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4 days in port douglas w/ child - best way to tour kuranda, tjapukai, daintree?

4 days in port douglas w/ child - best way to tour kuranda, tjapukai, daintree?

Jul 3rd, 2005, 10:46 AM
  #1  
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4 days in port douglas w/ child - best way to tour kuranda, tjapukai, daintree?

Hi everyone,
Thanks to all the posts here and responses to my earlier message, I have secured a reservation for 4 days in Port Douglas at the Hibiscus apts. My question here is:
What's the best way to tour Kuranda, Tjapukai and Daintree? I have read a lot about the Kuranda Skyrail/train/Tjapukai packages, but they seem to be rather rushed. Also, the package appears better suited to people based in Cairns as the train to Kuranda starts in Cairns and Tjapukai is apparently at the end of the skyrail back near Cairns, so we would be sort of backtracking back to PD. Can anyone recommend a good tour for those based in Port Douglas where we won't be too rushed?We might consider driving ourselves but are a little wary of driving at night from Tjapukai to PD. Finally I have read about the different tour operators to Daintree like the highly recommended Pete Baxendall. My 11 year old and I are quite squeamish about bugs, etc. (so not too keen on eating ants and bush plants) and also prone to motion sickness. Is a 4WD tour still the way to go or should we opt for a bigger bus tour for Daintree.Cape Tribulation?

Would appreciate hearing from those in the know!
socalfam is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 01:19 PM
  #2  
ALF
 
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I took my 7- and 11-year olds through Queensland a few years ago, and they had a great time. I really think that there is no need to go on a tour of Tjapukai and Kuranda - you can do it on your own, at your own pace, and perhaps save some money.

Sun Palm Transport (sunpalmtransport.com), among others, operates a shuttle service between PD and Cairns. I think that you should just take a shuttle to Cairns, then do Tjapukai on your own. Whenever you get done, take the SkyRail up to Kuranda. If you want to take the train back then you may have to take a taxi from the train station to where the shuttle takes you back to PD. Alternatively, give up on the train and just take the SkyRail both ways.

My kids really liked the performance and lunch in the outdoor pavilion at Tjapukai. The indoor exhibits are very high-tech and should appeal to an 11-year old. Just one word of warning - they pull no punches in detailing the horrific mistreatment of the local Aborigines at the hands of Europeans. If your kid is at all squeamish, s/he may not like it.

Kuranda is a bit touristy, but it seemed to appeal to my young one. In particular, they loved the parrot aviary in Birdworld and the Butterfly Sanctuary. If your kids want to hold a koala, Koala Gardens is one of the few places left where you can do it. There are a couple of open-air markets where you can get some food and various trinkets.

On another day or two, you can take a Daintree tour. There are so many choices. One thing my kids really liked was the Daintree RiverTrain trip, on a weird set of linked boats made up to look like a train.
ALF is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 02:01 PM
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sofacalm - ALF has given you very good advice but you don't need Sun Palm which is a bit pricier than Skyrail's shuttle. Just ask your accommodation to book you through Skyrail (they have Skyrail/Kuranda Train/Tjakupai as a package - it is not a guided tour but does need to be booked the day before as the train has been filling up lately). Total cost for the 3 including shuttle from and to Port Douglas is AU$134pp - which makes the transfers portion AU$33 pp - Sun Palm is AU$45 pp. Skyrail uses the Freshwater Connection, some 15 mins north of Cairns city for train departure and return point, you can choose whether you want to go to Kuranda Skyrail up or train down, or vice versa. If you choose to take Skyrail up to Kuranda, obviously its better to do Tkajupai first, as you say, they are right next to each other.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 03:35 PM
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As Pat said, there are different tour operators who offer transfers from Port Douglas. I would not use Sunpalm as they are too expensive. You can either use the Skyrail bus or there is an operator in Port called BTS tours who do this tour too. It is not a guided tour, just transfers to/from there.
I would highly recommend to go with Pete as you mentioned. You do NOT have to eat bugs and ants. He will create a great, educational and fun day according to your likes and interests. Maybe contact him in advance and tell him what you would like/not like to do.
Most operators use a 4WD vehicle, but there isn't real offroad driving involved in the Daintree Rainforest. After all, it is National Park so you can't really go offroad. The operators use those kind of cars because of their size and sometimes you have to cross a creek on the way. You will not encounter motion sickness. And remember, if you go on a charter, you can stop any time and go at your own pace. I would definitely recommend this rather than a tour in a bigger bus.
For more info and links, just visit
www.wonderfulaustralia.com

myaustralia is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 06:29 PM
  #5  
 
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As my australia says, bug eating is entirely optional. Assume you are referring to the nibbling of green tree ants, the bum part actually, very high in Vitamin C and used with great success by our Aboriginal people for treatment of colds. You'll gain a lot more insight with Pete Baxendell's trip than with large busload of tourists, whilst the driver/guides do their best they can't give the personalised attention of a much smaller group's guide. Motion sickness won't be a problem, once off the highway the road is slow, no bridges so after rain often creek crossings needed to be forded.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 09:56 PM
  #6  
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It's so nice to come home after a day out doing errands and receive all your very helpful messages! ALF, I appreciate your kid-friendly tips. I will have to think about the Tjapukai show if it is that graphic, as I don't want my daughter to have nightmares later! (Do they just talk about the horrors or act it out?)
With all your input, I think I will opt for doing Tjapukai, and Kuranda on our own. If we opt to go to Tjapukai first, then take the Skyrail to Kuranda, is there a way to go back to Port DOuglas from Kuranda by shuttle or taxi? How much would a cab cost from Kuranda to PD ? From some of the posts I've read, the train sounds like it may not be a "Must Do" esperience. Since we have so much we want to do in the area, I am thinking we may not want to spend time going back to Cairns from Kuranda.
Pat and myaustralia, I feel much better about the Daintree excursion. I think Pete may be the right one for us . IThe only hesitation I have is booking him (any tour) too far ahead in case it rains. However, I suppose I need to reserve in advance or lose the chance to have him. Sounds like a lot of people like Trek North as well, partly as it is cheaper. Do you think it is necessary to book ahead or can I wait till I arrive in PD? We are arriving in PD on August 9, after first spending a week in Brisbane and Hamilton Island...

Thanks all again!


socalfam is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 11:50 PM
  #7  
ALF
 
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The last room at the Tjapukai Cultural Centre shows a video and has some exhibits that are a bit graphic. You might want to have your daughter skip that room. The remainder is pretty amazing, particularly some of the multimedia presentations. The outdoor pavilion has a great show that is put on periodically throughout the day. There are also some outdoor demonstrations of boomerang-throwing, didgeridu-playing, and various crafts.

As for the train between Cairns and Kuranda, I really liked it, but my kids thought it was boring. Certainly the SkyRail is faster and generally more scenic.
ALF is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 03:03 PM
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Hi
The chances of heavy rain in August are very slim, after all, it is the dry season in the Far North. Pete has a 24hr cancellation policy, so if you book for the 3rd day, you will be fine. You can also book for an earlier day and check the forecast ahead of your arrival. It is usually not a problem. But if you leave it too late, Pete might be booked up. Remember, he is an 1-man owner operator so books up fast. Maybe send him an email and check with him directly, he will also be able to give you advise and guidance on what to do.

I actually love the rainforest in the rain, the wet season is my favorite time to go there - but that is me.

You will have a great time up in Port Douglas!!!!
myaustralia is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 08:01 PM
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Well the chances of rain are not so slim as practically the whole east coast of the country has been drenched with floods in SE Qld and Northern NSW. Today its pouring in Cairns, even though it is dry season, but as my australia says, rain does not detract from a rainforest experience. Do contact Pete Baxendell immediately, he's already heavily booked for August but still has some availability, so you may be lucky.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jul 5th, 2005, 04:47 AM
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If you are going to Kuranda, I definitely recommend NOT taking the train with an 11-year-old. My kids found it boring and since the train is often crowded, you will probably not even have a seat next to the window. (Actually, I found it boring too.) I would recommend taking the Skyrail up and back. You and your daughter will have so much fun on the way up that you'll be glad to get to do it again on the way down.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 09:08 PM
  #11  
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Hi everyone,
Appreciate all the help here. Unfortunately, Pete B is booked up for all the days we will be in Port Douglas, so we will be going with Trek North. Will wait till we get there before booking a reef snorkling trip as many of the other posts (including Pat's)indicate that I should avoid going on a boat if it is windy. (I think we will go with Quicksilver as it's the biggest boat, has a viewing area in case my child does not want to be in the water the whole time). I assume that since Quicksilver is a huge boat I won't have to pre-book but if I am wrong please let me know!

Also, I never got an answer to my question about what a cab ride costs between Kuranda and Port Douglas. (I may take a cab to Kuranda from PD then skyrail to Tjapukai and skrail back to Kuranda to save time.) If anyone has an answer, would appreciate hearing from you!
socalfam is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 05:03 AM
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Well I've taken my 12yo grandson on Kuranda train and he loved it. He's a kid that just loves train and being Australian, has been taught the significance of the history of this trainline, so many people died in the late 1800's building that track under hideous circumstances. This line opened up the way to North West Qld, the farming areas of the Tableland and to the outback beyond and if not an Australian icon, at least it is a Queensland one. Skyrail is a commercial enterprise, built about 10 years ago, doing a very good job about keeping people aloft and not destroying the rainforest floor.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 03:35 PM
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Hi,

in regards to your questions on a cab fare. I am not sure, how much it is from Kuranda, but from Cairns you are looking at around AU$100 or a little higher. I would imagine that you have to add at least AU$50 for the trip from Kuranda.
Maybe Pat can give you more detailed info on that.
My question is, why would you wanna take the Skyrail back to Kuranda?? You might as well get a transfer back from Skyrail to Port Douglas. Saves you time and money. You might be able to arrange a transfer with Skyrail.
myaustralia is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 05:21 PM
  #14  
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myaustralia-
I was thinking that if I start out at Kuranda (from PD) then go to Tjapukai by skyrail, it would be quicker to go back to PD if I first skyrail it back to Kuranda, instead of taking a cab from Tjapukai. I was going to skip the train based on some posts (like longhorn here)giving it a thumbs down for kids if not seated at a window. I am obviously clueless about the travel and transfer times involved for buses/skyrail/cabs, etc. but mainly wanted to see as much as I could on our own without having to join a group tour for this. Still open to suggestions. Thanks.
socalfam is offline  
Jul 8th, 2005, 06:34 AM
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Hi
I agree, the train can be pretty boring, especially for children. If you don't get a window seat, you won't see anything. Good idea to skip it.
In regards to the transfers, maybe have a look at the map:
www.skyrail.com.au/ location.html

The Skyrail is located at the bottom of the range. Tjapukai is right next to it, a 2 minute walk. Kuranda is actually on top of the range. So if you take a taxi to Kuranda, you actually travel up the range in the cab, then take the Skyrail down the range to see Tjapukai and then you take the Skyrail again up the range just to take the cab to come down the range again to go back to Port.
I would recommend to take a cab to go to Skyrail, visit Tjapukai first, then take the Skyrail up to Kuranda and then:
Option 1: Take a cab back to Port directly from Kuranda OR
Option 2: Take the Skyrail back to the bottom of the range and get transfer either by cab or Skyrail bus back to Port (you would have to check with Skyrail first and see if they can provide the transfer for you).

OR you can take a cab to Kuranda, then come down on the Skyrail, visit Tjapukai and then take a cab or Skyrail transfer back to Port.

It also depends on what shows you would like to see at Tjapukai (http://www.tjapukai.com.au/rates.html) and how much time you want to spend there.

If you do Tjapukai - Skyrail (up) - Kuranda - Skyrail (down), you could also rent a car and leave it at the bottom at Skyrail. This might be cheaper as you can get cars for around AU$60 - 70 for a day.

Hope I didn't confuse you more. Please let me know if this advice was of any help.
myaustralia is offline  
Jul 8th, 2005, 09:20 AM
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Myaustralia -
Your response has been super helpful, and just what I needed! Thank you !! We might consider renting a car and leaving it at Tjapukai unless we stay for a night show. NOt sure we would want to drive back to PD at night (We would have to forego trying Australian wines at dinner, and stress out about driving on the left side, and possibly watch out for animals on the road.) With three of us, perhaps cabs to/from Tjapukai would be not a whole lot more than a bus/shuttle. Again, I really do appreciate your kind advice. We can't wait to start our first Australian adventure!!!
socalfam is offline  
Jul 8th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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Hi
thanks for the kind words. I am sure you will have a great time in Australia. Enjoy your trip and maybe you can let us know how it went! No matter where you go, no matter what you do - you will have a ball!!!
Take care and have a safe journey!!
myaustralia is offline  
Jul 8th, 2005, 08:59 PM
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socalm - the Kuranda taxi driver had to have a bit of a think when I asked the fare to Port D - after a while he came up with "about $160". Black and White Taxis in Cairns (are not permitted to pick up in Kuranda) gave estimate of $92.60 from Tjakupai to PD. Tjakupai at Night have return to PD but only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, $50pp, $25 for child.

The car rental is obviously the cheapest option, but as you say, you'll have to go very easy on wine at dinner. If you do this and leave car at Tjakupai (right next to Skyrail) you'll still need a transfer from Freshwater Station (if you take the train one way), back to your car (Skyrail can arrange this).
pat_woolford is offline  
Jul 9th, 2005, 05:00 PM
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As already mentioned I don't find the Kuranda train so boring, but then I find Kuranda Village pretty boring - but maybe that's just me. The best attraction in Kuranda is the butterfly sanctuary, Koala Gardens is small and although they'll let you cuddle a koala so they will at Cairns Tropical Zoo near Palm Cove, with a far greater variety of animals. As you'll be in PD, the best wildlife sanctuary in the north will be nearby at the Rainforest Habitat, they have koalas, but no cuddling. Birdworld at Kuranda is quite good but native birds are also at Rainforest Habitat. After the last train leaves Kuranda at 3.30pm and the last Skyrail at about 3.45pm, Kuranda is as dead as a doornail. Tjakupai at Night starts at 7pm, so you're going to need to kill about 2 hours at least - (there's zip around there to do) which probably would be best spent looking around Cairns city which is about a 15 min drive.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jul 10th, 2005, 10:59 PM
  #20  
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Thank you Pat for all the helpful information. Since we are planning to go to Lone Pine sanctuary near Brisbane, we will skip the animals while in PD. Also, we may forego Tjpukai at night (unless it's really amazing) as I don't think we want to run round Cairns between the last skyrail return and the dinner show. From what I can gather, Tjapukai closes at 5:00, so we won't be able to do anything there until the dinner show. I wish now we were staying in Cairns one night so the logistics would be easier, but I'm sure it will all work out. Thanks again.
socalfam is offline  

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