Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

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Coordinates: 16°50′53″S 145°41′41″E / 16.84806°S 145.69472°E / -16.84806; 145.69472

Looking down
The path of the Skyrail

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a scenic cableway running above the Barron Gorge National Park from the Cairns suburb of Smithfield to Kuranda, Queensland. The development of Skyrail was controversial as some local residents believed that damage might be done to World Heritage listed rainforest. Following seven years of planning and approvals, and 14 months of construction, Skyrail opened to the public in August 1995.

Spanning 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) over Barron Gorge National Park, the Skyrail includes a scenic cableway ride and stops at two rainforest mid-stations. Here, guests alight from the cableway onto rainforest boardwalks, where interpretive information is provided through guided boardwalk tours, signage and an interpretive centre.

Skyrail may be experienced either as a one-way (in either direction) or return journey. A one-way trip takes approximately 1.5 hours, while a return takes approximately 2.5 hours.[1] Skyrail offers packages where visitors can return from Kuranda via the Kuranda Scenic Railway or visit the Tjapukai Aboriginal and Cultural Park, located next door to the Smithfield base station.


At the Red Peak Station
View from the cableway of Barron Falls

There are four Skyrail stations:

Smithfield Terminal[edit]

Smithfield Terminal is located in the suburb of Smithfield, Queensland, 15 minutes north of Cairns, and 50 minutes south of Port Douglas. Guests may begin or end their Skyrail experience here.

Red Peak Station[edit]

Skyrail’s Red Peak Station is the highest point of the cableway, at 545 m (1788 ft) above sea level. Here, Skyrail’s Rangers conduct guided boardwalk tours on a 175 m rainforest boardwalk.

Barron Falls Station[edit]

Skyrail’s Barron Falls Station is adjacent to the Barron Falls. Skyrail’s boardwalks here lead to three lookouts of the Falls. This station also features a rainforest interpretation centre, which was developed in conjunction with Australia’s national science organisation, the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation).[2]

In 2012, Skyrail in conjunction with Djabugay Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (DNTAC) developed walking tours with aboriginal guides on a rainforest trail on traditional Djabugay lands, departing from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Barron Falls Station.

Kuranda Terminal[edit]

Skyrail’s Kuranda Terminal is located in the rainforest village of Kuranda, adjacent to the Kuranda Scenic Railway Station.


The original Skyrail idea was conceived in 1987 and was followed by seven years of pre-construction feasibility studies, an Environmental Impact Study and numerous other reports and assessments, and consultation and approval processes with local, state and federal governments and local communities.

Skyrail’s construction required the development of world-first construction techniques to ensure minimal impact on the World Heritage listed rainforest in Barron Gorge National Park.

Construction commenced in June 1994, and Skyrail opened to the public on 31 August 1995.[3]


Skyrail over Kuranda

Skyrail has received numerous tourism and environmental awards, including:

Australian National Tourism Awards
  • 2009 Winner - Excellence in Sustainable Tourism
  • 2008 Winner - Excellence in Sustainable Tourism
  • 1999 Winner - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 1997 Winner - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 1996 Winner - Best Tourist Development Project
Queensland Tourism Awards
  • 2009 Winner - Excellence in Sustainable Tourism
  • 2008 Winner - Excellence in Sustainable Tourism
  • 2000 Hall of Fame - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 1999 Winner - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 1998 Winner - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 1997 Winner - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 1996 Winner - Best Tourist Development Project
Tropical North Queensland Tourism Awards
  • 2009 Winner - Sustainable Tourism
  • 2004 Winner - Hall of Fame - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 2003 Winner - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 2002 Winner - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 2001 Winner - Best Major Tourist Attraction
  • 1998 Winner - Best Major Tourist Attraction
International Tourism Awards
  • 2000 Winner - British Airways "Tourism for Tomorrow" International Environment Award
  • 1999 Winner - Wet Tropics Management Authority Cassowary Award. Awarded for demonstrating best practice in ecotourism during construction and ongoing operation, and for providing a high quality rainforest ecotourism experience for hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
  • 1996 Winner - EIBTM European Greening of Business Tourism Award in the Category of "Most Environmentally Conscious Visitor Attraction"
  • 1996 Winner - Australian Federation of Travel Agents Awards for Excellence in the category "Best Resort or Tourist Attraction" Far North Queensland


Skyrail holds a number of business and environmental accreditations and certifications, including:

  • EarthCheck Platinum
  • Environment Management System ISO 14001:2004
  • Quality Management System ISO 9001:2000
  • Ecotourism Australia
  • Planet Safe Partnership


  • The cableway is 7.5 km (4.7 mi) long.
  • It has a total of 114 gondola cabins (103 standard and 11 Diamond View), each standard gondola is capable of seating 6 passengers and Diamond View 5 passengers, providing a carrying capacity of 700 passengers per hour in each direction.
  • In November 2013, Skyrail introduced 11 'Diamond View' (Glass Floor) gondolas, taking the place of 11 standard gondolas, each with a capacity of 5 passengers.
  • The cableway can operate at a speed of five metres per second (18 kilometres per hour, or 11 miles per hour); however its normal operating speed is much slower to provide guests with the maximum time to enjoy their rainforest experience.
  • There are 32 towers in total. The highest tower is Tower #6 at 40.5 m (133 ft) high.
  • Red Peak is Skyrail’s highest station at 545 m (1,788 ft) above sea level. The Kuranda Station sits at 336 m (1,102 ft) and Caravonica Terminal is only 5 m (16 ft) above sea level.
  • The steepest section of the cableway has a slope of 19 degrees.
  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway has 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) of 40.5 mm galvanised steel rope weighing more than the equivalent of 100 sedan cars.
  • There is a multi-core communications cable which runs in the middle of the towers, between the two lines of haul rope. This carries all the voice and safety circuit communications.
  • The cableway is driven by a 383 kW (500 hp) D.C Electric Motor located at each drive station, the Kuranda and Caravonica Stations. Each drive station has a back-up diesel motor and a further auxiliary Hydrostatic Drive.[4]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]