Sunday, April 18, 2010

Barron Falls and Kuranda Market

4th April 2010

I woke up at 5:15 a.m. The sound of rain spattering on solid surface could be heard. It sounded louder than the last two days. I went out to check and indeed, the rain was heavier than before. It had been raining almost continuously since I arrived on 1st April 2010. Today, the weather looked really bad. During the last two days, I could still go out without an umbrella, but not this morning.

By 6:45 a.m., I was down at the five-foot way of the lodging, waiting for the four-wheel drive to take me to Daintree, Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge. Finally, it arrived, at 7:10 a.m. This was no ordinary looking 4WD. It was grey in colour, and looked mean, like a garbage truck or an armour vehicle. There was no company logo or name on the vehicle.

The guide cum driver came out of the vehicle, and approached me. After confirming my identity, I boarded the vehicle. He apologised for being late by 10 minutes. Once inside, I waited for the guide to tell me to make payment. I waited. He did not do anything, but engaged himself in a radio call conversation with a woman. The conversation from the other end could be heard clearly, ".... refund their money or postpone the trip to another date". When the conversation ended, the guide explained that the Daintree River had flooded and the ferry crossing the Daintree River was grounded. As such, it was not possible to cross the river to Daintree.

I was going home the next day, and postponing the trip to another day was impossible. So much for my Cairns holiday plan! I decided to get the refund and go to Kuranda. It was better than idling in my room or roaming around the city aimlessly, with so many retails stores closed. Koala's office would only open at 8:00 a.m.

It was about 7:15 a.m. and I decided to go to Rusty's Market again, to check whether the stalls selling the cheap fresh water pearl were opened. The two stalls had not opened yet. I decided to buy a bunch of banana for breakfast, and it cost me 1.75 dollars. A kilogram would cost 1.99 dollars.

I went back to my room at Koala, and then came down to the office to get the refund and book the 9:30 a.m. package to Kuranda. Sandra checked for me whether a seat was still available. It was, but the time had been changed to 10:00 a.m., and I was advised to get ready by 10:10 a.m.! I asked her whether the scenic train was in operation or not, and she called again. No, it was not in operation. The train service was grounded due to a landslide that had blocked the railway line. The train was only expected to resume service the following week. When I realised Sandra could not find the word 'landslide' to describe the disruption to the train service, I asked her about her nationality. She replied saying that she was French and she immigrated to Australia four years ago. She was still picking up the language.

As the train was not in service, I would be using the Skyrail to Kuranda and back, and needed to pay an additional 5 dollars for the package. The total cost was now AUD107 instead of AUD102.

Since I had plenty of time to spare, I decided to buy my breakfast at the esplanade. I had been eyeing the two kebab stalls along the esplanade for the last two days. Finally, I had the mixed kebab rolls in my hand.

Then, I went back to Rusty's Market to check whether the two pearl jewellery stalls had opened. They were still closed. I could not wait any longer, and did not want to regret not purchasing the jewellery. So, I decided to purchase three pairs of pearl jewellery for AUD15 from a smaller vendor. The original price was AUD10 per pair or AUD15 for two pairs. Now, the stall holder was offering them for AUD15 for three pairs.

I was soon on the way back to Koala to get ready for the Kuranda trip. Tropical Horizon tour bus arrived punctually at 10:10 a.m. Again, after confirming my identity, the guide cum driver allowed me to board the bus. I paid him AUD100 and he returned five cents to me, while handing me discounts coupons and an identification sticker. It was soon on the way to pick up more guests from hotels across Cairns. We passed by large fields of sugar cane and finally arrived at the Skyrail station. The guide cum driver asked us to wait for him while he went to purchase the Skyrail tickets.

At 11:05 a.m., the gondola I was in started to ascend. Once airborne, I realised my mistake of coming to Kuranda. The air was filled with mist, rendering the panorama a picture of white. It was still raining, without abating.

At 11:20 a.m., I arrived at the first station, Red Peak Station, where the gondola terminated its journey. Passengers could either embark on the next gondola to go to the Barron Station or walk along a short board walk to see the tropical forest. I chose the later and it was a boring walk, with a long queue building up at the station for the embarkation to Barron Station.

At 12:00 noon, I departed Red Peak Station for the second station, Barron Station. In 15 minutes, I reached the Barron Station. The air was still filled with mist. Barron Falls could not be seen from the first two lookouts (viewing points). At the third lookout, the Falls could be seen but it was covered in thick mist.

At 12:35 p.m. we left the second station for Kuranda. Kuranda was 1.7 km away. At 12:45, we reached Kuranda Skyrail Station. Here, while pulling out the handle of my Taiwan-made umbrella, the handle detached from the umbrella. It was as good as gone.

We could walk or take the free bus to Kuranda Village. As it was raining, I decided to take the free bus.

Kuranda Village is practically a shopping district for souvenirs, consisting mainly of handicraft and local jewellery, garments, etc. and has many eateries. It also has Birdworld, Butterfly Sanctuary and Koala Garden. If you have been to Penang Hill, or known locally as Bukit Bendera, in the state of Penang in Malaysia, then you will feel as though you are taking the same trip all over again, except that this is very much more expensive, bigger and has more shops and places to eat.

The shops started closing before 3:00 p.m. and visitors started leaving the market at about the same time. I departed Kuranda Skyrail Station at about 3:30 p.m., after a long queue. I stopped at the Barron Station once more to see the Barron Falls.

The gondola reached its final destination at about 4:30 p.m. At 4:45 p.m., Tropical Horizon coach took me back to my lodging, and thus ended my Kuranda visit.


  1. The rain really ruined the trip, isn't it? BTW, who you managed to get to help taking pictures of you? :)

  2. Considering the extreme damp you experienced on your trip, I think you have done a great job capturing what it's like here in the wet. Your photos make a really good descriptive essay. Love them.

    A Kuranda local.

  3. Jam: It was raining non-stop the whole time I was there. It really spoilt my day.

    Anonymous: Thanks for the compliments.