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What To Do In The Atherton Tablelands

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Mon 29 Apr 2024

Wondering what to do in the Atherton Tablelands? Look no further! From swimming in waterfalls, to spotting native wildlife, to visiting quaint little villages tucked away in the jungle, there are so many incredible sights and attractions in this beautiful area!

Located just a 1.5-hour drive from Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands makes an incredible day trip or multi-day excursion from the city. Rent a car, hop on a guided tour, or take your own car if you're a local! Either way, it's definitely worth spending some time in the enchanting wilderness of the Atherton Tablelands!

Zillie Falls


What To Do In The Atherton Tablelands

From natural landmarks like Babinda Boulders, to man-made towns like Kuranda or Yungaburra, there is so much to discover in the Atherton Tablelands. We've curated a list of the highlights, though there are so many more cool things to do in this underrated area of Australia. Most travelers spend their time snorkeling or diving in the Great Barrier Reef when they visit Cairns, but if you have a spare day, venture out to the rainforest and explore these gems of the Atherton Tablelands!

Paronella Park


Explore Kuranda

Kuranda is an adorable little town located right outside Cairns amongst the rainforest of the Atherton Tablelands. Venture to Kuranda via the Scenic Railway or Skyrail for the best views! Once you arrive, be sure to check out the local markets, visit the Butterfly Sanctuary, see Barron Falls, try the fascinating Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience, or just wander around and admire the street art.

Kuranda


Go Platypus Spotting

Though the native platypus is one of Australia's most unique creatures, they are notoriously hard to find! However, the Atherton Tablelands is one of the best places in Australia to spot a platypus. The town of Yungaburra has a platypus-viewing platform where you can often view these little critters popping out of the water. Or you can visit the Australian Platypus Park, or book a Night Rainforest Wildlife Tour for an even better chance of spotting a platypus!

Rainforest


Drive The Waterfall Circuit

One of the most famous Atherton Tablelands attractions is the Waterfall Circuit. This circular driving itinerary passes numerous natural landmarks including lakes, waterfalls, streams, gorges, and more. Highlights include Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls, Nandroya Falls, Lake Eacham, Lake Barrine, Josephine Falls, Mungali Falls, Ellinjaa Falls, and so much more! You can drive the circuit on your own or book a waterfall tour that includes most of the best locations.

Millaa Millaa Falls


Visit Yungaburra

In addition to Kuranda, Yungaburra is another beautiful location in the Atherton Tablelands. This historic and charming town has lots of natural beauty and family-friendly attractions. One of the town's most famous landmarks is the Curtain Fig Tree, one of the largest fig trees in the world! If you're into history, you can walk the Historic Old Town Loop and admire the old buildings, or visit the Yungaburra Markets to shop for some souvenirs.

Curtain Fig Tree


Swim In Babinda Boulders

Nature lovers wondering what to do in the Atherton Tablelands should also consider a visit to Babinda Boulders! One of the best croc-free places to swim near Cairns, this refreshing creek is full of natural rock pools and is surrounded by serene rainforests. Babinda Boulders is accurately named because the freshwater is dotted with unique rock formations and boulders, so just be careful while swimming here!

Rainforest Cairns


Explore Paronella Park

Another unique attraction in the Atherton Tablelands is Paronella Park. With a combination of man-made beauty and flourishing nature, Paronella Park contains forests, waterfalls, gardens, walking paths, and a beautiful castle constructed by Jose Paronella for his wife. Spend some time wandering through the trails, looking for wildlife, admiring the historic castle, or staying in one of the cabins on-site. You can also visit Paronella Park as part of the Northern Experience Eco waterfall tour!

Paronella Park


Admire Lake Eacham

Last but certainly not least on our list of what to do in the Atherton Tablelands is Lake Eacham. This magical lake is another gorgeous place to swim near Cairns if you're looking for fresh water and the absence of saltwater crocodiles. Lake Eacham is a crater lake that was formed by volcanic activity in ancient times. The volcanic eruptions have left the water very rich in minerals, giving it a stunning sapphire blue hue. Visit Lake Eacham on our Barefoot Atherton Day Tour, or drive there from Cairns in about 1 hour.

Lake Eacham


Check out our full list of Atherton Tablelands day tours here! Or combine it with a trip to the Daintree Rainforest on this incredible 2-day tour.

Feel free to call us at (07) 4082 7470 or live chat with our travel experts online if you need help planning your adventure!

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