The Atherton Tablelands plateau is about an hour inland from Cairns. It offers a cooler climate and very different scenery to what you would find on the coast and features waterfalls, some great hiking trails and the opportunity to see wildlife including platypus and tree kangaroos.
The major towns on the tablelands include Mareeba, Atherton and Yungaburra.
Whitecar Coaches (tel (07) 4091 1855) operate a regular bus service from Cairns to Atherton.
There are also several tours that operate from Cairns that are a good option for travellers without a car; these include Bandicoot Bike Tours, On the Wallaby and Uncle Brian’s.
Bandicoot Bike Tours (tel (07) 4055 0155) operates cycling tours on quiet back roads in the Tablelands with day trips costing $99. On the Wallaby (tel (07) 4091 3552) run excellent tours including a one-day canoe tour ($85), one-day waterfalls tour ($95) or an overnight tour ($165) with accommodation at their hostel in Yungaburra. Uncle Brian’s (tel (07) 4050 0615) have fun day tours for $109. All three tours get you to the waterfalls and give you the opportunity to see wildlife.