Our website uses cookies.

Sign up on TourScanner

Create an account to save tours, things to do and travel guides to your wishlist.
I agree to sign up to the newsletter and receive occasional email from TourScanner
By creating an account you agree to our terms and conditions and privacy policy.

Atherton Tablelands tours from Cairns

There can be an intimidating element to life down under, mainly because so many of the dreamy destinations situated in places like Queensland are absolutely huge.

The sheer size of them is enough to throw anyone into a sense of confusion and awe, but above all of that, appreciating the magnitude of its greatness is what should take over as the priority. As such, we tend to think the Atherton Tablelands are on an entirely new level of splendor and beauty - if only due to how diverse there are.

Our goal and aim is to highlight a few of the many, many aspects that make Atherton Tablelands tours from Cairns an absolute must for everyone visiting the city.

How long does it take to reach Atherton Tablelands from Cairns?

Because there are so many towns and specific areas within the Tablelands it’s quite hard to put your finger on how far away it actually is. The ‘region’ can be defined as being just on the outskirts of Cairns, but for example, going to Atherton itself would take 1 hour 30 minutes and between 70-80km. If Herberton was on the wish list it would take another 15 minutes on top of that, but driving to all of the different towns and places can take you as long as 3-4 hours and upwards of 250km.

So, in the first of many travel tips, we’d say it’d be a smart idea to bring some reading material if you aren’t the one driving - because it’s quite the trek.

What is the typical itinerary of a day tour to Atherton Tablelands?

The variety show that is Atherton Tablelands tours from Cairns often brings up a few different possibilities for how you want your day to pan out. Most people on these tours will go on an excursion that lasts between 8-12 hours, and some will even stay overnight at some accommodation because they want to break it up into two separate days.

There’s plenty of history to be uncovered from a trip like this and there’s a good chance you’ll have a few guides with you to explain where you are and what lies beneath the surface of the gorgeous scenery. Of course, there are also some self-drive options which are quite popular due to how big the Tablelands really are.

The typical town and village spots to hit are Herberton, Atherton, Tinaroo, Malanda, Mareeba, Millaa Millaa and so very many more.

If you want grandeur and spectacle then boy oh boy have you come to the right place. There is an entirely new degree of sophistication and entertainment that comes with Atherton Tablelands tours from Cairns, and here are a few ideas to whet the appetite.

Waterfalls Tour

Between swimming in Lake Eacham and visiting Josephine Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls and Dinner Falls, this is an absolute dream tour. From the moment it begins there is a rush of adrenaline that seems to last throughout the whole day, even when traveling between different spots.

Food & Wine Tasting Tour

If it hasn’t become clear yet, Atherton Tablelands is an absolute gold mine for foodies and wine lovers. There are so many hand-picked gems that have been included in those food tours to give travelers a wide range of Australian treats to try.

Rainforest Tour

From the light of day to the mysterious depths of night the rainforest tour is going to make you think. Look up in the sky and see wonderful creatures, have tea at a natural volcanic crater lake and really embrace the differences that come with being in this kind of environment.

Are there any combo tours including other places to visit?

The beautiful thing about the Atherton Tablelands is that once you’ve seen what you believe to be the full package of Queensland, all you need to do is step outside of the Atherton bubble and realize what else is out there. Through the power of combo tours, doing so is now a whole lot easier.


On the Cape York Peninsula up in the far north, take some time to see the place that would’ve even made James Cook stop and say “wow”. The colors in the water are matched only by the serenity and fun that can be had on land in a place that may be far away, but is well worth the trip due to how much it encapsulates the Australian paradise vibe.

Daintree Rainforest

Take in some Aboriginal culture, head on a river cruise, or just see some of the most heartwarming local animals that there is to be found throughout the entire country. Daintree is special and even overlaps with several other locations, making it practical and educational in equal measure.

Mossman Gorge

If hiking is up your alley then Mossman Gorge is the place to be. It’s all about immersing yourself within nature and learning about what it really takes to find inner peace. Mossman is gritty, but when it lets you in, it never lets go - and we love that.

Travel tips

  • The one thing to remember about the Tablelands is that the weather is super unpredictable regardless of where you end up. Bring some factor 50, bring a raincoat and just be ready for all situations, because this is quite the area to cover and there are often some surprises along the way.
  • There are some unbelievable delicacies littered throughout the Tablelands that don’t get enough appreciation, so if you can, take the time out to go and visit them - especially if you’re on a self-drive tour. There are amazing coffee shops, distilleries and restaurants that need to be enjoyed.
  • The word of the day for the Atherton Tablelands is “niche” and that’s what visitors need to remember. There are hot springs, paddock puzzles and even tributes to fallen war heroes of years gone by. It may not be a conventional trip but try and go off the beaten track, because you might be surprised by what you find.
  • Avoiding the rush and going in the low season between December and April is a great idea because of how wonderful the climate is, with the temperatures in December/January being absolutely perfect for the ultimate summer experience.