An ATV tour in the World heritage rainforest.

Published in Escape

Danielle Norton was looking for adventure in Far North Queensland on her first family holiday after the Melbourne lockdowns.

Whenever we go on a family holiday each of my kids is allowed to choose one activity at the destination that the whole family can enjoy together. This way, everyone has one awesome memory and we are all exposed to experiences that we may not have chosen for ourselves. This is how I end up at Kuranda Rainforest Journeys, preparing for an ATV adventure. Max Marshall picks us up in the minivan from the property’s front gate and chauffeurs us down a winding tree lined track to a clearing where the homestead, an old Queenslander, and the parking shed, come into view. My teenagers and I drove ATVs in Bali a few years ago so we are revved up and keen to nab prime positions. 

 

We assemble in this ancient forest environment, don our hairnets and helmets and choose our bikes; 250cc models for the stronger of our group and slightly smaller 90cc models for the younger teens and the more timid.

 

In seconds, we are on the trail, with very little needed in the way of practice. “Turn the switch, here are the brakes, off we go…” I start off slowly, convinced I’m going to fly over the handlebars, but within minutes I’m pushing down on the throttle and feeling the wind in my face.

 

Max advises us not to look right in front of us but a few metres ahead in the direction we want to go. While I’m picking my way up and down the bush tracks I realise why. Whenever I check the path directly in front of my wheels I see massive tree roots, rocks and other random forest speed humps that on a normal bike with air tyres I’d definitely try to avoid, and I can’t help but turn my wheels. Unfortunately, this also leads me off track, and I notice the teenagers in my group are either slowing right down or ploughing sideways when these obstacles arise. The more gung-ho accelerate straight over them and their rides are smooth.

 

We pull up under a gigantic Crowsfoot Ash tree and peer up into the canopy at the basket ferns. Max takes the time to explain about epiphytes (plants that grow in symbiosis with other trees). He also points out some dangerous plants for us to avoid; most notably the Wait-a-While silica vines. These trailing plants that hang from the trees across many of the forest paths are encased in sharp prickles that hook into clothing and feel like glass shards when they get stuck in your skin. 

 

Max rounds us up and offers to take our photo, positioning us in front of an enormous Yellow Penda tree that botanists have estimated to be about 1000 years old. He takes a panorama, urging the kids to run around behind him once he starts shooting so that they appear in the final image twice. It’s a clever trick that all are enamoured with, and a great add-on service for the tour.

 

Back on the bikes, we muster for a river crossing, which Max also videos. It’s not deep but we are advised to enter slowly and cross one by one, not stopping until we have made it through and gunned it to the grassy area at the top of the hill. This is the space where those who’ve built up a bit of confidence on their bikes can get a bit of speed up and try some circle work and tricks. 

 

We stop in at one of the family’s orchards to snack on a rambutan (there are over 20 acres of 600 exotic fruit trees on the property) then check out the hand built rum distillery, holding our breaths while one of the cassowaries wanders past, unperturbed.

 

The tour ends with another river crossing and an effortless run along the forest tracks under stunning ancient foliage. This is an awesome way to experience the rainforest.




NEED TO KNOW

 

  • Bring a bandana or face mask if you want to avoid literally eating someone’s dust. Only the driver at the front gets a face full of fresh air.

  • Kuranda Rainforest Journeys has a no phones policy. No texting, filming or photographing while you drive.

  • Minimum riding age is 10 years old and no previous experience is required. Riders are expected to sign a waiver and abide by the rules set by the Marshall family.

  • There are no double seaters. It’s one person per quad bike and there is a choice of large or small. Younger children and the more timid can sign up for the buggy tours.

  • Catch the Skyrail straight to the property. Staff will meet you at the Barron Falls Station.





Danielle was a guest of Tropical North Queensland