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.
These pretty heritage gardens sprawl out over 13 acres of rainforest beside Mena Creek Falls. Founded back in the 1930s by Jose Paronella, they are filled with flowers and ruins.
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. Alternatively, you can sit and watch others fishing.
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 – expect to tuck into handcrafted chocolates, gourmet cheeses, and mouth-watering yoghurt.
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.
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.
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.