Head for the hills: Where to eat on the Atherton Tablelands
Within one-and-a-half hours of Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands appear again and again in geotags and social-media feeds that celebrate it as a destination for top food experiences in Tropical North Queensland.
From verdant coffee farms near Mareeba to farmers’ markets in Yungaburra, make a day trip of it with this guide on where to eat on the Atherton Tablelands.
Lunch at the Yungaburra Pub
Market day in the historic village of Yungaburra is held on the fourth Saturday of the month, which means there will be a ‘Veranda Session’ at the Heritage Yungaburra Hotel.
After spending the morning grazing at the market, where some 250 growers and artisans gather, you should follow the lunchtime crowd of locals heading across the road to enjoy a bacon and egg burger and beer at the Yungaburra Hotel, a low-key pub-grub bastion.
Afternoon tea at Lake Barrine
The best way to admire Lake Barrine is to sit at a table at the Heritage Teahouse Café overlooking the deep green waters of the volcanic crater lake.
Walk up an appetite with a 6.5km hike that loops in 1100 year-old kauri pines before enjoying scones slathered with Rainforest Bounty Ooray plum jam and Malanda Dairy Farm cream. The teahouse has been in the Curry family for four generations and the scones are from the same recipe that Grandma Marg used when she opened the cafe in 1926.
Open: 9am to 4pm.
Sample cheese and chocolate at Gallo Dairyland
There’s no hiding where the milk comes from to make Gallo Dairyland’s award-winning cheeses. From the moment you turn off the highway, you will see about 500 of the resident bovines lowing happily amid 404ha of rolling hills.
Check out the cheese factory at the working dairy farm and time your visit for the 3pm milking of the Friesian cows.
Open: Daily from 9:30am to 4:30 pm.
The Falls Teahouse
A visit to Millaa Millaa Falls is a must: it’s one of the most picturesque waterfalls on the planet. After watching the water falling through the misty air, head to The Falls Teahouse for a darling Devonshire tea.
Local’s tip: The teahouse cranks the wood-fired oven for pizza night every Friday.
Open: Mon to Wed 10am-4pm; Fridays 10am to 4pm; Sat-Sun 9.30am to 4pm.
Get your milk moustache on at Mungalli Creek Dairy
The Atherton Tablelands is laid out like a crazy quilt of neon-green pastures, emerald crake lakes, and viridescent rainforest.
Savour your lesson on organic farming practices and sustainability at the Mungalli Creek Dairy Farmhouse Café where you can get a side order of clean Tableland air with your cheese platter for two. The biodynamic farm features on the Atherton Tablelands Food Trail.
Open: Daily from 10am to 4pm.
Spot platypus near the Smokehouse Café
Australian Platypus Park is home to a thriving platypus population. Being Tropical North Queensland, you’re also likely to spot other native wildlife on this sprawling 16 ha property, which guarantees a sighting of the elusive platypus, particularly if you stay until sundown.
Fuel your foodie adventures by picking up a range of different smokehouse products such as freshly smoked barramundi, mackerel and chicken with lemon myrtle from the Smokehouse Cafe.
Open: Daily from 8am to 4pm.
Enjoy a tipple at Mt Uncle Distillery
Mt Uncle Distillery in Walkamin is the first and only distillery on the Atherton Tablelands and the brainchild of head distiller Mark Watkins.
Tours and tastings are the order of the day here and the business has reimagined ways to engage visitors offering everything from walks around the grounds to meet the resident peacocks, alpacas, donkeys and goats to tastings of the premium spirits and liqueurs made using all-Australian ingredients.
Open: Daily from 10am to 4pm.
Chew with a brew at Coffee Works
Coffee Works is a boutique roastery that includes Coffee World, a hive of colour and activity housed in a massive industrial shed in Mareeba. Here, you can discover the history of the coffee machine, take a plantation tour and taste a flight of coffee.
If you are not a caffeine junkie, there’s also chocolate, liqueurs and teas. Tip: The ‘Flavours of Australia’ gift pack features local Black Mountain and Queensland Blue beans roasted on-site and flavoured.
Open: Daily from 9am to 3pm.
Get a taste of the tropics at Skybury Café & Roastery
Coffee nerds should set their GPS for Mareeba, home to Skybury Farmgate (Australia’s oldest producing plantation nestled in one of the state’s – and indeed the nation’s – richest food bowls, located west of Mareeba.
The property grows papaya and coffee so do order the super-healthy papaya bowl, which pairs well with a creamy piccolo.
Open: Daily from 9am to 4pm.