on October 19, 2006
After our first day in Cairns, when we went snorkeling/scuba diving, James and I had a lot of options but no definitive plans. After looking through various brochures and my Lonely Planet Australia, we decided to head to the Atherton Tablelands by going north, around Kuranda, and then making a large loop around to the Crater Lakes area. However, our plans changed when we noticed a sign for the Kuranda Skyrail only a few miles north of Cairns on the Captain Cook Highway.There’s not many places in the world where you can ride a gondola over a huge stretch of rainforest, so after asking how much time the ride would take (1 ½ hours if you made no stops at all), we bought a $54 ticket each and hopped in line. Since the weather was still a bit grim—we could see clouds shrouding Red Peak, the highest point in the ride—there weren’t many people, and after a couple of minutes, we were in a gondola ascending high above Cairns.Luckily, we had a few minutes to enjoy the scenery before we were sucked into the sinking clouds. It was quite a view. Just below us were the Caravonica Lakes, and just to our left (when facing away from the mountain) was the cable-ski park, where we could barely make out a couple of people wakeboarding. Looking further away from us, we could see the spread of Cairns, its harbour, and the Pacific Ocean. Apparently, on a good day, you can see Green Island and the Barrier Reef; while the weather had cleared significantly since the day before, there was still plenty of cloud around, so we didn’t quite see that far. We did, however, see Palm Cove and Double Island, which looked beautiful poking its green shoulders out of the shining blue sea around it.Soon, this beautiful landscape began to fade away as we reached the clouds and the heavier rain within. After a few more minutes, we were at the top of Red Peak and in the middle of the thick rainforest. Here, you have to get out of the car and get into another one, which is on a completely separate gondola line from the first. If you stayed in your car here, you would end up experiencing something like a ski-lift in Colorado during the summer—just a nice ride up and down the side of a mountain.This entry is continued in Kuranda Skyrail: Over Red Peak and to the Rainforest.
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