Today, the caves are a natural history adventure museum where visitors don a miner’s helmet complete with headlamp for a fun tour of this fairy-tale cavern. Marvel at the world’s largest amethyst geode, The Empress of Uruguay and the gravity defying attraction, The Magic Spheres. The Fascinating Facets gift shop is also an attraction in itself. It features the largest collection of amethyst geodes in Australia, beautifully displayed under lights to create a glittering showpiece.
The Chinatown grounds host regular markets and food festivals.
AGRICULTURE The soils of the
Atherton Tablelands are suited to horticulture and around the Atherton area they yield an amazing range of produce. Small to large farming enterprises produce lettuce, strawberries, macadamia nuts, bananas, beans, maize, corn, sugar cane and avocados. Sample these at roadside stalls and take away a memory of the taste of farm fresh produce.
CHINATOWN Gold attracted Chinese settlers to North Queensland in the late 1800s and when the gold ran out, many turned to timber cutting and market gardening. The remains of Atherton’s Chinatown are now an archaeological site featuring the community’s fully restored place of worship, the Hou Wang Temple.
has always featured as a service centre and a stopover point for travellers. Today, the Trans North transport service provides linkages between Atherton, Kuranda and Cairns all the way to Karumba via Undara. Visitors can enjoy comfortable accommodation at the Atherton Holiday Park or Halloran’s Leisure Park.
Back in the days of the pioneers, Atherton was a key town along the Mulligan Highway connecting the seaside town of Port Douglas to the newly opened tin deposits at Herberton. The highway passed through the present Main Street of Atherton, which was then known as Prior’s Pocket. Bullock teams hauled supplies up to Herberton and ore back to Port Douglas. The route also opened up the area to logging of magnificent rainforest timbers and Cobb & Co ran a coach service up and over the Great Dividing Range. The road was named after James Venture Mulligan, as was the nearby Mount Mulligan. An adventurer and prospector, Mulligan was responsible for opening most of the North Queensland mining fields. John Atherton was another colourful local. A pioneer grazier and adventurer who lent his name to the town and the region, Atherton first discovered tin while prospecting in 1879, naming the site Tinaroo Creek, now the site of Tinaroo Dam.
The Temple was the social and religious heart of Atherton’s Chinese community. Apart from the temple itself, there was also a community hall, kitchen and pig oven. People gathered here to worship, celebrate festivals and discuss community issues. The Temple is part of a complex featuring a Chinese museum with interactive displays of Atherton’s Chinese heritage and a prized collection of original artefacts and historic photographs of the once bustling precinct.
DINING OUT The Atherton International Club is open seven days for lunch and dinner and is a great place to enjoy a buffet meal, steak, fish and chips and other Aussie favourites.