The Atherton Tablelands region covers the 64,998 sq km geographic catchment of the former Atherton, Eacham, Herberton and Mareeba local government areas.
The population of 45,243 people (estimated resident population, Census 2011). is dispersed across a large rural area of 64,998 sq km which is only slightly smaller than Tasmania, with people residing on farms and in many small towns.
Atherton and Mareeba are the major service centres for residents in outlying towns and farming districts and these towns contain a range of shops and essential service providers.
The size of the Region is such that the topography varies considerably. The eastern border of the Region overlooks Cairns from the Atherton Tablelands eastern escarpment. The terrain is predominantly tropical in nature with fertile soils, lush growth and relatively high rainfall. This part of the Region is the most densely populated and heavily farmed with potatoes, sugar, mangos and bananas as the main crops.
Further to the west of the Region the terrain is characterised by open bush plains interspersed with relatively low ridge systems. Soils are poor compared to those in the east of the Region; rainfall is considerably lower resulting in drainage systems that are usually dry.
The eastern portion of the region is a dormitory area for the greater Cairns area, with increasing numbers of people choosing to live on the Tablelands and commute to Cairns on a daily basis.