As newbies to the Atherton Tablelands, Steve and Chloe Titman have spent the past 12 months exploring their new backyard.
Being rookies to the region we’ve had a year-long adventure discovering picture-perfect waterfalls, cooling off in crystal clear creeks, swimming in crater lakes (there’s several!) and connecting with nature on tranquil rainforest walks. If you hadn’t guessed we’re more than pleased to have made the move to FNQ! In no particular order, here’s our Tablelands top ten:
Crystal clear water fringed by lush rainforest — tick! Swimming, canoeing and a great place for a SUP — tick! Lake Eacham is a stunning volcanic crater lake with a 3km rainforest walk, you won’t be disappointed.
… and not too far away is Lake Barrine, another picturesque crater lake with walks, opportunities for swimming and other activities, and a teahouse and boat cruises.
The Waterfall Circuit is a trio of rainforest waterfalls — Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls and Ellinjaa Falls. The waterfalls are located on an easy circular drive on Theresa Creek Road and all are a short walk from the road. This is a great day out — remember to bring something to swim in and your camera (Millaa Millaa Falls is apparently one of the most photographed falls in Australia) — and if you’ve worked up an appetite then pop into the nearby Mungalli Creek Dairy café.
Halls Falls in Herberton Range National Park is a little harder to find, and to get to, but well worth it. These cascading waterfalls lead down to a remote swimming hole, and once you’ve taken the walk from the car park all that’s left to do is jump in, cool off and take in the views.
The always popular Yungaburra is a great place to stop for something to eat, a beer at the pub, or the monthly markets, which attract the finest produce from across the Tablelands. Just outside the town is the famous large fig tree in Curtain Fig Tree National Park; unique because of its extensive aerial roots that drop 15 metres to the forest floor and form a ‘curtain’. While you’re in town make sure to take the walk along Peterson Creek and keep your eyes open for a platypus.
There are too many camping spots to name in the region, from private sites, like the super kid-friendly Old Mates Farm, to sites at multiple National Parks on the Tablelands. Camping is something we’ve really enjoyed doing since moving to the region, either with friends or on our own. And if you can score a spot with a creek or lake nearby you can’t go wrong!
The Tablelands has so many fantastic hikes … and the hard work is always repaid by fantastic views, tranquil rainforest and, if you’re lucky, sightings of the unique native wildlife, namely the Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos. The hike alongside Carrington Falls up to Whartons Lookout has been one of the more challenging but with amazing views across sclerophyll forests, and the old railway line to explore, it makes for a great day. Mount Baldy will get your calf muscles firing and once you’ve made it to the top you can drink in those Tableland views; don’t forget to sign the visitors’ book! Windin Falls is a 11.5 km return through world heritage-listed rainforest rewarded with stunning views from the top of the fall over the valley below — be sure to take care.
We also enjoy our walks and bike rides along the 20.5km Atherton Tablelands Rail Trail that connects Atherton to Walkamin (and beyond), taking you through Tolga and past the Rocky Creek War Memorial Park.
There are loads of options to enjoy a well-earned drink or grab a feed at one of the Tablelands cafes, pubs and hotels. We enjoy them all but love our visits to the new Billycart Brewery in Atherton with its range of craft beers and ever-changing food trucks. The Peeramon Hotel has beautiful views, Mt Uncle Distillery is another great place for a drink with their range of locally produced rum, whiskey and gin and the Malanda Hotel (built in 1911) is the reputed to be the largest timber hotel in the country.
We’ve still got a long list to get through! We feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface and next up is to explore the local mountain biking trails (like the extensive Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park) as well as more camping and who knows one day, we might even attempt Queensland’s highest mountain, Bartle Frere.