The Cathedral Fig Tree in the Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands are renowned for their sprawling scenery, much of which dates back thousands and thousands of years. This ancient part of Australia is home to old rock paintings, soaring cliffs, and endless plateaus that seem to stretch out to the horizon and back.

Amidst it all, there are pockets of rainforest that proffer a different set of scenery. In this parts of the tablelands, centuries-old trees jut skywards and exotic plants grow wild and free beneath the lush green canopies.

It’s in one of these pockets that you’ll find the Cathedral Fig Tree. This monster of a tree is one of the most famous in the country, and can be found in the depths of the rainforest off the Lake Tinaroo circuit road. It’s very similar to the even more famous Curtain Fig Tree, which grows near Yungaburra, but takes on a slightly different form.

What is the Cathedral Fig Tree?

The Cathedral Fig Tree is an enormous, 500-year-old strangler tree that has found its home in the Atherton Tablelands just outside of Cairns. Set in the Danbulla State Forest, one of the denser parts of the region, it has the reputation of being one of the best places to hear the early morning bird call in the tablelands.

Fig trees of this variety usually germinate on top of another tree, attempting to pierce their roots into the ground below it. Once germination has taken place, the fig grows viciously over the top of its host tree, eventually killing the host and growing independently.

Perhaps the most eye-catching thing about the Cathedral Fig Tree is the sheer size of it, and the many “branches”, which actually look like tangled roots, that cover the host tree and fall quite majestically to the ground.

Visitors to the Cathedral Fig Tree can marvel at the immensity of nature and learn more about the history of the tree, how it came to be there, and what will happen to it in future years.

In addition to this, you can wander around the base of the tree and explore the giant buttress roots from the accessible boardwalk that has been built especially for this purpose.

Seeing this incredible feat of nature is one of the most popular things to do in the Atherton Tablelands, and a visit to the area isn’t complete without getting to know it and its surroundings.

See the famous Cathedral Fig Tree on our Atherton Tablelands Tour.

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