Mountains rise inland from Cairns and the Northern Beaches to flatten out into the Atherton Tablelands, a rugged landscape of mountains and crater lakes.
Once this was a hive of volcanic activity, but is now much calmer: a lush cool plateau of crystal lakes, waterfalls (including the famed Milla Milla), national parks and stunning scenery.
Exploring Atherton Tablelands
An introduction is the spectacular railway journey which climbs and tunnels its way from Cairns to the rainforest village of Kuranda, something of a tourist mecca with a busy market beautifully set amongst the trees, but this is just a day-trip and the area is worth much more time than this.
You will find some of Australia’s quirky wildlife at Mount Hypipamee National Park, including red-legged pademelons, bandicoots and a diverse array of possums, and this is also a good place to spot platypus in rivers and seek out the elusive flightless cassowary.
From the lively and untouristy town of Atherton the steam train to Herberton passes through magnificent scenery of rolling hills and dense forest. The Crater Lakes area is known for ancient rainforest and gigantic kauri pines whilst Yungaburra is renowned for its remarkable, parasitic curtain fig trees, still standing long after their host trees have been subsumed.
Past Mount Garnet the Undara Volcanic National Park protects a matrix of lava tubes almost 200,000 years old.
Suggested Atherton Tablelands itinerary
This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Atherton Tablelands, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Atherton Tablelands
Places & hotels on the map
Accommodation choices for Atherton Tablelands
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Atherton Tablelands. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.