Rainforestation Nature Park at Kuranda near Cairns, Australia

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    Army Duck at the Rainforestation near Kuranda, Australia

    Army Duck at the Rainforestation near Cairns and Kuranda, Australia
    Cairns Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    World Heritage Rainforest, Army Ducks, and Australian Wildlife

    When your cruise ship is in Cairns, Australia, a shore excursion to Rainforestation can be fun for the whole family. The 100-acre Rainforestation has a tropical rainforest, orchard, and wildlife park, and is located near the mountain township of Kuranda, which is reached via bus, Kuranda Scenic Railway, or skyrail from Cairns. The land was settled in 1896 and used as a coffee farm, cattle ranch, and commercial orchard before becoming a tourist destination in 1976.

    Walking around Rainforestation and learning about the wildlife and flora of the area is interesting, but riding in one of the World War II Army Ducks is the highlight of any visit to the park. Passengers board the Army Ducks for a guided ride through the rainforest, which includes a short "cruise" on the lake in these off road/amphibious vehicles. After the tour, you can have your photo taken while holding a koala, pet a kangaroo, gaze at a 17-foot saltwater crocodile (from a safe distance), or shop for souvenirs.

    The Army "Ducks" are actually DUKW and were first used in World War II. They can operate on land or in the water and have 6-wheel drive.

    The Army Ducks use four wheel drive on the highway and have ten forward gears and two reverse. They have 6-cylinder engines, but only get 4-6 miles per gallon on the highway and 1 mile per gallon off road. The Ducks at Rainforestation have been converted to cleaner-burning LGP to conserve energy and help the environment. The maximum speeds for the Ducks are less than 40 mph on land and less than 10 mph on the water. The tires spin even when the Duck is in the water.

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    Army Duck at Rainforestation near Kuranda and Cairns, Australia

    Army Duck at Rainforestation near Kuranda and Cairns, Australia
    Cairns Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Riding in the Army Duck at the Rainforestation near Kuranda and Cairns

    Riding in the Army Duck at the Rainforestation near Kuranda and Cairns, Australia
    Cairns Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Mechanic Repairing the Army Duck at Rainforestation near Kuranda and Cairns

    Mechanic Repairing the Army Duck at Rainforestation near Kuranda and Cairns, Australia
    Cairns Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    Our Army Duck broke down (a frequent occurrence), and we had to transfer to another Duck to complete our tour. It was an added piece of excitement!

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    Australian Stinging Tree - The World's Most Painful Plant

    Australian Stinging Plant - The World's Most Painful Plant
    Cairns Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    The small stinging "tree" leaves extremely painful, fine, barbs in your skin. Although the barbs can be removed by waxing, the pain lasts up to six months.

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    Australian Blue Tongued Lizard

    Australian Blue Tongued Lizard
    Australian Blue Tongued Lizard in Kuranda Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    I couldn't get a photo of this lizard's blue tongue, but it's there!

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    "Don't Feed the Crocodiles" Sign at Rainforestation near Kuranda, Australia

    Rainforestation Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    I've never seen a sign like this one! Given the proven ferocity of saltwater crocodiles, it's an excellent warning.

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    Australian Crocodiles

    Australian Crocodiles
    Crocodile Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Flowering Ginger Plants at the Rainforestation near Kuranda

    Flowering Ginger Plants at the Rainforestation near Kuranda and Cairns, Australia
    Cairns Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Jack the Ripper Estuarine Crocodile at Rainforestation near Kuranda

    Jack the Ripper Estuarine Crocodile at Rainforestation near Kuranda
    Jack the Ripper Crocodile (c) Linda Garrison

    Jack is an Australian saltwater crocodile (estuarine crocodile) who earned his name Jack the Ripper in a gruesome manner. Jack killed 12 female crocodiles soon after he was captured 17 years ago, and remains a bachelor today. Jack has been at the Rainforestation Nature Park since 1996, arriving via Quantas Airlines (just like any other tourist) after being banned from a crocodile farm in the Northern Territory because of his nasty personality. Jack is about 50 years old and can live to be over 100. He is 17 feet long and weighs over 1600 pounds. Because of his anti-social nature, Jack lives in solitary at the Rainforestation Nature Park and will never be allowed to mate.

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    Jack the Ripper, a Saltwater Crocodile at Rainforestation near Kuranda, Austral

    Jack the Ripper, a Saltwater Crocodile at Rainforestation near Kuranda, Australia
    Kuranda Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    Jack is an Australian saltwater crocodile (estuarine crocodile) who earned his name Jack the Ripper in a gruesome manner. Jack killed 12 female crocodiles soon after he was captured 17 years ago, and remains a bachelor today. Jack has been at the Rainforestation Nature Park since 1996, arriving via Quantas Airlines (just like any other tourist) after being banned from a crocodile farm in the Northern Territory because of his nasty personality. Jack is about 50 years old and can live to be over 100. He is 17 feet long and weighs over 1600 pounds. Because of his anti-social nature, Jack lives in solitary at the Rainforestation Nature Park and will never be allowed to mate.

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    Kangaroos at Rainforestation near Kuranda, Australia

    Kangaroos at Rainforestation near Kuranda, Australia
    Kangaroos Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Kangaroos at Rainforestation near Kuranda, Australia

    Kangaroos at Rainforestation near Kuranda, Australia
    Kangaroo Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Red Flowering Ginger at Cairns, Australia

    Red Flowering Ginger at Cairns, Australia
    Cairns Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Small Crocodile at Kuranda near Cairns, Australia

    Small Crocodile at Kuranda near Cairns, Australia
    Crocodile Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    White Cockatoo in Australia

    White Cockatoo in Australia
    White Cockatoo Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Wallaby at the Rainforestation at Kuranda, Australia

    Wallaby at the Rainforestation at Kuranda, Australia
    Kuranda Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Tropical Flower at Rainforestation near Kuranda and Cairns, Australia

    Tropical Flower at Rainforestation near Kuranda and Cairns, Australia
    Cairns Photo (c) Linda Garrison