Yungaburra: A charming village to escape

A quiet and peaceful village with so much to do

Yungaburra village situated on the hills of Atherton-Tablelands is just 65 kilometres scenic drive up from the Cairns city. This tiny town is renowned for its secluded and quiet destination for tourists and locals around Far North Queensland region. I have visited this little country town many times over the years but I never took a time to explore this quiet and classy little township. To make most of my two days off from work, I grabbed my camera, weekend-bag and jumped in the car and headed for the mountains which had been my first typical Yungaburra getaway.  Along the way through 20 kilometres drive of windy Gillies Range to Yungaburra, I stopped at Heales lookout on Gillies road and Lake Barrine for a browse and a photo opportunity. These are some of the hot spots to enjoy along the way.

Heales Lookout on Gillies Range
Lake Barrine

It is no surprise that when Far North Queensland’s populous city of Cairns is busy and when the weather is perfect, many locals and tourists move out of the city and head up to Yungaburra – a picturesque village located up in the hills. Many visitors get to Atherton, Tablelands not only for cooler and quieter lifestyle but to enjoy the tranquility of relaxed atmosphere environment. 

View of Yungaburra’s main street

History in brief: Yungaburra takes its name from the Yidinyji language, meaning a place for enquiring or questioning. The European settlement of Yungaburra spans from the early 1880s, but the history goes further back much further – a dark history. Prior to the European settlement, the area around Yungaburra was inhabited by different indigenous groups, with custodians being Yidinji people and neighbouring Ngajanji people. The Queensland policie and native troops carried out extensive massacres in the area to get rid of the indigenous groups or known as the “blacks”. In the 1880s, the area around Allumbah Pocket was used as an overnight stop for miners travelling west from the coast. In 1886, the land was surveyed and in 1891 settlers moved in. In 1910 the railway arrived and the town was renamed Yungaburra, to avoid confusion with another town called Allumbah. With its dark history, this little country town up in the hills is a reminder to the generation of today of what has happened in history. To me, dark histories of towns or any places needs to be transparent and presented to the generation of today.

With its past dark history, today this quiet township of Yungaburra is undoubtedly a haven for retirees, honeymooners and for those who prefers an alternative getaway lifestyle from hustle and bustle of big cities and theme parks. 

Upon arrival, I was pleased to see not only welcomed with the colourful display of pot plants hanging on the poles along the streets but surrounded with lush tropical plants. This creates a peaceful, colourful and pleasant village to visit. It also gives you a vibe of a more friendly and welcoming atmosphere – You just feel welcome, full-stop. As I stepped outside and strolled in and around the town centre and the side streets. I felt like, I was in someone’s gigantic colourful backyard or in a great outdoor open drive botanical garden. The scene was absolutely beautiful.

Below: View of Yungaburra township streets with beautiful plants

This little town has no shortages of cafes, accommodations and restaurants ranging from takeaway to fine dining. As I made myself comfortable in one of the many charming cafes, I actively began to learn more of this township while enjoying the locally brewed coffee and still smelling the freshly cut grass and feel the coolness of the breeze. The more I read about the local information and chatted with the locals, I was pleased to discovered that this wonderfully laid back country town on the hills has 18-heritage listed buildings, award wining restaurants and arts and crafts galleries. It has IGA, newsagency, real estate agency, pharmacy, doctors and a pub to complete the picture. This tiny town is a one-pub town called “Yungaburra Pub” and the township has no single traffic lights.

Yes, to my surprise, this tiny town had lot more exciting things to do than just cafes, restaurants and galleries which many Cairns locals and tourists are not aware of. My accommodation was perfectly positioned right in the middle of the town with an uninterrupted 280 degree views of the lush tropical gardens. My time in Yungaburra was spent on walking around the town parks and gardens, side streets and reading. This whole town is accessible by foot from one end of the town to the other within minutes. This means that you don’t have to use your vehicle for the whole time during your stay.

Curtain Fig Tree

The area is famous for its high profile landmark, the amazing Curtain Fig Tree and is only minutes from the village and is access by a short boardwalk from the sealed road. It is a giant rainforest fig tree with roots hanging down, giving it the appearance of curtains. There is a short boardwalk around the tree. 

Also, there is a platypus viewing deck, less than a minute walk from the town centre, where you might be very lucky to spot one but many locals suggest that the best time to see a platypus is early hours of the morning, midday to mid-afternoon and evenings when it is very quiet.

Some of the things that caught my attention was how beautifully the garden was manicured right in the centre of the town, an old country style church buildings which are actively used and Yungaburra botanical garden. They are worth a visit. 

Old country style church buildings

Yungaburra Park

The most striking thing for me while exploring this town was the Peterson’s Creek nature walk which is little known to tourists and Cairns locals. It is a great place for birdwatchers paradise and there is an active wildlife along the creek. Along Petersons Creek is the Allumbah Pocket, a picnic area which runs past Yungaburra. It is the centre for a series of walking tracks along the creek. Tracks lead to Frawley’s Pool, a popular swimming hole and picnic area, then further to Yungaburra’s historical train bridge. All of the tracks are relatively easy and short enough for anyone to do. The site was dedicated to Geoff Tracy, a local renowned environmentalist who died in 2004.

Below: View of Petersons Creek Park

For those who just want to relax by the lake side with a good book to read, just 1 minute drive from the town centre is the Yungaburra-Lake Tinaroo recreational area. It is a great place to take time-out and even take a stroll along the “Avenue of Honour” in honour of the soldiers who lost their lives while fighting in Afghanistan. 

However, if you happens to be in town on the last Saturday of each month, you will be in the midst of the Yungaburra market day which is very popular in Atherton-Tablelands.

Below: View of Yungaburra recreational area

Apart from what to do and see in Yungaburra, there are other major attractions and activities which are short drive away from Yungaburra township. 

Some of my favourite places not far from Yungaburra which are worth visiting are:

1. Lake Eacham, which are crater lakes formed from volcanoes. It is a popular spot for picnic and swimming.

2. Lake Barrine, a teahouse and gift shop as well as river-cruise that goes around the lake but not suitable for swimming. Both lakes have walking tracks around them which are 3 and 6 kilometre walks.

3. Gallos cheese factory

4. Malanda waterfall and township

5. Lake Tinaroo dam and lakeside recreational area

6. Hastings swamp – hot spot for bird watchers

7. Cathedral Fig Tree

From personal perspective: It is interesting to know that most local parks and recreational areas are sometimes unknown to locals, considering tourists. I still don’t know some of the local parks and walking trails. It is always wise to read local bulletin news or even talk to locals whenever your visiting certain destination. In my travels, I always find it fascinating to get to know the locals in the area. They are always the “first point of contact” when you really want to see the places where not many visitors go. 

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