Things to see and do
If someone tells you it is possible to see the Tablelands in a day, chances are they aren’t from here! Gourmet food and wine trails that criss-cross our ‘food bowl of the tropics’. A must see wildlife with a particular emphasis on bird watching and unique marsupials like the tree kangaroo. The waterfall circuits have stunning rainforest backdrops and hidden gems. The region’s natural wonders such as the Curtain Fig Tree, Lake Tinaroo, Mt Hypipamee Crater, Undara Lava Tubes, Broomfield Swamp, Paronella Park and the twin crater lakes of Barrine and Eacham just to name a few!
The Golden Pride Mango Winery, a picturesque 30 minute drive north from Malanda, is the site of Australia's largest mango plantation. Take a guided tour around the property, inspect the wine making process then kick back for a spot of sampling, find a bottle of something golden and delicious, buy it on the spot at better than wholesale prices.
The Atherton Tablelands has a large population of these strange and unique Australian animals. The platypus is a semiaquatic egg-laying mammal with a broad flat tail, webbed feet and a snout resembling a duckbill. They are extremely shy and you need to be totally silent not to scare them away.
You've come to the right place. Lake Tinaroo is a fisherman's paradise with the biggest Barramundi in the world just waiting to hitch onto your lure. Lake Tinaroo is the only place in Queensland where you can legally fish for Barramundi all year around and take them home if you catch them, or, if you aren't interested in wrestling the silver monsters you can have a go at a Black Bream, a Mouth-almighty, or famous Red-claw Yabbies.
Lake Tinaroo is the premier water-skiing destination in Tropical North Queensland. Many boat owners don't like running their expensive machines in salt water, so Lake Tinaroo is their only remaining option. The water-skiers usually restrict their activities to the far end of the lake, such as Fong On Bay, leaving the large section of lake near Tinaroo Township for swimmers, sailors and canoeists.
In the late 80's and early 90's, windsurfing was a popular activity at Lake Tinaroo. Dozens of sails zigzagged across the lake making use of the fluctuating winds that rebound off the mountains surrounding the lake. Unfortunately, the popularity of windsurfing has declined in recent years, but you can still see the odd sail shooting across the water.
canoeing and sailing
This is a great way to explore the arms of the lake in an ecologically friendly way. Sailing can be a challenge, however, because the wind shifts in direction and intensity depending whereabouts on the lake you are. The mountains channel wind in directions that can baffle a first-timer, but Lake Tinaroo is a terrific venue for sailing practice and makes your return to consistent winds seem very easy.
There are many bushwalking tracks throughout the Atherton Tableland region. Some hikes are short, taking under an hour to traverse. Some take many days. For more information about bushwalking tracks in this region see Atherton Tablelands Hiking Tracks.
The Atherton Tablelands is home to over 200 species of birds ranging in size from tiny finches to large cassowaries. It is possible to see birds all over the region – even in the towns - but some places are reserved solely for bird watching. These include Hasties Swamp and Wongabel Botanical Walk near Atherton, where large flocks of Whistling-Ducks, Magpie Geese, Sarus Cranes and Brolgas are frequently sighted.
danbulla forest drive
The 27km Danbulla Forest Drive circles Lake Tinaroo, providing access to picnic areas, swimming holes, camping sites and walking tracks. The dirt road meanders through pine plantations, Australian scrub and rainforest all within a few kilometres.
There are so many places to swim at the Atherton Tablelands, it's almost impossible to list them all. Visitors can swim at swimming holes and creeks from Malanda to Mareeba. All locations are safe – there are no crocodiles or other nasties that can cause injury. Essentially, wherever you see a body of water you can swim!
The major towns in the Atherton Tablelands all feature world-class restaurants that range from good old Aussie tucker to Swiss delicacies.
The various townships of the Atherton Tablelands provide abundant opportunities to souvenir local arts and crafts, pottery, gemstones, woodwork, genuine antiques and the vast array of culinary delights produced by the farmers and artesans that live in the region.
CURTAIN FIG TREE
This is the most amazing tree you are ever likely to see. It stands as a century of natural history – a unique example of nature's unpredictability and power.
The premier crater lake at the Atherton Tablelands, Lake Eacham is one of the best places for swimming. The lake is always glassy-calm. A large grassy picnic area with barbeque facilities is located on the banks of the lake.
A relaxing yet informative cruise around this crater lake operates many times each day. This is a great way to see the flora and fauna at Lake Barrine from the comfort of a cruise vessel.
TWIN KAURI PINEs
A short 2-minute walk from the car park at Lake Barrine are two gigantic Kauri Pine trees. These trees are hidden among the dense rainforest surrounding the crater lake, but as you walk along the footpath in their direction they suddenly appear through the dense vegetation. They are huge, very impressive, and definitely worth seeing if you visit Lake Barrine.
This wide waterfall that measures only about 4 metres high is located beside the quiet main road leading out of Malanda, and is great for a refreshing dip or a family picnic. Trees provide shade on the grassy areas.
This 15km drive through lush dairy country tracks next to waterfalls tucked away in deep crevices and dense pockets of rainforest. Millaa Millaa, Zillie and Elinjaa Falls plunge over vertical lava walls into inviting pools and splashing creeks.
mount hypipamee crater
Situated approximately 25 kilometres from Atherton on the Kennedy Highway, the Mt. Hypipamee Crater is a 124m deep extinct volcanic vent. The crater formed as a result of escaping gases blasting clean through solid granite.
Hasties Swamp is a bird watchers paradise. During the wet season, the 56-hectare swamp fills with water and attracts insects and abundant birdlife. It is a completely natural wetland that is rarely visited by travellers at the Atherton Tablelands. To get to Hasties Swamp, drive towards Herberton from the Atherton/Tinaroo region.
Alan's wildlife tours
Alan Gillanders specialises in tree-kangaroos, birds and nocturnal mammals on the beautiful Atherton Tablelands, North Queensland, Australia. The sights, sounds and smells of the Australian rainforest and bush mean more to you as you develop an understanding of their importance. Linking the sound to the animal you have just seen and its surroundings, you build a sensory map of your environment. Amusing stories about the plants and animals not only entertain you but fashion significant memories. As a teacher with a wide range of experience, Alan relates well to children.Alan's Wildlife Tours