The Atherton Tablelands region has got to be one of the true hidden gems of tropical northern Australia. Southwest of Cairns, the area’s higher altitude takes the edge off the sticky tropical heat and creates a natural environment of singular beauty. Without a doubt, Atherton’s rainforests, waterfalls and volcanic lakes put the region in a class of its own.
The area is popular with adventurers of all ages – testimony to its diverse array of sights and activities. Whether you’re into mountain biking, historic pubs, birdwatching or tea and coffee plantation tours (or all of the above), there is certainly something for everyone.
Popular with locals and visitors alike, the rainforest-enshrined volcanic lakes – Barrine and Eacham – can be found in the Crater Lakes National Park. Both lakes were formed by volcanic explosions some 12,000 years ago and are now filled with crystalline rainwater, making them a picturesque destination for swimming, walking or a relaxing barbecue.
Both Barrine and Eacham are home to an array of turtles and fish species that can be spotted from the shore while exploring the lakes’ many walking tracks, or while paddling a kayak across their tranquil waters.
Just around the corner near the township of Yungaburra, is the majestic Curtain Fig. Estimated to be at least 500 years old, this breathtaking strangler fig has formed a curtain of aerial roots that drops a full 15 metres to the forest floor.
The tree has been attracting visitors since the 1920s and, at 50 metres high with a trunk circumference measured at 39 metres, it’s not hard to see why.
If you feel like cooling off, the region's waterfall circuit is a must. The Millaa Millaa, Zillie, Ellinjaa, Pepina and Mungalli waterfalls (to name but a few) are some of the most photographed falls in Australia and are home to the stunning Ulysses butterfly that boasts a wingspan of over 10cm!
A popular base for exploring the region is the BIG4 Atherton Woodlands Tourist Park: a family-owned park with a central location and leafy grounds. Whether you’re planning on spending your days on your mountain bike, or just chilling out on the deck of your cabin, the Woodlands Park is an ideal option.
The park is ECO Certified, meaning it has been proven to provide high-quality nature-based tourism experiences – you can even go birdwatching in the park itself – as well as adhering to sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices.
Mountain bikers are invited to make use of the purpose-built MTB wash-down and service facilities (even if they have checked out) after tearing it up on the range of tracks and trails found directly behind the park.