The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary at Kuranda Village in northern Queensland is the largest butterfly aviary in Australia. The landscaped Butterfly Sanctuary is home to over 1500 hand-reared tropical butterflies.
All the butterflies are local rainforest species, including the large blue Ulysses butterfly, the bright green Cairns Birdwing and many colourful smaller species. The aviary opened in 1987 and over a million people have visited the attraction. Some of the butterflies have a tendency to land on visitors brightly coloured clothing.
Throughout the day there are 30-minute guided tours through the aviary included in the admission price. Your guide presents information about the butterfly life cycle and behaviour. The Sanctuary also has an air conditioned museum displaying butterflies from all over the world are displayed.
The Sanctuary is landscaped with rainforest plants to create s suitable habitat and to provide suitable food plants for the rainforest butterflies to lay their eggs on and for caterpillars to eat. There are under-storey plants and a tree canopy with a flowing stream and waterfalls, giving a natural rainforest setting. Staff collect butterfly eggs from the plants regularly and the eggs are taken to a laboratory where they raise the caterpillars until they pupate. Food plants in the lab are changed daily to give the caterpillars a diet of fresh leaves like they would have in the wild. The Sanctuary lab raises about 30,000 caterpillars each year, and about 24,000 pupate and are released into the aviary as adult butterflies. A behind the scenes laboratory for six or more people can be arranged at extra cost (price on application).
The aviary was founded by Paul Wright and officially opened in 1987. At the time it claimed a spot in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest butterfly aviary. In 2004, the owners of Rainforestation Nature Park, Charles and Pip Woodward, went into partnership with Paul and Sue Wright, before buying the remaining share of the Sanctuary in 2007.
The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is located at 8 Rob Veivers Drive in Kuranda Village about half an hour drive west of Cairns in north Queensland, Australia. The Sanctuary is open from 10am to 4pm every day except Christmas Day.