The Ultimate Atherton Tablelands Self Drive Itinerary: The Best Things to Do in Atherton Tablelands

The Ultimate Atherton Tablelands Self Drive Itinerary: The Best Things to Do in Atherton Tablelands

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If you are trying to figure out what to do in Atherton Tablelands, you may be struggling to decide where to start. And that’s no wonder, given there are just so many things to do in Atherton Tablelands. We planned to stay in the Atherton Tablelands for a couple of days and ended up spending three weeks! During that time we discovered the very best of what Atherton has to offer.

Now, we have put together this Atherton Tablelands self drive itinerary to help take the guesswork out of planning the perfect trip through Atherton and the Tablelands, a remarkable and unique destination in Australia’s Far North Queensland.

The Abundance of the Atherton Tablelands

A photo of the rainforest canopy in Atherton. Exploring the incredible national parks is one of the best things to do in Atherton tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands is a plateau on the Great Dividing Range to the west of Cairns. Here, fertile farming pastures are fringed by stunning national parks that are home to many of Queensland’s most spectacular natural attractions, most peculiar animals, and most impressive plant species. The region is home to a variety of different environments, eucalypt forests, boulder-filled creeks that wind through granite gorges, rolling green pasture, deep lakes forged by volcanic activity, and the heritage-listed rainforest of the Wet Tropics. Here you will find some of Queensland’s most pristine waterfalls and lakes. Dotted throughout the scenic landscape the iconic country towns of the Tablelands, each offer their own distinct heritage and unique culture.

Throughout this diverse and stunning area, the peoples of the Tablelands have been diligently farming this fertile region and the Atherton Tablelands have become synonymous with the fresh produce they cultivate. Family owned dairies produce milk and cheese the way it used to be, locally grown coffee is roasted at the local cafes and coffee merchants, tropical fruits are made into wine and liqueur, and paddock to plate eateries abound, specializing in the abundant produce of the Tablelands.

The history and culture of the Tablelands are no less rich than the natural or culinary abundance. From the Mbabaram aboriginal people who have lived in the rainforest of the Tablelands for thousands of years to the story of settlement by immigrants from every corner of the world.

This fascinating region warrants more than a weekend, however if you only have a few days then you will want to squeeze as much as you can in. Luckily we have uncovered the secret formula.

The Secret to an Atherton Tablelands Self Drive Itinerary

Walk, eat, walk, eat…

This Atherton Tablelands self drive itinerary takes advantage of the secret formula we have discovered to the perfect weekend here. And here it is… walk, eat, walk, eat, walk, eat, sleep. The incredible number and variety of natural attractions and experiences here mean that you will be able to keep up a healthy appetite so you can fully appreciate the culinary delights found throughout the Tablelands.

To tackle this Atherton itinerary you are going to need a long weekend. And even then, you’ll only get to scratch the surface of all the things to do in Atherton and its remarkable surrounds.

You are also going to need a car. The only way to truly experience the breadth of the Atherton Tablelands is under your own steam. After all, how are you going to enjoy the far-flung national parks and country towns of Atherton, let alone the famous Mareeba Drive-in / Camp-in cinema without your own wheels? A vehicle is required for this Atherton Tableland self-drive itinerary. A 4wd will help you see even more but is not necessary for this particular Atherton itinerary 

So let’s dive in. We have packed in some of the best bits of the natural spectacle, unique quirks, and gourmet dining experiences that make this region so special, with our comprehensive Atherton Tablelands self drive itinerary.

Before You Leave

Thursday Morning – Packing for Atherton

Before you leave for work, pack your hiking boots and a raincoat for days spent exploring rainforests, crater lakes, gorges, and of course waterfalls. Also pack some nice clothes, for sampling local spirits, high tea, and some farm to table dining. Hot sunny days call for t-shirts and shorts but the temperature can drop quickly up here so bring something warm as well.

Double-check your plane tickets to Atherton’s nearest airport, Cairns, and confirm your car rental reservation.

Thursday Evening – Arrive in Cairns

Stay in Cairns before setting out to discover the best things to do in the Atherton Tablelands
A view without the price tag from the comfortable Park Regis on Cairns’ Trinity inlet.

Get off work as early as you can to get stuck into this weekend. The nearest airport to Atherton Tablelands is the Cairns International Airport.

Since you’ll be arriving in Cairns in the evening take the opportunity to stay at the fabulous (and moderately price) Park Regis. With stunning views of the Trinity Inlet where Cairns meets the Coral Sea, access to downtown and the beautiful Cairns foreshore, as well as large well-appointed, self-contained apartments, it’s the perfect place to stay before your journey to the Atherton Tablelands.

Be sure to take advantage of Cairns’ dining scene by booking a table at one of its world-class restaurants, or perhaps grabbing a drink at a local brewery or distillery.

The Ultimate Atherton Tablelands Self Drive Itinerary

Friday Atherton Tablelands Self Drive Itinerary – Markets and Produce

7:00 am – Pick up Some Supplies at Rusty’s Market, Cairns

An early start, because there’s plenty to do and see today. But before setting off from Cairns fuel up with breakfast and grab some supplies for the road at Rusty’s Market.

Rusty’s weekend market is a fresh produce market showcasing the best of the tropical fruits and vegetables of Queensland’s tropics. Alongside, bunches of bananas, and juicy mangoes, find the more exotic black sapote, rambutan, and mangosteens. You can also find fresh local dairy products, barista-made coffee, and artisan bread and pastries for an easy breakfast-to-go.

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9:00 am – Walk Through the Canopy at Barron Falls

The Barron Falls in Kuranda during dry season.
The spectacular Barron Falls but without the heavy rain water from rainy season!

A 40-minute winding drive takes you up up up onto the northern end of the Atherton Tablelands and into the Barron Gorge National Park. Here the 1.2km Din Din Barron Falls walking trail leads to spectacular views of Barron Falls and the Barron Gorge.

The trail that leads to the viewpoint is a spectacle in its own right. A boardwalk trail, which is wheelchair-accessible, is suspended high above the forest floor and winds through the lush, rainforest canopy to the Barron Falls lookout.

The fall flows all year but are most spectacular during the wet season from November to March.

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10:00 am – Experience Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets

Visiting the Kuranda Original Markets is one of the best things to do in Atherton.
The lush Kuranda Markets are set amongst a rainforest. Photo Credit: Bahnfrend

The third stop and second market on our Atherton itinerary are the Kuranda Markets. Operating here since 1987, it has become a requisite among things to do in Atherton.

The market stalls which are set amongst a lush rainforest sell all manner of artisan products including clothes, arts, cafts, and homemade produce.

Be sure to stop in at the very zen, ‘Japanese teahouse’ for a traditional snack and ceremonial style matcha green tea or Petite Cafe for delicious Atherton coffee and crepe.

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11:00 am – Stop for Ice-Cream and Fudge at the Emerald Creek Ice-Creamery

There is no better thing to do in Atherton than eating delicous homemade ice cream!

The Emerald Creek Ice-Creamery is the next stop, just outside of Mareeba. The Emerald Creek Ice-Creamery produces their own hand made ice cream, fudge, jams and preserves, and biltong too. Stop in for a cold one.

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12:00 pm – Take a Dip at Emerald Creek Falls

The Emerald Creek Falls one of the lesser known waterfalls in Atherton Tablelands.
One of the best things to do in Atherton is visit the Emerald Creek Falls, but don’t forget you swimmers!

This easy, 30-minute bush walk takes you slightly up-hill to the delightful Emerald Creek Falls. Take your swimmers because the swimming pool under the small falls is perfect for a quick dip. Views back down Emerald Creek are beautiful, and capture one of the many unique environments of the Tablelands, the northern eucalypt forests and granite strewn woodlands. Visiting the Emerald Creek Falls was easily one of our favorite things to do in Atherton!

The falls are at the end of a 10-kilometer dirt road. Conventional vehicles will make the journey but take it slow because the road is quite corrugated. Caravans should be left behind.

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1:00 pm – Try Something New at De Brueys Boutique Wines

Two glasses of white wine

Visiting a fruit winery is one of the more unique things to do in Atherton Tablelands. Here in the tropics where fruit grows in abundance, fruit wineries are common place. And the De Brueys Boutique Wines is one of the most popular fruit wineries.

Pop into the De Brueys Boutique Wines to sample lychee and mango wine varietals, coffee based liqueurs and pick up a bottle to take home.

If you’re thirsty for more of the unique fruit wines so popular in this area Golden Drop Winery is another local producer in the area.

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2:00 pm – Visit a Coffee Plantation at Jaques

coffee beans

The Aherton Tablelands are famous for being Queensland’s only coffee growing area and one of Australia’s premiere coffee producing regions. And the best coffee here is arguably Jacques. Drop into Jaques Coffee Plantation for a premium tour, a self-guided tour, or just a cup of coffee and bag of beans to-go from their on-site restaurant and cafe.

Currently closed for covid – stay up to date with their re-opening here.

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2:30 pm – Wander through the Mareeba Heritage Museum & Visitor Information Centre

The old train ambulance for the Mareeba Hospital at the Mareeba Heritage Museum & Visitors Information Center.
The old train ambulance for the Mareeba Hospital

This information centre is one of the best in the region and is easily one of the best things to do in Atherton. Aside from all the tourist information you could ever need on the local area, a small, free museum tells the rich and storied history of the Mareeba and Tablelands. A neat cafe at the back of the Heritage Museum which serves up light meals and delicious coffee. The park next door has free barbecues, picnic tables, and toilets.

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3:00 pm – Sip Local Spirits at Mt Uncle Distillery

Outside of the Mt. Uncle Distillery outside of Mareeba in the Atherton Tablelands.

Featuring a range of award winning vodka, gin, rum, whiskey and liquor, the Mount Uncle distillery is another opportunity to sample the prolific artisan craft of the Tablelands. Stop by to sample, four, six or all ten of their creations or pick up a bottle to go.

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4:00 pm – Check-in to Yungaburra

The streets of Yungaburra in Atherton Tablelands.
Yungaburra is hands down the cutest city in all of the Atherton Tablelands!

Okay we have been going all day and it’s time to check-in to our accomodation and catch our breath.

Our pick of where to stay in the Atherton Tablelands is Yungaburra. The cutest town on the tablelands is also has the perfect central location from which to explore all the things to do in the Atherton Tablelands.

Within Yungaburra we recommend Eden House Luxury Retreat which offers comfortable cottages close to the cafes, pubs, and shopping of Yungaburra.

5:30 pm – Spot Platypus and Tree Kangaroos in Yungaburra

A tree kangaroo spotted along Patterson Creek in Yungaburra is one of the best things to do in Atherton.
Don’t forget to look up to try and spot the elusive tree kangaroo!

Yungaburra is one of the best places in the Tablelands to spot the elusive platypus and spotting platypus was easily one of my favorite things to do in Atherton. The Yungaburra Platypus Viewing Platform is just on the outskirts of the town.

If you wait quietly for a while at dawn or dusk you may catch a glimpse of the platypus that live here. However if the viewing platform does not yield results, cross the bridge and follow the path under the bridge to Patterson Creek. Platypus can often be found under the bridge or further upstream along Patterson Creek. Platypus are most commonly spotted at dawn and dusk, but they are notoriously shy so try not to make too much noise.

While exploring Patterson Creek you may also be lucky enough to spot a tree kangaroo! Keep your eyes up on the trees for the chance to spot the two tree kangaroos that call this creek home.

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7:30 pm – Enjoy a the Nostalgia of the Mareeba Drive-In

The Mareeba Drive-In should be on any Atherton Tablelands self-drive itinerary.
Looking for things to do in Atherton? Check out the old school drive-in!

The Mareeba Drive-In is a must for anybody visiting the Atherton Tablelands over the weekend. Each Friday and Saturday night they play two back-to-back films starting from 7:30 pm at their classic drive-in cinema.

Originally opened in the 1960s as the ‘Rodeo Drive-In’, the cinema is beginning to show its age. Never the less it still has everything you need for a nostalgic night out to the movies including cheap popcorn, hamburgers, corn dogs, and other fairground favorites.

If you are traveling in a campervan, the Mareeba Drive-in even allows camping in your car with the purchase of a ticket, no additional charge!

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Saturday Atherton Tablelands Self Drive Itinerary – Lakes, Trees and Cheese

8:00 am – Duck into the Whistle Stop Cafe for breakfast

The Whistle Stop Cafe in Yungaburra is a great place to grab breakfast on any Atherton Tablelands itinerary.

A big day of visiting the lakes of the table lands, needs a big breakfast, on the other hand, morning tea is not too far away so don’t over do-it.

The Whistle Stop Cafe is a friendly country cafe serving up great coffee, delicious breakfasts and fresh lunches in a relaxed setting and a friendly atmosphere.

Try the french toast with bacon and maple syrup or their ultimate eggs benedict.

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9:00 am – Walk (or Paddle) Around Lake Eacham

A glimpse of the lake through the foilage on our walk around the circuit trail at Lake Eacham in Crater Lakes National Park, one of the best national parks in Queensland.
A glimpse of the lake through the foilage on our walk around the circuit trail

Lake Eacham in the Crater Lakes National Park just east of Yungaburra is a lake formed by volcano activity. Today the impossibly clear, 65 meter deep lake, ringed by thick green rainforest, is home to saw shelled turtles, fish, waterfowl, and a resident freshwater crocodile.

A small boat ramp provides access for kayakers, paddleboarders, swimmers and divers to access the water. A 3-kilometer walking track circumnavigates the lake taking in the beautiful rainforest that fringe the lake. Pergolas, toilets, and barbecues have been provided by the national parks service, making it an ideal spot for a picnic lunch or barbecue.

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11:00 am – Enjoy Morning Tea at Lake Barrine

Walking through the gardens outside of Lake Barrine Teahouse at Lake Barrine in Crater Lakes National Park, Atherton Tablelands.
Headed to eat scones at Lake Barrine Teahouse

Just round the corner from Lake Eacham, a second crater lake, Lake Barrine offers another a beautiful lake enclosed by lush tropical rainforest.

On Lake Barrine you will also find the manicured tropical gardens and charming lakeside dining room of the Lake Barrine Teahouse.

Scones are the specialty here, served up warm with fresh cream and jam. Enjoy with a pot of tea and watch the dramas of the water birds and fish play out on the lake below.

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12:00 pm – Marvel at the Cathedral Fig Tree

The massive Cathedral Fig, one of the many impressive strangler figs in Atherton Tablelands
The massive Cathedral Fig in Atherton Tablelands

From the Crater Lakes National Park, we are heading toward Lake Tinaroo. The first stop is the jaw-dropping Cathedral Fig, easily one of the best things to see in Atherton. The stunning Cathedral Fig is an enormous fig tree estimated to be over 500 years old. During that time it has grown a canopy that measures 2000 m2 and become a haven for a variety of other life including ferns, vines, and insects which call this magnificent tree home.

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12:30 pm – Take a Break for Lunch by Lake Tinaroo

Attempting to catch barramundi at Lake Tinaroo in the Atherton Tablelands.
Apparently there are plenty of big barranmundi in Lake Tinaroo, not today though

Stop by one of the day-use areas, such as Platypus Creek, found around the massive Lake Tinaroo.

Take a picnic lunch or the makings of a barbecue and some firewood to use the free wood-fired barbecues in the National Park.

Chuck a lure for the (apparently) massive barramundi that the damn is stocked with.

Explore some of the walking trails and tracks such as the 8-kilometer return jungal-jungal trail which takes you through dense rainforest and across several crystal clear creek crossings.

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2:00 pm – Discover Gallo Dairyland Cheese and Chocolate

The cows outside of Gallo Dairyland which is a must on any Atherton Tablelands itinerary.
From milking to cheese and chocolate making you can observe the whole process…or skip straight to the end

Having circumnavigated the crater lakes and Lake Tinaroo, the next stop on our Atherton Tablelands itinerary is the Gallo Dairy, easily one of the best things to do in Atheron.

Drop-in for the daily milking, observe the onsite cheese factory or skip straight to the final step and pick up some handmade cheese and chocolates.

You can enjoy your cheese and chocolate along with a variety of breakfast and lunch options at the licensed onsite cafe or take away to enjoy later.

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3:00 pm – Admire Curtain Fig

The Curtain Fig is an impressive strangler fig and one of the best national parks in Queensland and the Atherton Tablelands.
The incredible Curtain Fig

Another impossibly grand fig tree. This one has grown into an incredible wall of limbs after its host tree fell. At certain times of day, the light filters through the curtain creating an even more mesmerizing scene. Keep your eyes peeled for more tree kangaroos in the trees around the Curtain Fig.

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7:00 pm – Dinner @ Our Place

The lamb shake from Our Place in Yungaburra, one of the farm to table restaurants found in Atherton and should be on any Atherton Tablelands itinerary.
Simple meals with fresh local produce

This down to earth dinner and lunch spot in Yungaburra is one of the regions most popular restaurants. And while they may not be revolutionizing the restaurant scene, their recipe is hard to beat. Simply prepared, classic meals using real local ingredients and warm country hospitality. Be sure to try the locally sourced Tablelands for two antipasto and leave room for the praline cheesecake for dessert!

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Sunday Atherton Tablelands Self Drive Itinerary – Chasing Waterfalls

There are numerous waterfalls on the southern end of the Atherton Tablelands where the Tablelands abruptly end and its ample waters tumble off year-round. We have put together a few of the best things to do in Atheron and our favorite highlights to be enjoyed in a day.

7:00 am – Wallicher Falls and Tchupala Falls

Glimpse the Wallicher Falls tumbling into a pool of water in the Atherton Tablelands through the rainforest foilage.
The pretty Wallicher Falls

Warm up with an early morning walk to Wallicher and Tchupala Falls.

Starting at the Henrietta Creek Campground, this easy 2.5 kilometer (one-way) walk takes you down to a picturesque view of Wallicher Falls framed by the jungle foliage. Keep going another 1.2 kilometers to reach Tchupala Falls. While you cannot swim at either, the views and walk alone are worth the trek.

You can also view these falls via shorter walking tracks that begin on the Palmerston highway. These walks are 1 kilometer and 500 meters respectively.

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9:30 am – Bush Walk to the Impressive Nandroya Falls

What to do in Atherton? Visit the Nandroya Falls, a stunning waterfall set against the lush green rainforest in Atherton Tablelands.
Nandroya Falls is one of the prettiest waterfalls in Atherton (and our favorite!)

Also beginning from Henrietta Creek Campground, this moderate 6.2-kilometer return trail takes walkers through dense green rainforest, down to the impressive 50-meter high Nandroya Falls. The walk to Nandroya Falls was a particular favorite of ours. Walk counter-clockwise to pass several other small waterfalls as the trail snakes beside the stream fed by Nandroya Falls. And don’t forget to pack your swimmers for this one to cool off with a swim in the large pool beneath the thundering Nandroya falls.

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11:30 am – See Mungalli Falls from Above

Stop by the Mungalli Falls on your way to Mungalli Creek Dairy as you continue on your Atherton Tablelands self-drive itinerary.
The rapids above the Mungalli Falls

Stop by the Mungalli Falls on the way to visit Mungalli Creek Dairy. Despite being located in a school camp facility, the Mungalli Falls are accessible to the public. Stunning views over the Tablelands with the rushing Mungalli Falls below can be viewed from the top platform or, if you haven’t met your steps goal, take the 1.2 kilometers round trip to the bottom of the impressive falls and back up.

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12:00 pm – Sample Some Soft Cheese at Mungalli Creek Dairy and Cafe

A cheese platter from Mungalli Creek Dairy and Cafe is one of the best things to do in Atherton Tablelands
Everyone say CHEESE!

Time for lunch. And there is no better way to enjoy lunch then with a delicious cheese platter served in the garden at Mungalli Creek Dairy and Cafe.

Mungalli offers a point of difference to the Gallo Dairy cheese. Unlike Gallo Dairy, Mungalli’s cheese platter focuses on soft cheese such as quarks, ricottas and feta.

Grab some of their locally produced, extra creamy milk or yogurt on your way out.

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1:30 pm – Take in the Picturesque Millaa Millaa Falls

The most impressive waterfall in Atherton, Millaa Millaa
The most impressive waterfall in Atherton, Millaa Millaa

The Millaa Millaa Falls are some of the most famous waterfalls in Queensland and it’s easy to see why. Perfectly picturesque, an even vail of water drops straight down 18 m into a perfectly round pool surrounded by a tropical green oasis.

And if you are thinking these falls look familiar, you may have seen them before. The photogenic Millaa Millaa Falls has been featured in popular local advertisements for both XXXX Gold and Herbal Essences.

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2:30 pm – Stretch your Legs in the Lovely Town of Millaa Millaa

Millaa Millaa should be on any Atherton Tablelands self-drive itinerary
Millaa Millaa should be on any Atherton Tablelands self-drive itinerary

Affectionately known as the village in the mist, the pretty town of Millaa Millaa is the perfect place to stop off for a picnic lunch, a coffee from the Barista in the Mist cafe, or maybe a classic Aussie burger from Rumours Diner.

* If you haven’t gotten your fill of waterfalls there are countless more to discover near Millaa Millaa and in the southern section of the Tablelands.

3:30 pm – Pick Up Some Smoked Barramundi @ Tarzali Lakes

On your way back to Yungaburra, make sure to stop by Tarzali Lakes and the Australian Platypus Park for smoked barramundi to go. Smoked on-site from locally sourced barramundi, sampling this local fish is a staple on any food tour of the Atherton Tablelands.

We recommend grabbing the smoked barramundi to go and preparing your own meal with the fresh local ingredients you grabbed from Rusty’s Market in Cairns.

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4:30 pm – Grab a Beer at the Yungaburra Pub

The Yungaburra Hotel and Pub should be on any Atherton Tablelands self-drive itinerary and is one of the best things to do in Atherton!
The second-largest pub in the Southern Hemisphere is located in Atherton Tablelands!

After an active day, it’s time to cool down with a beer, and there is no better place to do so than at the Yungaburra Hotel. This charming and historic pub is the second largest in the southern hemisphere and has been welcoming guests for more than a century. With a grand old dining room, 2 bars, and a beer garden, it has become an iconic stop on the Atherton Tablelands. Drop-in for a beer or two and soak up the history and country charm of the Yungaburra Hotel.

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Monday – The Way Back Home

The sugar cane fields from Walshs Pyramid outside of Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands.
TThe trip back to Cairns, takes you down off the Tablelands and back to the coastal plain

Tired but no doubt satisfied its time to head back to Cairns.

Travel down the range via Gillies Range Road , from here you can head directly back to Cairns or travel another thirty minutes south the town of Babinda and the famous Babinda boulders. The clear mountain water from nearby Bartle Frere flows into Babinda Creek through a series of large granite boulders set amongst the lush rainforest of the Wet Tropics.

You could also check out Walshs Pyramid, just south of Cairns outside the township of Gordonvale, a three to five hour hike takes you up 900m over three kilometres for views back over the the cane fields and mountains of Cairns’ hinterland.

If you are looking for something more to do before you plane leaves? Why not check the Cairns Art Gallery which hosts rotating exhibitions. Alternatively, visit Cairns’ impressive foreshore parks or the Cairns Botanical Gardens located near the airport.

Deliciously prepared meal at Noa, one of Cairns most exciting restaurants.

If you’re hungry for more of Cairns’ dining scene, check out Noa, one of Cairns most exciting restaurants out near the airport in the trendy suburb of Edge Hill.

However you choose to spend your time in the Atherton Tablelands, we are certain it is a place that you will remember for a long a time to come, an abundant oasis, in Queensland’s tropical far north.

Where to Stay Atherton Tablelands

Accommodation Cairns

With stunning views of the Trinity Inlet where Cairns meets the Coral Sea, access to downtown and the beautiful Cairns foreshore, as well as large well-appointed, self-contained apartments, the Park Regis is the perfect place to stay before the journey to the Atherton Tablelands.

Accomodation Atherton Tablelands

Camping Atherton Tablelands

The best camping spots in the Atherton Tablelands are in the many national parks that surround this special area. Camping in the national parks costs just $6.75 per person usually includes basic facilities and provide camping and access to the most beautiful parts of the country.

Two of our favorite national park campsites in the Atherton Tablelands are Platypus camping area on Lake Tinaroo in the Danbulla National Park, and Henrietta Creek in Wooroonooran National Park.

Another option for those camping in their camper van or similar is the Mareeba Drive-in which allows patrons to stay in their vehicle overnight with purchase of movie tickets on Friday and Saturday nights. This unique experience was one of our favorite things to do in the Atherton Tablelands.

Caravan Parks Atherton Tablelands

There are a variety of caravan parks in the Atherton Tablelands.

For self-contained caravans and campers, the Rocky Creek War Memorial Park in Tolga provides donation-based camping.

For caravaners looking for more facilities try the Granite Boulder Nature Park which offers a variety of camping and activities in a spectacular natural setting.

Accommodation Kuranda

Ronday-voo is a warm and welcoming bed and breakfast set amongst the beautiful backdrop of the Kuranda area. A great base to explore the northern towns and national parks of the Atherton Tablelands.

Accommodation Yungaburra

We recommend Eden House Retreat Luxury Retreat which offers comfortable cottages close to the cafes, pubs and shopping in Yungaburra. Yungaburra is perfectly situated to explore the whole of the Atherton Tablelands.

Accommodation Millaa Millaa

The Riversong Retreat in Millaa Millaa, combines modern comfort with classic hospitality. Close to the attractions of the southern end of the tablelands, it is the perfect place for exploring the waterfalls and dairies.

Accommodation Atherton

Victoria House in Atherton offers accommodation for the whole family. A beautifully appointed, large family home, sleeps six people, right in the heart of Atherton.

Where to Eat in Atherton Tablelands

A fertile farming land with a rich farming and pastoral history. One of the best things to do in Atherton’s Tablelands is to experience the local produce. Here are some of the best places to grab some fresh produce to take home, or enjoy a farm-to-table meal prepared using locally sourced ingredients.

Our Place

This down to earth restaurant in Yungaburra serves up some of the regions best lunches and dinners. And while they may not be revolutionizing the restaurant scene, their recipe is hard to beat. Simply prepared, classic meals using real local ingredients and warm country hospitality. Be sure to try the locally sourced Tablelands for two antipasto and leave room for the praline cheesecake for dessert!

Gallo Dairy

A sample of cheese from the Gallo Dairy on your Atherton Tablelands self-drive itinerary.

With a delicious range of cheeses and chocolates drop into Gallo dairy to pick up some treats to go, or stay and enjoy one of there famous cheese platters and a glass of wine in the on-site restaurant!

Mungalli Creek Dairy and Cafe

Perched at the top of the misty mountains on the southern end of the Tablelands where rolling pastures are bordered by dense rainforest jungle the Mungalli has the perfect setting to enjoy some first rate dairy.

Mungalli offers a point of difference to the Gallo Dairy cheese. Unlike Gallo Dairy, Mungalli’s cheese platter focuses on soft cheese such as quarks, ricottas and feta.

Grab some of their locally produced, extra creamy milk or yogurt on your way out.

The Smokehouse Cafe at Tarzali Lakes

Delicious cafe meals and coffees. Smoked meats and small goods to go. Grab some smoked local barramundi to-go and create your own farm to table masterpiece.

Cross Custom Meats

Atherton’s specialty butcher sourcing locally produced meats, small goods, farm fresh eggs, and other local products. Cross Custom Meats is the perfect place to pick up the makings of a delicious farm to plate barbecue or bacon and egg breakfast.

Lake Barrine Tea House

Stopping in at the Lake Barrine Tea House is one of the best things to do in Atherton for any Atherton Tablelands itinerary.
Tasting the deliciously prepared scones from Lake Barrine Teahouse is one of the best things to do in Atherton!

This traditional style teahouse has a short lunch menu, but the real star here is their morning teas, specifically their scones. Grab a hot scone with jam and fresh cream and enjoy in the sun (hopefully) on their deck above the pretty Lake Barrine.

Humpy Nut World

More than just nuts, the Humpy specialises in sourcing the best locally grown and hand made food products. Not just from the Atherton Tablelands but from through North Queensland and around Australia too.

Where to Drink Atherton Tablelands

The Yungaburra Pub

This charming and historic pub is the second largest in the southern hemisphere and has been welcoming guests for more than a century. With grand old dining room, 2 bars and a beer garden it has become an iconic stop on the Atherton table lands. Drop in for a beer or two and soak up the history and country charm of the Yungaburra hotel.

Ravenshoe Hotel

The Ravenshoe Hotel is Queensland's highest pub and a must for any Atherton Tableland itinerary.
Have a schooner at Queensland’s highest pub!

Queensland’s highest town is, perhaps unsurprisingly, home to Queensland’s highest pub. Leave your oxygen tank at home because at 930 meters you will hardly notice the effects of altitude here. Never the less the charming town of Ravenshoe and its historic pub offer a great place to stop for a cold beer and warm country hospitality.

Mount Uncle Distillery

Featuring a range of award winning vodka, gin, rum, whiskey and liquor, the Mount Uncle distillery is another opportunity to sample the prolific artisan craft of the Tablelands. Stop by to sample, four, six or all ten of their creations and pick up a bottle to go.

Cafes in Atherton Tablelands

With a number of coffee producers and even more coffee roasters, an cafes coffee lovers are spoiled for choice here on the Atherton Tablelands.

The Whistle Stop Cafe

The Whistle Stop Cafe is a friendly country cafe serving up great coffee, delicious breakfasts and fresh lunches in a relaxed setting and a friendly atmosphere.

Try the french toast with bacon and maple syrup or their ultimate eggs benedict.

Altitude Cafe

Altitude Cafe is one of the best cafes Atherton has to offer and should be included on any Atherton Tablelands itinerary.
What to do in Atherton? Grab a coffee from Altitude Cafe , one of the best cafes in Atherton!

A relative newcomer on the scene, Altitude Cafe should be included on every Atherton itinerary. Whether you are stopping in for their locally roasted coffee or plan to brunch on their terrace, you will be glad you popped in to Altitude Cafe. Book ahead to dine-in on weekends, as Altitude is popular amongst locals and tourists.

Mareeba Heritage Coffee House

The cafe attached to the Mareeba Heritage Museum offers a unique way to try locally sourced Atherton coffee while learning about the history of Mareeba. The Mareeba Heritage Coffee House is a must visit for any Atherton Tablelands self drive itinerary.

Trolley Coffee

Check out Trolley Coffee on your way to or from the Atherton Tablelands
Check out Trolley Coffee on your way to or from the Atherton Tablelands

Whilst not strictly on the table lands, Trolley Coffee can be found nearby in Babinda and Gordonvale which you will sure to pass on your way in or out of Atherton. Hands down the best cafe in the Atherton Tablelands, dont miss out on this gem of a cafe on your self-drive Atherton Tablelands itinerary.

Jaques Coffee

Jacques has a reputation for producing some of the finest coffee on the Atherton Tablelands. Drop into the Jaques Coffee plantation for a premium tour, a self-guided tour, or just a cup of coffee and bag of beans to-go from their on-site restaurant and cafe.

With so many things to do in Atherton and the Tablelands its little wonder that this region has become a staple on any Far North Queensland itinerary. However you decide to experience the Atherton Tablelands, we know you’re sure to enjoy it. If you have a question about any of the things to do in Atherton or perhaps something we have missed in our Atherton Tablelands self drive itinerary, please let us know in the comments below.

Looking to extend your trip to Atherton? Don’t fret there is so much more to see and experience in the Atherton Tablelands. Head out to Tully Gorge, pick your own fresh strawberries at Shaylee’s Strawberries, or check if there a local track meet at Mareeba’s famous turf club.

Or if you are finished in Atherton why not check out some of the best free campsites in the region for your next adventure. Or perhaps get ready to head north toward Queensland’s famous Cape York.

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15 thoughts on “The Ultimate Atherton Tablelands Self Drive Itinerary: The Best Things to Do in Atherton Tablelands”

  1. What an impressive place with rainforests, canyon, waterfalls and the coffee plantations. I couldnt get enough of them and would love to visit this place once in my lifetime 🙂

  2. The Atherton Tablelands are definitely not somewhere I first think of when I think of going to Australia, but it seems like a great off-the-beaten-path destination!

  3. Australia never fails to astound. I was briefly in this region years ago and can’t wait to get back to explore more. And I would love to visit everything in this post! Thanks for the great recommendations.

  4. I’ve never heard of this area before but it looks like there are a lot of interesting things to do here and lots of great hiking spots!

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