Just over an hour south-west from Cairns, Yungaburra is the first stop for travellers who’ve completed the spectacular drive up the Gillies Highway from Gordonvale. With fresh air, great cafes and 28 heritage buildings, it’s an enticing introduction to the charm of the Atherton Tablelands. There’s good interpretation of the local streetscape, so take the time to stroll around, pick up the local history and check out the locally made arts and crafts.
The town itself is surrounded by the remnants of volcanic activity. Ask someone to point out the extinct volcanic mounds, the Seven Sisters, and then take a drive to the Crater Lakes of Barrine and Eacham. While they’re often talked about in the same breath, the lakes have quite different characters. Barrine is smaller, with a quiet, almost Scandinavian feel (assisted by a delightful cruise boat and tea house), while Eacham offers large scale picnic facilities and is often very busy on a sunny day. Both however offer well interpreted walks which are worth taking the time to complete. The Barrine track at 6.5 kilometres is too long for many day trippers, so the fit nature lover has a good chance of a quiet time spotting the local wildlife.
On the way to Lake Eacham, take the Gadgarra turn-off to the Giant Red Cedar tree. Although the tree fell in cyclone Larry and is now lying on the ground, the size of it is still a spectacular site. Imagine the scale of the forests that once would have covered the rich dairy country of the Tablelands. Similar thoughts will no doubt come to mind when viewing another of the great Tablelands trees – the Cathedral Fig. It’s well signposted off the Gillies Highway and has never yet failed to impress.
Yungaburra is also well placed as a base for exploring the considerable expanse of Lake Tinaroo. Boating, swimming, camping, bushwalking and fishing are all available on the dam. Try the 28 kilometres Danbulla Forest Drive around the lake and follow the signs to find the many lookouts, swimming holes and refreshment stops along the way.