When planning your list of things to do in Cairns – don’t miss the Atherton tablelands
Part of Australia’s Great Dividing Range, the third-longest land-based mountain range in the world, the Atherton Tableland is an expansive, fertile plateau.
This sublime landscape is as fascinating as it is beautiful, home to a number of exotic bird species, picturesque country retreats, legendary volcanoes, and expansive national parks.
The principal tourist attraction of the Atherton Tablelands is the dramatic Tinaroo Dam. Constructed between 1953 and 1958 as part of the Barron River hydroelectric power scheme, this dam traps enough water from the Barron River to create a lake about three-quarters of the size of the Sydney Harbour, with a capacity of a staggering 407,000 mega litres.
With over 200 kilometres of shoreline, the lake attracts a number of tourists and is often used for sailing, water-skiing, swimming, and fishing.
Those in search of prime Barramundi fishing are well advised to head here: barramundi fishing is legendary in this crocodile-free lake and is permitted year round.
Many hiking trails wind through the Australian bush surrounding the lake, making it the perfect spot for hikers and trekkers.
The Atherton Tablelands are also home to several of Australia’s national parks.
Situated in the McBride Volcano Province, Undara Volcanic National Park contains 164 volcanoes, vents and cones.
The park’s most impressive volcano, Undara, expelled massive amounts of lava onto the tablelands about 190,000 years ago and the park is now home to the remains of the longest flow of lava originating from a single volcano on the entire planet, as well as some of the world’s longest and most impressive lava tubes.
The park’s Bayliss Cave, for example, is the remains of a lava tube that was once 100 kilometers in length.
Of course, if you’re not looking for adventure the Atherton Tablelands provide many opportunities for a relaxing weekend away.
Not far from Cairns you will find the quaint town of Yungaburra. Originally inhabited by about sixteen different indigenous groups prior to European settlement, Yungaburra is now a charming tourist hotspot.
The town is Queensland’s largest National Trust village, home to eighteen heritage-listed buildings.
The vibrant Yungaburra Markets, held on the fourth Saturday of each month, are some of the largest markets in Far North Queensland, full of artisanal crafts and handmade craft products.
The two-day Yungaburra Folk Festival, held annually at the end of October, is also a regional highlight, featuring Australian as well as international folk musicians.
You will also find music workshops, poetry readings, and kid’s activities.
No matter what time of year you’re visiting be sure to check out the 500-year-old Curtain Fig tree.
The aerial roots of this mammoth tree hang down to create a king of plumose curtain, a truly impressive sight
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