Unless you suffer from Lepidopterophobia, a visit to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is a must on a holiday in far north Queensland. The sanctuary in Kuranda, half an hour from Cairns, is the largest in Australia and houses up to 2000 tropical butterflies in a glass aviary filled with lush rainforest plants growing around a waterfall and trickling stream.
The butterflies are all local species and include the bright blue Ulysses and the green and yellow Cairns Birdwing, the largest butterfly in Australia. Inside the aviary these delicate insects flutter from plant to plant, stopping only to feed at the nectar stations, to lay eggs or to rest.
They are attracted to bright colours and those wearing red, pink or white will soon find themselves wearing butterflies like living jewels.
Guides are available to take visitors on walks through the aviary. They describe the butterfly’s life cycle and explain how the nectar stations work. The tour also includes a visit to the breeding laboratory, where eggs are stored after being collected from the aviary. Children and adults alike are fascinated by the caterpillars which are hand reared until they become chrysalises. When the new butterflies emerge they are released back into the aviary where the life cycle begins again.
The life span of a butterfly is partly dictated by its appearance. Those with dull colours will live longer while the spectacularly coloured varieties have shorter life expectancies. This is because the bright colours are more attractive to predators and the butterflies need to be moving constantly to avoid becoming another animal’s lunch. They simply wear out faster.
Unlike the butterflies, time isn’t a factor for visitors and you can stay as long as you like in the aviary. The butterflies will always make you feel welcome.
*Lepidopterophobia: Fear of butterflies and moths