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Atherton

Atherton is the ‘capital’ of the lovely Tropical Tablelands, a land of beautiful lakes, waterfalls, rich red soil and tropical rainforest. Here the temperature is cooler, the pace is slower and there is a feeling of relaxation in the air.

The rich Tableland area is famous for producing peanuts, maize and potatoes. The area also has a number of natural attractions such as the Curtain Fig Tree, Millaa Millaa Falls, crater lakes and amazing rock formations.
Atherton is ideally situated as a base to explore most places of interest in the Tablelands area. Accommodation varies from old Queensland style hotels to bed and breakfast’s (B&B’s), rainforest retreats, caravan parks and backpacker hostels.

Distance from Brisbane (State Capital): 1,869 kilometres.

Tableland parks

Just a scenic hour’s drive from Cairns, you can discover the unspoilt beauty and natural wonders of the Tropical Tablelands.
The World Heritage rainforests and national parks thrive on this cool tropical plateau about 600 to 1000 metres above sea level. An enticing mix of mountains and rivers, lakes and waterfalls offer visitors a cool change as temperatures and humidity are lower than the coastal plain.
Biologists have described the spectacular rainforests of the Wet Tropics as ‘the greatest celebrations of life on earth’.
The Tablelands present opportunities for bushwalking, birdwatching and enjoying a wildlife river cruise with perhaps the chance to see tree-climbing kangaroos and platypuses. Try horse riding, ballooning, watersports, fishing, and miles of scenic drives.
Winding roads lead to spectacular lookouts and a popular route to take is the scenic waterfall circuit. Highlights include Australia’s widest waterfall – Millstream Falls – and many smaller ones, the extinct volcanic crater lakes of Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham, the ancient Bromfield Swamp and the Hypipamee Crater.
The Tablelands are about an hour’s drive from Cairns via the Palmerston and Gillies highways in the south, and the Rex and Kennedy highways in the north.

Activites and Experiences at Atherton

  • Off Road Driving The Tinaroo Range road network climbs 450 metres into the Lamb Range and offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the forest and it’s many creeks and streams. Other state forest areas suitable for off road driving are Baldy, Danbulla, Wangabel and the Lamb Range. Permits will be required to ensure a quiet nature-based experience free of crowds. For more information contact the Dept of Natural Resources in Atherton.
  • Art and Craft making Atherton is home to busy arts, crafts, antiques and woodwork shops offering a wide range of colourful and creative pieces that have been locally produced. The old Post Office in town has been converted into an art gallery displaying many local artist’s works.
  • Birdwatching The unique, cool tropical highland with its upland rainforests, wet sclerophyll forest, eucalypt woodlands, wetlands and farmlands offer an excellent range of birds in a relatively small geographical area. More than 300 species live in the tablelands region. Every walk and drive is an opportunity to see local bird life. A few famous and popular local spots for birdwatchers are Hasties Swamp, Mt Hypipmee national parks, Wongabel Botanical walk and Lake Tinaroo. For more information contact the local visitors centre for the local birdwatchers group.
  • Bushwalking There are hundreds of bushwalks on the tablelands. In the immediate Atherton town area, Halloran’s hill is an easy one and a half kilometre walk winding through a densely vegetated volcanic crater and ending at the lookout and picnic area. For more energetic walkers, the steep 45 minute trek to Mount Baldy’s summit is well worth the effort for its views over Atherton and Tinaroo. A hike up to Carrington Falls cascades down the Herberton Range and the beautiful Wongabel botanical walk are a must as well. For all your information on other bushwalks in the area contact the local visitor’s centre in Atherton.
  • Camping The national parks camping sites range from basic sites with only toilets, fire rings, picnic tables and barbecues located at Lake Tinaroo on the Dunbulla forest Drive. A camping permit may be obtained from the local park ranger or from self-registration stands at the national park camp ground. Private camping grounds and hostels are located in Atherton itself. Modern comfortable amenities such as powered sites, laundry, and shower blocks are available. This is an inexpensive alternative for budget travellers and for those who enjoy the delights of the camping experience.
  • Cruising Lake Barrine located to the south-east. It is an extinct volcanic crater-lake containing cool, deep, crystal clear water and surrounded by World Heritage Tropical rainforest. Why not take a unique cruise around the lake and experience the wonder of one of this most complex and beautiful attraction. Enjoy a delicious devonshire tea or sumptuous lunch at the local tea house. Located 150 metres from the tea house, are 1,000 year old forest giants – ‘Kauri Pines’. They give you a glimpse of what the first forests on earth were like.
  • Driving The Tinaroo Range road network climbs 450 metres into the Lamb Range and offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the forest and it’s many creeks and streams. Other state forest areas suitable for 4WD driving are Baldy, Danbulla, Wangabel and the Lamb Range. Permits will be required to ensure a quiet nature-based experience free of crowds. For more information contact the Dept of Natural Resources in Atherton. Take a 30 kilometre drive around the famous ‘Waterfall Circuit’ commencing from Milla Milla. Travel to Zillie and Elinjaa Falls located in deep crevices in lush rainforest. Only a few kilometres further on, Mungalli Falls follows a mountain spur to views of the Bellender Ker and Mt Bartle Frere. There are also lots of other wonderful picturesque towns and places to visit by vehicle. For more information call into the visitor’s centre in Atherton.
  • Farm/Station activity Children and adults will delight in staying a few days on a working farm with the opportunity to experience a stay with a difference. From milking a cow and feeding chickens, geese, sheep and turkeys to horse riding, making billy tea and damper by the campfire – everyone will have fun. Looking for native possums, wallabies, platypus and owls during a night spotlighting expedition is always exciting. Farmstay in the Atherton area also allow you be centrally based with the advantage of being close to town.
  • Fishing – Estuary
  • Fishing – Trout/Fly Lake Tinaroo to the north, has 200 kilometres of shore line to give the most private fisherman room to concentrate on catching that special Barramundi or Sooty Grunter any time of the year. The largest Barra caught on record for Lake Tinaroo was 124 centimetres long and weighed in at 38.75 kilograms. Freshwater ‘Redclaw’ crayfish are a favourite and tasty morsel that locals look forward to and visitors come back for. The Koombooloomba Dam is another favourite local spot where fishing is popular.
  • Flora Every walk or drive in the area, is an opportunity to stop, listen, look and find native fauna and flora. The combination of rural industry and the natural environment has been developed to ensure that they co-exist and compliment each other. The tablelands are home to more than 300 bird species and a number of rare native animals found nowhere else in Australia. Don’t miss your chance to see the majestic Kari Pines or the gigantic Cathederal fig trees. For more information take a drive out to Malanda, Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine, where you’ll find interpretive environmental centres that will have a wealth of information to answer all your questions.
  • Fossicking Most serious fossickers will be likely to travel west from Atherton to Chillago, Mt Surprise and onto the Savannah regions. If you have an interest in crystal formations and real fossils, then make you stop in at the local ‘Crystal Caves’. You’ll be amazed when guided through underground caves where you can browse and learn all about this fascinating subject.
  • Fruit Picking Atherton is a rural area renown for its wonder local produce. The local visitors centre will be able to guide you to places where you can experience the growing, harvesting, production and sale of local produce.
  • Jet Boating Jet boats can be hired from local outlets for use on Lake Tinaroo.
  • Art Painting Atherton is home to busy arts, crafts, antiques and woodwork shops offering a wide range of colourful and creative pieces that have been locally produced. The old Post Office in town has been converted into an art gallery displaying many local artist’s works.
  • Sailing Sailing is a popular pastime locals and visitors participate in all year around.
  • Scenic Flight Scenic flights can be organised in the local area. For more information contact the local visitors centre.
  • Sightseeing Local markets are held on the first Saturday of each month on the south of town. Learn about flora, fauna in the area from the national parks visitors centres. Learn about fossicking and gems from the Crystal Caves and drive the 15 kilometre waterfall circuit. The region combines rainforest, mountains and lakes with a rural lifestyle that will take your breathe away.
  • Skiing – Water Water Skiing is a popular activity that locals and visitors participate in all year around on Lake Tinaroo.
  • Spotlighting Tours can be arranged to search out native creatures of the night. For more information check with the visitors centre in Atherton.
  • Wind Surfing Windsurfing is a popular activity that locals and visitors participate in all year around on Lake Tinaroo.
  • Swimming Swimming is a wonderfully relaxing way to cool off and spend the day at Lake Tinaroo or Eacham, Koombooloomba dam, or at many other forest lakes and streams in the region on a warm summers day. There is also An olympic size swimming pool in Atherton.
  • Train Ride Historians and train buffs will not want to miss a chance to grab a ride on the restored 1920’s Raico steam train. It leaves Atherton and meanders it’s way up through tunnels in the hills and passes by Carrington Falls on its way to historical Herberton. This journey is the steepest line in the state
  • Walking There are hundreds of bushwalks on the tablelands. In the immediate Atherton town area, Halloran’s hill is an easy 1.5km walk winding through a densely vegetated volcanic crater and ending at the lookout and picnic area. For more energetic walkers, the steep 45 minute trek to Mount Baldy’s summit is well worth the effort for its views over Atherton and Tinaroo. A hike up to Carrington Falls cascades down the Herberton Range and the beautiful Wongabel botanical walk are a must as well. For all your information on other bushwalks in the area contact the local visitor’s centre in Atherton.
  • Water-based All water based activities such as sailing, windsurfing and water skiing are held at nearby Lake Tinaroo.
  • Wine Tasting The local vineyard area of the tablelands in just a short drive to Wondecla where you will be able to satisfy all your palates desires.
  • Accommodation Camping grounds with modern facilities are readily available throughout the area. Hostel and pub style accommodation are also available for the budget minded. Comfortable and affordable motels abound as do the very popular farmstay experiences. Luxury 4/5 star resort and rainforest retreats will offer something extra special as well.
  • Airport A fully serviced airstrip for light aircraft is located on the edge of Atherton. The nearest domestic and International airport is Cairns, 100 kilometres east of Atherton .
  • Ambulance There is an ambulance service in Atherton. For emergencies call ‘000’.
  • Automatic Teller Machine All the major Banks and some Building societies are available with ATM facilities in Atherton.
  • Banking Facilities All the major Banks and some Building societies are available in Atherton.
  • Beach Beach activities are held at nearby Lake Tinaroo.
  • Boat Ramp The nearest boat ramp is at nearby Lake Tinaroo.
  • Bottled Gas Bottled gas is available at limited fuel stations.
  • Chemist There are a number of chemists in Atherton.
  • Cinema/Theatre
  • Licensed Club There are a number of licensed clubs and pubs in Atherton.
  • Service Club There is a Service club in Atherton.
  • Coach Stop Daily coach services run through Atherton to Cairns and surrounding areas.
  • Convention Centre
  • Currency Exchange Currency exchange is available from all banks in Atherton.
  • Dentist There are dental services in Atherton.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale Eftpos and credit card facilities are available at most business outlets as well as accommodation and tourist locations.
  • Fuel Fuel stations are available in Atherton.
  • Golf The local ’18 hole’ golf club services meals and refreshments for your enjoyment after a full round.
  • Hospital The local hospital in Atherton services the local and surrounding areas. for emergencies call ‘000’.
  • Public Bar There are a number of pubs and licensed clubs in Atherton.
  • Mechanical Services Mechanical and RACQ services are available in Atherton.
  • Medical Facilities The Atherton Medical Centre is located in the town centre. They also have locum services. For emergencies call ‘000’.
  • National Park National parks surround Atherton. Nestled between the Bellenden Ker mountain range that lies to the east and the Great Dividing Range to the west. Closer to Atherton, the Lamb Range, Dunbulla state forest and Lake Tinaroo, Eacham and Barrine are favourite areas for local visitors to experience a huge variety of holiday activities. For more information contact the local visitors centre in Atherton.
  • Newsagent There is a newsagent in Atherton.
  • Police There is a manned police station in Atherton’s town centre. For emergencies, call ‘000’.
  • Post Office There is a Post Office in Atherton.
  • Public Telephone Public phones are located at the Post Office and in the main street of Atherton.
  • Restaurant Atherton has some wonderful cafes, pubs and restaurants that offer sumptuous lunch and evening meals and refreshments.
  • Sporting Facilities There is a multipurpose sporting complex in Atherton.
  • Supermarket Atherton has a number of large supermarkets, and a variety retail stores in the town centre.
  • Swimming Pool There is a local swimming pool in Atherton.
  • Takeaway Food Atherton has a variety of take away food outlets available.
  • Tennis Court Tennis courts are located in Atherton.
  • Visitor Centres The Atherton Visitor’s Centre is located in the main street of Atherton. Drop in for a chat and pick up some brochures to help make your stay a wonderfully memorable one. There’s so much to see and do. Don’t miss out.
  • Winery Visit Australia’s Mango Winery in Nth Queensland located just north of Mareeba. The ‘Kensington Red’ Mango has been used to create a unique selection of white wines. Other vineyards in the region are located at Wondecla to the south west. Take a tour and learn all about how wines are make. Sample a drop or two and you’re sure to want to take home a bottle.
  • Places of Worship
  • Aussie Lifestyle Experience meeting some of the friendly locals as part of the laid back way of life. Attend some of the local attractions and taste some local produce or just have a leisurely chat. They can be very helpful regarding local knowledge.
  • Caravan and Camping There are plenty of Caravan and Cabin parks with modern and comfortable facilities in the Atherton town area. Some hostels are also available. Basic bush camping sites with only toilet blocks and fire rings are located at Tinaroo. A camping permit may be obtained from the local the Dept of Natural Resources in Atherton or from self-registration stands at the campground. This is an inexpensive alternative for budget travellers and for those who enjoy the delights of the camping experience.
  • Rural/Country With a population of over 5,000 residents, Atherton is a prosperous and bustling country rural town with all the services you need, including restaurants, galleries, motels, caravan parks and licensed clubs. It also boasts modern shopping facilities, and numerous parks and gardens. The dominant economy is agriculture. The fertile volcanic soils supplies the area with fruit, vegetables, grains, beef and dairy products and with the introduction of exotic fruits, coffee, tea, nuts and crops, Atherton has become a great place to experience a feel for rural life.
  • Cruise Lake Barrine located to the south-east. It is an extinct volcanic crater-lake containing cool, deep, crystal clear water and surrounded by World Heritage Tropical rainforest. Why not take a unique cruise around the lake and experience the wonder of one of this most complex and beautiful attraction. Enjoy a delicious devonshire tea or sumptuous lunch at the local tea house. Located 150 metres from the tea house, are 1,000 year old forest giants – ‘Kauri Pines’. They give you a glimpse of what the first forests on earth were like.
  • Cultural Atherton has a cultural history that dates back well over 100 years. Come see the restored ‘Joss House’ and Hou Wang Temple. Theses historical buildings are a reminder to visitors that a the large Chinese community lived and worked in the Tableland’s gold and timber fields. It is also an opportunity to find out about a lot of other hidden historical treasures of Atherton.
  • Eco Tourism Because Atherton is located in a nature based region, Eco Tourism is widely practiced to ensure protection of the surrounding rainforest environment.
  • Educational Just visiting any of the many attractions in and around Atherton is an educational experience that you won’t forget in a hurry. In the town centre, visiting attractions such as the historic Joss House, Hou Wang Temple, Old Post Office will give you a great understanding of the development of Atherton as a community. Fancy a train trip on the fully restored 1920’s steam engine that will travel up to the rocky hills of Herberton, travelling through tunnels, rainforest and past Carrington Falls. If your interest is in learning more about the native flora and fauna of the region, then there are many drives, and bushwalks such as the seven kilometre Wangabel interpretive walk to experience. Lake Barrine and Eacham both have centres with an endless array of information about old volcanoes and local plants and animals. Do crystals and fossils also intrigue you? Its all here for you.
  • Environmental Atherton is the ‘capital’ of the lovely Tropical Tablelands, a land of beautiful lakes, waterfalls, rich red soil and tropical rainforest. Here the temperature is cooler, the pace is slower and there is a feeling of relaxation in the air. The area also has a number of natural attractions such as the Curtain Fig Tree, Millaa Millaa Falls, crater lakes and amazing rock formations. Atherton is ideally situated as a base to explore most places of interest in the Tablelands area. Visit the interpretive environmental centres located at Lake Barrine, Lake Eacham and the Malanda.
  • Farm/Station Children and adults will delight in staying a few days on a working farm with the opportunity to experience a stay with a difference. From milking a cow and feeding chickens, geese, sheep and turkeys to horse riding, making billy tea and damper by the campfire everyone will have fun. Looking for native possums, wallabies, platypus and owls during a night spotlighting expedition is always exciting. Farmstay in the Atherton area also allow you be centrally based with the advantage of being close to town.
  • Fishing Lake Tinaroo to the north has 200 kilometres of shore line to give the most private fisherman room to concentrate on catching that special Barramundi or Sooty Grunter. The largest Barra caught on record for Lake Tinaroo was 124 centimetres long and weighed in at 38.75 kilograms. It impressed friends and fed the family for at whole month. Freshwater ‘Redclaw’ crayfish are a favourite and tasty morsel that locals look forward to and visitors come back for. The Koombooloomba Dam is another favourite local spot where fishing is popular.
  • Flora and Fauna Every morning, every evening and everywhere you walk or drive in the area, is an opportunity to stop, listen, look and find native fauna and flora. The combination of rural industry and the natural environment has been developed to ensure that they co-exist and compliment each other. The tablelands are home to more than 300 bird species that include, the Brolga, Kingfishers, Golden Bower Bird, Bridled Honey eater, parrots and crimson Rosellas to name just a few. Wallabies, Pademelons, Koalas, Platypus and rare tree frogs also inhabit pristine rainforest, lakes and waterfalls. Don’t miss the chance to catch the majestic Kari Pines or the gigantic Cathederal fig trees. For more information take a drive out to Malanda, Lake Eacham and Barrine where you’ll find interpretive environmental centres that will have a wealth of information to answer all your questions.
  • Gambling Local pubs and licensed clubs have Keno and Tab facilities.
  • Golf The local 18 hole golf club services meals and refreshments for your enjoyment after a full round.
  • Health and Fitness The local multipurpose sports centre conducts a variety of community and team sports for your pleasure.
  • Historic/Heritage Atherton’s history dates back more that 130 years, when red cedar trees grew abundantly in the dense rainforests. Gold and tin mining thrived back then and the original bush track along Prior Creek was the main route for Cobb and CO coaches travelling from Port Douglas to Herberton in 1882. The central town was named after John Atherton, the first white settler to farm in the region. To find out lots more interesting facts about Atherton’s history, visit heritage locations such as the historic Joss House, Hou Wang Temple, Old Post Office. You will gain a great understanding of the development of Atherton as a community. Why not include an informative and fun train trip on the fully restored 1920’s steam engine that will travel up to the rocky hills of historic Herberton, travelling through tunnels, rainforest and past Carrington Falls
  • Industry/Mining, Agriculture Originally a gold and tin mining township during the 1800’s, Atherton has evolved into a bustling rural centre in the Tablelands region. Fertile volcanic soils supply the region with agricultural crops such as fruit, vegetables, grains, coffee, tea, nuts, wine, beef and dairy. Combine with the world heritage rainforests, lakes, waterfall attractions as well as a variety of different styles of accommodation, tourism has also become a part Atherton’s small rural town charm.
  • Nightlife If you like to have some fun and music whilst you dine, a number of theatre and theme restaurants will suit you. There are also licensed clubs and pubs where music and karaoke are available during some evenings. You might rather enjoy a night spotlighting tour, where the experienced guides will take you in search of creatures of the night. Night fishing or an evening cruise on Lake Tinaroo are also popular or you might just prefer to go for a stroll and view the mass of stars that can be seen on a clear night.
  • Off road The Tinaroo Range road network climbs 450 metres into the Lamb Range and offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the forest and it’s many creeks and streams. Other state forest areas suitable for off road driving are Baldy, Danbulla, Wangabel and the Lamb Range. Permits will be required to ensure a quiet nature-based experience free of crowds. For more information contact the Dept of Natural Resources in Atherton.
  • Pub Stay Pub stay accommodation is available at a number of locations in Atherton.
  • Rail Historians and train buffs will not want to miss a chance to grab a ride on the restored 1920’s Raico steam train. It leaves Atherton and meanders it’s way up through tunnels in the hills and passes by Carrington Falls on its way to historical Herberton. This journey is the steepest line in the state.
  • Rainforest Wet tropical conditions in the tablelands region contain some of the most beautiful ancient rainforests. Large pockets of rainforest are amazingly diverse with hundreds of plant and animal species unique to this area. Lake Barrine, Eacham and Malanda have interpretive visitor centres that will offer an enormous amount of information about the local rainforests, flora and fauna. Take a 15 kilometre drive around the waterfalls circuit to view spectacular falls and experience the surrounding rainforests.
  • Shopping
  • Water based All water based activities such as sailing, windsurfing and water skiing are held at nearby Lake Tinaroo.
  • Wildlife Native birds and wildlife may sometimes be seen in their natural habitat when travelling throughout the area. You may spot wildlife from a vehicle, boat or on an organised tour in the rainforest. Sightings from your accommodation or when walking at dawn or dusk are not uncommon. Kangaroos, possums, bandicoots, parrots, eagles, hawks, sun-birds, bee-eaters, exotic lizards, geckoes, brilliant blue butterflies (Ulysses) and the elusive Cassowary live in rainforest areas.
  • World Heritage Surrounding national parks and rainforests were placed on the World Heritage listings in 1988. Conserving their outstanding natural and cultural values for the benefit of local, national and international communities is of the greatest importance. The local environmental centres are wonderful sources of information providing displays, theatres, videos and written materials.
  • RTN, QH and National Distributors (TQ)
  • 18-35’s
  • Adult Getaway
  • Backpacking/Unstructured
  • Budget
  • Business/Trade/Corporate
  • Disabled
  • Empty Nesters
  • Family
  • Gay and Lesbian
  • Group
  • Luxury
  • Meetings Incentive Conventions
  • Nudist/Naturist
  • Romantic
  • Self-Drive
  • Senior
  • Single
  • Wedding

Nearest Airport: Cairns

Accommodation In Atherton

Discover some of the accommodation in and around Atherton

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