One of the highlights of our visit to Cairns was the drive to Atherton Tablelands.
If you do have the time and opportunity I would highly recommend a drive to the Atherton Tablelands to get a glimpse of Australia not usually seen in the glossy travel magazines.
Austraia is not just sunny beaches and blue waters as is usually depicted.
Cairns - Artherton Tablelands
Away from the coast as you proceed into the hinterland a different Australia awaits. Rolling meadows, grazing cattle and cascading waterfalls greet you and the natural beauty is sure to leave you spell bound.
You have a range of options to explore the place but if you had a car and one day I would recommend the following circuit:
Babinda Boulders - Josephine Falls - 4 Falls Circuit -Crater Lake - Curtain Fig Tree
Total time taken : 12 Hours. Approximate distance : 287 kilometres.
Major highway : A1 (Kennedy Highway) and Gilles Highway.
We started from Cairns heading out on the Bruce Highway (A1) highway at 0700 hrs.
First stop was Babinda boulders. Surrounded by lush rainforest, the Babinda Boulders is a popular swimming hole and tourist attraction south of Cairns. Just behind The Boulders is Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland's tallest mountain, from which Babinda Creek's cool water originates. The creek is surrounded by lush tropical rainforest with a myriad of trees, ferns, vines, fungi, moss and lichen.
The 2 km rainforest walk leads to 3 lookouts over the Boulder formations and waterfalls. Difficulty: Easy to moderate.
We then headed for Josephine falls a scenic waterfall fed by rains falling on Queensland’s highest peak, Bartle Frere, which looms above this popular picnic area.
The Josephine waterfalls and swimming hole are ranked amongst some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Tropical North Queensland.
From the spacious car park, there is a really beautiful 700-metre rainforest walk to the waterfalls, viewing decks (3 Levels) and swimming area via a bitumen paved track that can also cater for prams or wheelchairs. It is a 1.2 Kms walk to the top waterfall through verdant rainforest foilage.
Driving up towards Atherton tablelands about 70 kilometers from Josephine falls you will arrive at Mungalli Falls, the first waterfall in the famous 'Four Fall Circuit
'. The circuit continues to Elinjaa Falls, Zillie and finally, the icing on the cake, the beautiful Milla Milla Falls.
Mungalli Falls are the highest waterfalsl on the Tablelands at 90M high. The access is of moderate difficulty and there is no good vantage point to view the fall.
Ellinjaa Falls are 3 kms from Zillie falls and cascades over a series of lava columns. The car park has BBQ and picnic tables. Walk down to the the zig zag track to the stream - great tree ferns and vines on the descent.
Zillie falls are 7.5km from Millaa Millaa falls on this circuit. Viewing platform provides photographic advantage. BBQ and Shelter in car park .Theresa Creek Bridge also shows the rainforest to advantage.
Milla Milla Falls are the most photographed falls in Australia. The structure of the entire fall along with the prefect dimensions of all the aspects in this landsape will make you feel as if you have walked into a Wallpaper!
Cairns Region - Milla Milla Falls
I recommed you keep Milla Milla falls for the last. Not only is it the best waterfall we have ever seen, you also have ample space for having a picnic lunch. You can swim under the waterfalls if you are daring enough to dip into the icy cold mountain waters!
After soaking up the sights of these glorious waterfalls we headed for Mount Hypipamee Crater
which basically means a 'hole in the ground' caused by sub-surface explosion. This one is 61 metres in diameter and 82 metres deep.
The water surface is covered with duck weed.
TIP - Take a couple of rocks from the car park to drop down into the water. The reveberating echoes coming up the wil put a Bose Speaker to shame.
Dinner Falls at the head of the upper Barron River gorge is also part of this park. It was once thought that "The Crater", Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine were all connected underground with water tunnels, but this is incorrect.
Our final stop on this day trip was at the Curtain Fig Tree. It of the largest trees in Tropical North Queensland and one of the best known attractions on the Atherton Tableland. The fig tree is from the strangler fig species Fichus virens. The curtain effect results from one tree leaning against another tree on a 45-degree angle. The strangler vine then grew along the oblique angle of the leaning tree, dangling 15 metres to the ground to create the curtain affect. A wooden boardwalk surrounds the tree so you can see it on any angle.
Attribute : Mike Lehmann (Multi-license with GFDL and Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-2.5 and older versions (2.0 and 1.0)
1) The drive back in the evening is via the winding and challenging Gilles Highway road. The more comfortable and easier drive back to Cairns is via the Kennedy Highway (N1) which is about 35 Kms longer.
CAUTION : When visiting the waterfalls, keep to the clearly marked Swimming areas. Take heed of warning signs and fenced off areas.
Have a road map or GPS handy. Although the routes are well marked it only makes the planning that much easier with the numerous stops.
I rented a car for couple of days through APEX rentals and found them quite economical and hassle free. Besides, their rental depot is a short walking distance from the Cairns Botanical Garden whih made it quite easy for us. APEX CAR RENTALS
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