Pioneering History

A Step back in Time | Pioneering History

Farmers, miners, explorers and soldiers all played significant roles in settling and shaping the Atherton Tablelands into the diverse region that it is today. Jump in the car and back in time to discover the rich and colourful history of the area.

Start:    Mareeba

Duration:   2 – 3 days

Print:    Pioneering History [PDF]

Rocky Creek War Memorial Park

Located a few kilometres along the Kennedy Highway north of Tolga, the Rocky Creek Memorial Park is situated on the 2/2 Australian General Hospital laundry and medical stores site. During World War II, the Tablelands area became the largest military base in Australia with camps at Tinaroo, Kairi, Atherton, Wongabel, Herberton, Wondecla, Ravenshoe and Mt.Garnet. Rocky Creek was the site of the largest military hospital in the Southern Hemisphere – a 3000 bed hospital which treated over 60,000 patients from 1943 to 1945. The first plaques dedicated in the park occured on VP Day in 1995. A special wall of remembrance was erected in 2009.

Mareeba Heritage Museum

Gain an insight into the region’s history and attractions by visiting the Mareeba Heritage Museum & Visitor Information Centre. The Centre is situated 63kms from Cairns on the southern outskirts of Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands and is open from 9am – 5pm, seven days a week. Closed only on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday. Free entry.

Chillagoe Smelters

The Chillagoe Smelters site is an excellent demonstration of the technology of mineral (copper, silver, lead and gold) smelting at the turn of the 20th century. An up-to-date plant was assembled and then modified repeatedly between 1901 and 1911 to meet local conditions. The physical remains at the Chillagoe Smelters preserve important evidence of historic smelting processes that are rare today.

Atherton Antiques & Australiana

Atherton Antiques is a family business located in Atherton. Atherton Antiques and Australian specialize in Australian Colonial Furniture, Rustic Collectables, Fine Silver & China, Jewellery and toys.
Well worth a visit!

Atherton Chinatown / How Wang Temple

Unique heritage-listed Chinese temple built in 1903. Includes original artefacts, interpretative museum, giftshop and 30 minute guided tours. The temple is the only one of its kind remaining and the only one dedicated to Hou Wang outside China. This award-winning property is owned by the National Trust of Queensland.

Yungaburra Village

Yungaburra is the historic heart of the Atherton Tablelands and the largest National Trust Village in Queensland. Boasting 18 heritage-listed buildings, the village has been largely unchanged since 1910 when miners used it as an overnight stopover enroute to the tin and goldfields. Don’t forget your camera as you walk the Old Town Loop with a map from the Visitor Information Centre.

Malanda Dairy Centre

Licensed café seating 110 with give shop and heritage museum. Catering in house an remote for corporate functions, weddings and parties.

Herberton Mining Museum and Visitor Information Centre

The Herberton Mining Museum and Visitor Information Centre is situated in Herberton , the oldest town on the Tropical Tablelands 90 minutes west of Cairns Queensland Australia. The town sits on a hilly landscape with streets dotted with jacaranda trees. Visit the centre at 1 Jacks Road Herberton, open daily 9:30 am to 4:30 am.

Historic Village Herberton

Live the folklore and romance of yesterday's Australia in every piece of the eye-opening collection at Herberton Historic Village. Sit in the schoolhouse. Stand at the bar of the pub. Herberton Historic Village is more than a vintage precinct - it's a tangible buzz of things past. The collection currently features over 40 original buildings with intact interior displays, original machinery and vehicles, plus thousands of antique items and period memorabilia. It is regarded as the most significant ever assembled in Queensland.

Atherton-Herberton Historic Railway

Join us on our journey, into a venture that only the dedicated could endure. The restoration of a bygone era. In 1908 a railway was constructed between Cairns and Herberton to transport tin ore to the coast. This railway was officially opened on 20th October 1910.  Come ride with us! Be a passenger on our first class air conditioned carrages which now run both ways every Sunday from Herberton Station to the Historic Village Herberton to depart Herberton at 10 am.

    • The Mareeba Heritage Museum and Visitor Information Centre is the ideal place to begin your exploration of the region’s past. The Museum is located 345 Bynes Street and showcases the Aboriginal history and early settlement of the Atherton Tablelands, through to influx of soldiers during WW1 and the industries that shaped the area.
    • A drive to the township of Chillagoe is 145 klms west of Mareeba and will reward those interested in the mining history of the Atherton Tablelands. The Chillagoe smelters are heritage listed and offer a wonderful step back in time for this once flourishing mining town.
    • Accommodation options in Chillagoe
    • Travel back to Mareeba and then towards Atherton, visit Rocky Creek Memorial Park 16klms from Mareeba on the Kennedy Highway. The park is situated on the 2/2 Australian General Hospital laundry and medical stores site. During World War II, the Tablelands area became the largest military base in Australia with camps at Tinaroo, Kairi, Atherton, Wongabel, Herberton, Wondecla, Ravenshoe and Mt.Garnet.  Rocky Creek was the site of the largest military hospital in the Southern Hemisphere – a 3000 bed hospital which treated over 60,000 patients from 1943 to 1945.
    • Continue on the Kennedy Highway towards Atherton. Just before entering the main street of Atherton, take the time visit Atherton Antiques and Australiana located at 2 Tolga Road, Atherton.
    • Atherton Chinatown & Hou Wang Temple is located at 86 Herberton Road Atherton. The Chinese were considered pioneers of agriculture in North Queensland and come 1909 were responsible for 80% of the crop production on the Atherton Tablelands. Today the century old HouWang Temple and interpretive museum stands as a reminder of the former 1100 strong Chinese population.
    • Next stop is the historic village of Yungaburra, the largest National Trust Village in Queensland – 15 minutes/16 klms. Yungaburra is home to 18 heritage-listed buildings and has been largely unchanged since 1910 when miners used it as an overnight stopover enroute to the tin and goldfields. Don’t forget your camera as you walk the Old Town Loop with a map from the Visitor Information Centre.
    • Accommodation options for Yungaburra and surrounding Lakes district
    • Travelling from Yungaburra, head to the Malanda Dairy Centre at 13 James Street, Malanda just 13 minutes via Lake Barrine Road.
    • Heading back towards Atherton on the Malanda-Atherton Road and Kennedy Highway, take Herberton Road to Herberton, a haven for history buffs. The Herberton Mining Museum and Information Centre narrates the fascinating story of the town while an intriguing heritage walk guides visitors to see the old buildings and historical features.
    • Historic Village Herberton is a must experience attraction, with an astounding collection of Australiana comprised of 60 buildings, antiques, memorabilia, dwellings and vehicles spanning two centuries.
    • Herberton Railway Museum (Atherton-Herberton Historic Railway Inc) is housed in part of the Herberton Railway Station located at the end of John Street Herberton. The Museum is open from 9 am to 3 pm, Saturday, Sunday and public holiday. It is closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday and entry is by gold coin donation.

    Accommodation options

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