Atherton TablelandA scenic drive inland from Cairns takes you a world away, this rustic country region is ideal for a weekend break away from the coast and offers a whole new range of possibilities for the travelling explorer. Discover the unspoilt beauty of the Tropical Tablelands by driving yourself - the roads are excellent. Farmstay and home stay are wonderful ways to get to know the locals of this fascinating region!
The Tropical Tablelands are a blend of the best attractions of the tropics; a combination of nature and lifestyle at its finest. Among the World Heritage rainforests, national parks, mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls of this region are some of Australia's richest agricultural lands and its most charming small towns.
Here, settlers from all over the world share their arts, crafts, music and festivals and join together to preserve the history and nature of their adopted home. Everything, including people, thrives on this cool tropical plateau some 600 - 1000 metres above sea level where temperatures and humidity are lower than on the coastal plain.
Biologists have described the spectacular rainforests of the Wet Tropics as 'the greatest celebrations of life on earth'. The farm and grazing lands that comprise the three plateau of the Tablelands are the 'food bowl of the northern tropics', yielding a constant supply to local and export markets, including innovative tropical products like Golden Drop Mango Wines. For casual visitors, the Tablelands present opportunities for bush walking, bird watching, enjoying a wildlife river cruise with perhaps the chance to see tree climbing kangaroos and platypus, horse riding, ballooning, water sports, fishing, and miles of scenic drives.
Winding roads lead to spectacular lookouts and a popular route to take is the scenic waterfall circuit. Highlights include Australia's widest waterfall - Millstream Falls - and many smaller ones, the extinct volcanic crater lakes of Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham, the ancient Bromfield Swamp and the Hypipamee Crater.
Classic old hotels, motels, guest houses, home and farm stays, caravan and camping parks provide a basis for exploring and for visiting the excellent restaurants, weekend markets, and even a World War II training camp site. The special attractions of the Tableland's postcard-like towns and villages will captivate you; Atherton has a restored Chinese joss house, a steam train, crystal caves and art gallery; Malanda a museum and a swimming pool fed by a waterfall; Yungaburra a heritage walk, markets; Herberton an historic village; Millaa Millaa a waterfall circuit; Ravenshoe a steam train and timber crafts; Lake Tinaroo year round barramundi fishing, houseboat hire and water sports; Tolga a homestead park and woodcraft gallery. Chillagoe, 140km to the west of Mareeba, has extensive limestone caves.
The Tablelands are about an hour's drive from Cairns via the Palmerston and Gillies highways in the South, and the Rex and Kennedy highways in the North.