The Atherton Tablelands may be a welcome relief from the heat of the coast and offer great views, cool waterfalls and typical pubs among other things. The area, around the town of Atherton, is named after a pastoralist, prospector and pioneer. Settlement here dates from the late 19th century. The large forests growing here were almost all cut down and it is now mainly a farming district, maize, peanuts and potatoes. However, there is still a lot of natural beauty here.
South east of the rainforest village of Kuranda and about 45 kilometres along the Kennedy Highway, is Mareeba, the largest town on the northern Tablelands. Around 20 kilometres to the south east of Mareeba is the small privately owned Granite Gorge National Park, a pleasant place of immense granite boulders with a river flowing through, swimming holes and a colony of rock wallabies who are well used to human visitors and come up in the hope of a feed.
Further south, near the town of Atherton, started in the early 1880s and a service town of the rural district around it, is Lake Tinaroo, an artificial lake behind a dam on the Barron River. The village of Yungaburra on the southern point of the lake is also a very picturesque place, a centre of arts and crafts. Its Lake Eacham Hotel is a good example of Queensland wood architecture as is its Village Chapel. Nearby is the massive Curtain Fig Tree, with its aerial roots dropping 15 metres to the ground like a curtain. There are more historic pubs, like the Peeramon Hotel, a great example of this kind of architecture, but sadly damaged during Cyclone Larry in March 2006.
On 20 April 1880 tin was discovered in the southern region of the Atherton Tablelands and the town of Herberton at an altitude of 899 metres above sea level rose up here as a result. In August that year there were 70 men working in the tin fields and in December their number had grown to 300. Herberton has some magnificent wooden buildings, built in the first decade of the towns existence and there is even a steam train that runs from Atherton carrying tourists. About 25 kilometres further east, on an unsurfaced road, is the small town of Irvinebank.
There are many waterfalls to be seen on the southern Tablelands; The Millaa Millaa Falls are easily accessible near the small but picturesque town of the same name; a "waterfall circuit" can be done to take in two more falls in a lush tropical setting. And 26 kilometres south west of Millaa Millaa is Ravenshoe, at 950 m above sea level Queensland's highest town on the Great Dividing Range where the vegetation changes from the rain forests in the east to the eucalypt woodlands further west. Not far from there is Millstream Falls on the Herberton River, Australia's widest waterfall, with Little Millstream Falls nearby. A unique sight, to the south-east of Herberton, is the Mount Hypipamee Crater, a huge diatreme, a volcanic pipe that was formed by a gaseous explosion, 61 metres in diameter and 82 metres deep.