Why Visit Queensland's Atherton Tablelands

23 Feb 2018

7 Reasons to Visit Atherton Tablelands

The eye-wateringly beautiful Atherton Tablelands may not get the same attention as its world-famous neighbours – the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest – but trust us, it's a destination that really shouldn't be missed on your Queensland holiday. Here we look at the reasons why you should visit the Tablelands:

Why visit the Atherton Tablelands?

Let our Travel Experts help you visit these places (by calling the number in the top right of this article or contacting us) or visit as part of a tailor-made itinerary to Tropical North Queensland.

The Atherton Tablelands

Located an hour and a half south-west of Cairns by car, the Atherton Tablelands are a scenic part of the Great Dividing Range in Queensland, Australia. The climate is temperate and, therefore, more comfortable, free of the humidity that is present in coastal areas, and suitable for visitation year round.

The Tablelands are also blessed with extraordinary natural riches, from waterfalls to ancient rainforest through to an array of endemic wildlife. You could spend weeks immersing yourself in the wonders and gourmet delights available in this area, however this article will highlight seven of the strongest reasons to make the Atherton Tablelands part of your Australian holiday itinerary.

World Heritage-listed rainforest walks

The ancient rainforest reserves here sprawl across the landscape of the Atherton Tablelands, which is why bushwalking (hiking to you and I) underneath this unique rainforest canopy is the first of my seven reasons to visit.

Wits its plethora of beautiful, UNESCO-listed, tropical mountain landscapes you are truly spoilt for choice. However, the most iconic of the rainforest walks are through the Wooroonooran National Park. This patch of paradise has it all – think crystal-clear babbling brooks, populated with calm swimming pools, forested vistas from atop easily scalable summits, and cascading waterfalls (more on that later). Unmissable spots include: Babinda Boulders, a serene swimming hole; Johnston River Lookout walk; and Mamu Tropical Skywalk.

Babinda boulders

If the Wooroonooran National Park has suitably whetted your appetite for natural delights then journey over to Crater Lakes National Park. Here, the vast, tranquil crater lakes – Barrine and Eacham – can be found nestled within lush rainforest. Surrounding the lakes are bushwalking trails, shaded by giant bull kauri pine trees and perfect for a leisurely stroll. Swimming, birdwatching and canoeing are also great activities in this recreational area.

Tree Kangaroos

Incredible wildlife (tree kangaroos, platypus and bandicoot)

If the thought of kangaroos that live up trees doesn’t ignite your intrigue it’s likely that nothing ever will. However, before your imagination runs away with itself – conjuring up thoughts of six-foot-tall marsupials, bounding from branch to branch – it’s worth noting that these kangaroos are smaller, and more adapted to treetop living, than their land-dwelling cousins. Most importantly, though, they are far more adorable. Head to Mount Hypipamee National Park for your best chance of seeing one.    


The platypus – featured on the reverse of a 20 cent coin – is as archetypally Australian as wombats, vegemite and shrimps on barbies. Head to Atherton Platypus Park to catch a glimpse of the antipodean icon.     


Whilst most nineties kids, and their parents, will associate the bandicoot with a popular video game franchise, the rest of the population will be aware that the bandicoot is actually an endearing rat-sized marsupial. Keep your eyes fixed to the ground if you hope to catch a glimpse of one, as they can often be seen foraging along the forest floor.  

Coffee Atherton Tablelands

Delicious drinks (coffee and gin)

The Atherton Tablelands is one of Australia’s two major coffee-growing regions – in fact, caffeine lovers that wax lyrical about the Melbourne café culture and the brews available there are actually sampling Arabica blends grown in the Tablelands. Visit the family owned Skybury Coffee Plantation for some samples and bean-grounding education, direct from the producers themselves.

If you like your tipples to be a tad stronger then you’re in luck, the Mount Uncle Distillery is Queensland’s first and only distillery and it produces gins from botanicals provided by local farm lands.

Let our consultants help you visit these places (by calling the number in the top right of this article) or visit as part of a tailor-made holiday.

Atherton Tablelands Josephine Falls

The Waterfall Circuit

A picture paints a thousand words, so let me quickly paint 5,000 words that will out-do any superlatives that I could use to convince you that the Waterfall Circuit is one of the best reasons to visit the Atherton Tablelands...

Elinjaa falls

Ellinjaa Falls

Josephine Falls

Millstream falls

Millstream Falls

Wallicher Falls

Wallicher Falls

Zillie Falls

Zillie Falls

Millaa Millaa falls

...Specifically, Millaa Millaa Falls

Purely on looks alone, this waterfall warrants its own spot in the list of reasons to visit the Atherton Tablelands. An 18-metre-high cascade of water carves a beautiful pool out of the surrounding rock face which opens up the surrounding tropical foliage.

However, this is not the only reason that Millaa Millaa Falls is so special. The waterfall has been made famous in popular culture by Peter Andre, who filmed his infamous ‘Mysterious Girl’ video here, and Herbal Essences, who filmed their ‘hair flick’ commercial with this waterfall as the backdrop.

Roadside stall atherton tablelands

Fresh produce

When visiting one of Australia’s richest and most diverse food bowls it’s impossible not to recognise the abundance of natural produce. The Atherton Tablelands has almost 2,000 farms producing primarily delicious tropical fruit. Grab some from the stalls that populate the roadside – just drop the money into the honesty box and away you go!

Hot Air Balooning

Hot-air ballooning

What’s the best way to see all the incredible scenery that the Atherton Tablelands have to offer? By hot-air balloon of course. Local experts will narrate you through the landscape as you cruise above rainforest canopies and neat farmland. If you look carefully, you'll even be able to spot kangaroos and wallabies hopping about below. For early birds, there is a sunrise tour that can be arranged – watching the mist roll over the Tablelands is a spectacular sight.

Has this article inspired you? Get in touch with an Australia Expert by calling the number at the top right of this article or visit these places as part of our Tropical North Queensland Journey.

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Joe Stevens

I work in the online marketing department at Flight Centre and am passionate about inspiring others to take the leap to travel. I love exploring the natural world - whether it’s under the waves, up mountain peaks or down in the dirt!