View from drive to Atherton Tablelands

Where to go

Atherton Tablelands

Welcome to
Tropical North Queensland’s Lush Highland Plateau

A vibrant green land of dramatic mountains, untouched rainforest,
delicious produce and jaw-dropping waterfalls.

The Atherton Tablelands is where I find the best variety of subjects to engage and teach my students photography

Jürgen Freund – Photographer, Freund Factory

ENTER THE SPECTACULAR

Starting just south-west of Cairns and rising more than 700m above sea level, the Atherton Tablelands is a lush, fertile region of rainforest, wetland and savannah. An ancient coral reef has eroded over centuries to form rugged limestone caves and volcanic crater lakes are fed by tumbling waterfalls.

Kingfisher on branch

INCREDIBLE WILDLIFE

You’ll find an incredible array of wildlife here, including brightly coloured frogs and elusive platypus. It’s one of the few places in the country where you might spot the rare Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo. Birds are a real highlight in the Tablelands, too: 327 of the 430 bird species of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics region can be found here. Look up and you might see golden bowerbirds, king parrots, honeyeaters, crimson rosellas and masked owls.

Produce in the Atherton Tablelands

HOME TO FABULOUS FRESH PRODUCE

Basalt soil, good rainfall and plenty of sunshine make the Atherton Tablelands something of a food bowl. There are almost 2000 farms, producing delicious tropical fruit such as mangoes, limes and bananas. Experience that goodness first-hand at Wondaree Macadamias and Shaylee Strawberry Farm, where you can pick your own berries. (Or you can grab fresh produce from one of the many roadside stalls – just drop the money into the honesty box).

ESPRESS YOURSELF

The Atherton Tablelands is one of Australia’s two major coffee-growing regions and you’ll be able to find an espresso here that would rival anything you’ll get in a Melbourne cafe. Visit Skybury Coffee to walk through the plantation, see the beans being processed and sample one of their award-winning Arabica blends. For something with a little more punch, drop into the Mt Uncle Distillery, which uses Australian botanicals to make award-winning gin.

Hiking to Nandroya Falls

HIT THE TRAILS

It’s not all about food here. Bushwalking and hiking trails wind through lush rainforest: take a short track through the Crater Lakes National Park or tackle the challenging Misty Mountains of Wooroonooran National Park.

ON THE MOVE

The Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park has almost 60km of purpose-built trails running through picturesque open forest. Kayak across the rainforest-fringed Lake Barrine, take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Eacham or fish for barramundi in Lake Tinaroo.

Tips

  • Don’t miss the Yungaburra Markets, the largest and oldest in the region, held on the fourth Saturday of the month. Pick up some fresh local produce and grab lunch at one of the food trucks.

  • On the outskirts of the town of Atherton you’ll find a unique Chinese temple dating back to 1903. The timber and corrugated-iron Hou Wang Temple is the only one of its kind outside of China and was built by the large population drawn to the region during a brief gold rush.

  • The highest mountain in Queensland is in the Atherton Tablelands – the 1622m Bartle Frere. The 15km walking track to the summit is one for the experienced bushwalker only, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views all the way to the coast.

  • Take a drive around the 17km Waterfall Circuit, which includes many picturesque falls perfect for a dip.

Discover More

From tasting local produce to celebrating Indigenous culture, here’s how to explore the temptations of the Tablelands.

Getting here

  • Getting there by bus

    By coach/bus

    Tours to the Atherton Tablelands depart Cairns and Port Douglas, daily. Some of the more popular tours will help you chase down waterfalls or take you along food trails, uncovering local producers and farm gates. If you’re staying on the Atherton Tablelands, there are a number of specialty tours that will provide pick up and drop off service to your accommodation.

    getting here by bus

  • Driving in the Atherton Tablelands

    By car

    The Atherton Tablelands is about 80km west of Cairns so hiring a car and self-driving is the best way to explore. From Cairns, the Kennedy Highway (Kuranda Range) or Gillies Range are your best options. From Port Douglas, access is via the Rex Range and if you’re staying south of Cairns, take the Palmerston Highway.

    getting here by car

Stay

From delightful boutique stays to holiday parks that come mountain-bike ready… where to rest up in the Tablelands.

#exploreTNQ