Northern Experience Eco TourRainforest, waterfalls & Paronella Park



Discover the natural beauty and history of the Atherton Tablelands on this full-day tour, covering over 300km packed with pristine rainforest waterfalls, ancient tropical rainforests and the intriguing history of heritage-listed Paronella Park. Amongst a small group in our air-conditioned bus, our expert guides reveal the secrets of the rolling landscapes and charming townships of the Tablelands, taking time to pause for unforgettable scenic views, rainforest encounters and of course, a dip in the cool rainforest waters of Milla Milla Falls and Babinda Boulders.

  • Tour A (inc Lake Barrine wildlife cruise) currently unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions.


  • Full-day tour
  • Small group touring
  • Expert tour guides
  • Spectacular scenic lookouts
  • World Heritage rainforest
  • Visit two waterfalls
  • Lake Barrine wildlife cruise
  • 1000-year-old twin kauri pines
  • Curtain Fig Tree
  • Yungaburra & Malanda townships
  • Swim at Millaa Millaa Falls & Babinda Boulders
  • Restaurant quality lunch
  • Paronella Park & guided walk
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Your full-day discovery tour of the Atherton Tablelands and Paronella Park starts with a coach pickup from your Cairns accommodation or alternative meeting point, between 7.15am – 7.45am. Travelling south from Cairns in our air-conditioned coach, your first photo opportunity is at the towering Walsh’s Pyramid, a Cairns icon and one of the largest naturally formed pyramids in the world at over 900 metres in height.

Onwards through the verdant green landscape of the Goldsborough Valley, we commence our ascent into the cool tropical rainforest climes of the Atherton Tablelands via the Gillies Highway. Rainforest giants stand sentinel over our winding path, breaking momentarily at Heales lookout for a spectacular vista over the valley and out to the Coral Sea.

Our first stop in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area comes at Lake Barrine, in Crater Lakes National Park, where a short guided walk with our expert guide reveals the area’s ancient natural history at the 1000-year-old twin kauri pines, true giants of the rainforest.

After a walk imbibing the rainforest ambience, it’s time for Devonshire tea: enjoy freshly-baked scones with jam and cream, washed down with locally-grown, fresh brewed tea and coffee. If you’ve picked Tour A, a 40-minute guided wildlife cruise on the lake is the best way to see the heady mix of plant and animal life that calls these lakes and rainforests home. Birdwatchers will delight in the array of ducks, pelicans, sea eagles and various other seasonal visitors to the lake, in addition to tortoises, eels, water monitors and various species of snakes sunning themselves on the shoreline.

Alternatively on Tour B, you can relax in the teahouse overlooking Lake Barrine, or take a leisurely walk through the rainforest walking tracks, keeping watch in the water for eels and turtles, in the trees for Boyd’s forest dragons and on the rainforest floor for Australia’s most ancient marsupial: the musky rat-kangaroo.

Next stop is the historical town of Yungaburra, where your guide will share the township’s logging past, taking you on a driving tour around this quaint town and showcasing the many heritage-listed buildings. He will even stop for a photo or two! From Yungaburra it is a short drive to the Curtain Fig Tree, which towers more than 45 metres into the rare Mabi forest of its namesake, Curtain Fig Tree National Park. Leading a fascinating boardwalk tour, your guide shares the unlikely story behind the formation of this 600-800 year-old epiphyte, while also looking out for unique wildlife in the rainforest canopy, like green ring-tailed possums, eastern whip birds, Victoria’s rifle birds the rare Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo.

Next is a driving tour through the historical dairy town of Malanda, home to Australia’s oldest continuously running commercial picture theatre and another slice of Australiana, the charming Malanda Hotel. After a 30-minute drive travelling through rolling green pastures, home to teeming rainforest streams and beef, dairy and sugar cane, we then arrive at Millaa Millaa Falls. Seem familiar? It’s one of Australia’s most-photographed waterfalls! Jump into the cool rainforest waters and shower under the falls as they tumble over 20 metres from volcanic lava flow formed over 1 million years ago. Or, sit and enjoy the sights and sounds from the rainforest canopy.

We descend from the Atherton Tablelands via the Palmerston Highway and through the traditional lands of the Mamu people, passing expansive sugar cane and banana fields to the coastal town of Innisfail. With lunch included, you’ll enjoy a hot buffet at Roscoe’s Pizza Place. The extensive National Trust-listed gardens at Paronella Park are our next stop, where a 45-minute guided tour in English, Chinese or Japanese tells the story of the park’s memorable architecture, set amongst sprawling tropical gardens and inspired by founder José Paronella’s dream of a Spanish castle.

Photo opportunities abound here, from Kauri Avenue to Teresa Falls, the Grand Staircase and suspension bridge over Mena Creek Falls. With 2.5 hours here, you’ll have ample time to explore the grounds, appreciate its history and capture some memorable moments.

Now, we head north towards Cairns, stopping at a local banana farm where you can buy your very own taste of the tropics with local bananas, papaya and seasonal, home-grown fruit. Onwards past Babinda, where — time permitting — we stop for another dip at Babinda Boulders, sampling the tranquil waters nestled between striking granite boulders. Babinda, Queensland’s wettest town with more than four metres annual rainfall, sits between Queensland’s two highest mountains: Mount Bartle Frere (1,611 metres) and Mount Bellender Ker (1,593 metres). These majestic peaks are blanketed in World Heritage-listed rainforest and form part of the Great Dividing Range, Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the fifth longest land-based range in the world. From its beginning off the tip of Queensland, it spans 3,500 kilometres through into New South Wales then Victoria before ending at the Grampians: quite a stretch!

Following these northern portions of the Great Dividing Range home with a full day of rainforest, history and waterfalls behind us, it is approximately a 50-60 minute drive back to the city of Cairns and onwards to your accommodation, arriving between 6.00 – 6.30pm.


Tour A (currently unavailable)
Includes Lake Barrine wildlife cruise (currently unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions)
Adult $195
Pensioner $190
Child $145
Family (2 adults, 2 children) $605
Return transfers per person (Northern Beaches hotels - pay direct to driver) $22
Private charters Rates on request
Tour B
Does not include Lake Barrine wildlife cruise.
Adult $185
Pensioner $180
Child $130
Family (2 adults, 2 children) $550
Return transfers per person (Northern Beaches hotels - pay direct to driver) $22
Private charters Rates on request
  • Tour A (inc Lake Barrine wildlife cruise) currently unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions.

All rates are in Australian dollars and include GST. Conditions: Northern Experience Eco Tours reserves the right to amend this itinerary due to any unforseen circumstances and accepts no responsibility for lost, stolen or damaged property, lunch destination may be changed without notice, cancellation fees apply. Pensioner or student ID required.

Northern beaches pickups are complimentary from:

  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, 6 Skyrail Dr, Smithfield
  • Cairns Central Railway Station (Bunda Street Entrance), Bunda St, Cairns


  • Child age: 4-14 years
  • Infants: 0-1 years travel free if nursed
  • Infants: 1-4 years. A $70 fee applies payable direct to the operator on the day of travel
  • Family: 2 adults / 2 children. Additional children are at the child rate as per your chosen option.


What's Included

  • Devonshire morning tea. Scones and tea/coffee at Lake Barrine Teahouse.
  • Lake Barrine wildlife cruise. Discover this crater lake and its wildlife with expert guides (Tour A only).
  • Rainforest lakeside walk. Visit the twin kauri pines at Lake Barrine.
  • Curtain Fig Tree and elevated rainforest boardwalk.
  • Millaa Millaa Falls, including time for a swim.
  • Quality lunch at a local restaurant.
  • Paronella Park including priority entry, 45-minute guided tour free time to explore.
  • Visit iconic local landmarks, including Walsh’s Pyramid, Heales Lookout, Yungaburra, Curtain Fig Tree, Malanda, Crawford’s Lookout, Millaa Millaa Falls.
  • Rainforest swim at Babinda Boulders (time permitting).
  • Taste the tropics. Buy your own locally grown tropical fruit at local fruit stall.
  • Return hotel transfers (Cairns area only). Paid transfers available for northern beaches hotels ($22 per person) or make your way to collection points.
  • Attractions and all national parks permit fees as per itinerary.
  • Small group touring in comfortable, air-conditioned buses.
    • Tour A (inc Lake Barrine wildlife cruise) currently unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions.



  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Comfortable covered walking shoes
  • Swimwear, towel and change of clothes.
  • Bottled water
  • Light jacket in cooler months (June – Oct), when the Tablelands can be quiet cool early in the morning, but still hot enough for swimming later in the day.
  • Umbrella (if rain is forecast)
  • Camera with spare batteries and enough room on the memory card.
  • Cash / credit card as we visit two very well-equipped gift shops with mostly locally-made products.
  • A sense of adventure and thirst for great views!


What size bus do we travel on?

Our buses are 20-seater air-conditioned Toyota Coasters.

Does your tour include pick up from the Northern Beaches?

No, although return transfers from Northern Baches hotels are available for an additional fee of $22 per person, payable direct to the driver.

Alternatively, make your way to our pick-up points at Skyrail Rainforest Cableway’s Caravonica Terminal carpark or Cairns Central Railway Station’s Bunda St entrance.

Does the tour have any swimming opportunities?

Yes, we stop at the amazing Milla Milla Falls for a refreshing dip in its pristine rainforest waters, and Babinda Boulders on the way home (time permitting).

Do you run half-day tours?

No, our Northern Experience Eco Tour is an all-day tour beginning at approximately 7:45am and finishing at approximately 6.00pm daily.

Does weather stop the tour from running?

Rarely! We run seven days a week in any type of weather. Flooding or road closure is our only stoppage.

If I choose options B, can I upgrade during the day?

Yes, at any stage of the tour you may ask the driver to upgrade to any of the tour options.

Do you pick up from our accommodation?

Yes, we offer return transfers from accommodation in Cairns city.

For those staying away from Cairns city, we can also pick up from Skyrail Rainforest Cableway’s Caravonica Terminal carpark and Cairns Central Railway Station’s Bunda St entrance. Return transfers from Northern Beaches hotels are available for an additional fee of $22 per person, payable direct to the driver.

All Inclusive Price

from $185


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