Palmerston Highway Drive
Image by @oldmanmoore
The drive from Innisfail on the coast to Millaa Millaa at the southern end of the Atherton Tablelands is an enchanted climb through tropical rainforest and the magnificent Wooroonooran National Park. You won’t be interrupted by towns for 55 glorious km but 27km along the route you can get out and try the Mamu Tropical Skywalk. The one kilometre plus walkway gives you spectacular views over the North Johnstone River gorge and surrounding rainforest-clad peaks plus a chance to be right among the birds, insects and vegetation. The road also gives you access to the Misty Mountains wilderness tacks, a 130km network of short and long hikes through pristine high-altitude rainforest with crystal clear creeks, waterfalls and panoramic views.
Image by @aza_adventurer
Millstream Falls is the widest single drop waterfall in Australia and the granddaddy of the cascade circuit on the Atherton Tablelands. Tumbling over an old basalt lava flow, the falls pitch down into a deep lagoon. There’s a viewing platform 340m down a sealed but steep path. While the (big) Millstream Falls are epic, the little Millstream Falls just up the road are good for a swim and you may see a platypus. The bigger of the falls are 4.5kms south west of Ravenshoe on the Kennedy Highway and the smaller off a separate exit (Tully Falls Road) closer to town. Millstream Falls National Park was also the site of several camps during WWII, which can be accessed on several trails. Take care not to handle any discarded ammunitions though.
Undara Lava Tubes
Image by @phlipvids
Go West! One of the earth’s geological masterpieces, the longest lava tube cave system in the world, sits under a ribbon of remnant rainforest in the Savanah country. The tubes were created by flow from a single volcano; the mostly smooth walled tunnels are occasionally broken by tree roots from the forest above ground. Two hours along the Kennedy Highway from Ravenshoe, the tubes are only accessible with a guided tour. Road is sealed all the way to Undara.
Image by @vollenweider1065
You don’t have to be a bird nerd to love this: the wetland maybe a twitcher’s delight but it’s just seriously amazing for the amateur. There’s a two storey hide for watching the array of birds that alight here – more than 300 species have been identified. And they flock in their thousands, up to 1500 magpie geese can be seen at one time and the whistling ducks produce a cacophony. Try and visit during the dry – April to October – but there’s birds all year round. Hastie’s Swamp National Park is 4km south of Atherton off the Atherton-Herberton Rd.