The Atherton Tablelands: Raw Beauty in Tropical North Queensland


Located in Far North Queensland, the Atherton Tablelands are situated approximately 90 kilometers away from Cairns, the tablelands stretch across an elevation between 500 to 1,280 meters, offering a climate that differs significantly from the tropical coastal environment of Cairns.

The region is an ecological delight that encapsulates the raw beauty of Mother Nature. This fertile plateau, adorned with lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, volcanic craters, and serene lakes, is a hotspot for environmental tourism. Ecotourists visiting Atherton Tablelands can explore the natural beauty of the region while supporting conservation and sustainability efforts.

The Resplendent Rainforests and Waterfall Circuit

Beautiful waterfalls of the Atherton Tablelands

One of the main attractions of the Atherton Tablelands is its rainforest, a sanctuary for countless species and an essential part of our planet’s lungs. A drive through the misty rainforest offers an unparalleled opportunity to witness biodiversity at its best. From the exotic bird species, including the vibrant Victoria’s Riflebird and the rare Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, to the lush green foliage that spans the rainforest canopy, the tableau is breathtaking.

Ecotourism in Atherton doesn’t end there. The Tablelands boasts a unique waterfall circuit, a guided tour that brings you close to some of the most stunning waterfalls in the region. Millaa Millaa, Zillie, and Ellinjaa falls are particularly noteworthy. These tours promote conservation by educating visitors about the region’s fragile ecosystems and the importance of preserving them.

Volcanic Craters and Lake Eacham

The Atherton Tablelands’ geographical history is equally fascinating. Its volcanic craters, formed millions of years ago, now provide a unique habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna. These craters and the surrounding terrain are a testament to the earth’s volatile past and offer fascinating opportunities for geological study.

In contrast to the dramatic craters, Lake Eacham is a serene water body that offers a tranquil setting for relaxation and rejuvenation. This beautiful lake is a clear, blue crater lake surrounded by a cool rainforest. Take a guided canoe trip on the lake to understand its geological history or explore the surrounding walking trails to get up close and personal with the region’s biodiversity.

The Majestic Curtain Fig Tree

The Atherton Tablelands is home to one of Australia’s most famous trees, the Curtain Fig Tree. This ancient tree, with its unique aerial roots that form a curtain-like appearance, is a marvel of nature. Conservation of such unique and ancient life forms is a significant aspect of Atherton’s environmental efforts.

“This large fig tree in Curtain Fig Tree National Park is unique because the extensive aerial roots, that drop 15 metres to the forest floor, have formed a ‘curtain’. Starting from a seed dropped high in the canopy, this strangler fig grew vertical roots, which gradually became thicker and interwoven. Over hundreds of years these roots have strangled the host causing it to fall into a neighbouring tree-a stage unique to the development of this fig. Vertical fig roots then formed a curtain-like appearance and the host trees rotted away, leaving the freestanding fig tree. The tree is thought to be nearly 50 metres tall, with a trunk circumference of 39 metres, and is estimated to be over 500 years old”  Quote with thanks from

Extraordinary Wildlife on the Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands offer a fascinating window into Australia’s diverse wildlife, teeming with unique and colorful species. Here, you can encounter a stunning variety of frogs, known for their vibrant hues and intriguing behaviors. Among them are the neon green tree frog and the red-eyed tree frog, both admired for their striking appearance and ecological importance.

Patience is needed to spot the elusive platypus

This region is also one of the few habitats of the elusive platypus, an extraordinary mammal famous for its duck-bill and webbed feet, which spends much of its time underwater. The Atherton Tablelands are equally renowned for the presence of the rare Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo. Unlike their ground-dwelling relatives, these tree-kangaroos dwell in the upper branches of trees, using their powerful limbs to leap adeptly from one branch to another.

Birdwatching in the Tablelands is particularly rewarding, with 327 of the 430 bird species of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics region observable here. Notable among them are the golden bowerbirds, unique for their elaborate and colorful bowers used to attract mates. King parrots, with their vivid red and green plumage, are a common sight, as are the various honeyeaters, which play a crucial role in pollination. The crimson rosella, with its striking red and blue feathers, adds a splash of color to the greenery, while the masked owl, a nocturnal hunter, can occasionally be spotted during dusk or dawn, adding a touch of mystery to the area’s rich avian life

Reliving History at Herberton Historic Village

The Historic Village of Herberton

While nature is at the heart of Atherton’s appeal, the region’s rich history offers another compelling reason to visit. The Herberton Historic Village is an outdoor pioneer museum that presents a vivid snapshot of the region’s past. Here, you can learn about the region’s original inhabitants, the Indigenous Australians, and the impact of European settlement. You’ll also discover how historic practices have influenced the current methods of land use and conservation in the region.


The Atherton Tablelands in Queensland, Australia, are rich in natural beauty, cultural history, and unique wildlife. Here’s a list of 10 must-see attractions in the area:

  1. Curtain Fig Tree – An iconic and photogenic fig tree known for its impressive root structure, which forms a curtain-like appearance.
  2. Lake Barrine – A beautiful, crystal-clear crater lake that offers boat tours and has a lovely tea house where you can enjoy traditional scones and tea.
  3. Millaa Millaa Falls – A picturesque waterfall that is part of the famous Waterfalls Circuit. It’s perfect for swimming or just enjoying the view.
  4. Hasties Swamp National Park – A haven for birdwatchers, this park features a two-story bird hide from which you can observe over 220 bird species in their natural habitat.
  5. Mareeba Tropical Savanna and Wetland Reserve – Explore this reserve to see a variety of birdlife and enjoy guided wildlife safaris and canoe trips.
  6. Nerada Tea Plantation – Visit Australia’s largest tea plantation, where you can learn about tea production and enjoy fresh brews at the visitor center.
  7. Tolga Bat Hospital – A unique rehabilitation center for sick and injured bats, where visitors can learn about bat conservation and see these nocturnal creatures up close.
  8. Herberton Historic Village – Step back in time at this outdoor museum that features a collection of restored buildings and exhibits from the pioneering days of the region.
  9. Malanda Falls Visitor Centre – Located by a beautiful waterfall, the center offers insights into the local Ngadjonji Aboriginal culture and the surrounding rainforest ecosystem.
  10. The Peanut Place – A must-visit for nut lovers, this spot in Tolga offers all sorts of peanut products, from raw nuts to gourmet flavored peanuts.

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