Cairns to Atherton Tablelands: 153 km | 2.5 hrs
Undara Lava Tubes to Atherton Tablelands: 196 km | 2.5 hrs
From Cairns, head up the Gillies Highway. If you want to spend explore each of the eleven stops you could easily spend two days on the Atherton Tablelands.
Cathedral Fig is a 500-year-old strangler fig with hundreds of aerial roots dropping to the floor creating the appearance of a gothic cathedral.
Gillies Lookout gives you expansive views across the forest-clad mountain ranges. If it is early in the morning there might even be mist it he valleys. If time is short, leave this stop out and go straight to Lake Barrine. You’ll be passing right by a similar fig tree called Curtain Fig. It gets more people and you can't get right up to it, but it is every bit as impressive.
Gillie Lookout. Photo: gillies lookout tayla_croxford via IG
Cathedral Fig. Photo: georgettee_ via IG
Lake Barrine Tea House is a great place to stop for tea and award winning scones or lunch. There are plenty of healthy options as well as some favorite classics and you can eat on the veranda looking over the lake and its birdlife.
Due to its clear aqua water and floating pontoon, Lake Eacham is a popular swimming spot. Facilities include toilets, electric BBQs and picnic tables.
Yungaburra is an historic town of wooden buildings, large trees, Saturday markets, art galleries, and several eateries.
A short drive from Yungaburra is the Curtain Fig National Park where you can take the 5 minute walk along the board walk through the rainforest to the famous 500 year old curtain fig. Its hundreds of aerial roots drop 15 metres to the ground forming a ‘curtain’. The tree is nearly 50 metres tall with a trunk circumference of 39 m.
Curtain Fig. Photo: go_around_the_world_goats via IG
A broad cascade of water falls into a swimming hole. It’s a great spot to cool off.
The view over rolling green hills from here is postcard perfect. Sit on the old wooden fence beneath the shady tree and enjoy it for a moment.
Millaa Millaa Lookout. Photo: mywanderlustfamily via IG
This tall and even cascade of water from a curving cliff rimmed with rainforest is the stuff of movie sets. Electric blue Ulysses butterflies tumble through sunbeams and massive tree ferns line the river. No wonder it is the most photographed waterfall in Australia. Facilities include toilets, change rooms, BBQs and picnic tables.
Once you’ve seen Millaa Millaa Falls nothing else is going to wow you, but we think the followingt two are worth seeing, since you are in the area anyway. They are also less frequented by people so you are likely to have the place to yourself.
Millaa Millaa Falls. Photo: mycolourfulworld via IG
At Ellinjaa Falls, the water cascades over basalt columns before falling straight down into the pool below. A 20 minute downhill walk will bring you to the base of the falls where you can see turtles and, at dusk and dawn, platypuses. You can swim in the waterhole or sit on the ledge behind the falls and enjoy the sound of the water all around you.
Ellinjaa Falls. Photo: corina_cmm via IG
A short walk from the road will bring you to an overhanging lookout where you can view the falls from the top. To get to the base, take the narrow path through the rainforest from the lookout. It is little more than a goat track and quite steep in places, so don’t try it when it’s wet. Sometimes the sunlight slants through the trees and mist in long rays.
Zillie Falls. Photo: Lifesaparty via IG
For a heavenly experience, end the day with the best Devonshire tea you’ll have in a long time, maybe even the best you’ll have in your lifetime! The clotted cream is to die for. You can also taste cheeses here and amazing yogurt. Stock up while you’re here. The cows are treated with love and no chemicals are used on this biodynamic farm.
A sweet girl. Photo: Mungalli Creek Dairy.
There are dozens of places to choose from so we’re giving you those that are a) extremely cheap, or b) very highly rated (four stars or more). They are in order of how close they are to Innot Hot Springs, which is tomorrow’s first stop.
Barney Springs near Rocky Creek Rest Area. Photo: Findacamp.com.au
The Atherton Tablelands is part of the Savannah Way road trip across the top end of Australia. See the map below. All highlights and camping areas are marked.
For more road trips, see our full list of Campervan Road Trips in Australia.
Heart of Reef Shuttles, 48-50 Carlo Drive, Cannonvale, Queensland 4802 Phone: 1800 216 223
490 Nudgee Road, Hendra, Queensland 4011
Phone: 1800 216 223
440 Sheridan Street, Cairns,
Queensland 4870 Phone: 1800 216 223
273 Elizabeth Street, Coburg,
Victoria 3058 Phone: 1800 216 223
23-25 Erskine Rd, Caringbah,
Sydney, NSW 2229 Phone: 1800 216 223