The Cathedral Fig Tree in the Atherton Tablelands

The Cathedral Fig Tree in the Atherton Tablelands

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 01/02/2018

Reading time: 3 mins

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 rock paintings, soaring cliffs, and endless plateaus. Look out over scenery that seem to stretch out to the horizon and back.

Amidst it all, there are pockets of rainforest that offer a different set of scenery. In this parts of the tablelands, centuries-old trees jut skywards and exotic plants grow wild. Beneath the lush green canopies you can find unique species and beautiful animals.

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. It 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. Set in the Danbulla State Forest, it is one of the best places to hear early morning bird calls. This area one of the denser parts of the region, explore any time of year for beautiful views!

Fig trees of this variety usually germinate on top of another tree. From here they attempt 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. As the tree grows, it kills its host to become fully independent.

Perhaps the most eye-catching thing about the Cathedral Fig Tree is the sheer size of it, and the many “branches”. They 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.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.