Oct 7th: Glass bottom choo choo

The plan for the day was to take the skyrail up to Kuranda and the train back down. We spent the morning lounging and swimming in the pool. Very stressful.  I had been trying to find a guide to take us for a wild life viewing trip while we were in Daintree, but nobody had any bookings. Finally, one bloke got back to me and had availability next Sunday for a half day outing.  Cool beans.

Glass bottom gondola

At 11 we headed out to the gondola. Jason had booked us a glass bottom version. The gondola runs up and over the mountains and then down into the little town of Kuranda. Here are some basic facts:

  • It is 7.4 km long
  • It has 32 towers
  • It can move at 5 m/sec
  • It reaches the high point at 545 m
  • There are two stops along the way

It was pretty cool riding above the top of the forest canopy, although not what I would call an adrenaline rush. Every now and then you would see these giant blue butterflies. They were amazing. We stopped at each of the intermediate stations. There were just very short little board walks and a pretty old and tired-looking interpretive center at one. We finally saw a cockatoo. Didn’t get a picture though. Doh.


Evidently the film makers for Avatar came and photographed this area and used it as the inspiration for creating the look and feel of Pandora. The blue butterflies were definitely a carry over.

We got to Kuranda and decided to wander up to the butterfly pavilion. The town is a major tourist trap with a billion souvenir shops. The butterfly pavilion was definitely worth it, though. We hung out there for awhile taking pics.

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Jason wanted to go see a koala as he had never seen one, so we went next door to where they had a few animals. They are exceedingly cute. The wombats too.

At 3 we headed over to take the train back down to Cairns. According to Wikipedia:

“Construction of the railway began in 1886.[3] The railway was completed as far as Kuranda in 1891. Passenger services began operations on 25 June 1891.[4]
Many lives were lost as numerous tunnels and bridges were built. 15 hand-made tunnels and 37 bridges were built to climb from sea level to 328 metres up the Macalister Range.[3] Three million cubic metres of earth had to be excavated during construction.[1]
The first operation of a tourist train from Cairns to Kuranda was in 1936, using four longitudinal seating carriages.[5] In 1995 major repairs had to be carried out after a severe rock fall damaged the track. On 26 March 2010 the train was derailed by a landslide injuring 5 of the 250 passengers on board.[6] The service was closed until 7 May 2010 while a geotechnical review of the track and risk assessments were completed.”

It was a pretty cool train and they had nice cars where we got some wine and cheese plates.

The gorge was pretty impressive and it was a pleasant ride back down.

Evidently the train got robbed in 1973 when they were hauling the payroll up to Kuranda.

We made our way back to house and jumped in the pool. We were all feeling very hot and sticky. After some dinner we just hung out on the deck and enjoyed the evening.

I’ve made the mistake of checking the news. Bad idea. Really bad idea. Maybe I will just buy a dive shop in Cairns. I have been sleeping better and vacation is starting to really sink in. I guess I really needed a break.

Tomorrow we head up to the Daintree river for some birds and salties. That should be super cool.

One thought on “Oct 7th: Glass bottom choo choo

  1. This is fantastic. What great photos, Rog! Thanks for giving us so much detail. Just missing one thing: what are you guys eating? Loved the butterflies. So glad you are all enjoying yourselves! We may have to join you at your dive shop! Love to all.

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