Journey to Far North Queensland Day 3: Waterfalls

Once again I wake up early, this time disappointed to see the sky covered by grey clouds with no sign of the sun illuminating the sky. As part of our daily routine we go for a walk before hopping into the car for a day of waterfall spotting in the Atherton Tablelands region. It is a long and relatively windy drive from Cairns to Atherton through forested areas, taking us approximately 2 hours. We stop briefly in Atherton to ask for directions to Millaa Millaa Falls since our GPS unit decided to guide us there the long way.

On the way to Millaa Millaa, we pass through a town called Malanda and found a waterfall we did not know existed, let alone plan on going there. It is a very short and easy walk from the car park to the falls. Malanda Falls isn’t tall and the water beneath it is shallow and clear. The creek flowing under the pedestrian walkover away from the falls is picturesque. As it turns out, the absence of the sun does not impact on the quality of the photos we took of the waterfalls today.

Malanda Falls

Soon after we leave Malanda Falls, we find the turnoff for Millaa Millaa Falls, which is a part of a 15km circuit comprising two other waterfalls: Zillie and Ellinjaa. By the time we reach Millaa Millaa Falls it has started to rain, however the inclement weather does not dampen our spirits. The water cascaded directly off a vertical cliff in a spectacular gush, as I was able to capture with my camera. We managed to find shelter under a lookout platform to shield our cameras from the rain.

Millaa Millaa Falls

The next waterfall in the circuit was Zillie Falls. It was an easy trek from the car to the falls, however the viewing platform was above the water so we were unable to see and appreciate the true beauty of these falls.

Zillie Falls

Unfortunately we had to travel the long way from Zillie to Ellinjaa Falls, since a section of the road connecting the two waterfalls was non-existent. The detour was well worth the wait, as Ellinjaa was the most spectacular of the three waterfalls. It was also the longest distance from car to waterfall, the hike including steps. The path took us right to the edge of the creek, giving us the perfect view of Ellinjaa Falls, my favourite waterfall that I have visited in my travels.

Ellinjaa Falls

Now that we have seen all of the waterfalls in the district we planned on visiting, we head back to Cairns via Kuranda. As we pass through Malanda on the return trip home, we spot a tree kangaroo eating lunch in a tree opposite the car park to Malanda Falls and the adjacent café, Tree Kangaroo Café. Kuranda is a village in the rainforest and is home to the famous Kuranda Scenic Railway and newly added Skyrail tourist attraction (we are going to ride the train and Skyrail tomorrow). Most of the small shops are closed because it is 4pm on a Sunday afternoon and the final train for the day has already departed from Kuranda Station. We see a sign pointing towards yet another waterfall, Barron Falls – which is along the route of the Kuranda train and Skyrail – and decide to have a look since today is waterfall day. We did not expect to be walking for long time to reach Barron Falls, but the trek was enjoyable nonetheless. These falls were definitely the steepest of the five we visited today and also seemed to be the most treacherous given the valley of rocks it passed through.

Barron Falls

After a long day of driving and sightseeing waterfalls, we finally make it back to our apartment and freshen up for dinner. We walk along the Esplanade in search for a decent restaurant, eventually choosing to dine at Rattle n Hum. We order a dish of calamari each and enjoy our meal in the busy atmosphere of the popular eatery.

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