Day 1: Into the Rainforest
Morning: Pack your sense of wonder and head out from Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands via the Gillies Highway. This winding 19-kilometre range road is a true marvel, ascending to an elevation of 800 meters and boasting 263 corners. Follow the speed limits, prioritise safety, and savour every moment of this picturesque journey, which typically takes around one hour to reach the summit and your entry point to the Atherton Tablelands.
From here, your adventure kicks off at Cathedral Fig Tree, a colossal strangler fig estimated to be around 500 years old. Take a leisurely walk around the boardwalk. Next stop is Lake Barrine, where you can enjoy a relaxing morning tea at the teahouse overlooking the lake. Don’t forget to stroll along the lake’s edge to spot turtles and see the enormous Twin Kauri Pines.
Lunch: On your way to Yungaburra, don’t miss the chance to visit the second, and arguably more impressive, volcanic lake on the Atherton Tablelands. Lake Eacham beckons with its alluring deep blues and vibrant greens, making it practically irresistible for a quick swim. Be sure to have your swimmers on hand; you would regret missing this opportunity. Afterwards, make your way to Yungaburra, a charming, heritage-listed village filled with historic architecture at every turn. When it comes to lunch options, both the Whistle Stop Café and Yungaburra Pub come highly recommended.
Afternoon: Explore the famous Malanda Falls Conservation Park, home to a stunning waterfall (Malanda Falls), ancient Mabi Rainforest and the Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo. Visit Gallo Dairyland to sample delicious cheeses and handcrafted chocolates.
Evening: Enjoy the local hospitality with a night at the Malanda Falls Caravan Park. The park has a range of accommodations available including villas, motel rooms, small lodges and camping. Pickle and Smoke comes highly recommended for dinner.
*Alternative Route is via the Kuranda Range with a stop at Curtain Fig Tree in Yungaburra before heading to the Lakes.
Day 2: Waterfall Wonders
Morning: Begin your day at the Millaa Millaa Falls, one of the most photogenic waterfalls in the region. Don’t forget your camera to capture the iconic curtain of water. Continue your waterfall adventure with a stop at Zillie Falls. Then, move on to Elinjaa Falls, which offers one of the loveliest rainforest walks on the Atherton Tablelands, complete with a few steps to give your step count a boost.
Lunch: Enjoy lunch at Mungalli Creek Dairy – serving not only yummy and healthy lunches, but also boasting one of the most breathtaking views on the Atherton Tablelands. Its lunch menu features dishes crafted from Mungalli’s biodynamic dairy products and locally sourced organic produce. Additionally, you can indulge in fresh scones, cheesecakes, and ice-cream for a sweet treat.
Evening: Nestle into Ravenshoe, Queensland’s highest town, with a comfortable stay at Kool Moon Motel. Elevate your dinner experience at the historic Ravenshoe Hotel, also recognised as Queensland’s highest pub, perched at an elevation of 916 meters above sea level.
Day 3: Cultural Immersion
Morning: Kickstart your day with a visit to the Nganyaji Interpretive Centre in Ravenshoe. Here, you will delve into the rich indigenous culture and history of the Jirrbal people. Then, set your course for Millstream Falls, where you can uncover fascinating World War II history. And, as a sweet bonus, don’t forget to indulge in the famous cream bun at Ravenshoe Bakery – you know, the one with the high bun, sweet cream and dollop of jam.
Lunch: Bid farewell to Ravenshoe and journey to Herberton, where you will step back in time at the Historic Village Herberton. Inside this open-air museum, the Bakerville Teahouse awaits, serving an array of mouth-watering home-baked treats and savoury dishes. Allow a few hours to fully explore this expansive museum.
Afternoon: Take a scenic drive to Atherton via the Herberton Range. Consider a stop at Hou Wang Temple, the last timber and iron Chinese temple in Australia, If you find yourself within the Temple’s opening hours (10 am to 2 pm).
Evening: End your trip with a relaxing afternoon in Atherton. Check in at the NRMA Atherton Tablelands Holiday Park. Be sure to include Billycart Brewing Co., a local-owned and independent brewery, on your must-visit list. Finish off your day with a delightful dinner at any of the restaurants along Atherton’s main street.
Day 4: Coffee, Creek, and Cascades
Morning: On the final day of your adventure, make your way to the charming town of Mareeba. Mareeba is known for its vibrant coffee culture and lush landscapes. Begin your morning with a visit to with a visit to Coffee Works, a paradise for coffee enthusiasts. Explore the world of coffee, from bean to brew, and savour a variety of coffee flavours. Don’t forget to pick up some freshly roasted beans or unique coffee-related souvenirs.
After your caffeine fix, venture to Emerald Creek, where you can take in the natural beauty of the area. This includes exploring the creek, taking a dip if you wish, or simply enjoying the peaceful surroundings on the bushwalk in.
Lunch: Head to Kuranda for lunch. This quirky and fun rainforest Village offers a range of dining options, from cafes serving local cuisine to international flavours and market fare. It’s a perfect place to refuel before your next adventure.
Afternoon: Continue your journey by making a stop at the Barron Falls lookout. In the wet season, you can see the impressive cascade of Barron Falls from the lookout, which provides a fantastic vantage point for capturing the beauty of this natural wonder.
Evening: Finish your four-day adventure on the Atherton Tablelands by making your way back to Cairns.