Waterfall Circuit

by | Feb 1, 2022 | Atherton Tablelands

Waterfall circuit, Milla Milla- FNQ monsoonal style

Words and photos by Leah Stevenson

The monsoon has kicked in and we often wonder what activities to do when it’s raining. There are only so many movies worth streaming, right?! It may surprise you how good it is to experience the great outdoors in the wet. In this article I recommend a drive–walk activity where it doesn’t matter if you get wet!

Yes, you may be wet. But the best thing about living in Far North Queensland, is that the raindrops are pretty mild in temperature. Even better, we can celebrate this lovely wet stuff that makes the beautiful Atherton Tablelands the gem it is. It keeps our agricultural industry buzzing; it restores the lushness of the Mabi Forests and replenishes the rivers and creeks that make the waterfalls on the Waterfall Circuit spectacular.

So put a towel in the car, don’t forget your brolly and keep your eye out for the occasional leech. Let’s go on an adventure!

Head to the southern Atherton Tablelands on the Malanda-Milla Milla Road, which turns into the Palmerston Highway. Pass by Milla Milla and turn left at the Falls Tea House onto Theresa Creek Road. The tea house was built in the 1920’s and has a wonderful outdoor eating area (a great alternative idea instead of a packed lunch). The Waterfall Circuit is well signed and takes you on a scenic drive with rolling green hills that seem to go on forever, including views of Bellenden Kerr and Bartle Frere, the highest and second highest mountains in Queensland. The Waterfall Circuit is 15km long. The drive-walk will take approximately 3 hours if you visit three waterfalls, have a swim and explore a couple of special trails.

First Stop Millaa Millaa Falls

Milla Milla Falls is possibly the most photographed waterfall on the Atherton Tablelands and even possibly in the whole of Queensland. Only 10 minutes from the teahouse, and nestled in the tropical rainforest, this 18.3m long-drop waterfall demands your appreciation. Ever tried staring into a waterfall? Milla Milla Falls is a good waterfall to try this out with. It can look like the water is drawing upwards towards the top of the waterfall. Pretty cool trick of the eyes.

A special place at Milla Milla Falls is behind the toilets (yes, you read that right). Head toward the toilets and you will see the TRC ‘Milla Milla Falls sign’. There is a trail that goes into the rainforest and follows the creek downstream. This short meander along the creek only takes approximately 10 minutes. However, stay a little longer if you can. While we were there, I could hear Wompoo Pigeons call over the top of the murmur of the crystal-clear creek. Just magic!

Zillie Falls

Zillie Falls in my personal favourite because of the lovely walk down to the bottom of the falls. Recommended for those who are feeling agile on their feet, it is moderately steep with natural gradient and stones positioned to create steps. Take a moment to check out the breathtaking view. Not only is it a stunning waterfall, the rock formations from centuries-old rock movements have provided prospects for rock scrambling to secret spots to sit and take it the tranquility.

Note: previous trip guides say there is a picnic area and shelter available, however, there isn’t one there these days.

Let’s go to Elijaa Falls

Only five minutes further down the road is Elinjaa Falls. It is a popular spot for swimming. There is a natural pool at the base of the waterfall and a shallow stream that carries that water away, which is perfect for little kids to play in. There is a short but steep trail down to the bottom of the falls. However, it is only 200 metres long and has well-formed steps, so this trail is more suitable for varying fitness levels.

There are several picnic tables (unsheltered) to choose from to have a packed lunch. Situated among the rainforest near the carpark it is a good place to have something for eat. If you get a break in the weather or it is a nice sunny day, this is the pick of the three waterfalls to have lunch.

The waterfall circuit ends just a little further south on the Palmerston Highway. If you still haven’t had a bite to eat, check out the Mungalli Creek Farmhouse Cafe only a few more kilometers south on the Palmerston Highway. Check for signs to turn left off the highway.

Leah Stevenson

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