How to get to the Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands, located in Tropical North Queensland, Australia. Approximately 1,800 kilometres (1,120 miles) north of Brisbane and 2,520 kilometres (1565 miles) north of Sydney.

It is around 90 kilometres south-west of Cairns. No more than an hour’s comfortable drive from this coastal city on various routes.

This vast area can be categorised into geographically accessible regions that are characterised by loose clusters of nearby towns and villages. This makes it easier to plan your visit.

The Northern Tablelands includes Kuranda, Koah, Mareeba and Walkamin.

The Central Tablelands consists of Tolga, Tinaroo, Atherton, Yungaburra, Malanda and Herberton.

The Southern Tablelands features Wondecla, Tarzali, Milla Milla, Mungalli, Ravenshoe, Millstream, Innot Hot Springs and Mount Garnett.

Travel to the Atherton Tablelands by road:

The regions are accessible by three major main roads. The Gillies Range Road (south of Cairns). The Kuranda Range Road (north of Cairns) and Palmerston Highway.

The Gillies Range Road is a mountain route. Begin the journey at the Gordonvale turn-off from the Bruce Highway (A1) on the southern outskirts of Cairns. Passing the significant resting stop attractions of Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham en route to Malanda and Yungaburra.

Kuranda Range Road, a part of the Kennedy Highway, starts at the Smithfield turn-off of the A1 on the northern outskirts of Cairns. Meandering into the highlands passing the Kuranda Village turn-off. Taking you all the way to Mareeba, Tolga and Atherton.

The Palmerston Highway (A25) southern access route. Begin north of Innisfail, turning off from the Bruce Highway. Wind your way through the Wooroonooran National Park to the township of Millaa Millaa.

By rail:

The Kuranda Scenic Railway operates a daily return passenger service from Cairns. (Departing Cairns Central shopping centre station) to Kuranda.

By bus:

Trans North Bus and Coach Service operate a passenger service between Atherton and Cairns and all towns and villages en route. This service also connects at Atherton for Ravenshoe with Kerry’s Bus Service, and at Mareeba with Chillagoe Bus Service. The bus stops are located at:

  • Cairns Central Shopping Centre, Bus bays at Qld Rail Station (Platform 1)
  • Smithfield Bus Shelter, Kennedy Highway
  • 15 Therwine Street, Kuranda,
  • Speewah Bus Shelter
  • Arnold Park, 171-179 Walsh Street, Mareeba (next door to Police Station)
  • 54 Main Street, Atherton (near Just Chillin’ Juice Bar)


Getting to Cairns

 By air:

Domestic: Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar, Tigerair, Air North, Alliance Airlines, Regional Express and Skytrans.

International: Air New Zealand, Air Niugini, Cathay Pacific, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and SilkAir.


By rail:

Travelling between Brisbane and Cairns five times a week. The Spirit of Queensland gives you access to spectacular holiday destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, Townsville, Cairns and everywhere in between.

By bus:

Greyhound Australia is Australia’s only national coach service providing comfortable, hassle-free, and affordable coach services to people of all ages, travelling across Australia every day.

By campervan:

This option offers great flexibility to get you around and allows you to discover the Tropical North Queensland region at your own pace.