Australia: Atherton Tablelands QLD

This blog is a collection of photos I took when I travelled around the beautiful Atherton Tablelands. Cooler than the coast, there’s diverse offerings on the menu here; more than enough to warrant a week’s stay.

First stop on our way here from Mission Beach was Paronella Park. This dream castle built by Spaniard Jose Paronella in 1929 is on 13 acres of virgin forest that meets up with Mena Creek Falls.  He built the ultimate pleasure and leisure centre, creating picnic areas, tennis court, cinema, ballroom, swimming pools, tunnels and bridges. Seven thousand trees were planted, including an avenue of giant kauris. Interestingly, the park was fuelled by its own hydro electricity.

It’s an incredible story of a hard working man who provided a fabulous place for people to enjoy. The park was ‘lost’ for a number of years, damaged by floods and fire, then bought by the current owners in 1993 who set about restoring it. There’s still a lot of work to do, but even so, it’s a click worthy experience.

Mena Creek Falls with bridge above
Dense rainforest setting

The Tablelands are green as far as the eye can see. Plenty of rain falls here. Little wonder that bananas, sugar cane, mangoes, avocados, macadamia nuts, passionfruit and strawberries grow well.

Nerada Tea – Australia’s largest tea plantation. Time wasn’t on our side this visit, so added it to the list for our ‘next visit’.
Millaa Millaa – nice little town with a couple of good cafes

Green, laidback Malanda is where we based ourselves. We set up in Lake Eacham caravan park and enjoyed coffee in their fabulous cafe Fronds. Many attractions are in striking distance of Malanda.

The Malanda Hotel built in 1911 is the largest timber hotel in Australia. The ballroom with its grand silky oak staircase is worth a look as are the walls which are adorned with historical photos
Malanda Falls – right in town. They spill into a fabulous swimming pool
Built in 1928, Malanda’s theatre boasts hessian seats giving movie and theatre goers an olde world experience
Stunning Lake Eacham is a crater lake formed 12,000 years ago with depths of 65 metres. Surrounded by rainforest and a 3km walking track.

Yungaburra is a traveller’s delight.  The town dates back to 1890 and has 18 charming heritage listed buildings. Cafes, a fabulous bookshop, galleries, hotel and bnbs line the streets. Bright swathes of flowers, large trees and wide streets complete a very pretty picture. For those planning a trip to Cairns, Yungaburra is only 70 kms away.

Yungaburra Hotel built in 1910
Street scene Yungaburra
Nice Yungaburra bnb
Iconic pub at nearby Peeramon

In striking distance from Malanda is Herberton. Built on the back of tin mining, there’s more to this small town than I gave it credit. We should have stayed another day to do it justice.

Herberton – the oldest town on the tablelands

Herberton Historical Village on 16 acres, has 60 fabulous restored buildings, resembles a tin mining town and was well worth every minute of the three hours we spent here. Normally, I would pass this sort of thing off as a tourist trap, but the sheer size of the diverse collections – homestead, cars, tractors, toys, groceries, pharmaceutical, even a school, means time passes quickly.

Elderslie House built for John Newell, the ‘Father of Herberton’. Each room is beautifully decorated.
A segment of the extensive car collection
Loved the newspaper print room with its masses of machines and friendly printer
Bit hard? Found this in the Herberton State School which was moved to the village.
Toy shop – filled to the brim with toys that take you back decades
Mount St Bernard College – a magnificent building. This Catholic school offers co ed high school education

In Ravenshoe we called into the pub; met a couple of locals who are long time timber cutters, ordered drinks from the ever smiling, young Argentinian female bartender all the while immersing ourselves in the powerful twangy vocals of Charley Pride. It made for a good couple of cultural hours.

Not far from Ravenshoe are the very stunning Millstream Falls. See the feature photo.

Our final stop was Innisfail where bananas grow by the mega ton and art deco buildings dominate.

Downtown Innisfail and its art deco buildings

Next stop: Lucinda

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