Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

5-May-2005
   

After leaving Mission Beach we travelled 150kms north to Cairns. Well actually we went a bit further and have set up the caravan at Kuranda in the mountains north west of Cairns. On the way we stopped at Babinda to see 'The Boulders' which are some waterfalls and pools in the foothills of Queensland's highest mountain Mt Bartlefrere (1622mtrs). The mountains are covered in tropical rainforests and the water in the rivers is crystal clear but with a slight green tinge.

The swimming hole at The Boulders

Boulders Swimming Hole
The Boulders

The quiet waters in the swimming hole are a total contrast to the raging torrents a couple of hundred metres downstream where the water is squeezed through giant granite boulders.

Now earlier I said that Tully was the wettest place in Australia, well it turns out that Babinda is wetter than Tully and they have got the records and the Golden Wellie Boot to prove it. It was a beautiful hot sunny day when we visited.

Cairns is a busy place with loads of holidaymakers, hotels, motels and backpackers lodges. It's a modern city with a lively central business district and waterfront. But the beach is rubbish; well it's a narrow sandy strip and mud that stretches for miles when the tide goes out.

Cairns

Cairns
Our jungle campsite at Kuranda

A bit further north there are some much nicer beaches but the areas around them are fairly well developed. Inland there is the rainforest and mountains. Offshore there are loads of islands to explore (at a cost!) and a lot further out is the Great Barrier Reef. One of the closest islands is Fitzroy Island that has some nice beaches and resorts. We stayed in the mountains about 20kms north of the city. It's a nice quiet site set in the rainforest but within walking distance of the scenic railway and cable car that runs up and down the mountain.

We found a nice shady pitch set amongst the palm trees.

Our jungle campsite at Kuranda.

One of the popular tourist attractions in this area is to travel on the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail, which travel between Cairns and Kuranda. We took the Railway down from Kuranda and returned on the Skyrail (a 7.5km cable car ride). The train passes through the Barron Gorge with spectacular views of the gorge and 265mtr high falls. In full flood, all the rocks are covered in foaming in water.

Barron Falls

Barron Falls

  

Stony Creek Falls

Further along the track, the train passes the Stony Creek falls. All the diesel locos are brightly painted with Aboriginal designs.

Loco passing Stony Creek Falls

The track passes over a trestle to get past the falls with a sheer drop on one side and the falls on the other.

Stony Creek Train
Skyrail

To get back we took the Skyrail that took us over the rainforest back to Kuranda.

The Skyrail with Cairns in the background

Cairns is just visible at the top right. The ride takes 1.5 hours and climbs to 545mtrs at the highest point. (The navigator still doesn't like cable cars!) . Eventually we pass over the Barron River back into Kuranda.

The Skyrail passing over the Barron River near Kuranda

Skyrail