Heart of the Atherton Tablelands

a gyrocopter parked outside Atherton Visitor Information Center
Atherton visitor information center.

Atherton is the largest town on the Atherton Tablelands and is the last fully serviced town before heading west or south into the gulf Savannah outback, or north to Cape York Peninsular. It has supermarkets, banks, a post office, hospital, and most other businesses and amenities you can expect to find in a town of its size. Atherton is situated about 80 kilometers west of Cairns.

Atherton Attractions

Nyleta Wetlands National Park just outside of town offers a great place to see the diverse birdlife. A two storey birdhide has been constructed overlooking the ponds. There is a nature walk through the surrounding forest, and interpretive signs provide information on various bird species, flora, and fauna.

Visit the Hou Wang Temple, the only remnant of Atherton's once thriving Chinatown. The site has a museum and visitor center, and the nearby Platypus Park provides a nice place to picnic. Platypus Park has a platform for viewing platypus and other wildlife in the stream.

Another place to visit in Atherton is Hallorans Hill, an extinct volcano with a lookout at the top affording panoramic vistas over the Atherton Tablelands.

The famous Fascinating Facets and Crystal Caves are located in Atherton and there is hotel, motel, Bed &Breakfast, homestay and caravan park accommodation.

Atherton is the ideal base from which to explore the Tropical Atherton Tablelands and its many natural attractions, including the rainforests and waterfalls. The Spectacular Mt Hypipamee Crater, Curtain Fig Tree, and other natural wonders abound within a short drive of Atherton. There are lakes nearby including the pristine crater lakes around Malanda and one of the largest artificial lakes in Australia - Lake Tinaroo.

Unfortunately, the Tableland Express steam train is currently not running between Atherton and Herberton, however, it is still operating at the Herberton end on Sundays.

There are mountain biking trails around Atherton, including the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park.

Atherton Economy

The main economic activity around Atherton is Agriculture and crops include potato, avocado, mango, maize, and many others. Atherton is sometimes described as a 'rural service town', with many businesses catering to and supporting the agricultural sector. However, tourism has become an important economic sector due to Atherton's close proximity to Cairns and the many tourist attractions on the Atherton Tablelands.

Atherton Festivals

Atherton hosts the annual Maize Festival with a mardi gras and street parade, and the Tastes of the Tablelands festival, showcasing the gourmet products produced on the Atherton Tabelands. In August every year, the Atherton Tableland Mineral & Lapidary Club hosts the Atherton Gem Festival.

Read about the history of Atherton.