Herberton – Atherton Tablelands


Frangipani blossom at Heather’s ‘tree house’

Our friend, Heather, whom we stayed with in Cairns, has a vacation home in Herberton in the Atherton tablelands west of Cairns.  She invited us to spend a few days in Herberton and experience the ‘wet tropics.’  The day after our GBR diving trip, we drove south a few miles out of Cairns then climbed the hills on narrow roads through canyons with amazing views along the way.

Viewpoint at Atherton tablelands

Lake Barrine

Hiking in the Rainforest at Lake Barrine

Heather had several sites in the Atherton tablelands she wanted us to visit.  The first was Lake Barrine, where we hiked in the rainforest among giant Kauri trees, remnants of prehistoric times. While hiking, we ran into two Swedish young women who had been diving with us on the GBR.  A nice coincidence, we chatted about our adventures in Australia, diving, and continued on our way, listening to the song birds, and looking over scenic Lake Barrine.

Lake Barrine rainforest

Lucy and giant Kauri tree

Lake Barrine

Ancient giant Kauri trees


Passing through the charming town of Atherton, we arrived at Heather’s home, a former miner’s cottage.  Herberton began as a tin mining town in 1880’s; it now has about 600 people, a copper mine instead of a tin mine, and restored building from its earlier mining era. Herberton resembles old, ’49’er gold mining towns in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada.

Herberton even boasts a camera spy museum with old cameras used in World War I.

Herberton’s spy camera museum

We walked into Herberton every day to shop, walk around, and enjoy the quaint town that was pleasant absent tourist traps you might find in old historic towns.  One of our favorite places was the Op Shop (opportunity shops, or what we would call antiques).  One afternoon, we  stopped for a beer at the Royal Hotel bar and chatted up the locals, admiring old posters and photos from Herberton’s historic past.

Royal Hotel in Herberton

Marilyn and Heather on Herberton’s ‘main street’

The local newsagent where we bought newspapers and used books

Papaya and mangos for sale in Herberton

Local watering hole

Heather’s ‘tree house’

Herberton is a village with no stop lights, a library that shares space with the post office, a hotel with a pub, a bottle shop, sandwich shop, a bar, museum, and country homes that stretch back to jungle like forests.  A stone bridge entering from the south crosses a rushing river.

Tourist information says that Herberton is one of the highest towns in the Atherton tablelands, rising about 1000 meters above sea level.  It’s 120 kilometers from Cairns, with both roads traversing tight turns, steep hills, and spectacular views of the coastline.

View from Heather’s verandah

We fell in love with Heather’s home which we named her ‘tree house’ the moment we arrived.  It’s located on a slight hillside surrounded by tropical trees; banana palms, mango, tree ferns, and frangipani which produce blossoms used in making leis.

Banana palms at Heather’s ‘tree house’

Frangipani blossoms have a fruit like fragrance, delicate, sweet, and long-lasting.  We picked blossoms off the grass and put them in trays with water.  We enjoyed fragrant frangipani every time we ate on her verandah, enjoying the cool shade and the sounds of birds in her romantic tropical setting.

Frangipani blossoms in Heather’s yard

Veranda of Heather’s home

Heather’s ‘tree house’ living room and kitchen

We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day on Heather’s verandah, feeling like we were in a tropical paradise.  In the afternoon, we sipped wine and talked about how much we were enjoying the setting, company, and wonderful birds.

Jack and Heather on Heather’s patio

A butterfly in Heather’s yard

Tropical birds

The trees around Heather’s ‘tree house’ were alive with tropical birds who flew around, cawing, chirping, and whistling all day long.  Such a delight!  I wandered in the yard, snapping photos of cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets, gallahs, parrots, and kookaburra.  Kookaburra have a very distinctive, raucous cawing that rises in tone  and volume, and finishes with a burst of laughter.  Such a happy noise!

Chattering Kookaburra on a clothesline

If you’ve ever seen old ‘jungle’ movies, the sound you would have heard was made by kookaburra.

Sulpher-tipped cockatoo

Parrots in Heather’s trees

Our four days at Heather’s ‘tree house’ passed too quickly.  In additional to relaxing and  touring Herberton, we worked in her yard, combing up debris dropped by her trees, pruning pear and palm trees, and sweeping her patio.  We felt so comfortable at her ‘tree house’ and were pleased that she invited us to return.  We will.  That’s a promise.

Relaxing on Heather’s outdoor patio

View of Cairns, Queenstown coastline from Atherton tablelands

* * * * * 

Next:  Curtain Fig Tree

As many of you know, I also write mysteries and romantic suspense novels.

I recently published my first international thriller, Thirteen Days in Milan, which is available on Kindle as well as other ereaders, tablets, and smartphones.

I’m back in Europe for the summer to hire a translator and to research my next book which will also be a thriller based in Milan.  I’ll be posting soon from Milan, Stresa, Zurich and other locations.

I have a few posts on another blog,  Anatomy of a Thriller, where I write about the process of researching and writing an international thriller.  I’ll add more posts there as well.

Please share these links with writers or readers who might be interested.

Find my books in Apple’s iBookstore
At Amazon including # 1 Kindle best seller “Perfect Crime” 

3 responses to “Herberton – Atherton Tablelands

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