Region: Atherton Tableland

Inland from Cairns in Queensland’s far north, the Atherton Tableland offers a blend of the best attractions of the wet tropics and the dry outback charm; a combination of nature and lifestyle at its finest. Among the World Heritage listed rainforests, national parks, mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls of the Tableland are some of Australia’s richest agricultural lands, cattle country and charming small townships.

Less than an hour’s drive from Cairns, the Tableland’s winding roads lead to spectacular lookouts and waterfalls, and highlights include Australia’s widest waterfall – Millstream Falls – and many others flowing all year round, the deep blue waters of extinct volcano crater lakes, Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham, the ancient Bromfield Swamp near Malanda and the Mt. Hypipamee Crater National Park near Herberton. A little further West, the lush farming lands change to Wooded Savannah with dry creek beds, wandering cattle and the beautiful ochre colours of the Outback.

For visitors, the Tableland and surrounding outback present opportunities for bush walking, bird watching, limestone cave tours, visits to coffee and tea plantations and tropical fruit wineries, wildlife cruises, wildlife spotting, hot air ballooning and water sports as diverse as fishing, water skiing and white water rafting.

How To Get There

The Tablelands are inland from Cairns. The twice weekly The Spirit of Queensland passes through all the well known Queensland coastal destinations between Brisbane and Rockhampton, and between Brisbane and Cairns.

By road, it a long drive from Brisbane (1,682 km/23 hours) but travelling the length of Bruce Highway (Brisbane to Cairns) takes you to just about every coastal Queensland location worth seeing north of Brisbane. If you don't have the time or inclination to make the drive, Cairns has an international airport that is connected by air to all of Australia's capital cities. Townsville is also has a major domestic airport.

Best Time To Go

North Queensland is a tropical region, so there are two very distinct seasons - Wet and Dry. The Wet season (January to April) brings steaming hot temperatures, high rainfall and high levels of humidity. The up-side of the wet season is that the rainforest is amazing, everything is so Green. The bird life is spectacular and the waterfalls are stunning - more often than not they are raging torrents.

The dry season, which is at its mildest from July to September, sees little or no rain, low humidity, pleasant days with equally comfortable, balmy nights. April to September offers the clearest skies, while November and December are the hottest time of the year.

July to September is the peak tourist season; if you are planning to visit then, you are advised to book your travel arrangements in advance, especially during school holidays when the best accommodation gets booked up anything up to six months in advance.

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