MALANDA TO MILLAA MILLAA
It is in this lush, green pocket of the Atherton Tablelands that you will find the Millaa Millaa Waterfalls, which have become synonymous with the Atherton Tablelands, also known as the Cairns Highlands. The area comprises the towns of Malanda and Millaa Millaa as well as the well travelled 'Waterfall Circuit', consisting of four stunning waterfalls all within a short and scenic drive.
MALANDAJust twenty minutes from either Atherton or Yungaburra, south of the magical Crater Lakes, lies picturesque Malanda, a friendly rural town set in rolling green hills interspersed with pockets of rainforest. This is one of the wettest areas of the Atherton Tablelands, and is renowned for its numerous rainforest waterfalls and swimming holes.
In 1908, two New South Wales graziers recognized the dairy potential of the Malanda area, and decided to drive their cattle north. James English and James Emerson began the 2,000 kilometre journey with a herd of 1,026 cattle. It took them 16 months to reach Malanda and only 560 cattle survived the journey. Despite this arduous start, the industry grew, and today Malanda is the centre of a thriving DAIRY INDUSTRY, with one of the largest dairy factories in the world, supported by almost 200 local farmers.
The town is also home to the Majestic Picture Theatre, Australia's oldest operating picture theatre, complete with canvas 'potato sack' seats - and the Malanda pub is recognized as the largest all-timber building in the southern hemisphere.
To the south west of Malanda you will also find Bromfield Swamp, a birdwatchers paradise with Magpie Geese, Brolgas and Sarus Cranes.
For the visitor, Malanda provides a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere from which to explore the surrounding lakes, forsets and waterfalls. In fact, if coming from Atherton, you will see a small waterfall and swimming hole on the left side of the road just as you approach Malanda. This is a lovely spot for a picnic or a refreshing dip. If you're quiet, you might even be lucky enough to spot a platypus.
Millaa Millaa is a quiet, peaceful place, a dairy town like Malanda, and is the centre of the famous 17 kilometre long Waterfall Circuit. Visitors from around the world 'do the circuit' that includes Mungalli Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls, Ellinjaa Falls, and a host of others. Most waterfalls are within 10 kilometres of Millaa Millaa, are readily accessible by conventional vehicle and have pleasant picnic areas.
Five minutes north of Millaa Millaa on the Palmerston Highway, you will find The Falls Teahouse. This is the beginning of the well travelled 'Waterfall Circuit'. Turn right into Theresa Creek Road, and after three kilometres, you will reach the famous Millaa Millaa Falls. The images of these falls has become synonymous of the Atherton Tablelands. The large pool at the base of the falls is a perfect place for a swim.
From there, the sealed road will take you on to Zillie Falls, seven kilometres further. Keep an eye out for the colony of flying foxes in one of the large trees in the carpark. A viewing platform overlooks the falls, but there is no access to the bottom of the falls, and no swimming.
Back on the circuit, another three kilometres will take you to Ellinja Falls, possibly the best for swimming. The lagoon at the base of the falls varies in depth, and it's even possible to clamber onto a ledge behind the cascading waterfall!
The Mungalli Falls, also part of the Waterfall Circuit, is the highest waterfall on the Tablelands, reaching approximately 90 metres high.
There is also a scenic drive between Malanda and Ravenshoe, along the Old Palmerston Highway, which includes Pepina and Souita Waterfalls.
If you've really got a taste for the Tablelands' waterfalls by then, you may want to take the drive to Millstream Falls, five kilometres the other side of Ravenshoe. During the wet season, Millstream Falls are the widest falls in Australia.