Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is the largest butterfly flight aviary and exhibit in Australia and prides itself on providing a world-class wildlife experience in the heart of Kuranda. The all-weather experience is home to over 2,000 magnificent tropical butterflies.
The picturesque landscaping of the aviary is often remarked upon by visitors to the sanctuary, especially by keen gardeners. Much care has been taken to create and maintain a natural rainforest environment with special attention given to the needs of our most nervous butterfly, the Ulysses. The combination of a rainforest under-storey and canopy, along with a running stream and waterfalls, results in a natural-looking and feeling rainforest.
All butterflies in the sanctuary are local rainforest species, and all are hand-reared on the premises. As we incorporate the word “sanctuary” within our name, much care has been taken to exhibit only those butterflies that will be able to live out their full life expectancy within the aviary. Dry country butterflies would stress in the environment that has been created, as would migratory butterflies, so these are never displayed.
The undisputed stars of the sanctuary are the electric blue Ulysses butterflies and the fluoro green Cairns Birdwings. Both these and the smaller but equally colourful species that abound in the sanctuary provide visitors with the unique experience of being surrounded by these habitually elusive wonders of nature. We recommend that visitors to the sanctuary wear something bright (red, white or hot pink are best) and let these beautiful creatures flutter all over you!
Our knowledgeable guides offer free 30-minute tours of the aviary throughout the day. Guided groups are kept small (although larger groups can be accommodated) to maximise the experience on the day. Guests can learn to identify each of the butterfly species, as our guides explain a butterfly’s life cycle and its behaviour. We pride ourselves on our friendly, informal tours - our tour guides are experts in informing rather than lecturing.
Visitors to the sanctuary can also enjoy a 30-minute tour of the breeding laboratory, which houses up to 4,000 caterpillars. This educational experience provides an opportunity to view firsthand the breeding laboratory through special viewing windows, where you will see the caterpillars in their varying stages of development.
Watch as our laboratory staff collect eggs daily and “hand-raise” the caterpillars right through to the chrysalis stage, until they are released as beautiful butterflies into the Sanctuary.
The tour shows our caterpillars in their varying stages of development, and the guides will explain why caterpillars feel it's necessary to change their skins five times, and how they differ physically to butterflies. Explanations will also be given as to why it is so advantageous for these creatures to transform themselves from caterpillar into butterflies.
Locally owned and operated by the Woodward family (The CaPTA Group), the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary was designed and built by Paul and Sue Wright in 1987. Conveniently located next to the village markets, the sanctuary has established itself as a must-see attraction on any trip to Kuranda.
Book a coach tour. There are a range of Kuranda tours with Tropic Wings that incorporate the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary in their itinerary, as well as Skyrail, Scenic Rail, and Rainforestation Nature Park or hire a car and self-drive.