We left Palm Cove on Friday July 10th but before heading north to our next destination, we had seats booked on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway which is “the world’s most beautiful rainforest experience” according to the brochures.
The cableway with its enclosed gondola carriages starts at Smithfield about 15KM north of Cairns and travels to Karunda a town on the Atherton Tablelands surrounded by World Heritage rainforest, 1,000 feet above and about 25KM from Cairns.
The gondolas glide a few metres above the rainforest canopy with two stations along the route where passengers disembark to take a short tour through a section of the rainforest. A Ranger provides a guided interpretive tour.
The journey gives a birds eye view of the forest and the different types of trees but also the Queensland coast stretching north from Cairns – magnificent views indeed, apparently.
The cableway terminates at Karunda and passengers have the option of returning via the cableway or taking a scenic railway ride back to Freshwater station where a shuttle bus is waiting to return passengers back to the cablecar start point.
We had booked this tour on-line earlier in the week but unfortunately the weather deteriorated and on the morning of the tour the rain was pouring down. It barely seemed worth bothering with the trip except that we had shelled out over AUD200 and there was no possibility of a refund .
Our cable ride started at 9AM but was a total wash out as far as the views were concerned: we couldn’t see a thing. The short walks at the two cable stops were interesting and at least we were loaned umbrellas but in good weather there are spectacular views of a scenic gorge and waterfalls. Unfortunately we could barely see it with the rain and mist.
It was something of a relief when we came to the end of the cable ride at Karunda where thankfully the rain eased off a bit!
We arrived at Karunda not long after 10AM. Its a pleasant enough town with a few interesting buildings decorated in aboriginal style but otherwise, apart from a nice Information Centre, the town is essentially a market and street mall with shop after shop selling t-shirts, boomerangs and other assorted tourist tat. There’s cafes galore.
We had walked around the town by 11:30 so we ate our picnic lunch early, sat under a sheltered bench and then completed one of a few rainforest walks of about an hour and a half.We then headed off to the railway station to catch our scenic train ride back to Freshwater station.
The train ride included a photo stop at Baron Falls but we found the trip pretty underwhelming. The actual ride on an old locomotive was nice enough and the history of the construction of the railway is interesting (hand-cut tunnels, etc.) but long stretches of the journey held little or no interest as the views, which would have been magnificent, were obscured by bushes growing along the track. We did get to take a few photos but as you can see the weather didn’t improve.
We were glad when we came to the journeys end and got back to our car at Smithfield.