Atherton Tablelands, QLD: Destination Guide

Atherton Tablelands Guide Lead Image

With an abundance of rainforests, waterfalls, lakes and magical trees, this little pocket of Queensland’s tropical north is a showroom for some of Australia’s most beautiful and remarkable scenery.

Read on to discover the best things to do and see in the Atherton Tablelands or find and book accommodation in the Atherton Tablelands today.

About the Atherton Tablelands

Located to the west of Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands is a dream destination for nature lovers. A trip through this picturesque region will expose you to chilled-out rainforest towns, outback savannah country, cascading waterfalls, idyllic historical towns, ancient crater lakes, and so much more.

Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands

Whoever said getting there is half the adventure could have easily been referring to Atherton. The journey through the Tablelands can take you to the township of Kuranda, with its wonderful selection of galleries, cafes, markets and craft shops, as well as Mareeba, where you can stock up on local produce like macadamias, coffee, pineapples, and even mango wine.

The region is also home to a vast range of native wildlife - including unique marsupials like the tree kangaroo - with bird watchers in for a real treat. There is also no shortage of bush walks, National Parks or natural wonders, not to mention a wide selection of beautiful lakes, creeks and waterfalls in which to escape the sometimes stifling tropical air.

Attractions in the Atherton Tablelands

Davies Creek National Park

This stunning National Park is home to Davies Creek, a gently cascading creek pitted with granite outcrops and the occasional deep pool in which to cool off. From the waterside picnic area, it is only a 2km walk to reach the base of the picturesque Davies Creek Falls.


A trip to the heritage listed town of Yungaburra is a must. Enjoy a superb lunch at the pub, a beautiful old Queenslander-style building with a sprawling beer garden, and if your trip happens to coincide with a market day be sure to check out the famous Yungaburra Markets.

Lake Tinaroo

Lake Tinaroo is used for irrigation, hydro-electric power generation and urban water supply for surrounding towns. However, this man-made reservoir is also a haven for fanatical fishermen, as it is home to some of Australia’s biggest barramundi. The lake is stocked each year with young barra, as the species cannot breed without access to saltwater, and as a result, there is no closed season for barra here.

Curtain Fig Tree

The giant Curtain Fig Tree is more than 800 years old, and was formed after a fig germinated high in another tree, strangling it and knocking it over to 45 degrees before stretching its roots to the ground far below, forming the curtain effect we see today. Surrounded by a wooden boardwalk and nestled in a spectacular rainforest backdrop, it offers the perfect photo opportunity.

Lake Barrine

Lake Barrine was formed more than 17,000 years ago when volcanic explosions blasted craters in the earth, which eventually filled up with water. Verdant tropical rainforest overhangs its shoreline, and the water is stunningly clear — perfect for a swim.

Millaa Millaa

Millaa Millaa is the perfect launch pad from which to explore the regions beautiful waterfalls. One such offering is the Millaa Milla Falls, which are 18m tall and covered densely in ferns and lichen. If you’re lucky, you might even spy platypus or tortoises later in the day.


The Atherton Tablelands present a slightly cooler climate to the coastal town of Cairns, though is still relatively warm all year round. Summertime temperatures average 29°C during the day and dip to around 19-20°C at night, while winter days generally only reach 22°C with a nighttime minimum of around 11°C.

Getting to the Atherton Tablelands

Located in Tropical North Queensland, the Atherton Tablelands begin 60km west of Cairns.

By Car

From Cairns, visitors have a couple of options to take while travelling to Atherton, depending on what you want to see along the way. Kuranda Range Road heads north from Cairns and takes you past the cultural rainforest village of Kuranda, Davies Creek National Park and Emerald Creek Falls, while the Gillies Highway heads south from Cairns through the Gillies Range. For more details on how you can get to Atherton contact the Atherton Tablelands Visitor Centre on 1300 366 361.

By Coach

Trans North offer a service that runs from Cairns terminal to Atherton. Tickets can be purchased directly from the driver. For further inquiries, phone the Atherton Depot on (07) 4095 8644.

When to visit the Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands are beautiful all year round, however due to the tropical climate you can expect more rain in the summer months, with an average fall of 304mm in February compared to 22mm in September.

Where to stay in the Atherton Tablelands

Stay just across the road from Lake Tinaroo at Lake Tinaroo Holiday Park or for more accommodation options in and around Atherton Tablelands click here.

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