Atherton Tablelands

Old Aug 28th, 2006, 06:40 PM
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Atherton Tablelands

I'm having trouble finding just general information about the Atherton Tablelands. I know that it is often recommended on this forum and would love it if those who have been there could fill in some information about what it's like, what kind of tours to take, etc. (we'll be going in October a year from now).

I'm not so worried about accomodations--I think we would hope we could go there and visit as a day trip from Port Douglas. Is this doable?

Any information would be much appreciated. Sometimes comments on forums like this are more helpful than all the fancy websites and tourbooks combined!
caligirl56 is offline  
Old Aug 29th, 2006, 12:32 AM
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Hi there,
I'm sure if Pat has the time she will fill you in on relevant details. We have had a look around Atherton Tablelands, both with a tour company and by ourselves in a rental, where we chose certain places we wished to revisit. We got a lot of info from the internet, and also from the Cairns Visitors Information Centre. They were very helpful when we were planning both our trips to Cairns.
Having said all that I do know that some special areas of the Tablelands were badly damaged , nearly obliterated following a Category 4/5 hurricane early this year. By the time you are there I would hope that all has healed.
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Old Aug 29th, 2006, 05:14 AM
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There was some damage after Cyclone Larry but I did not notice too much in the tablelands just 3 months after. Not compared to Innisfail/Tully /Mission Beach which still brings tears to my eyes.

As a sign on the roadside testified....

Not happy Larry!

In fact the never ending rain afterwards probably only accentuated it's beauty, so lush and green. No disrespect intended to anyone in that area that did suffer.

The Tablelands are agricultural with some spots of original forest. I would describe it as a lovely touring experience when all the parts add up to a very nice journey. So many attractions but none that stand out on their own.

I do prefer the central/southern tableland area to the northern (which is closest to Port Douglas).

I would always recommend the whole round trip which I feel would require an overnight stay. Yungaburra is a good overnght stay as you can view the platypus early evening or very early am.

I love it, just totally love it but then I am a big fan of FNQ so biased.
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Old Aug 31st, 2006, 09:43 PM
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Some crazy people try to do the Atherton Tablelands in one day! If you can afford three days, I suggest something like this.
Day 1. From Port drive north towards Mosman and turn up the Rex Range to Julatten and Mt Malloy. At the top of the range is a good lookout to see the coast, Daintree river and possibly Thorntons Peak. From there drive south through more of an "outback" looking country to Mareeba. If you like mango wines or coffee and chocolate there are places here worth visiting. Take the sign posted roads out to Granite Gorge where you can see the habituated Mareeba Rock Wallabies up really close. They will not only eat out of your hand but sit in your lap if that excites you.
Heading towards Walkamin you pass a distillery which makes fruit liqueurs. In Tolga there is the famous Woodworks with not only wood but other wonderful art. Also a top place to eat!
If you have time fit in a visit to Hou Wang Temple and the Crystal Caves in Atherton before heading to Yungaburra for your accommodation. see After checking in and booking your nocturnal tour head down to the creek to look for platypus. The Burra Inn is a great place to eat on the night of your nocturnal tour. Its BYO so pick up a bottle in Mareeba at the Ant Hill Hotel which has a great selection of Australian wines. Other eateries in the village are also excellent but take a little longer to enjoy.
Day 2. Head out to Lake Barrine for a walk around the lake in the morning before joining the first cruise at 9.15. This is your best chance of seeing huge pythons and the commentary on board is excellent. Morning tea will fortify you for the day ahead. Drive south to visit the falls at Malanda and Millaa Millaa. While in Malanda visit the dairy centre and the environment centre. To do a walk with a Nadjonjii elder you must book at the info centre [email protected] . From Millaa Millaa drive up the hill to the lookout. If time will allow, and I doubt it head south to Ravenshoe otherwise call in at The Crater, a gaseous explosion crater unlike any other. On the way back to your accommodation check out the mighty Curtain Fig.
Day 3. Take a slow start to the day or a dawn walk along the creek to get one last look at platypus. After breakfast buy your quality souvenirs in the local shops. Cram in some of the things I have not told you about or you did not have time for. Drive east towards Cairns, stopping at the Cathedral Fig on the way.
If you have extra days go out to Undara for the lava tubes or Chillago for the limestone caves. Better yet hire a 4WD and do them both by going through the back way. You may not see more than another vehicle on the link road.
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Old Sep 1st, 2006, 06:58 PM
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Thank you all so much. It sounds like I need to rework our plans to add at least an extra day, maybe two more. I had no idea that there were so many things to see and do.
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Old Sep 1st, 2006, 07:06 PM
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Don'tleave Millia Millia falls off your list especially if you would like to swim - no crocs, very safe and very pretty. Have a great time and don't try and put all into one day - too much to see
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 06:19 PM
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Here's another link to Atherton Tablelands (also known as Cairns Highlands) and nearby outback.

For a bird's-eye view you can take a hot air balloon ride from near Mareeba, a very early start, but just beautiful at dawn. Due to mostly stable weather conditions in this area it has the highest take-off rate of any balloon ride in Australia. There's pick-ups from Cairns and Port Douglas accommodation for those who aren't self-driving.
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