The bustling township of Atherton is 95 km south-west from Cairns, travelling via the Kuranda Range. Atherton is on the Kennedy Highway and the town centre includes a comprehensive shopping centre, showgrounds, hospital and Olympic size swimming pool.
Atherton is fast becoming the ultimate cycling destination with the growing popularity of the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park, a network of world-class, purpose-built, single-track mountain bike trails located in the Herberton Range State Forest and easy access from Atherton’s CBD.
From its beginnings as a timber workers camp and staging post between the tin mines and the coast, Atherton has blossomed like its trademark jacaranda trees.
Today this diverse regional service centre has so many well-presented homes and streets it’s regularly in the running for Australia’s Tidy Town awards.
The region has a wealth of artists whose works are best seen at the Tablelands Regional Gallery.
Any visit should include checking out the wonderful pre-war Barron Valley Hotel, browsing through the town’s quaint shops like Atherton Antiques & Australiana and enjoying a picnic at Hallorans Hill.
And right in the middle of town is one of the most remarkable and novel attractions anywhere in Australia.
Share one man’s passion for crystals and fossils at the Crystal Caves in Main Street. Journey through 300m2 of tunnels and grottos that Rene Boissevain built to feature his million year old natural crystals and prehistoric fossils. Take a self-guided tour and marvel at the interactive displays which you can touch. Take photographs of the crystals, crawl around the exhibits and become a geological explorer. There’s even on opportunity to crack a geode – kind of a Kinder Surprise volcanic egg.
Just out of Atherton is an attraction which combines the two of the world’s taste sensations – dairy and chocolate. Savour the gourmet cheeses and chocolates, and let the children see how milk is made!
Also close by is Hasties Swamp, a seasonal wetland and national park which has an annual cycle of wet and dry, attracting a range of more than 300 resident and migrant birds. The two-storey Nyleta (the park’s Indigenous name) Wetlands Bird Hide has wheelchair access on the lower section.