Atherton Tablelands, Queensland

Atherton, Queensland 4883

Located near Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands offer a great year-round destination for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of Australia and its fascinating cultural history.

To avoid the crowds, head there between December and April, when tourism is at its lowest and the temperature is very pleasant.

While there, you can get stuck into a huge number of activities that dot the landscape, including self-drive tours across the plains, and a number of galleries and historic landmarks to explore. Antiques and the arts are big in this region, so you’ll find plenty of craft shops, studios, and galleries in the cute collection of towns, while the natural scenery has some incredible gems, like the Crystal Caves and Mount Mulligan Escarpment.

The Tablelands themselves stretch out for miles, encompassing ancient rainforests, volcanic lakes, waterfalls, wetlands, and national parks that are packed full of native flora and fauna and provide the perfect backdrop to any activity. Here are some of the main attractions in the area.

Top Things to do in Atherton Tablelands

  • 1. Paronella Park

    Paronella Park

    These pretty heritage gardens sprawl out over 13 acres of rainforest beside Mena Creek Falls. Founded back in the 1930s by Jose Paronella, the Park is filled with impressive greenery and ruins of the Spanish Castillo. Jose Paronella’s dream was to build his own Spanish styled castle in the heart of the rainforest, creating something quite unique that visitors would flock to. It was one of the first eco-friendly facilities in all of Australia, with Paronella involved in re-forestation and hydroelectric power. Sadly, due to the continuous cyclones and floods throughout the years, the castle has been severely damaged. However, it is still open to the public, showcasing an insight into the opulence and character of the Castle back in its hay day. With numerous walking tracks, hidden treasures, and stunning decorations, you can get lost in this buried paradise.

  • 2. Tarzali Lakes Aquaculture Centre

    The Tarzali Lakes Aquaculture Centre is the best fishing park in the Atherton Tablelands. Here, you’re almost guaranteed a catch if you fancy throwing your own line in. However, it isn’t just fishing on offer, with platypus tours, nocturnal guides, camping, and informational lectures on the area’s inhabitants. Alternatively, you can sit and watch others fishing. There is even a café on-site, offering delicious lunch meals or quick on the go snacks. Nestled on the shores of the pristine lake, Tarzali Aquaculture centre truly showcases the beauty of the area.

  • 3. Gallo Dairyland

    This family-run dairy farm sits on the lush banks of the Barron River. Dating back to the late 1930s, it provides visitors with an insight into local farming life as well as a delicious taste of the local flavours – expects to tuck into handcrafted chocolates, gourmet cheeses, and mouth-watering yoghurt. It is a popular choice amongst both locals and tourists, with the on-site café serving food from morning to afternoon. Enjoy a late breakfast, a delicious lunch, or perhaps an afternoon tea. With all the produce from the farm available on the menu.

  • 4. Rainforestation Nature Park

    Rainforestation Nature Park

    Set on 100 acres of World Heritage rainforest, this park is packed full of Indigenous cultural sites, native Australian wildlife, and stunning scenery for you to explore on foot. No matter your interest, you’ll find something at this nature park, with countless experiences on offer. Start off discovering the animals, visiting the Koala and Wildlife Park. Home to free-roaming kangaroos and wallabies, snoozing koalas, endangered cassowary’s, as well as the only Tasmanian Devils in Cairns. Get up close and personal interactions, or simply stroll from one enclosure to the next! Otherwise, if you’d prefer immersing yourself in the lush greenery on the Army Duck Tour! Going from truck to boat as you discover the hidden treasures of the rainforest. If neither of these activities appeals to you, the Pamagirri Cultural Centre might be up your alley! Showcasing the stunning artwork and history of the traditional owners of the land.

  • 5. Hou Wang Miau Chinese Temple

    Adding a splash of international culture to the proceedings, the Hou Wang Miau Chinese Temple is the last surviving structure left on what used to be Cedar Camp – Atherton’s Chinatown that was founded back in the 1880s.

  • 6. Tableland Express

    This beautiful and historic steam train ride takes you through the Atherton Tableland’s wetlands, climbing Queensland’s steepest line and exposing you to incredible panoramic views as you chug your way to the old town of Herberton.

  • 7. Lake Barrine

    Lake Barrine may look like your typical picturesque lake, but its origin is quite unusual. In fact, the lake is actually a water-filled crater left by a volcanic eruption that occurred 10,000 years ago. Nowadays, you can either swim the shallow waters of the lake or set off on a boat cruise to the centre region. With plenty of grassland and walking path surrounding the lake, visitors can set off for a hike, or sit down for a relaxing picnic. Additionally, you can even grab a delicious lunch or quick refuel at the onsite café, named the Lake Barrine Teahouse.

  • 8. Lake Eacham

    Lake Eacham is the perfect place to soothe your troubles! It is another volcanic crater, even larger than Lake Barrine. With a depth of 65 metres, a variety of wildlife lives in its dark waters and green borders. Visitors are welcome to swim out as far as they like, even snorkelling around to discover the lake’s bottom. Near the borders, a number of BBQ areas, public bathrooms, and picnic tables are scattered about. Perfect for a day admits the lush greenery, sparkling water, and warming sun!

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