The Kuranda Scenic Railroad was
originally proposed in 1881 as an alternate to impossible
roads that were frequently washed out between the mining
districts of North Queensland and Cairns, Australia.
This railroad traverses 34 Km through 15 tunnels, crossing 40
bridges, and around 98 curves as it climbs up 300 meters
through the Redlynch Valley on the way to Kuranda.
During WWII this railroad was improved to facilitate an
evacuation of Cairns in the event that the advancing Japanese
invaded the northeast coast of Australia. Our trip on
this railroad was behind a narrow gauge diesel pulling
wood coaches with truss rods, red leather covered seats, brass
fittings, and highly varnished interiors. The trip was
through some of the most scenic and dramatic views of forests,
jungles, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and valleys to be
Our trip took us from the main railroad
station at Cairns to Kuranda and back. As we left
Cairns, we saw some open engine houses that contained some of
the remaining steamers of Australia. At the time of our
visit (1990), no steam engines were being used on the main
lines. We continued our trip up the 300 meter climb to
Kuranda, crossing back and forth across the Redlynch Valley,
past neat and well laid out farms and small towns. We
passed over the bridges and past waterfalls, so close they
seemed to be within reach. The forests turned into jungle as we
clung to the edges of cliffs and made our way through 15 tunnels.
The rail adventure terminated at the Kuranda
Station. From the station we visited the Yungaburra Market, only a
small walk away. As my wife and I walked through the market, with
vendors from all around the area including the outback, we
came across an Aborigine man who was telling an endless
story about life in the outback. I stopped and started
listening, an hour later my wife came back and retrieved me as
his story continued on. It was almost hypnotic and visual.
After this we returned to the railroad station and started
our trip back to Cairns.
The trip was as good going down as it was
going up. After this trip we took the Mulberry Rambler
steam train which takes you in open wooden coach's through the sugar cane
fields to a rare orchard farm, and back over a sugar cane railroad
and through the sugar factory.
If you ever get to Cairns, you must also
go out to the world famous great Barrier Reef. Australia
has the friendliest folks around and is an unforgettable
experience well worth the distant travel.