QLD Activities

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QLD Activities

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Cairns Tablelands & Gulf Savannah

This area of North Queensland flourishes with bushland, rainforests, mountain ranges, wide open spaces, outback towns and wonderfully tropical climate.

Stretching from the coastal area around Cairns this area encompasses the Atherton Tablelands to the southwest, Kuranda in the northwest, and stretching from the Great Dividing Range all the way west to the Northern Territory border is the breathtaking Gulf Savannah.

Experience the warmth of the tropical north as you trek and travel an area rich in Australian culture, outback activities, Aboriginal and pioneering history, all amid some of the most spectacular scenes in Australia.

The further inland you move the more you get away from the humidity of the coast and start to enjoy a more temperate climate while the landscape changes all around you.

Atherton Tablelands

Wooroonooran National ParkAtop the Great Dividing Range to the southwest of Cairns, The Atherton Tablelands is a lush and fertile plateau sitting about 500 to 1200 metres above sea level. The volcanic origins of the land make for fertile soil which is great for farming, particularly dairy cattle.

Set back away from the coastal humidity, the Atherton Tablelands has a wonderfully temperate climate that makes it perfect for Australian tours all year round. If you’re looking to avoid the Australian heat then visit during the low season from December to April when the climate is cool yet still only a drive away from brilliant beaches.

The area is perfect for self driving tours offering you breathtaking views, ancient rainforests, antique stores, volcanic lakes, waterfalls, national Parks, wetlands and an abundance of native wildlife. If you’re looking to take your time exploring the tablelands there are plenty of Atherton accommodation available ranging from Bed & Breakfast, to rustic lodges and even tranquil rainforest retreats.

Curtain FigThe Main Atherton Tablelands area is home to the Tableland Express, an historic Steam Train journey that goes from Atherton and passes through the wetlands, waterfalls, tunnels, timber bridges and amazing panoramic views before climbing Queensland’s steepest line. There are also a number of rainforest parks up here with magnificent waterfalls, a Dairy farm that operates as an educational tourist centre with handcrafted chocolates, cheeses and yoghurts to lure you in, and even a Chinese Temple that still survives what was once the Atherton Chinatown of the 1880s.

As well as the Mareeba Wetlands and Granite George Nature Park there are a number of places that make some truly decadent treats up in the Northern Tablelands. Visit the Coffee Works for some of the freshest locally grown coffee and a delicious selection of hand crafted chocolates. At the boutique Golden Pride Winery cellar door you can experience their unique wine crafted from their plantation’s mangos.

For a really diverse holiday tour take a drive through the Central Tablelands and spend as much time here as you can. The Central Tablelands have an extensive variety of parks, wetlands and culturally rich towns to explore. Take a dip in Lake Eacham, watch the birds in Bromfield & Hasties Swamp, tour some of the old mining towns or simply sit down for a cuppa at The Tea House by Lake Barrine.

Out in the Southern Tablelands there are some breathtaking rainforests on display including Millstream Falls, the widest single drop falls in Australia. The Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit takes you on a walk past some of the tableland’s prettiest waterfalls in the midst of a spectacular rainforest. Tully Gorge National Park is also home to some pretty wild white water rafting.


Skyrail Rainforest CablewayIdeally situated amid the natural beauty of a World Heritage Rainforest is the tranquil little village of Kuranda. Only 25km northwest of Cairns the town has an amazing history bigger than the town itself. Nearby Skeleton Creek was once the scene of an horrific Aboriginal massacre, the town became a timber cutter town in the early 1900s, a haven for hippies in the 60s and has now become a beautiful tourist retreat.

For those wanting to take advantage of this retreat there are a number of accommodation types to choose from. Stay in one of Kuranda’s Bed & Breakfasts, , luxury rainforest resorts, cabins or even one of the backpacker hostels.

One of the more popular trips visitors like to take is the Kuranda Skyrail, or Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. The world’s longest gondola cableway takes you an a 90 minute, 7.5km journey through some of the most beautiful natural rainforest for an intimate tropical experience.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway also attracts those wanting scenic day trips without the hassle of driving everywhere. Travel on the historic train to Barron Gorge National Park for beautiful views of the sea and Cairns coastline. Even the train station is an attraction, built in 1913 it is one of the earliest of its kind in Queensland.

Take a stroll through the Kuranda Heritage market which is set in the rainforest. The market stalls open daily to peddle food, arts, crafts, jewellery, gemstones and more among the peaceful surrounds.

The village is also home to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary which among the 1,500 colourful species of butterfly also includes the Ulysses Butterfly, the icon of the town. The Rainforestation Nature Park just outside Kuranda takes visitors on tours of the massive park aboard an amphibious World War II Army Duck while Bridworld is home to the largest single collection of free flying birds in Australia.

The Gulf Savannah

Mount MulliganStretching from the Northern Territory border in the west to the Great Dividing Range in the east, the Gulf Savannah is a massive region covering over 180,000 square kilometres.  Leave the ocean behind for a while to explore the bushland, historic frontier towns and wide open spaces of the outback. This region is home to outdoor activities, World Heritage listed fossil fields, gem fossicking, rolling grasslands, ancient Aboriginal rock art, old mining towns and some of the best fishing locations in the country.

Make the most of outback and nearby highland accommodation to explore this vibrant area. You may not find any luxury resorts but you will find friendly Bed & Breakfasts, motels, farm stays, country hospitality and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.

Hop on the Savannahlander, a train service that takes you from coastal Cairns and winds through the Kuranda Range and on to the Savannah. The train passes by some wonderful views and allows you to hop on and off at a number of interesting places such as Chillagoe Caves, Cobbold Gorge and the Undara Lava Tubes.

Chillagoe is an old mining town that popped up in the 1870s at the start of the mining boom. There are several things to see and learn here about the town’s mining history as well as a beautiful old cemetery. For more of an outdoors experience take a walk through the Chillagoe-Montana National Park to see the limestone caves, stalactite and stalagmite formations and some ancient Aboriginal rock art.

Undara Lava CavesSitting atop the slopes of the McBride Plateau, the Undara Volcanic National Park is one of the country’s most spectacular geological wonders. The park is home to one of the largest lava tube cave systems that stretch over 160km. There are guided tours and talks to take you through the caves and several trails for the above ground bush, streams and wildlife.

Gobbold Gorge is a natural oasis hidden in the middle of the outback. Discovered years ago on a family farm the oasis can only be viewed by joining a private tour. Keep an eye out for crocs sunning themselves on the banks of the river and turtles splashing about. There’s accommodation available here as well as a restaurant and bar.

The Gulf Savannah has a vast array of winding rivers and estuaries that are perfect for fishing. Many fishermen consider the area to be some to the best fishing you’ll find in Australia, not to mention home to delicious mud crabs just prime for the taking.

Location Map