Local's guide: Atherton Tablelands

Atherton Tablelands
Atherton Tablelands Falls
Climbing back from the coast between Innisfail and Cairns is the food bowl of the far north, is the Atherton Tablelands. Quaint country towns, eco-wilderness lodges and luxurious bed and breakfasts dot greener-than-green hills between patchwork fields, pockets of rainforest, lakes, waterfalls and Queensland’s highest mountains.
  • Crystal Caves
  • Misty Mountains
  • Herberton Historic Village
  • Hou Wang Temple and museum
  • Lake Barrine

Where to eat

The Atherton Tablelands is steeped in agriculture, providing delicious and fresh local produce – a foodie’s heaven. Serving up aromatic Australian Arabic Coffee, as well as bananas and papayas plucked straight from the farm, Skybury Coffee is Australia’s oldest coffee plantation. Linger over lunch or take home your preferred blend.

Stop by Gallo Dairyland for lunch, morning or afternoon tea, where cheese lovers can enjoy a platter made up of locally made cheeses from their onsite cheese factory or take home a variety of creamy locally made chocolates. If you’re feeling adventurous head over to the Smokehouse Café at Tarzali Lakes Aquaculture Centre and try their famous crocodile, or for something more tame order their freshly smoked barramundi.

Melding the best of the Tablelands in a charming mix of French and northern Italian flavours is Flynn's Restaurant in Yungaburra or you could head to the alpine chalet-style restaurant that is Nick’s that serves up delicious Swiss and Italian cuisine.

What to see

Discover hidden falls as part of the Misty Mountains walking trails, which wind for more than 130km and make up Australia’s first network of long-distance tracks in a high-altitude rainforest. Live life on the edge and swim in a volcanic crater lake at Lake Eacham, or get up close to sunken fig trees and dense tropical rainforest while kayaking around Lake Barrine.

Experience 300 metres of manmade tunnels and grottos when you pay a visit to the Crystal Caves. Featuring million year old natural crystals and prehistoric fossils, take a self-guided and wonder at the interactive displays where you can touch over 600 specimens of crystals. Take a step back in time at the Historic Village, in Herberton. Showcasing Australia’s rich history, the village gives visitors a sense of the past life with 60 original buildings dating back to the township’s foundation.

Pay a visit to the award-winning site of the unique Hou Wang Temple and museum. This heritage-listed temple is the only timber and corrugated-iron temple remaining in Australia and New Zealand. Built by Chinese settlers, it has an ornate interior with original wood carvings that can be seen during a guided tour of the property. Allow yourself time to browse through the interpretive museum with its interactive displays and ‘world-first’ artefact scanner.

Where to stay

Set in the heart of the Atherton Tablelands region, NRMA Atherton Tablelands Holiday Park is situated on 6km of tropical vegetation, backing onto a state reserve, providing the ideal location to reconnect with nature. Make yourself at home in one of the 21 air-conditioned rooms, or if a traditional holiday is more your style – caravaners and campers are well looked after with powered and unpowered sites.

Perhaps you want to wake to the sounds of birds, slide into a soothing spa or snuggle up in front of a relaxing fire, you can do just that at the Crater Lakes Rainforest Cottages. Hidden in a tranquil rainforest setting, the property is ideally positioned to experience the beautiful Tablelands and is a nature lover’s paradise.

Located at the highest point in Atherton with magnificent mountain views is the Summit Rainforest Retreat. With peace and tranquility assured on over two hectares of land, the house boasts a huge entertainment deck where you can delight in the abundancy of native wildlife at your doorstep. If you’re after something slightly unique, then the eco-friendly Canopy Treehouses provides the ultimate in rainforest experience. Perched high above the banks of the Ithaca River, each treehouse is purposely designed for comfort in the wilderness with a passionate regard for environmental and wildlife principles.

NRMA members can also save on car hire in Cairns with SIXT with 15% off daily car hire rates and a free upgrade.


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