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Atherton Tablelands

 

Atherton Tablelands

Distances

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 and Gillies Lookout

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.


gillies lookout
Gillie Lookout. Photo: gillies lookout tayla_croxford via IG


cathedral fig
Cathedral Fig. Photo: georgettee_  via IG

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Lake Barrine

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.

  • Stretch your legs on a 5 km walk around Lake Barrine through lush rainforest. You might spot water dragons, Amethystine pythons, (they’re harmless to humans), pelicans, turtles, ducks, musky rat kangaroo, and bush turkeys. If time is tight, skip this and do the shorter Lake Eacham walk.
  • Take a swim in the fresh water of Lake Barrine.
  • Stand in awe of the 1,000 year old majestic kauri pines.
  • Take a 45 minute guided boat tour of Lake Barrine and its creatures.

 lake barrine
Devonshire tea with a view. Lake Barrine. Photo: kolina7 via IG
lake barrine
The 1000 year old Kauri Pines. Photo: oh_the_places_weve_seen via IG

Lake Eacham

Due to its clear aqua water and floating pontoon, Lake Eacham is a popular swimming spot. Facilities include toilets, electric BBQs and picnic tables.

  • Dive into the water from the pontoon and float on your back to enjoy the tranquility or dive down and spot fish.
  • Watch the fish and turtles from one of the viewing points.
  • Walk the circumference of Lake Eacham on the 4 km paved path. You might see water dragons, turtles, musky rat kangaroos, bush turkeys, pythons, and water birds.
  • Take the 1 km walking track to Eacham Waterfalls
lake eacham
Lake Eacham. Photo: teala_regan  via IG
 lake eacham
Floating in the sky. Photo: khyorchard via IG

Yungaburra

Yungaburra is an historic town of wooden buildings, large trees, Saturday markets, art galleries, and several eateries.

  • Drop in to Mad Hatters, the Whistle Stop Café or one of the other eateries for lunch or just coffee and a snack.
  • Browse the markets (Saturdays only).
  • Wander through town.
  • Take the short Allumbah Pocket walking trail along Patterson Creek from the end of Bunya and Penda streets. You might spot a platypus!
yungaburra
The beautiful streets of Yungaburra. Photo: eezraa_ via IG

Curtain Fig

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
Curtain Fig. Photo: go_around_the_world_goats via IG

Malanda Falls

A broad cascade of water falls into a swimming hole. It’s a great spot to cool off. 

  • Drop into the visitor centre to pick up brochures and maps on all the attractions in the area.
  • Take one of the short walks through the surrounding rainforest and try spotting a tree kangaroo.
malanda falls
Malanda Falls. Photo:  pierrebrauer via IG

Millaa Millaa Lookout

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
Millaa Millaa Lookout. Photo: mywanderlustfamily via IG

Millaa Millaa Falls

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
Millaa Millaa Falls. Photo: mycolourfulworld  via IG

Ellinjaa Falls

 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
Ellinjaa Falls. Photo: corina_cmm  via IG

Zillie Falls

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
Zillie Falls. Photo: Lifesaparty via IG

Mungalli Creek Dairy

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.

mungallli creek dairy
A sweet girl. Photo: Mungalli Creek Dairy.

Camping Atherton Tablelands

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.

  • Ravenshoe Railway Caravan Park
    34 km (30 min) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Facilities: toilets, sowers, laundry, camp kitchen, camp fire area, dump point, onsite caretakers.
    RATES: $10 for an unpowered site, $15 powered. No bookings.

  • Millaa Millaa Caravan Park
    60 km (45 min) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Set in 7 acres of rainforest gardens. Foliage gives each site a sense of privacy.
    Facilities: toilets, showers, laundry, camp kitchen, swimming pool,
    RATES: $25 for 2 adults. $7 additional adults.

  • Malanda Falls Caravan Park
    77 km (1 hr) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Everyone loves this place. It is right next to Malanda Falls and they have an animal nursery with goats and chickens.
    Facilities: Toilets, showers, laundry, camp kitchen, electric BBQs, bushwalks.
    RATES: $23 for 2 adults. $10 additional adults.

  • Lake Eacham Tourist Park
    88 km (1 h 10 min) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Lake Eacham Tourist Park is just 1 km from Lake Eacham, so you could take an early morning swim and have the place to yourself.
    Facilities: Toilets, showers, laundry, free WiFi, camp fires, camp kitchen, gas BBQs, wood camp fires, duck pond, birdlife, groceries, café, gift shop, wild bird feeding on the terrace, ice, gas, post facilities, free phone (within Australia)
    RATES: $24 for 2. $7 additional.

  • Rocky Creek Rest Area
    98 km (1 hr 20 min) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Facilities: Toilets, fire places, picnic tables.
    RATES: $5 for the night.

rocky creek barney springs
Barney Springs near Rocky Creek Rest Area. Photo: Findacamp.com.au

  • Danbulla State Forest
    All on the water. A little further from tomorrow's stop but cheap.
    RATES: $6.55 per person per night.

  • Platypus Campground
    108 km (1 hr 30 min) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Facilities: Flushing toilets, shower room (bring your own camp shower), taps, picnic tables, individual fire rings, water views.

  • platypus camping Atherton Tablelands
    Platypus Campground. Photo: dirkveltkamp 

  • Downfall Creek
    111 km (1 hr 40 min) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Facilities: Flushing toilets, shower room (bring your own camp shower), taps, individual fire rings, water views.

    downfall camping Atherton Tablelands
    Downfall campground. Photo: twodutchies

  • Kauri Creek
    112 km (1 hr 40 min) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Facilities: Flushing toilets, shower room (bring your own camp shower), taps, individual fire rings, water views.

  • School Point Camp
    115 km (1 hr 45 min) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Facilities: Flushing toilets, shower room (bring your own camp shower), taps, water views.

    schoolpoint camping Atherton Tablelands
    School Point Campground. Photo: bazman63 

  • Fong-on Bay Camp
    119 km (2 hr) from Innot Hot Springs.
    Facilities: flushing toilets, shower room (bring your own camp shower), taps, individual fire rings, water views.

    fong-on camping Atherton Tablelands
    Fong-on Campground. Photo: redbulldustblogspot 

Atherton Tablelands Map

Savannah Way Map

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.

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