Almost all international visitors will have to enter Australia via a major capital city, usually Sydney, Melbourne or Perth. Destinations serviced direct from Cairns include Auckland, Port Moresby, Hong Kong, Guam, Narita/Tokyo, Osaka and Singapore (via Darwin).
For Domestic services, Cairns International Airport operates regular flights to and from Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs, Gladstone, Mackay, Townsville, Hamilton Island and the Torres Strait. For further details for flight airport information, refer to Cairns Airport website – www.cairnsairport.com.
It is easy to access the Atherton Tablelands / Cairns Highlands by vehicle. Roads are generally well maintained and you can drive from the southern coast, northern coast and western outback. Specific information on travel routes can be accessed on the below links.
Kuranda Range Road from Cairns – Just north of Cairns the Kuranda Range Road climbs the coastal range to the cultural rainforest village of Kuranda, home to the famous Kuranda Markets and a host of other attractions, shops and restaurants, on the 65 kilometre trip to Mareeba. Along the Kennedy Highway between Kuranda and Mareeba are Davies Creek National Park and Emerald Creek Falls, both of which are set in the drier eucalypt forests and granite boulders of the Lamb Range. These areas are in stark contrast to the lush rainforest around the waterfalls of Millaa Millaa.
Gillies Highway From Cairns – 35 kilometres south of Cairns, is the Gillies Highway at Gordonvale where you will start your gradual climb up the Gillies Range, famous for its 263 corners, and 800m elevation change in only 19 km of road. As you climb the range you will notice the temperature drop, the air become fresher, and encounter spectacular lookouts along the way which enable you to take in the view of the valleys deep in the Great Dividing Range, arriving at Yungaburra.
From Port Douglas
From Port Douglas Road, Port Douglas turn right onto Captain Cook Highway. 10 klms north turn left onto Mossman/Mt Molloy Road. At Mt Molloy, this road turns into the Mulligan Highway taking you through to Mareeba – 85 klms.
From Cape Tribulation, the main road (Cape Tribulation Road) will take you to the Daintree Ferry. Continue straight onto Cape Tribulation Road, then turn left onto Mossman-Daintree Road. Continue onto Captain Cook Highway and turn right onto Mossman/Mt Molloy Road which will take you through to Mareeba.
From Cassowary Coast, Innisfail
The Cassowary Coast is the area between Townsville and Cairns. Access to the Atherton Tablelands is via the Palmerston Highway, a sealed road that connects to the Bruce Highway at Innisfail.
The Palmerston Highway’s highest elevation along its length is 1050m and the lowest point is at 10.8m. For cyclists and those towing caravans, boats or heavy loads the Palmerston Highway is mountainous along its 76.1 km length, with about 16.3 km that is steeper in incline/grade than 5% (2.2 km is steeper in incline/grade than 10% and 520 m of that has an incline/grade more than 15%!). The total ascent / descent along the length of the Palmerston Highway is 1435 m / 1164 m.
The Palmerston Highway travels through the rich Wet Tropics rainforests of Johnstone River Valley to Millaa Millaa, with waterfalls, picnic areas and spectacular lookouts along the way. Innisfail to Millaa Millaa via Palmerston Highway – 60.2 klms.
From Gulf Savannah
The Savannah Way is a themed adventure drive from Cairns to Broome, via Katherine. Major towns on the Queensland section are Cairns, Mareeba, Atherton, Ravenshoe, Mt Garnet, Mt Surprise, Georgetown, Croydon, Normanton and Burketown.
The Gulf Development Road is a sealed road and links the Cairns and Normanton regions. Near Mount Surprise, this road joins the Kennedy Highway (National route 1), bringing the visitor into the Tablelands through Mt Garnet and Ravenshoe.
Croydon is situated in the Gulf Savannah country on the Savannah Way between Georgetown and Normanton. The town has a big history that started with the discovery of gold in 1885. Croydon became the fourth largest town in Queensland! The town still glows from the dust of its feverish gold-mining days.
From Cooktown & Cape York
From Cooktown, travel the Mulligan Highway which is a fully sealed road, to Mareeba – 265.1 Klms. Roadhouses are located at Mt Carbine, Palmer River and Lakeland Downs. Keep an eye out for wildlife and livestock along the roadsides as some sections are not fenced.
From Cape York, travel the Peninsula Development road (state route 81) which runs from Weipa situated on the western coast of Cape York, to Lakeland – 566 klms.
From Lakeland to Mareeba, travel the Mulligan Highway – 185 klms.