Mount Mulligan

Where to go

Atherton Tablelands: Mareeba & Outback

History, food & adventure

The Atherton Tablelands is famous for its diverse landscapes, cooler climate and is known as the food bowl of Tropical North Queensland, with produce from biodynamic dairies and coffee, to tropical fruit crops and beef. Where the southern tablelands is known for its rolling green hills, lush rainforest and tumbling waters; Mareeba and the outback is dominated by eucalypt woodlands, dissected plateaus and savannah plains peppered with stunning wetlands.

The heart of this area is Mareeba, which boasts up to 300 sunny days a year, creating ideal hot air ballooning conditions. Glide above the township, watching the sunrise over the distant mountains and illuminating orchards of tropical fruits, and kangaroos bounding through the bushland. With the whole day ahead, there’s so much more to explore.

coffee at skybury coffee plantation

From paddock to plate

Name a tropical crop and it’s probably grown in the Mareeba and outback region. Find mangoes, bananas, avocados, lychees and papayas, as well other delights, including coffee, as the region is one of Australia’s main coffee growing regions.

The cattle industry also plays a significant role in the local economy and you’ll find local meat served around the region, including at Crystalbrook Collection, who farm their own beef two hours west of Mareeba, or KUR-Cow Barnwell Farm who also offer the cattle station experience.

Chillagoe Smelters

Old & new history

Millions of years of history can be discovered in the intricate network of limestone caves at Chillagoe, also once a prolific mining town. Minerals were mined extensively throughout the region, with historic towns like Tyrconnell, Irvinebank and Watsonville also evidence of the once-booming mining industry.

Learn more about the area’s past at the Mareeba Heritage Museum and Visitor Information Centre and go back further in time as you explore ancient Aboriginal rock art, the most noted being at Davies Creek National Park and Chillagoe-Mungana National Park.

Natural charm

Don’t let the dry eucalypt woodlands fool you, Mareeba and the outback are home to some of the wettest areas in Australia and thus features spectacular waterfalls and swimming holes. Cool off in the crystal-clear waters of Emerald Creek or Davies Creek Falls, flowing off the rainforest-shrouded Lamb Range.

Wake with the birds at a range of private and National Park camping areas, many with their own freshwater swimming holes along various creeks, weirs or rivers.

birdwatching at jabiru safari lodge

Wildly wonderful

The Mareeba Wetlands is an especially unique environment and one of Australia’s richest regions for birdlife. Birds flock here from across the savannah, the dry outback and even the Wet Tropics Rainforest, making this one of the most diverse culmination of birds in Australia with over 200 different species. While the wetlands are closed to the public, you can explore on a private-guided tour with FNQ Nature Tours

For other wildlife experiences, hand-feed rock wallabies at Granite Gorge Nature Park, or visit one of Kuranda’s wildlife parks, home to both exotic and endemic species.

kuranda original rainforest markets

Colourful Kuranda

The region’s rainforest heart, Kuranda, separates the coast from the country. The village is known for its quirky markets, tasty food, wildlife parks and artistic nature. It’s also the home to the iconic Barron Falls, which puts on a show for a few short weeks of the year and is best seen in summer or autumn after a good dose of tropical rain.

Explore Kuranda

Tips

  • Catch a movie from the comfort of your car every Friday and Saturday evening at the Mareeba Drive In Theatre – one of the few places left in Australia boasting one of the outdoor theatres.

  • Two of the most popular and challenging walking trails of the area depart from near Davies Creek – Kahlpahlim Rock (Lamb’s Head) and Turtle Rock. Both trails can either be completed as a circuit or by returning via the same track.

  • Situated at the base of its namesake, Mt Mulligan Lodge offers the ultimate luxury outback experience. Overlooking the breathtaking escarpment, the all-inclusive lodge balances adventure, luxury and history in the most stunning way.

  • Mareeba is the crossroads to both Cape York and The Savannah Way. Be sure to stop by the town for a bite to eat, coldie at the pub or even overnight before you embark on your big adventure.

Discover More

Find out what else there is to do while you’re here.

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Atherton Tablelands
10 things near Mareeba worth the drive from Cairns

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Bike and Bird
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The top spots to stay around the Atherton Tablelands trails

Exploring the Atherton Tablelands on two wheels and looking for a place to stay? Here are some accommodation options for your mountain biking adventure.

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Atherton Tablelands Rail Trail: relaxed riding

Tired of the hustle and bustle of the city? Take a break and ride the Rail Trail in the Atherton Tablelands.

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13 Food trail highlights on the Atherton Tablelands

Foodies take a deep breath and prepare your tastebuds for tantalisation. Here’s fourteen fun ways to get your foodie fix on the Atherton Tablelands.

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20 waterfalls near Cairns

Mighty mountain ranges and Wet Tropics Rainforest create the optimum environment for a myriad of extraordinary waterfalls. Fall in love with these 20 waterfall wonderlands only a short drive from Cairns.

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Kuranda
48 hours in Kuranda

Just as the Na’vi in Avatar have Pandora, Tropical North Queensland has Kuranda, a rainforest village worthy of its own feature film. If you don’t know much about it, discover why you need Kuranda’s leafy greens in your life with this 48 hour guide.

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Mudcrab to mangoes: your guide to eating local in Cairns

From earthy bush tucker and exotic fruits to ocean-caught seafood and a biodynamic dairy farm, Tropical North Queensland offers up a menu with a unique ingredients list.

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Great places to go camping near Cairns

Are your campsites better described as camp palaces, or do you just roll with the bare essentials? Whether you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other, lace up your hiking shoes, load up your 4WD (or hatchback) and string your fairy lights around these camping sites near Cairns.

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Atherton Tablelands
48 Hours on the Atherton Tablelands

Two days to refresh, revive and take in the sights and sounds of the lush countryside.

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Stay Local

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

Recent waters leaving their mark in the epic Chillagoe-Mungana Cave system ⛰🌊 With a network of over 560 known limestone caves, it’s hard to believe that this area was once home to an ancient coral reef 🐚🐠 These cave systems began to form hundreds of millions of years ago as the shallow sea carved its way through the limestone. Today you can explore three of the caves on your own or join a guided tour & learn about this incredible underground ecosystem ✨👣
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​📸 @reubennutt #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
It's not every day you get to crawl through a spectacular cave system without a guide ⛰🔦 But in #Chillagoe that's exactly what you can do 🏜The Chillagoe-Mungana Caves began to form 400 million years ago when the landscape was covered by a shallow sea 🌊⛰️ No, you won’t find batman hiding out in here, but you might be lucky enough to spot some bats! 🦇 Ripe with natural & cultural heritage, this incredible place is only a 3hr drive from #Cairns on the @athertontablelands 🚙
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​📸 @theramblerco #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #summergreat #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
A new perspective on a (really) old classic 🌴🙌 If you’d prefer your history lesson taught outside the classroom, then point yourself towards #Chillagoe & get ready to step back in time ⏱👈 Explore 400 million years of history told through the geology of the Chillagoe-Mungana caves ⛰🐚 
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​📸 @zpaulger #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia

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