It is among Australia's secret haven, a highland getaway, an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Known as Atherton, this small town in Atherton Tableland is a well-known destination situated in the middle of the Great Dividing Range and the Bellenden Ker Range, at the height of 600 meters to 1100 meters above sea level. Just an hour or two away from the famous town of Cairns, this town offers many reasons for people to come often including cool and fresh air, lavish greenery, immense terrain, exotic wildlife and historic sites.


Atherton's history can be traced to the late 1870s when European explorer James Venture Mulligan accidentally discovered the Atherton Tableland, where Atherton is located. His original purpose of exploring Australia was to look for fertile land and minerals, particularly tin and gold. Though Atherton was already inhabited by the aborigines for about 10,000 years, the European explorer went on to conquer the place. But he could not do the conquering alone, so when he met John Atherton, a premier grazer, he told about the rich deposits of tin and gold in the place. John Atherton, who was apparently the origin of the town's name, shared this knowledge with another European explorer, John Newell. Knowing that the area was rich with minerals and other natural resources, the three men united to form the first settlement in a town near Atherton where the minerals were found.

Atherton was the premier town in Atherton Tableland and was recognized as a town in February 1886. But even before that year, lots of industries, including tin, gold, timber, and lumber, prospered with the persistence of the three European explorers. Aside from the industries, Atherton also became a place of railways and other modern constructions. Today, Atherton houses about 5,800 inhabitants and this population is still growing at 1.9 percent every year. With all the prosperity and industrial revolution, the Atherton has become a famous tourist destination and a harbor of Australia's best crops.

Attractions and Activities

Tourists to Atherton know very well that this place has everything to offer---from parks, tropical rainforests and great reefs to fine cuisines and outdoor activities. The Port Douglas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest around the town are among the most visited destinations because these places possess rare wildlife and a unique natural environment.

But what separates Atherton among the towns of Atherton Tableland is the number of extinct volcanoes, caves and hills found only in this town. The most famous volcano is known as Hallorans Hill, and the small hills that surround the whole town are called the Seven Sisters. Aside from the volcanoes and hills, the crystal caves are major attractions in Atherton that people are eager to explore.

Since the town's history is abundant in itself, Atherton is also rich in historical sites. In Atherton, a historic steam train is well-known because it stops over Herberton, a place where Mulligan discovered the mineral tin in 1880, during lunch time before it returns to the town. This train travels 44 kilometers every journey, passing through mountian ranges and scenic wetlands.

After exploring the nature and the culture reserves of Atherton, visitors can simply stroll along the town, dine, or shop. In Atherton, there are many parks where people can relax, have a picnic, and enjoy the day. But a getaway is never complete without tasting the town's best local cuisines. So, Atherton offers different restaurants where the finest and most unique delights are served. Stalls or shopping centers are also available in Atherton, the most famous of which is the huge shopping center, situated in the Atherton town proper.


Accommodation in Atherton vary from caravan parks and lodging houses to motels and hotels. Needless to say, the caravan parks and lodging houses are much cheaper than the motel and hotels but still are complete with necessary facilities.

Trains, buses, and cabs are available, so going to Atherton is easy. All of these transportation modes can drop anyone off to the airport, bus depots, or railway stations. Visitors can also bring their own cars, if they want. But, in the end, whichever transportation tourists choose, the beauty of Atherton simply takes the breath away.