A thriving community today, Tolga began life as a simple staging post on the highway between Port Douglas and Herberton. At the outbreak of World War II, the region became a training centre and staging base for Allied forces. Discover the past at the Tolga Museum, which houses memorabilia of World War II and the local timber and agricultural industries and at the Tablelands Heritage Centre. As well as exquisitely crafted, handmade timber pieces ranging from small spinning tops and bowls to fine furniture, the gallery features a large array of hand-forged iron and hammered steel pieces, ceramics, fused glass and silver jewellery. These showcase the collective talents of North Queensland’s finest artisans. There is also a great cafe, which serves lunches as well as morning and afternoon tea. For more locally sourced souvenirs, fine silver-smithing and a superb range of Australian gemstones fashioned into modern jewellery, visit the studio gallery Rainforest Gems. The Tolga racecourse is the venue for the markets, with a wide range of local produce and crafts on display on the first Sunday of every month. Heading to Atherton, the road turns into a leafy canopy of rainforest at the entrance to the Tolga Scrub.
Walkamin was built during the construction of Tinaroo Dam in the 1950s. Described as food bowl country, the site for the town was chosen due to its perfectly balanced weather patterns with the ideal climate for a wide variety of crops. Just north of Tolga, Nardello’s Lagoon is a peaceful retreat with waterbirds. Visit the Cellar Door and Bridges Cafe nearby at Mt Uncle to taste its excellent liqueurs and spirits. The distillery is nestled on the fertile foothills of Mt Uncle from where it claims its name. The mountain was named after the uncle of the founding pioneer John Atherton. Bridges Cafe looks out onto native woodland and provides a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere. Interestingly, it has the largest selection of teas on offer in North Queensland, with more than 50 from around the world.
ROCKY CREEK WAR MEMORIAL PARK
From 1943 to 1945 the Atherton Tablelands was the largest military base in Australia, hosting between 100,000 and 300,000 troops from 140 different units. The Rocky Creek Memorial Park was established over a decade ago at what was originally the site of the largest field hospital in the southern hemisphere and honours servicemen and women. Dedication ceremonies are held in the park each August on the Sunday nearest Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day. For further exploration into the region’s war history, follow up your visit with a trip to the Mareeba RSL, which has excellent historical displays.
ATTRACTIONS Tolga is central,
pretty and the ideal holiday base with a choice of budget accommodation. Tolga’s foremost attraction is the established fine woodwork gallery, Tolga Woodworks, on the main road.