While it is sometimes said that every day is a good day to experience the many wonders of the tropical Atherton Tablelands, there’s definitely no better season than autumn for a road trip to this stunning part of Far North Queensland to see it at its best! Known for its abundance of cascading waterfalls, wide variety of wildlife and birds, heritage listed rainforests, fabulous hospitality and fresh produce and a whole lot more, the Atherton Tablelands is a temperate haven for nature lovers, biking, cycling, walking, 4×4 trails and generally kicking back and enjoying some of Queensland’s simply stunning great outdoors.
So, whether you’re a Cairns local up for an autumn weekend adventure, or an interstate visitor who’s finally made it to the Sunny state for a bit of a break, get those tyres pumped, esky sorted and strap yourself in for an awesome ride!
How to get there
From Cairns hop onto the Gillies Highway (State Route 52) or the Kuranda Range Road. It’s well worth taking your time to stop off and soak up the views along the way, however if you travel direct the 90km (or so) journey takes approximately one and a half hours, door to door.
Best tyres for the ride
Whatever your vehicle, Maxxis tyres have you covered! If your vehicle’s a 4×4 or SUV, this trip is the perfect opportunity to fit some RAZR AT811s or award-winning MT772s and find out exactly what all the fuss is about! Winner of the 4×4 Australia 2020 Tyre Test in 2020 and a big favourite with 4WD’ers Australia-wide, the muddies are not only top performers in wet and dry cornering – but they’re also good value for money and are great-lookers into the deal! The new and invincible AT811 all-terrains also have heaps to offer you and your vehicle both on- off-road – with all the traction, puncture resistance and other features you’d expect from a quality off-road tyre, complemented by low-noise, comfort and performance when you’re on-road.
What to do when you get to the Tablelands
Covering an extensive area and stretching from North to South, the Atherton Tablelands are literally brimming with nature and wildlife, diverse landscapes, mining heritage and historical buildings, cafes serving delicious local produce and activities to do. Here are a few ideas just to get your planning started…
Epic Waterfalls… In the Atherton Tablelands you are never far away from some of the country’s most majestic waterfalls in the midst of exquisite tropical rainforest surroundings. The “Waterfall Circuit” includes Australia’s much-photographed and picturesque Millaa Millaa Falls (dropping 18m) along with the Ellinjaa and Zillie Falls.
The Mungalli Falls (with pools above and below for swimming in) are also well worth a visit while the Mungalli Creek Dairy Farmhouse Café is a picture-perfect spot to recharge and sample the farm’s biodynamic dairy products along with other local produce.
Explore Atherton…A town full of Tablelands’ character, Atherton has much to offer including accommodation and shops, while for cyclists the Forest Mountain Bike Park (made up of a network of mountain bike trails through the Herberton Range State Forest) is right at hand.
While you’re in town, immerse yourself in the tunnels of the unique and fascinating Crystal Caves, showcasing a private collection of over 600 prehistoric fossils and ancient crystals in an interactive environment. Plus, if you’re a birdwatcher there’s the two-level bird hide “Hasties Swamp” – teeming with a wide variety of migratory and birds native to the area.
Yungaburra Village… Set in the midst of a now extinct volcanic countryside, Yungaburra oozes charm, with the Peterson Creek Wildlife and Botanical Walking Track the ideal place to spot a platypus or a tree-kangaroo. Featuring a large number of heritage listed buildings, it also has an “Avenue of Honour” – a living memorial to those who served in Afghanistan. Just outside the town, a quick stroll along the boardwalk leads to the majestic 500-year old Curtain Fig Tree with aerial roots hanging like one huge theatrical curtain – it’s a sight you won’t want to miss!
Tea, coffee and the works…A paradise for a wide variety of fresh produce, the Nerada Tea Plantation (Australia’s largest tea plantation) is open for exploring Thursday to Sunday and comes complete with a tea room and its very own family of tree-kangaroos! Coffee also features strongly in the Atherton Tablelands area. Skybury, Australia’s oldest coffee plantation, is found in Mareeba (open for visiting Monday to Friday – with a café and roastery on site), while Coffee Works has locations for checking out in both Mareeba and Atherton.
Where to stay… From the Big4 NRMA Atherton Tablelands Holiday Park (surrounded by a rainforest), to fully-equipped holiday homes and cosy cottages (such as Birds ‘n” Bloom in Yungaburra) , there are many accommodation options across the Tablelands, whatever your budget or other requirements.
When the rubber hits the road, road trips really don’t get any better than a big explore of Far North Queensland – and the Atherton Tablelands is one amazing place to get that journey started! For advice on new tyres just right for your vehicle or if you need balancing, alignment or a tread check, speak to one of our friendly and professional Maxxis dealers to make sure you’re all on track and right to go!