This jam-packed two day itinerary will take you through southern Cairns to the magical Paronella Park and up to the Atherton Tablelands to treat your tastebuds to an abundance of local produce.
Babinda to the Atherton Tablelands
9AM – Babinda Boulders
Every good adventure begins with a swim right? Well it does in Tropical North Queensland where there’s more rainforest pools than you can poke a stick at! The Babinda Boulders has something for everyone. From its walking tracks and lookouts, to its cool, green waters lined with large granite boulders, thick, lush rainforest and the haunting legend of an ancient and tragic Aboriginal love story. What a way to start the day.
11AM – Paronella Park
#thedreamcontinues is not only the official hashtag of this delightful ruin in the rainforest but it’s an apt way to describe the next stop in this 48 hours of fun. Paronella Park is a photographer’s delight, offering postcard scenes left, right and centre. From the mossy ruins to the towering trees, to the waterfall and grand staircase, you won’t be disappointed.
11AM – Mena Creek Hotel
Nothing beats the charm of a local pub set amongst the cane fields. The Mena Creek Hotel was built in 1929 and since then has been serving up delicious, good sized meals to locals and tourists. Match that with good old Queensland customer service and you’re on to a winner.
2PM – Nucifora Tea Plantation
If you suffer from car sickness and want to avoid the trials and tribulations of a winding range road, the Palmerston Highway offers the very best trek to the Tablelands for you. This scenic drive takes you from the coastal lowlands to the Atherton Tablelands, with far less twists and turns than the Gillies or Kuranda Range roads. We recommend stopping at the Nucifora Tea Plantation at the bottom of the Palmerston for a quick photo op.
3PM – Mungalli Creek Dairy
Need a little caffeine fix? The Mungalli Creek Dairy ‘Out of the Whey’ teahouse is the perfect place to recharge those batteries while enjoying a stunning view over the Tablelands. The coffee is good and there’s a wide range of cakes and sweet treats to go with it. They also do lunch and free cheese and yoghurt tastings. The teahouse is open 10am – 4pm.
3PM – Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat
Spend the night in a treehouse at Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat – the perfect place to pull up stumps for the day. This privately owned and operated retreat has nine handcrafted pole and timber treehouses, each with views over the rainforest and their own private setting. Sit on the deck, light a fire or soak in the spa bath. Each treehouse has a private BBQ, so make sure that you stock up on local meats for dinner.
8.30AM – Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat
It’s hard not to get a good night’s sleep at Rose Gums, everything about this place leads to rest and relaxation. That means you wake up early, refreshed and ready to go. The treehouses have a full kitchen and come with a delicious, complimentary breakfast hamper, featuring milk, yoghurt, cereals and coffee. Once we’ve recharged, it’s time to head over and feed the birds at the owner’s residence. What a delightful way to start the day.
8.30AM – Lake Barrine
Head to Lake Barrine, a volcanic crater lake surrounded by lush green rainforest. Visit the Lake Barrine Teahouse and tuck into the iconic Devonshire Tea whilst looking out at views of the lake from the charming verandah. Stop, relax and sock up the serenity. Take a short walk to the twin giant bull kauri trees, which are estimated to be around 1000 years old.
12PM – Historic Village Herberton
The Atherton Tablelands has lots of two things: beautiful scenery and country charm. One way to really see what life would have been like here in the early pioneering days, is to visit Historic Village Herberton. Set on 16 acres, this attraction has more than 50 restored period buildings and recreates a historic tin mining town, complete with shops, a school, garage and more. There’s a café / restaurant on site, giving you plenty of time to explore everything this place has to offer, without getting hungry.
3PM – Gallo Dairyland
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Gallo Dairyland, which is located on the Malanda-Atherton Road. Gallo makes their own delicious and amazing selection of chocolates on site. If you want it, they’ve got it. I’m talking everything from freckles for the kids, to hazelnut chocolate, coconut chocolate rough and chilli chocolates. The best part? You don’t have to stop at one. They sell by the weight, so pick what you want and indulge away. There’s much more to this place than chocolate, there’s cheese, ice-cream, tea and coffee, a restaurant, kids farm and milking demonstrations.
5PM – Gillies Range Road
It’s been a refreshing, rewarding and delicious 48 hours and now it’s time to head home down the iconic Gillies Highway. It might be a windy way home, but has some gorgeous views over the hinterland and cane fields below. There’s lots more to see and do the Atherton Tablelands, but there’s always time for another adventure.
Explore the Atherton Tablelands
101 things to do on the Atherton Tablelands
Looking for things to do on the Atherton Tablelands? We’ve got the 101 – literally. Here’s 101 activities on the Atherton Tablelands to add to your list.
10 waterfalls to chase on the Atherton Tablelands
Hit the famous waterfall circuit, uncover those lesser known or stretch a little further and take a dip in Australia’s widest, single-drop waterfall on the Atherton Tablelands.
Accessible travel in the Atherton Tablelands
From rolling green pastures, to endless blue skies, the Atherton Tablelands is the Far North’s most underrated answer to pure adventure. The cooler-climate makes its stunning array of landscapes a treat to indulge in, no matter how you choose to do it. Discover accessible travel in the Atherton Tablelands with this guide.
Food trail highlights on the Atherton Tablelands
Foodies take a deep breath and prepare your tastebuds for tantalisation. Here’s how to get your foodie fix on the Atherton Tablelands.
Old town young heart: your guide to Yungaburra
It’s no coincidence the Atherton Tablelands village of Yungaburra attracts visitors from far and wide. This village, 750m above sea level, translates to Meeting Place in local indigenous dialect – and the trail of headlights coming from Cairns each weekend proves it.
Retreat Hopping on the Atherton Tablelands
Pack the mini-break bag and head for the hills for a long weekend of retreat hopping on the Atherton Tablelands.
7 great reasons to head to the Atherton Tablelands
The Atherton Tablelands are the kind of place you want to take at your own pace. Jump in a car and head inland to tick off these must-do experiences.
8 ways to do the Atherton Tablelands
Head to the hills to discover the Atherton Tablelands, whose rolling green hills are ready for a different type of adventure every day
Discover the family friendly Atherton Tablelands
Cruise up the range behind Cairns and the first thing you’ll notice is the ever-changing scenery and a welcome drop in temperature. Welcome to the Atherton Tablelands, a place where most travellers choose to follow the waterfall circuit, but if you’re exploring with kids, you’ll want to veer off this well-worn path.
Take to the countryside for these Atherton Tablelands events
Head “up the hill” from Cairns for an abundance of action-packed events in the Atherton Tablelands. From music festivals to wheelbarrow races, here are the Atherton Tablelands events to add to your annual calendar.