Kuranda – The History Of The Village In The Rainforest

In this part of the tropical North the rainforest is home to the Djabugay aboriginal people who have lived here for over 10,000 years. Exploration by Europeans in the early 1800s opened the way for gold prospectors and the timber industry and settlement by the pioneers. Kuranda was first surveyed in 1888 by Thomas Behan and the building of the railway and road from the new seaport of Cairns paved the way for trade and the movement of people over the mountains.

At a suitable elevation of 380 metres above sea level coffee was the crop of choice until severe frosts in the early 1900s wiped out the harvest. Kuranda became a destination for locals on holiday and honeymooners with the word soon spreading of the magnificent Barron Falls and the lushness of the rainforest. During the 1940s there was a big military presence in the area; training and rest and recreation for troops and Air Force personnel took precedence over tourism.

In the late 1960s Kuranda was the place to be spectacular scenery, a wonderful climate, cheap living, grow your own food, do your own thing. So called “hippy” communes flourished for a few years. In the 1970s new settlers arrived; musicians and people with artistic talents and imagination pursuing an alternative lifestyle. Their unusual hand-built houses of bricks and timber were inspired by this unique place. Open-air market stalls sold locally grown produce and an abundance of hand made wares. Buskers and fortune-tellers entertained the crowds. The community prospered. The population grew fast with the improved road allowing commuters to work in Cairns and live in the clean atmosphere of Kuranda.

The Kuranda experience today is an amalgam of all that has gone before, a cosmopolitan and happy village community. The people who live here have a deep appreciation of the beauty around them, and a cheerful welcome for the visitor.


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