Cairns / Gordonvale / Gillies Highway / Malanda (78km)
This route to the tablelands is via the very twisty Gillies Highway. Take it easy because there are well over a hundred bends but the views are terrific. The road passes Lake Barrine where there is a good teahouse and cruises on the volcano lake. A little further on after taking the Malanda road to the left is Lake Eacham which is a great swimming spot. Take the walk along the lake to the lookout where you should see freshwater turtles. Malanda is the centre of the dairy industry on the tablelands.
This is a very scenic area of dairy country and rainforest patches. There are many small roads to explore and some fine rainforest along the edge of the National Park around Butchers Ck and Topaz. Another worthwhile forest area is the Wongabel State Forest just east of the Kennedy Highway and south of Atherton. The 2.6km circuit has over 100 named tree species. This is a great bird-watching area and you may also see the small Pademelon wallaby.
Lake Tinaroo is another very popular spot for water-sports and Barramundi fishing. It can be reached via Boar Pocket Road, on the right just before Lake Barrine, or Yungaburra or Atherton. Two famous fig trees are in this area - the Cathedral fig tree on Boar Pocket road and the Curtain fig tree just outside Yungaburra on Curtain Fig Tree road.