Season 1, Episode 9

Skyrail – part 2

Benjamin Starr continues his interesting interview with Craig Pockock, the Managing Director of Skyrail in Cairns. In this episode we find out the ecological engineering behind Skyrail. The spectacular views, and the history behind the Kuranda railway.  

Hosts & Guests

Benjamin Starr

Craig Pocock

Links

Skyrail

Read the transcript

Intro Guy:  Welcome to Drive Your Own Adventure with Benjamin Starr. With Holiday Parks and Resorts across New South Wales and Queensland. Find your dream destination with Ingenia Holidays.

Ben:  So now we have hopped off our wonderful gondola, we’ve gone for a bit of a walk.  We were laughing about in the gondola, I said I bet they have lost a few mobile phones in their time. And you were telling me you’ve got crews of people that go and collect all this stuff.

Craig:  Yeah yeah, one of our obligations is to make sure that we are zero impact. So a couple times a year, we’ll send out some staff and they will walk our transect at ground level to make sure there’s no litter or anything that’s fallen and we have found the odd mobile phone.

Ben:  Now tell me we are standing in the most amazing position, and you were just telling me this is all new. So, where are we?

Craig: Welcome to the Edge Look Out. The Edge is at Barron Gorge and it was built specifically to be zero impact, and certainly to blend in.   But it was built to follow the contour the gorge and to give guests an experience and a view that I couldn’t get anywhere else.

Ben:  So, we are how far up above the crevice now?

Craig: We are about 187 metres. 

Ben:  And you were telling me that when it rains this waterfall is to die for?

Craig:  Absolutely yeah, it’s a view second to none in the wet season.This year particularly, we had a good wet and it was just fantastic.

Ben:  And where we are standing now we are standing on glass, so this gives us the perception, so we can overlook the hang out; see what it really looks like as if you’re flying.

Craig:  Yeah exactly right it’s to give you a little bit of a vertigo rush, a little bit of a thrill. And so we’ve got glass in front of us, it doesn’t impede the view and glass below you and it’s amazing to watch some people come and try and interact with this.

Ben:  Well it must have been an engineering feat.   When you turn around and you see how it’s all been made.   It is very minimal impact, but it must’ve been a an amazing project for the people that built it. 

Craig:  Exactly, and that was a Cairns company. So, wherever we can we try and be good corporate citizen and we outsource our works locally and a local company called Dawson Engineering   engineered this, designed, engineered and then constructed.   And they did it in such a way that we could use an existing pathway, so we didn’t have to build roads, no helicopters and then they cantilevered the parts out and bolted them into the place.

Ben:  And was there helicopters involved in this one as well?

Craig:  No, no helicopters whatsoever.

Ben:  At all?  So how did they get all the steel up here?

Craig:  So they built them in small sections, and then they used very narrow gauged vehicles that they could drive down the walkway that you just used,  you just saw.

Ben:  My goodness!

Craig:  And slide these sections out and bolt them into place.

Ben: Isn’t it clever what we can do with steel.

Craig:  Absolutely! There was very, very minimal clearing, we didn’t have to clear anything. We fitted it between the trees, so we didn’t have to clear any vegetation.

Ben:  I love the fact that we were talking about your data line running up here, you’ve got security cameras everywhere.

Craig:  Security cameras, we’ve got WIFI deployed, the whole box and dice.

Ben:  Fantastic. What do you love about coming up here, and I mean obviously you have a passion for Cairns but what is it about Cairns that you love so much?

Craig:  I love the lifestyle.  As I said I was born and bred here. I’ve worked overseas, I’ve worked away but I always like coming back to Cairns. You know, the summers are warm, but you can go an hour to the west of the tablelands where it’s three or four degrees cooler and there’s no humidity. You can go swimming in the rain forest streams, you can go to the Great Barrier Reef and snorkel.  There’s always something to do, it’s just such a great lifestyle.

Ben:  And from working overseas, what were you doing over there?

Craig:  I was working in America at the time. I worked quite a few areas around the States and I was in corporate life in those days. I did a bit of work in New Guinea as well. 

Ben:  All of you have worked in corporate life and gone into this world of tourism, it’s fascinating.

Craig:  Yeah that’s right once you migrate into tourism, the satisfaction out of seeing the smiles, you can hear people laughing around you, the satisfaction of seeing people consume your product and enjoy it is second to none.

Ben:  And what’s your hope when they come here. What do you want them to take away, your personal thing? 

Craig:  Well I want them to take away an understanding and love of the rainforest. I want them to take away a love and an understanding of the region. I mean, Cairns and Tropical North Queensland is just an amazing part of the world and I want them to share that message. Because, you know I think everyone deserves the opportunity to come and have these once in a lifetime experience.

Ben:  Now what’s the significance of Kuranda. Why is this place in existence?

Craig:  It used to be, around the turn of the century a major timber portal and it was also one of the major destinations for the train that used to transport goods and gold down to Cairns.

Ben:  And then it’s diversified over that time. Is the hippie thing still a big thing or what’s it become now?

Craig:  Yeah no, certainly there’s a lot of people come to Kuranda who want to escape the hard tenures of life. So, there’s a lot of different people up here I guess, and there’s a lot of different experiences up here.

Ben:  Its tree change isn’t it? 

Craig:   It is a tree change yes. Which makes it really interesting when you go to the markets because there is a thriving cottage industry here.

Ben:  Yeah. So, in terms of industries, is more artistic, is it more fruit and vegetables. What would people come up here to get?

 Craig:  Oh, look it’s a bit of everything. It’s really eclectic. So, there is you know, homemade foods, cottage gardens if you like, there’s arts and crafts, art itself, there’s street performers. So, it’s got a bit of everything.

Ben:  And every day of the year this is happening?

Craig:  Every day of the year, yeah. 

Ben: So, you’re open every day of the year as well?

Craig:  Well we are open 364 days of the year, we decided to give our staff   Christmas Day off, as you do.  But, yeah, every other day we are operational.

Ben:  So, it is interesting coming up. We’ve come up on the Skyrail which is fantastic. Then down just on the other side here you’ve got the railway line. So that you work in partnership sort of together, and they can take you down the hill or you can come up the hill and come back on the Skyrail.

Craig:  Absolutely, so as I said they’re an integral part of a partnership.  You can come up on Skyrail and down on the train or up on the train and down Skyrail.  You can choose your method of direction of travel.

Ben:  Well as a Managing Director of Skyrail, what a cool job huh?

Craig:  Oh, its fantastic yeah, I love coming to work every day.

Ben:  What’s the best part of it for you? 

Craig:  The atmosphere, the environment, the smiling faces, seeing so many people with different cultures and the product.

Ben:  Yeah there you go.  Well we’ve been chatting with Craig Pocock today all about Skyrail. What a fabulous experience, thank you very much for having us on board.

Craig:  Pleasure, you’re welcome.

Ben:  We look forward to coming back in and going in that bottomless carriage, and we will do some pruning for you to pay for our time today.

Craig:   Sounds good, Look forward to it.  

Intro Guy:  Thanks for listening to your Drive Your Own Adventure with Ingenia Holidays, with Holiday Parks and Resorts across New South Wales and Queensland. Ingenia Holidays offers the ideal place for an extended break, weekend getaway, or short stop over. Find your dream destination with Ingenia Holidays at www.ingeniaholidays.com.au.         

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