ATHERTON TABLELAND Tours
The Atherton Tableland is often overlooked by visitors to Far North Queensland and is an integral part of Perentie Tours . It’s located southwest and inland from Cairns, the most direct route from Cairns being the Gillies Highway. This fertile flat land is rich from its volcanic origins, is part of the Great Dividing Range, around 32,000 square kilometers and an altitude ranging between 500 and 1,200 m. Its elevated position provides a climate suitable for dairy farming with ever increasing crop production since the Barron River was dammed to form the Tinaroo Dam irrigation system.
After the discovery of gold at Palmer River, a road was constructed through the Tableland which led to an influx of timber cutters to harvest the huge Red Cedar, Cypress and Pine tree from the rainforest. Atherton Tablelands were first explored in 1875 by James Mulligan but it was John Atherton who settled near the current town in 1877 and who is believed to have taken Mulligan as far as Chillagoe where his signature appears on the wall of the Donna Cave. Atherton and Mulligan had prospecting skills and found showings of tin towards the west that was later to became the Great Northern Tin Mine and went on to become the township of Herberton.
Before the town of Atherton developed the Chinese arrived after conflict in the northern gold fields and created market gardens that supplied 80% of the crop production on the Tableland. By 1909 Chinatown had become the largest concentration of Chinese on the tablelands. Today just a temple at the southern end of the Atherton Township remains.
Atherton Tablelands today
Today tourism is a primary element on the tablelands. Due to previous timber cutting activities as well as dairy and crop production, the tableland now contains just remnants of the rainforest that once covered it. It’s classified as one of Australia’s Important Bird Areas with twelve species endemic to the area and the mountain ranges immediately to the south. Although many visits just to admire the picture postcard views, popular points of interest include:
- Lake Barrine
- Lake Eacham
- Curtain Fig
- Cathedral Fig
- Mount Hypipamee Crater
- Numerous iconic waterfalls
More information can be found at http://www.athertoninformationcentre.com.au/
or have a look at the Perentie Tours home page