We spent time touring the Atherton Tablelands with our kids and dog. Picture green rolling hills with pockets of rainforest and you’re on the Atherton Tablelands. On the other side of the Tablelands you’ll find the dry bushy landscapes of Mareeba. Here are some of our favourites places to stay and things to do.
This Atherton Tablelands is a beautiful region with lots of things to see and experience with your kids and dog. It’s an easy hour drive from Cairns for day trips, but also a holiday in itself if you have the time to stay and explore.
Here’s the highlights from our week on the Atherton Tablelands with our kids and dog.
Crystal Caves, Atherton
Wow the Crystal Caves in Atherton are such a fun place to spend a morning with the kids and dog! Being a pet friendly outing was a big draw card. The man-made caves house an incredible collection of crystals and fossils from around the world. It’s a unique experience and the staff were exceptional! The staff were all so great with the kids and they loved Ted. Our son got to crack open a geode and ever since this experience he now has an obsession with finding crystals and special rocks. I don’t mind, it’s something he can collect wherever we are and costs nothing.
Herberton Historic Village – pet friendly
Visiting the Herberton Historic Village is like stepping back in time with old buildings and relics from a bygone era. It’s eye-opening imagining how everyday life was in North Queensland from the 1880’s onwards.
Our son got a ‘Wanted’ poster printed in a traditional printing press with his name on it! Nice little momento and great learning opportunity for his home-schooling. His Great Grandfather was a card printer back in his day and it was certainly an insight into how manual and specialised his job would have been.
It’s very interactive and the kids loved running along the suspension ‘wobbly’ bridge. We had lunch at the cafe onsite.
Kids were fascinated watching the cows being milked at Gallo Dairyland. Milking happens daily at 3pm. We learnt that each cow produces 18-20 litres a day and are milked twice a day🥛
Kids were also able to pat some baby farm animals, including a calf, pig and an army of guard geese.
We phoned ahead and the dairy were happy for Ted to be onsite at the farm, so we gave him a walk to see the cows and he stayed happily in the car whilst we enjoyed a treat.
They have a cheese and chocolate making factory onsite. Ice-cream for the kids, cheese for the parents, everyone happy!
The Tablelands has pockets of rainforest throughout which means waterfalls!
We stayed at the gorgeous Malanda Falls Caravan Park, which is right next to the Falls and renowned Malanda Visitor Centre. It is a lush green park with animal farm for the kids and lots of space for your pet to run around.
When visiting waterfalls most of the time you can’t take your pets as they are located in national parks, but you can chase waterfalls on the Atherton Tablelands to your hearts content.
Milla Milla Falls is the most photographed waterfall in Queensland it’s usually packed with visitors. However, going in Winter meant we could get a photo without random swimmers in the background. Yay! We also stopped by for a walk around Malanda Falls, both waterfalls are only a short walk from the car park.
Tinaroo Lake is where the locals holiday, every school holidays you will bump into FNQ families either camping or bringing their boat / jet ski up for a day on the water.
We were Cairns locals for 18 years but have never seen the lake so full! It was truely magic.
We stayed at the perfectly positioned pet friendly Lake Tinaroo Holiday Park. Fun for kids with jumping pillow, swimming pool, 4 wheel bike hire and playground across the road. Fun for all with boat / canoe / stand up paddle board / jet-ski hire. It’s a great base point for Tablelands touring, or you could stay there and not leave and have a brilliant holiday.
We had the opportunity to check out the lake from the water which was a lot of fun. It was the best place to be on a sensational Winter’s day
Curtain Figtree is a sight to behold, you can feel the energy of this sacred silent space as the rainforest clears and the magnificent Curtain Figtree comes into sight, well that is until our children arrive and all you then hear is “Shhh Scarlett keep your voice down and Jaxon, enough…..” ahhh the serenity! travelling with kids is fun isn’t it. Still there’s no denying this place is magical.
The Billabong Kuranda
Kuranda is on everyones list when visiting the Atherton Tablelands and you can take your kids and dog too.
We discovered a piece of paradise, set on 160 acres of rainforest at The Billabong Kuranda.
Kids didn’t want to leave. So. Much. Space!
👍🏻 Dirt roads for BMX / Mountain bikes 👍🏻Cute turtles to feed in the Billabong 👍🏻Camp fire every night 🔥 👍🏻Pet friendly with stacks of walks to do 👍🏻Resident Helmeted Guinea Foul flock that follow you round like the Pied Piper 👍🏻Night Army Truck drive through the rainforest (runs on the property and you get for half price if you’re camping) was an experience our son is still raving about.
We ask him each night what his score is for the day out of 10, you know to see how well we did in parenting stakes that day and he rates that day a 500! 👏
A trip to Kuranda isn’t complete without checking out the Barron Gorge and a stroll around the village and markets, which were only 5 mins drive away.
Ringers Rest – Mareeba
If you have a self contained van or RV a stay at Ringers Rest whilst visiting the Atherton Tablelands with your kids and dog is a must do! We stayed at Ringers Rest, a farm stay with unpowered sites for $10 a night. Kids got to feed the cows our veggie scraps and see the hot air balloons flying over the land in the morning. It had a real sense of community about it, with kids playing on their bikes in the afternoon after their days activities.
We stopped in at Skybury for a cuppa! Mareeba is the perfect climate for growing coffee and mango’s, two of our favourite things.
Granite Gorge – Mareeba
Granite Gorge Nature Park is just outside Mareeba in FNQ about an hour West of Cairns.
Rock wallaby’s in their natural environment, not a cage or fence in sight. So cute and friendly and a brilliant learning opportunity for our kids who soaked the experience in like no other.
Worthy of a visit, you can do a day trip for a small entry fee but camping there takes it to a new level. For one there are no additional fees to access the wallaby rocks, which are only 5 mins from the campground. And you can see the wallaby’s at any time of day or night; minus the tour buses. At night, they come right into the camp ground, it’s very cool! Dogs of course aren’t allowed in the park where the rock wallabies are, but there are plenty of walking trails nearby that are dog friendly.
There is so much more to do and see when visiting the Atherton Tablelands with kids and your dog. If you haven’t taken your dog on holiday before click here for our experience in caravanning with our dog Ted.
We couldn’t squeeze everything into this visit as we would never leave the region. If you’re travelling there for the first time I would recommend aligning your visit with the Yungaburra markets, having Devonshire tea at Lake Barrine and taking a drive out to Mungalli Dairy for the ploughman lunch!