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Winged Wonders in Queensland’s Kuranda

Have a laugh on me blogger Emily Toxward shares her magical experience at the Australian Butterly Sanctuary in Kuranda.

Walking through a butterfly aviary among some of the world’s most beautiful creatures is a truly humbling experience. My daughter and I were in awe of the flying beauties and could have stayed for hours at The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary in Kuranda, 25km northwest of Cairns. My sons were a little less amused and a bit put off by the unpredictability of the wondrous butterflies.

Free Guided Tour Offered

Always with a thirst for knowledge, our family took advantage of a guided-tour of the sanctuary’s laboratory and got to see the inner workings of it. We saw plump caterpillars close to transforming and massive moth cocoons. Our guide was super friendly and told us some butterflies were poisonous, some lived for several weeks and others thrived for up to nine months.

She gave us a guided tour through the 3666 cubic metre aviary where canopy flyers flew in and around flowers, stopping to feed on nectar. We spotted two chasing each other throughout the enclosure and were told it was a mating ritual. She told us staff collected eggs laid on leaves to ensure they survived.


Wild Tropical Butterflies

The sanctuary is home to some 2000 butterflies from a variety of species and encompasses seven acres, some of which is under cultivation to provide foods for its ever-hungry caterpillars. The rest is preserved as a natural rainforest habitat for the sanctuary’s own wild tropical butterflies. We saw the Cairns birdwing, the beautiful and well-known blue Ulysses as well as the orchard butterfly, red lacewing, the Australian lurcher and the cruiser.


Unique Up-Close Experience

My daughter had a close encounter with a Cairns birdwing that was likely near the end of its life. We knew this because instead of showing off its high degree of aerial manoeuvrability, the creature was slow and happy to walk on to her hand from another visitor’s hand. The divine butterfly slowly beat its wings and allowed us to get close and see its spectacular and detailed colourings and body. Don’t be surprised if a butterfly or two land on your in the enclosure, they are attracted to certain colours, especially fluro.

Oh The Things Kids Will Learn

Your older children will adore the closeness they get to butterflies, but they’ll also walk away with a huge appreciation of the winged beauties that are much loved but rarely seen. Opportunities exist to see a butterfly’s wing up close through a microscope, be intrigued by the silk moth display and view emergence cages. This sanctuary will nurture your child’s love for nature and make them think twice about capturing these amazing individuals.

The largest butterfly flight aviary and exhibit in the southern hemisphere, The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is just a short walk from the Skyrail and the Kuranda Scenic Railway station.

butterfly on hand

When former journalist Emily Toxward isn't wrangling her three kids she's juggling the demands of writing and failing fabulously at being a domestic goddess. A writer for 20 years, she's always on the go and looking for an adventure. She lives on the Gold Coast, the ocean is her happy place and she keeps parenting real on her blog Have A Laugh On Me.

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