We collected the car from Avis early and headed off to the Skyrail terminal just north of Cairns. The cable car was not to Ann’s liking (I was scared to death!) but she got used to it eventually. The views out of the gondola were truly fantastic, looking down onto the canopy and out over the city behind. We could see a long way in all directions. The trip is split into three sections and at the end of section one we got out, much to Ann’s relief and joined a guided tour of the rain forest around that station. The eco system was well explained and we saw ferns of all varieties as well as a stick insect and spiders. The trees here are massive and several hundred years old. Lots of vines, aerial roots and strange shapes, which on closer inspection turned out to be massive versions of what we know as house plants in Europe. We were shown a small snake, sunbathing in the undergrowth, but it disappeared before I could focus the camera. At the second station we were shown the magnificent Barron Falls and had several opportunities to view this real torrent. It had rained heavily over the past week in Queensland and this was the spectacular side of the rains. We could also see the KSR on the other side of the gorge where it had stopped so the passengers could view the falls from that side. At this station the guy helping us onto the gondolas pointed out a spider that had caught a large moth. About 4 month’s worth of food he reckoned. The spider itself was about 4 inches long. The last station was Kuranda itself and by now Ann was quite used to the gondola’s habit of almost slowing to a stop and then building up speed again…. Very un-nerving at first. Here we grabbed a beer and settled ourselves, before setting off into the village. The first stop was a small art gallery which was full of didgeridoos, boomerangs and glass art work. If you are reading this Nigel Mason, you will have to come here. The proprietor was working on his computer while awaiting sales and I asked him to Google “Nigel Mason + Glass” which brought up your work. He was very interested. He even suggested that you would make a fortune if you could make a glass Didge.
We then went on up to the butterfly park where I tried in vain to get a shot of the lovely large Blue ones…. about 5 inches wingspan, but they never settle with their wings open. So only a blur of that I’m afraid. Plenty of others though, and plenty more on the way, as they have a breeding station full to the brim next door. After an ice cream stop we spent the rest of our time in Kuranda perusing the very expensive markets, which sold everything from A1 photos of Ayres Rock for 4,300 Aus $ to uncut but polished stones of random shapes for 2$ each. Also Aboriginal art work and clothing of all sorts. Here I spotted the tee-shirt with the “Today is a gift” logo. We then made out way to the KSR station where we had a cup of tea…. In true Yarrow style, and then started the descent back to Cairns along the historic railtrack passing again Barron Falls and many other waterfalls on the way. The views from here were equally magnificent though often very brief, as we passed between cuttings and tunnels. There was a very informative commentary throughout, about the terrible conditions and difficulties faced in its construction. At Freshwater station we were taken by coach back to the Skyrail terminus to collect our car. All in all a very memorable day. Photos here.