil. Thinking of all the heat and energy that must be stored in the middle of it all made me even more keen to get up there.

Kuranda is a compact little place, with a few streets arranged around a tropical village green. We headed first for The Original Kuranda Markets and discovered that a lot of the stalls were actually closed. As I was the one who had dragged the entire group up the Mountain insisting 'C'maaaaan It'll be really good!' I felt the pressure mounting and more reluctant members of the group starting to feel justified, However, a few stalls were open and after walking around and admiring all the quirky street art and indulging in a handmade tropical ice-cream you got a real feel for the place regardless.

Feeling slightly more optimistic, we headed for Kuranda Koala Gardens - An intimate and interesting little Zoo made to feel less like an enclosure through its rainforest setting. Here, we had the chance to cuddle a Koala. A surprisingly heavy, dopey thing named 'Princess.' We were told that when seeing a Koala for the first time, most people react the same way as they do with a newborn baby. This stems from Koala's resemblance to babies; with their big heads, flat faces and dainty little features. I behaved exactly as predicted and was thrilled when Princess snuggled into my bosom and let me hold her soft, velvety little paw. I could have cuddled her all day. The picture was nice, although I would of rather had it taken against the natural rainforest backdrop rather than a poorly painted, wishy, washy pastel screen.

There were also plenty of crocodiles, who were lazing deadly still, in a pile on the riverbank. They looked like toys tossed into a toybox. In the news recently an Australian teenager came across a similarly inert crocodile in the wild. After agonising for a few minutes about whether or not it was real, he decided to settle the matter with a tug of the crocodiles tail. Unsurprisingly, the crocodile verified its existence swiftly with a chomp to the young mans arm.

At the gardens we also fed some Wallabies - which are a smaller variation of the kangaroo. My wallaby ate straight from my hand. Que smug face. Whereas, other members of the group had to pose with their hand outstretched to its mouth to make it look as if it were eating from it, purely for the benefit of the photographs. Naming no names. Loz.

You can't blame the wallabies really. If I were trying to chill out in the sun and enjoy my own company, I'd snub an 8 hour stream of tourists mauling me and waving grubby hands filled with the same bland food in front of me. When seen from this perspectives, there behaviour was practically gentrified.  

The exit from the Koala Gardens takes you straight into the middle of the Kuranda Heritage Markets. These markets were open and manned by friendly locals with a genuine interest in what they were selling. You could buy a collection of trinkets ranging from exotic and quirly to a little bit sick. These included digeridoos, tribal dress, sauce made from the world's hottest chilli and dead cane toads preserved, hardened and either adorned in accessories such as a hat and cane, or squeezed into the top of a drinks can. Also, more disturbing after our experience with the wallabies, was a stall stocking an extensive collection of kangaroo merchandise. Including kangaroo fur, hats, rugs, postcards and even a real kangaroo testicle bottle opener.

There are 26 million people in Australia and over twice as many kangaroos. It is hard for Non-Ozzies to grasp that over here they are often considered pests and thus a preserved kangaroo cock is considered really quite a novelty.

After lunch, we followed a rainforest trail through Barron Gorge National Park. This is a great way to see the Forest up close and personal and was even more stunning than the walk to The Crystal Cascades the previous day. We decided to walk up to Barron Falls itself, after working out that in the time before the last bus back we could squeeze in the 4km round trip. After seeing a sign for 'Barron Falls Road' we marched off in its direction. After walking for about a Kilometer and exchanging a Hello with a local we discovered we were walking in the wrong direction. After an outburst of dismay and expletives we decided to give Barron Falls a miss.

All in all, despite missing out on two of the main attractions Kuranda has to offer, we still had a great day out. 

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Sheila Penfold on

loving the blogs, bring on the next one xx

Cath Wallace on

just spent 40 wonderful and educating mins catching up on your fantastic travels, longest i've sat at the computer since dont know when. Enjoy

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