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What Is The Atherton Tablelands Known For?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Thu 06 Jul 2023

What is the Atherton Tablelands known for? This lush and uncrowded area of Tropical North Queensland is known for its charming towns, majestic waterfalls, and pristine rainforests and hiking trails. There are other things too, such as unique wildlife, rich indigenous history, and being part of a special World Heritage Area.

Travelers can visit the Atherton Tablelands on a Queensland road trip, on a day trip from Cairns, or as part of a guided tour to the area's waterfalls and hotspots. Let's uncover some fun facts and interesting info about the Atherton Tablelands so you know what to expect if you ever plan a trip to this enchanting corner of Australia!

Josephine Falls

How Far Is It From Cairns To Atherton Tablelands?

From Cairns, it's about 81km to the Atherton Tablelands. The drive takes roughly 1.5 hours, so it's an easy day trip or overnight trip from the popular city of Cairns! The best way to visit the Atherton Tablelands is to book a flight into Cairns and then either rent a car in the city or book a guided tour.

A rental car gives you the flexibility to choose your own Atherton Tablelands attractions. But guided tours are pretty affordable and your whole itinerary is planned for you! If you just want to relax and see the highlights on a day trip from Cairns, guided tours are a great option. You can also make friends if you're traveling alone, and have the added bonus of local knowledge from your guide!

Rainforestation tour

What Is The Atherton Tablelands Known For?

The Atherton Tablelands are known for more than just being an easy day trip from Cairns! This rainforest plateau is known for its natural beauty and tourist attractions, and it's also a highly underrated place in Australia! The Atherton Tablelands are still relatively unknown to many travelers, as they tend to stick to the coastal route around Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. But venturing a little ways inland will open your eyes to the incredible natural and man-made attractions of the Atherton Tablelands!


Natural Attractions in the Atherton Tablelands

Set within the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area, the Atherton Tablelands are full of natural wonders. The many waterfalls, hiking trails, caves, crater lakes, gorges, and forests are some of the things that make this magical place stand out. Millaa Milla Falls, Ellinjaa Falls, Windin Falls, Tchupala Falls, Zillie Falls, and Wallicher Falls, Davies Creek Falls, Josephine Falls, Cannabullen Falls, Barron Falls, and Souita Falls are just some of the best waterfalls to visit in the Atherton Tablelands!

In addition to waterfalls, the Atherton Tablelands is known for its creeks, gorges, caves, and lakes. Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine are two impressive crater lakes formed by ancient volcanic activity. Chillagoe Caves are an incredible collection of volcanic caves, and Granite Gorge and Tully Gorge are two more dramatic natural formations to check out. Amongst all of the natural attractions in the area are plenty of national parks, hiking trails, and camping locations where you can immerse yourself in nature and really soak in all the refreshing sights in the Atherton Tablelands!

Lake Eacham

Other Tourist Attractions in the Atherton Tablelands

Other cool things to do in the Atherton Tablelands include visiting the charming local towns. Kuranda is one of the most popular tourist towns and it's the closest one to Cairns. Ride the scenic railway or take the Skyrail from Cairns so you can admire the scenery on your way! Once you arrive in Kuranda, you can browse through the local markets, check out the Butterfly Sanctuary, or learn about the land's Traditional Owners at the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience

Yungaburra is another cool town to visit in the Atherton Tablelands. Head here to check out the magnificent Curtain Fig Tree, or check out the platypus-viewing platform. Malanda is another town with its own waterfall and swimming hole, Mareeba is popular for hot-air ballooning, and Herberton has its own historic open-air museum. Some other worthwhile attractions in the Atherton Tablelands include Paronella Park, Crystal Caves, and Innot Hot Springs. 

Paronella Park

How Many Days Do You Need In Atherton Tablelands?

Anywhere between 1 and 5 days is a good amount of time to spend in the Atherton Tablelands! Though one day is quite short and you won't get to see everything this beautiful area has to offer, the reality is that most travelers don't have more time than that. If you're backpacking along Australia's east coast like many other travelers Down Under, you will most likely visit the Atherton Tablelands as a day trip from Cairns. It's quick and affordable, and you can still catch a glimpse of the ancient beauty of the area on a day trip!

If you have a few days or more, definitely take your time and stay overnight in the Atherton Tablelands. Kuranda and Yungaburra are two quaint little towns that have some nice lodgings for tourists. And with more time on your hands, you can fit in more activities. Though you could easily spend weeks visiting every waterfall, historic town, and attraction here, 1-5 days is a more realistic time frame for travelers to spend in the Atherton Tablelands. 


Check out our top-rated Atherton Tablelands day trips from Cairns! Or live chat with our local travel experts online if you need help planning your trip. 

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