Besides being known as the ‘food bowl of the tropics’, the Atherton Tablelands is also famous for its waterfalls. Three of the Tablelands’ most spectacular falls can be found a short drive away from the town of Millaa Millaa on a sealed road known as the Waterfalls Circuit. Needless to say, given that I had made my way up to the Tablelands, I’m not going to give the Waterfalls Circuit a miss!
Note: This is the second instalment on my trip to the Atherton Tablelands. The first article detailed my visit to some of the other attractions on the Tablelands.
Millaa Millaa Falls
Millaa Millaa Falls is a heritage-listed plunge waterfall.
‘Millaa Millaa’ is a MaMu Aboriginal phrase referring to the rainforest vine Elaeagnus Triflora whose fruit appears from May to February.
Millaa Millaa Falls
From Millaa Millaa, I drove east along the Palmerston Highway and then turn left onto Theresa Creek Road. This is the start of the Waterfalls Circuit and the first waterfall, the Millaa Millaa Falls, is about 1.5 kilometres further on.
The Millaa Millaa Falls is the most photographed waterfall in Australia. The falls plunges straight down into a large pool below, surrounded by a lush rainforest fringed with broad ferns and colorful flowers. This is the only waterfall on the Waterfalls Circuit where swimming is recommended. Thus, it attracts many locals and tourists who frequently swim here. There are picnic and toilet facilities available nearby.
Even though the height of the falls is a modest 18.3 metres, it has a photo-friendly classical rectangular shape, which complemented the picturesque scenery well. The falls is also an excellent spot for a picnic (unfortunately, the rain ruined it for us).
From Millaa Millaa Falls, I drove a further 7.5 kilometres along the Waterfall Circuit before I saw the sign for Zillie Falls. There is only a basic viewing platform with no access to the waterfalls. Do note that the walking path to the falls is not very clearly marked (which was made worst by the rain when I were there).
At Zillie Falls, there is also a colony of flying foxes that often roosts in a tree located in the car park. Keep a lookout for them!
Another 3 kilometres down the road lies the Ellinjaa Falls. A zigzag track leads to the base of the falls from the carpark. It is, unfortunately, slippery in the wet and I saw a tourist with the misfortunate of slipping and falling on to the muddy track.
Near the base of the falls, there’s a viewing platform that provides a clear view for photo opportunities of the 15 metres waterfall. Platypus and turtles are known to frequent the plunge pool of the falls but sadly, I didn’t get to see any.
There are several other notable waterfalls on the Tablelands (Mungalli Falls, Souita Falls, Pepina Falls and Millstream Falls) which I did not get to visit due to the limitation of time. As I had to minimise my driving in the night, I headed back to Cairns before sunset.
P/S: As seen in some of my photos, it was fairly wet when I were there. The clouds were hanging fairly low and there were intermittent rain. While it did affect my itinerary (delays and cancellation of visits to some points of interest), it was fun and interesting overall for my family. Hopefully, there will be a chance for us to visit the places and waterfalls that we had missed out in the near future.