In addition to the bounty of scenery nature has provided, there are plenty of shopping opportunities in the village courtesy of a vibrant arts-and-crafts community and strong Indigenous heritage.
Known as “The Village in the Rainforest”, Kuranda offers both spectacularly lush scenery and respite from the coastal humidity. It first became popular with honeymooners and holiday-makers in the 1900s, but today it’s more of a day trip destination. Tourists can either ascend to the village in the Atherton Tablelands via the Kuranda Scenic Railway, that cuts through World Heritage-protected rainforest, cruising across steep ravines and past picturesque waterfalls, or glide just metres over the rainforest canopy in a unique 7.5km experience aboard Skyrail Rainforest Cabelway that climbs from its terminal in Smithfield.
1. Kuranda Heritage Markets
Open every day, the Heritage Markets offer a wide range of Aboriginal artefacts, handmade leather goods, woodwork and jewellery. Don’t be surprised to see wildlife around – like tame tropical birds and the curious water dragons, which show no fear of shoppers. Once you’ve shopped, try a tasting platter including kangaroo, crocodile and emu at Frogs Restaurant.
2. Kuranda Original Rainforest Market
Established in 1977, these markets feature stalls of locally designed and produced fashions, handcrafted jewellery, Indigenous art, leather goods and gemstones. Visit Honey House Kuranda, where you can taste North Queensland honey and watch bees in their transparent hives. Revive at the tiny Japanese Tea House with a cup of authentic green tea or play a round of mini golf on the 9-hole course.
3. Kuranda Candy Kitchen
Follow the sweet smell of sugar to Kuranda Candy Kitchen where you can watch sugar artisans heating, stretching and rolling traditional rock candy and discover exactly how they make the intricate designs inside. Candy comes in flavours from berry to watermelon, nostalgia-inducing twists of barley sugar, butterscotch and old-fashioned humbugs.
4. Kuranda Arts Co-operative
The Kuranda Arts Co-operative was born in 1996 when a group of artists and craftspeople banded together in the Kuranda Markets to support the marketing and sale of the group’s work. Today, the co-op operates from a gallery with changing exhibitions showcasing a wide variety of quality artwork in media from ceramics and printmaking to textiles and jewellery.
5. Kuranda Rainforest Coffee
The rich red earth of the Atherton Tablelands is perfect for growing coffee beans and indeed there was once a thriving coffee growing industry here. Call into Kuranda Rainforest Coffee for one of three single origin locally grown and roasted blends served as an espresso, pour-over or cold drip, and pick up some beans or ground coffee to take home.
6. Doongal Aboriginal Art Gallery
This gallery represents more than 20 local Aboriginal Rainforest artists as well as 150 Central Australian artists. it also has a huge collection of locally made and painted didgeridoos and boomerangs for sale, among other traditional Indigenous artefacts.
A T-shirt made from soybean fabric? Bamboo leggings? A hemp hoodie? Or perhaps a 100 per cent organic cotton, carbon-neutral T-shirt made using renewable green energy from wind and solar power? Tantrika’s range eschews the use of synthetics and pesticide-treated products for natural and breathable fabrics – both environmentally friendly and perfect for the tropics.
8. Kuranda Fudge Bar & Tea Room
More than 30 flavours at any one time are on offer at this (inexplicably) Scottish-accented fudge bar and tea room where the friendly owners (and resident fudge makers) happily let you sample the wares. The constantly rotating range includes the usual plus more out-there flavours like Dirty Chai or the adults-only Uncle Jocks Socks.
9. Peter Jarver Gallery
Sadly, the master photographer Peter Jarver died in 2003 aged just 49, but his work as one of the world’s pre-eminent landscape photographers lives on here. Most famous for capturing the lightning storms of the Northern Territory, he moved here in 1993. His hauntingly beautiful photographs, including Tropical North Queensland’s rainforests and islands, will give you a fresh appreciation of Australia’s beauty.
Respite from shopping
Break up your retail therapy with a healthy dose of cute and unique Aussie animals. Cuddle Australian icons like the koala and kangaroo at Kuranda Koala Gardens or wander the enclosure of the fluttering Ulysses Butterfly at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary. You can also get up close and personal with Tropical North Queensland’s most colourful characters in the avian sanctuary of Birdworld Kuranda.