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Kuranda/Tablelands logistics advice!

Surrey, UK
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49 posts
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Kuranda/Tablelands logistics advice!

Hi everyone

I have three full days in Cairns in December, (and 2 half-days) and there are so many fun things to do its difficult to decide what to do!!

We definitely want to spend one day on the reef and one day driving up to Cape Tribulation.

The other day is more challenging! I'd like to visit Kuranda (mainly for the journey) via train/skyrail, and visit the koala place and butterfly farm, but I'm worried it'll be too touristy for my liking. We'll have a car, so the other option is a day of self-drive around the tablelands - lake echam, fig tree, waterfalls circuit.

I'm thinking perhaps we take the train up to Kuranda, and if we don't like it get the next Skyrail down and drive out to the tablelands, although we wouldn't be able to cover as much. Or else we could use our first afternoon (we land about 11am) to drive out to the tablelands.

So my questions are, is a day in Kuranda or a day driving around the tablelands a better option? Are the walks from Kuranda and the skytrain stops comparable to the tablelands, or can you recommend any particular walks or sights?

And, do you need to pre-book your Skyrail time or can you just take any one you like back down? The online booking site does not let you book any 15-minute slot, it only has about 3 time options.

Thank you!!

Destination Expert
for Vanuatu
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329 posts
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1. Re: Kuranda/Tablelands logistics advice!


I wasn't fussed on the train up to Kuranda (bit scary for my liking!) however the skyrail is simply amazing, it's a beautiful trip I'd highly recommend. You don't need a full day though in my opinion so you could head up early and be back by lunch time to head up to the Cape perhaps.

Brisbane, Australia
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2. Re: Kuranda/Tablelands logistics advice!

You'll need a whole day for the drive to the Atherton Tablelands and seeing the sights up there. From the sounds of it you really only have half a day left to plan.

You could go up and back on skyrail in half a day though. I find Kuranda way too touristy but skyrail is fantastic. Seeing the rainforest from above is amazing and it will give you a different perspective of it from what you see on your day trip to Cape Tribulation.

We usually book things when we're there, maybe the day before.

Destination Expert
for Adelaide, South Australia, Kangaroo Island
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3. Re: Kuranda/Tablelands logistics advice!

I've done the tablelands drive and whilst it was pleasant, I wouldn't say it was something I'd do again. I have also done the train and the skyrail.. both were enjoyable in different ways. If you plan to do the reef, book it for the day after you arrive and leave yourself time to move the booking if the weather for that day is inclement. Don't book your reef trip later and then find that the weather is so bad you don;'t get the opportunity to go out. Most operators will move the date if they can. It's just a versatility thing. It is easy to decide on the day what you might like to do.. and also you will possibly find brochures or talk to other travellers which could persuade you to do something entirely different.

When we head up that way we book our dive trip for as early as possible and make other plans once we arrive. Book what you HAVE to do and leave some flexibiliity. I would always recommend a helicopter ride out to the reef if budget allows

4. Re: Kuranda/Tablelands logistics advice!

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