Published on April 14th, 2013 | by Ann Rickard


Travel – An abundant table

Ann Rickard takes a drive around the picturesque Atherton Tablelands and discovers a slice of Australian history

Whether it is the lushness of the green countryside, or the distinct feeling that this is a place of immense bounty, the natural riches of the Atherton Tablelands aren’t easy to grasp on a first visit.

This is an uplifting and invigorating region that needs to be absorbed, understood and valued.

“Our dream of breathing new life into this wonderful attraction is realised more every day as Herberton Historic Village continues to grow, taking its proper place as an invaluable part of Far North Queensland’s fascinating heritage”

There is an air of abundance everywhere. It is obviously a land where beautiful produce will grow to ripeness and then be offered to the visitor in its unfussed form.Atherton .Ibis-Dam-Irvinebank-150x150

Indeed, every October the Tastes of the Tablelands Festival showcases the best cheeses, chocolates, wines and produce from the region. But why wait until October for a visit and a feast?

The Taste of Paradise food trails, available on a free Taste of Paradise App, will direct you to many producers where a cornucopia of tastes and culinary experiences await.

A car is essential to fully enjoy the Atherton Tablelands.

A drive through Kuranda and Mareeba will lead you to Atherton, or the Gilles Hwy takes you along winding, verdant countryside through the picturesque towns of Yungaburra and Malanda to Atherton.

We chose the second route and once out of the bustle of Cairns it was all about serenity and green countryside.

Yungaburra, a pretty village mostly unchanged since 1910, is home to charming cafes and small art galleries in its main street, with its wide verandas and historic shopfronts.

Malanda is the perfect base for bushwalking, bird-spotting or a guided rainforest walk through Conservation Park.

A highlight of our day came at Herberton, about 10 minutes out of Atherton.Atherton Herberton-Historic-Village

Here you’ll find the country’s largest outdoor museum, Herberton Historic Village, a gloriously presented township that takes you back in time to the 1800s for a riveting look at the history of Far North Queensland.

Owners Connie and Craig Kimberley have spent 18 months creating this slice of fascinating Australian history and have gathered dozens of original buildings on the site to house thousands of captivating and original items.

Sit in the Herberton State School and see how the children learnt their lessons (and were disciplined) in 1881.

Step into The Bank of Australia, opened in 1835, and see the bank manager’s bed and dressing table at the back of the building where he was obliged to live on-site.

Stand at the bar of the Tin Pannikin Pub and you’ll feel what it was like to sink a cold one after a hard day’s work.

Atherton .Cathedral-fig
Atherton Chillagoe-Caves

The joyful discoveries continue in every well-preserved building: heavy satin and brocade dresses in Ada’s frock salon; a fascinating doll collection in the toy shop; an extensive collection of photographic memorabilia in the camera store; a range of “lasts” at the boot maker’s store; a massive butcher’s block in the butcher’s shop; a vast collection of Singer sewing machines in the sewing machine store; a magnificent sterling silver kettle in the jewellery and watchmaker’s shop.Atherton.Kaasts-near-Chillagoe

Local families have donated a great deal of the collection but Connie and Craig Kimberley have scoured the country for well-preserved memorabilia.

“Our dream of breathing new life into this wonderful attraction is realised more every day as Herberton Historic Village continues to grow, taking its proper place as an invaluable part of Far North Queensland’s fascinating heritage”, say Connie and Craig in a beautifully photographed guidebook.

There is discovery and nostalgia at every turn.Atherton Ellinjaa-Falls-150x150

The grounds are manicured and easy to navigate.

The Tablelands boast accommodation of all size and standards, from tree-house lodges to motels and B&Bs.

Ann Kelly, CWA division president of Atherton Tablelands, has lived on the Tablelands since 1979 and says that any time of year is a good time to visit.

“Winters are lovely, we have cool nights; summer is steamy but it’s very pleasant. Atherton has great sporting facilities, tennis, cricket, bowls, you name it. There are B&Bs and plenty of caravan parks to stay in and our produce is just wonderful.”


Atherton Tablelands, about an hour and a half drive from Cairns, offers waterfalls, lakes, a tea plantation, hot mineral springs, art and craft trails, fishing, wildlife spotting, mountain trails, aquatic playgrounds, natural wonders, a world heritage trail – and above all Queensland hospitality.

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About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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