Located in Far North Queensland, the tourism mecca of Cairns, Australia offers visitors a range of natural attractions, culinary experiences and adventure-based activities. One of those being, the Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls.
If you’re looking to cool down in the humid months, The Atherton Tablelands is the perfect reprieve from the heat. The temperature is much cooler than that down in Cairns City, and also showcases some of Australia’s best waterfalls. Let’s discover the best of the Atherton Tablelands in Cairns Australia.
The Atherton Tablelands
You could quite easily spend weeks in the Atherton Tablelands and not see everything you intend to. There’s just so much on offer in this part of Queensland, so allow yourself ample time to explore the region.
For those making a day trip and wish to see the top things to do in Atherton Tablelands, here’s a quick run down on what you can expect to see whilst visiting. You can choose a clockwise or anticlockwise direction to commence your trip, beginning in Cairns.
Typically, I head straight from Cairns, up the Gillies Range, past Lake Barrine & Lake Eacham. Alternatively, you can work the other direction and head towards Millaa Millaa Falls via Joesphine Falls & Nandroya Falls on the Palmerston Highway.
Where are the Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls?
The following waterfalls are located all along the Atherton Tablelands drive.
Think of it as one big circuit road from Cairns, up into the mountains, and back down the Palmerston Highway and in towards Babinda and back to Cairns.
Just under an hour south of Cairns, you’ll find the incredibly picturesque Josephine Falls.
Josephine Falls is nestled into the foothills of Mount Bartle Frere. This is without a doubt, my favourite waterfall and natural pool to visit in Australia.
Its bright green hues draw the eye immediately once you make the short 700m stroll from the car park. Top tip: You’ll want to ensure you get here early, regardless of the time of year – the earlier, the better. I usually visit around 7am and get the entire natural pool and waterfall to myself.
Josephine Falls has a natural slide to enjoy, as well as number of short strolls & lookout points along the cascading waterfall. Eagle eyed visitors will notice the start of the Bartle Frere track at the Josephine Falls car park. Bartle Frere is Queensland’s tallest mountain.
This is one of the taller waterfalls in the region at 50m high, accompanied by an easy 6km (approx) return hike.
The view at the end is absolutely stunning, with a single plunging waterfall taking centre stage. There’s also a lower falls section that’s equally impressive, forming one of the most spectacular natural attractions in the Atherton Tablelands.
Again, you’ll want to make an early start to enjoy Nandroya Falls to yourself. For those that want to save the drive and make an early start, you can camp at the Henrietta campgrounds. This is the closest starting point to the walking trail for the Nandroya Falls hike.
The Waterfall Circuit: Millaa Millaa Falls, Zille Falls & Elinja Falls.
The waterfalls circuit in The Atherton Tablelands is the holy grail in this region, attracting huge tourist numbers regularly.
The crowing jewel has got to be Millaa Millaa Falls. It’s as easy as parking and walking a few steps to reach Millaa Millaa.
This is an ideal photo opportunity for budding photographers. It’s just a short hop, skip and a jump to the other two falls on the circuit – if you can bare to remove yourself from Millaa Millaa Falls that is.
Atherton Tablelands Accommodation
The pick of the towns to stay at in the Atherton Tablelands has got to be the lakeside village of Yungaburra. Cottage life here is very apparent, as small colonial style cottages are scattered all over. The town backs on to Lake Tinnaroo, a popular camping and recreational area for locals and visitors alike.
I’d recommend a stay at Adele’s cottage in Yungaburra. This quintessential miners cottage has been given a face lift, and acts as the perfect home away from home on those cooler hinterland evenings. It’s the ideal location to base yourself if you’re looking to spend a couple of days or more exploring the other natural attractions like Lake Eacham or Lake Barrine.
You can book the cottage here on Airbnb.
Lake Eacham & Lake Barrine
If you’ve exhausted your waterfall options on your adventure in Cairns, you might also want to stop in for a look at the Crater Lakes National Park.
Lake Eacham & Lake Barrine form part of this national park, offering some of the most incredible views out over the water. If you’re after a bite to eat or a decent coffee, consider stopping in at the Lake Barrine tea house.
No matter what time of the year you choose to adventure to this region, the Atherton Tablelands has a huge variety of activities and sights to see. Ensure you give your self ample time to explore, as there’s more on offer than you might initially expect.
You can check out my videos of The Atheron Tablelands below.