If you’re planning a trip to north Queensland you definitely need to drive the Waterfall Circuit, its a full day trip from Cairns through the Atherton tablelands, however if you have a couple days spare, you can easily spread it out over several days. Its great for families, couples, anyone wanting a relaxing drive.
After collecting your rental car at Cairns airport head north to Smithfield and take the Kennedy Hwy to Kuranda. Kuranda, the ‘Village in the Rainforest’ as its called is a beautiful old hippy town that is all markets, and if you love to shop for the perfect gift to take home, or try North Queensland’s best range of honeys, local coffee, cafes and tropical fruits this is the place for you. Kuranda has views of the barron falls incl rainforest walks which you can easily spend all day on. There is also Koala gardens, butterfly sanctuary and birdworld.
The most scenic way to Kuranda is via Skyrail and Kuranda scenic rail. Take the train up in the morning and Skyrail back in the afternoon.
The waterfall circuit continues through Mareeba with plenty of coffee plantations and wineries to slow you down along the way then through Tolga stopping at Tolga woodworks gallery and cafe for a superb collection of woodwork and craft, then on to Atherton.
Atherton is a buzzing little town full of historic memorabilia. While in Atherton stop into the Crystal Caves where you can browse their beautiful selection of crystals or even crack your own geode and see what amazing crystals are inside!.
Continue South towards Yungaburra stopping at the Gallo Dairyland for the most amazing cheese and chocolate tastings. Swing into Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham and are both crater lakes formed thousands of years ago by volcanoes. The colour of the water is the most astounding turquoise on a clear day. Lake Eacham operates a paddle steam boat ride on the lake and a lot of tourist interested in bird watching come to the area to see some of Australia’s rarest birds. From the lakes stop in the the Curtain Fig tree which is really old and massive tree; sounds dull but it really is worth a look at nature at its best!.
Carry on south where the falls begin. The first waterfall is Malanda falls, then on to Millaa Millaa falls, Zillie falls, Elinjaa falls, Dinner falls, Silver Creek falls, Wallicher falls, and finally Tchupala falls. Most of the falls have walks and lookouts to see as well. Other falls worth a look are Souita falls and Peppina falls.
If you continue to follow this road along you will come out at Innisfail which is about 1.5 hrs South of Cairns. Here you can see the beautiful Paronella Park which is a castle built in 1924 by a Spanish man for his new bride. It was run by hydro electricity and still is! Then head north back to Cairns – more falls on the way with Josephine falls (the most spectacular of them all) which are the ones that are usually in the tourist magazines and is situated at the base of Mt Bartle Frere – the highest mountain in Qld. Then lastly fishery falls, then back to Cairns, where you can put your feet up and enjoy all the cheese, wine and sun from the days activities.