Things to do with Kids on the Atherton Tablelands
The Atherton Tablelands is well known for its green, fertile landscape, with food producers aplenty, but did you know it's also a great place to explore with your kids? A road trip taking in spectacular scenery might not be top of your children's list of things to do, but build in some quirky stops along the way and you can ensure the whole family has fun. From wildlife to swimming holes, and more waterfalls than you can count on one hand, you'll be surprised by how many things there are to do. Add in some history and geology and your kids will be learning without even realising.
There are so many reasons to get your kids off their screens, but it can be easier said than done! Let the wonder of Mother Nature help you out with her jaw-dropping waterfalls, which are particularly impressive during the wet season (November to March). Long walks in the humidity can prove difficult with young kids, but Australia's most photographed waterfall, Millaa Millaa is unbelievably just footsteps from the car park. Take your swimmers and floaties and prepare for an exhilarating dip. Depending on the time of year the water can be quite fresh, but it's the perfect antidote to a hot and sticky day.
If you have train-mad children, then the Kuranda Scenic Railway will get things right on track. This historic train line from Cairns to Kuranda makes its way through the lush rainforest. Wriggly children may find the two-hour duration a bit long, but not to worry, you can still see the train in all its glory as it leaves the platform at either end of the railway line. Whether you take a ride or simply watch the train it's not to be missed. Download a timetable and you'll see and hear the train as it winds its way through the lush rainforest. The train also pulls in at the Barron Falls look-out. With a bit of planning, you can tick off seeing this incredible waterfall as well as the train.
You don't need to be a youngster to enjoy Australia's unique wildlife, you're never too old to cuddle a koala! To guarantee an up-close view of some of your favourites, head to one of the Atherton Tablelands' nature parks. Kuranda Koala Gardens and Birdworld Kuranda both offer animal encounters you won't forget.
To see two of the Tablelands' more elusive characters, the Lumholtz tree-kangaroo and the platypus, you really need to know where to look. The Nerada Tea Estate is not only famous for its Australian-grown tea, its also known locally to be one of the best places to spot the shy Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo. They're often seen sitting up high in the trees, just look out for their long tails swinging in the breeze!
There's nothing like seeing history come to life, so make some time for Herberton Historic Village. Wander around the outdoor museum with 50 original buildings including a schoolhouse, prison and blacksmiths, and see what life looked like when the pioneers first arrived on the Tablelands. There are countless displays and hands-on activities to enjoy, as well as a cafe and extensive grounds to explore. The Village is dog-friendly too if you have a four-legged friend to bring along.
The Tablelands is fantastic to explore all year round, but bear in mind that it can be very rainy in the wet season. The upside is that the waterfalls will be pumping, but you may want some wet weather ideas up your sleeve. In Atherton you will find The Crystal Caves, this shop and museum is home to an enormous collection of crystals belonging to one passionate collector. 600 specimens of rocks from all over the world are on display, for which there is an entry fee. In the shop you can choose from a whole array of sparkling gifts. Try cracking open your own geode and be the first to see the crystals inside.
Your road trip through the Tablelands will be rewarded with so many sights of natural beauty: rolling hills and waterfalls around every corner. Pack your swimwear, SPF 50 and your camera, and you'll be ready for anything the area has to offer.
Looking for more local tips of what to do in the region? Here’s some other local tips that you may enjoy: