About Tropical Tablelands Tourism
Discover Atherton Tablelands
The official website of Tropical Tablelands Tourism – the region’s local tourism organisation – has everything you need to know about touring on the Atherton Tablelands.
Our visitors’ information website includes a selection of accommodation, tours, attractions, restaurants, events, markets and things to see and do. Research, plan and book your Atherton Tablelands holiday and tours here.
There’s an entire holiday waiting for you here on the Tablelands – if someone tells you it is possible to see the Tablelands in a day, chances are they aren’t from here!
People ask ‘what is the best thing about the region?’ Well, there’s more than one! Firstly, the gourmet food and wine trails that criss-cross our ‘food bowl of the tropics’. Secondly, our wildlife with a particular emphasis on bird watching and unique marsupials like the tree kangaroo. Thirdly, the waterfall circuits with their stunning rainforest backdrops and hidden gems. Finally, there’s the region’s natural wonders such as the Curtain Fig Tree, Lake Tinaroo, Mt Hypipamee Crater, Undara Lava Tubes, Broomfield Swamp, Paronella Park and the twin crater lakes of Barrine and Eacham just to name a few!
Venture out, and discover how wonderful it is to stay at cosy B&Bs, timber treehouses, inviting inns, holiday parks and eco-lodges.
Tropical North Queensland is undeniably one of the most exciting and diverse region’s to visit in Australia and the Atherton Tablelands sits at the very heart of it. The region spreads westwards and southwards from the coastal escarpment behind Cairns and incorporates parts of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area to the east, the Einasleigh Uplands to the south, the Gulf Plains to the west and the Cape York Peninsula bioregion to the north.
The Atherton Tablelands’ fertile plain forms part of the Great Dividing Range and its rich soil can be attributed to the volcanic origins of this stunning part of the country. Lush rolling hills, vast green fields, abundant wildlife, rugged bushland, tropical waterfalls, impressive lakes, rich history, gourmet food and friendly hospitality sum up an Atherton Tablelands experience.
To really experience the destination, you will need more than 1 day.
What to Do
Discover bushwalks in rolling ranges, spectacular waterfalls, coffee plantations, tropical fruit farms, fascinating rural history, stunning National Parks, World Heritage-listed rainforests and markedly cooler temperatures. The Atherton Tablelands/Cairns Highlands region is as diverse as it is beautiful, offering something for everyone.
Whether you’re interested in culture or history, keen on nature, have a taste for adventure or you’re just looking to chill out and watch the world go by, the Tablelands has a wealth of options. Here in the ‘fruit bowl of the northern tropics’, our gourmet produce grows exceptionally well. Take yourself on a tasting tour!
Take in the spectacular natural wonders of the region by exploring the picturesque waterfall circuits and lakes, explore the unusual volcanic features of the region: the twin emerald lakes of Barrine and Eacham, Undara National Park, and the Mt Hypipamee Crater.
Delight in the wildlife that’s so easy to meet – take a tour or take yourself to a platypus viewing platform at Peterson Creek at Yungaburra. Meet the rock wallabies at Granite Gorge, or see a sleepy python or a tree kangaroo while bushwalking, or even cruising on Lake Barrine. Lake Tinaroo is a fisherman’s paradise with the biggest barramundi in the world just waiting to be caught.
Discover more about the superb natural features and the many attractions of the Atherton Tablelands. In the air, on the water, or just on land, the choices here are inspiring. If you’d like help with all the choices, pick up a copy of our free regional guide, Discover magazine, from anywhere in the region, or ask one of the local volunteers at a Visitor Information Centre. Enjoy!
Where to stay
Suit yourself to your choice of stopover! Warm and welcoming bed & breakfasts, interactive farm-stays, camp grounds, holiday parks and luxurious tree house retreats and eco-lodges are found throughout the Tablelands, making it easy for you to stay and play longer. Search our member database by place or town, or select search all to see every listing in each category of accommodation.
High end eco-lodge options offer world-class views, facilities such as spa baths, restaurants or catered breakfasts, gourmet baskets of local produce and optional tours such as bird watching and lava tubes.
Hotel rooms are convenient for stopovers, and motel units offer a self-catering holiday which may best suit families and those planning a longer visit. Chose from self contained apartments with laundry facilities and pools, to budget options in classic pubs in and around the village centres.
Holiday parks welcome travellers, including recreational vehicles, caravans and campers and many offer the luxury of on-site accommodation units and villas. These offer an inexpensive holiday in a family-friendly setting where you can expect to meet people from all walks of life around the pool or barbecue.
Students and backpackers can choose from lodges, hostels and homestay options. With everything from family rooms with ensuites to dorm accommodation, many offer cooking facilities, tour bookings, and internet access.
Whether you’re a couple, a family or a group travelling together, there’s accommodation to match your needs and, if you want to chat to a local and get some ideas, call into one of the Visitor Information Centres – the local volunteers will give you the lowdown on what will suit you best.
Almost all international visitors will have to enter Australia via a major capital city, usually Sydney, Melbourne or Perth. Destinations serviced direct from Cairns include Auckland, Port Moresby, Hong Kong, Guam, Narita/Tokyo, Osaka and Singapore (via Darwin).
For Domestic services, Cairns International Airport operates regular flights to and from Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs, Gladstone, Mackay, Townsville, Hamilton Island and the Torres Strait. For further details for flight airport information, refer to Cairns Airport website – www.cairnsairport.com.
It is easy to access the Atherton Tablelands / Cairns Highlands by vehicle. Roads are generally well maintained and you can drive from the southern coast, northern coast and western outback.
Kuranda Range Road from Cairns – Just north of Cairns the Kuranda Range Road climbs the coastal range to the cultural rainforest village of Kuranda, home to the famous Kuranda Markets and a host of other attractions, shops and restaurants, on the 65 kilometre trip to Mareeba. Along the Kennedy Highway between Kuranda and Mareeba are Davies Creek National Park and Emerald Creek Falls, both of which are set in the drier eucalypt forests and granite boulders of the Lamb Range. These areas are in stark contrast to the lush rainforest around the waterfalls of Millaa Millaa.
Gillies Highway From Cairns – 35 kilometres south of Cairns, is the Gillies Highway at Gordonvale where you will start your gradual climb up the Gillies Range, famous for its 263 corners, and 800m elevation change in only 19 km of road. As you climb the range you will notice the temperature drop, the air become fresher, and encounter spectacular lookouts along the way which enable you to take in the view of the valleys deep in the Great Dividing Range, arriving at Yungaburra.
From Port Douglas
From Port Douglas Road, Port Douglas turn right onto Captain Cook Highway. 10 klms north turn left onto Mossman/Mt Molloy Road. At Mt Molloy, this road turns into the Mulligan Highway taking you through to Mareeba – 85 klms.
From Cape Tribulation, the main road (Cape Tribulation Road) will take you to the Daintree Ferry. Continue straight onto Cape Tribulation Road, then turn left onto Mossman-Daintree Road. Continue onto Captain Cook Highway and turn right onto Mossman/Mt Molloy Road which will take you through to Mareeba.
From Cassowary Coast, Innisfail
The Cassowary Coast is the area between Townsville and Cairns. Access to the Atherton Tablelands is via the Palmerston Highway, a sealed road that connects to the Bruce Highway at Innisfail.
The Palmerston Highway’s highest elevation along its length is 1050m and the lowest point is at 10.8m. For cyclists and those towing caravans, boats or heavy loads the Palmerston Highway is mountainous along its 76.1 km length, with about 16.3 km that is steeper in incline/grade than 5% (2.2 km is steeper in incline/grade than 10% and 520 m of that has an incline/grade more than 15%!). The total ascent / descent along the length of the Palmerston Highway is 1435 m / 1164 m.
The Palmerston Highway travels through the rich Wet Tropics rainforests of Johnstone River Valley to Millaa Millaa, with waterfalls, picnic areas and spectacular lookouts along the way. Innisfail to Millaa Millaa via Palmerston Highway – 60.2 klms.
From Gulf Savannah
The Savannah Way is a themed adventure drive from Cairns to Broome, via Katherine. Major towns on the Queensland section are Cairns, Mareeba, Atherton, Ravenshoe, Mt Garnet, Mt Surprise, Georgetown, Croydon, Normanton and Burketown.
The Gulf Development Road is a sealed road and links the Cairns and Normanton regions. Near Mount Surprise, this road joins the Kennedy Highway (National route 1), bringing the visitor into the Tablelands through Mt Garnet and Ravenshoe.
Croydon is situated in the Gulf Savannah country on the Savannah Way between Georgetown and Normanton. The town has a big history that started with the discovery of gold in 1885. Croydon became the fourth largest town in Queensland! The town still glows from the dust of its feverish gold-mining days.
From Cooktown & Cape York
From Cooktown, travel the Mulligan Highway which is a fully sealed road, to Mareeba – 265.1 Klms. Roadhouses are located at Mt Carbine, Palmer River and Lakeland Downs. Keep an eye out for wildlife and livestock along the roadsides as some sections are not fenced.
From Cape York, travel the Peninsula Development road (state route 81) which runs from Weipa situated on the western coast of Cape York, to Lakeland – 566 klms.
From Lakeland to Mareeba, travel the Mulligan Highway – 185 klms.
News By Tropical Tablelands Tourism
Anzacs and Artisans feature in Self-Drive Trails
By Tropical Tablelands Tourism
05 Jul 2017Two new self-drive adventures – the ANZAC Trail and the Artisan Trail – will be rolled out by Tropical Tablelands Tourism (TTT) this month as part of an international campaign coinciding with the Australian Tourism Exchange.
The trails join the six self-drive trails launched last year to encourage locals and tourists to hit the road in search of adventure and new experiences.
TTT chair Michael Trout said the trails would respectively highlight the importance of the role played by the Atherton Tablelands in the “Allied” win of the war in the Pacific during World War II and the value of markets, galleries and craftsmanship in the region.
“Many people are not aware of the important roll the Atherton Tablelands region played during World War II,” Mr Trout said. “Thousands of Australian and American troops were sent here for R&R and for jungle training in the rainforest.
“Many people know there were army camps throughout the region but that’s about it. Many don’t know Australian and American airforce squadrons were based at the Mareeba airfield, which played a major role in the Battle of the Coral Sea 75 years ago,” he added.
The ANZAC Trail takes in Kuranda where troops enjoyed leave, Mareeba airfield memorials, the historic site of the huge field hospital at Rocky Creek, the various camp locations throughout the region, the art deco Barron Valley Hotel in Atherton, which was taken over for the officers’ club and the Historic Village Herberton, which has trench art and memorabilia left behind in the troop camps in the Ravenshoe area.
“People love visiting the markets to pick up a bargain or to try something new, whether fresh fruit or delicious foods and drinks prepared from our fantastic local produce.
“I am always amazed by the clever and beautiful artistry people engage in to express themselves and to create something different or new,” he said.
The Artisan Trail covers the markets in the towns and villages of the region, from world-renowned Kuranda to the regional favourite at Yungaburra, as well as galleries that include locally made world-class furniture and jewellery through to quirky spots that show some of the fun and cheekiness of the locals.
Mr Trout said the self-drive series targeted the interests of travellers to the Atherton Tablelands rather than town-to-town tourism attractions.
They included The Great Aussie Pub Trail, Geological Wonders, Unique Wildlife and Stunning Landscapes, Off Road Pedal Power (Cycling Adventures), Food Delights and A Step Back in Time.
The trails will be available on the free Discover app (available for Google Play and iTunes) as well as on the website www.athertontablelands.com.au and at local visitor information centres.