Waterfall Circuit Cairns – The Ultimate Guide

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The Waterfall Circuit Cairns features three epic waterfalls known as Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls, and Elinjaa Falls. Adventuring to these picturesque waterfalls in Atherton Tablelands is an awesome day out and not to be missed when traveling to Tropical North Queensland.

Also referred to as Waterfall Circuit Atherton Tablelands and Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit, these three waterfalls are dotted along a circular 17km sealed route on Theresa Creek Road in Wooroonooran National Park.

The Waterfall Circuit Cairns begins at Teresa Creek Road, just south of the township of Millaa Millaa, encompassing Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls, and Ellinjaa Falls. Together, these falls are said to be the most photographed waterfalls in Australia!

I have put together this Ultimate Guide to visiting the Waterfall Circuit Atherton Tablelands including how to get there, the best time to visit, what to expect, and much more!

 

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WHERE IS THE WATERFALL CIRCUIT

Atherton Tablelands Waterfall Circuit is situated on the southern area of the tablelands in Wooroonooran National Park, about 60km west of Innisfail and 98km southwest of Cairns in Tropical North Queensland.

Click here to see the location on Google Maps.

 

HOW TO GET TO THE WATERFALL CIRCUIT CAIRNS

There are a couple of options for reaching the Waterfall Circuit Cairns and they are DIY or with a tour.

OPTION 1 – DIY

By far the best way to get to the Atherton Tablelands Waterfall Circuit is to DIY with your own vehicle.

If you don’t have your own vehicle, I would definitely recommend hiring a car in Cairns to make the drive out.

Hiring a car creates more flexibility in your day as you can stop where you like, take in the scenery, and have the opportunity to explore Wooroonooran National Park.

If you’re staying in Cairns, Atherton Tablelands and the Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit has a lot to offer and it’s worthwhile spending a whole day out there checking out all the sights.

The journey from Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls is pretty easy and most of the drive will be on Bruce Highway before you will eventually turn off onto Riverstone Road and then Gillies Range Road. Continue until turning onto Lake Barrine Road in Yungaburra, then onto Anderson Road, then Lake Barrine Road. You will then head towards Malanda Millaa Millaa Road until you eventually turn onto Theresa Creek Road which is the beginning of the Waterfall Circuit.

There are very clear signposts to each waterfall on this road and Millaa Millaa is the first set of falls on the Waterfall Circuit Cairns.

There is plenty of free parking spaces at each of the falls so you’ll have somewhere safe to park your car while you’re off exploring.

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El Van 24Waterfall Circuit Atherton Tablelands

 

OPTION 2 – WATERFALL CIRCUIT TOUR

If you decide to take a tour, there isn’t one specific to the Waterfalls Circuit but there is a tour that you can book on Get Your Guide which is a full-day tour from Cairns to Atherton Tablelands.

This guided tour includes return transfers from your accommodation in Cairns and a visit to a number of awesome locations such as Lake Eacham, Josephine Falls, Millaa Millaa Waterfall, and more.

You will get a comprehensive tour of Atherton Tablelands and time to swim at the waterfalls, explore the beautiful rainforest, and get a taste of what Tropical North Queensland has to offer!

BOOK NOW → WATERFALL CIRCUIT TOUR

 

 

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit the Waterfall Circuit Cairns is during the transition period between the wet season, December – February (summer), and the dry season, June – August (winter).

To get the best lighting for spectacular pictures of the Atherton Tablelands waterfalls, I recommend visiting between early morning and noon.

The Waterfall Circuit Atherton Tablelands is a very popular tourist attraction and it can get quite busy, especially on the weekends. If you can time your visit for a weekday, you will more likely be able to enjoy each of the falls with fewer people around.

And remember the early bird catches the worm, or in this case the perfect picture, without loads of tourists.

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WHERE TO START THE WATERFALL CIRCUIT

The best way to navigate the Waterfall Circuit Cairns is to first visit Millaa Milla Falls, then continue on to the second waterfall which is Zillie Falls, and then lastly visiting Ellinjaa Falls. 

I recommend allowing one full day to complete the Atherton Tablelands Waterfall Circuit. This will give you plenty of time to explore, swim, and relax at each of the falls.

RELATED ARTICLE → JOSEPHINE FALLS QUEENSLAND

 

MILLAA MILLAA FALLS

Surrounded by lush rainforest, Millaa Millaa Waterfall is arguably the most beautiful and picturesque falls in all of Australia!

The trail down to the falls from the car park is not too steep or strenuous and takes only 2 minutes on foot. When you emerge at the end of the trail, you will immediately realize why Millaa Millaa Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Australia.

Millaa Millaa boasts an 18-meter single-drop falls that flows perfectly into a pristine pool below where you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the cool water.

The waterfall itself is nestled in a lavish rainforest, fringed with broad ferns and colorful flowers. There’s also an idyllic grassy area around the waterhole that makes for a perfect picnic spot, and if you’re lucky, you might even be able to spot a platypus.

Facilities available at Millaa Millaa Falls include picnic tables, BBQs, shelters, public toilets, and change rooms, making it an awesome place to comfortably spend a good amount of time and take in all the beauty that this unique set of falls on the Waterfall Circuit Cairns has to offer.

FULL BLOG POST → Millaa Millaa Waterfall

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ZILLIE FALLS

Next up on the Waterfall Circuit Atherton Tablelands is Zillie Falls. Surrounded by lush rainforest, Zillie Falls offers picnic areas for lunch and a lookout at the top of the waterfall that boasts epic views of these cascading falls.

To get down to the base of the falls you’ll see there is a narrow bush track that takes around 10-minutes each way. When wet, this trail can be pretty muddy and quite slippy. So if it’s been raining, I would suggest taking your boots.

Whether it’s the Zillie Falls trail that interests you or simply experiencing a top-down view of the waterfalls, Zillie Falls caters to everyone.

Take a dip in the shallow rock pools to cool off or climb behind the falls and explore the depths of the cave. Keep an eye out for the slippery rocks that will no doubt, line your track.

Zillie Falls on the Atherton Tablelands Waterfall Circuit is a photographer’s heaven. From the nature surrounding the falls, the rock pools, the textures of the rocks, and of course, the main attraction itself. You could easily spend a couple of hours down here at Zillie Falls, experimenting with your camera and really capturing the moment in full.

FULL BLOG POST → Zillie Falls

zillie falls, waterfall circuit cairnsZillie Falls

zillie falls, waterfall circuit cairnsShallow rock pool at Zillie Falls

zillie falls, waterfall circuit cairnsThe top viewpoint at Zillie Falls

 

ELLINJAA FALLS

Ellinjaa Falls is a stunning ledge waterfall that runs all year round so you’ll never miss seeing the water flowing over these black lava columns.

From the parking lot, the waterfall is only a 10-minute walk and the track is at an easy level so no need to worry about getting your hiking boots on.

The Ellinjaa Falls trail is a flawless entrance to the waterfall. It’s peaceful, lush, colorful, and takes you right to the base of the cascade where you’ll first see Ellinjaa Creek. From there, you can see the falls in all their beauty!

The base of the waterfall has smooth stones and rocks to stand on while you watch the water trickle down into the creek. With the water so fresh and crisp, it’s the perfect spot for a swim on a hot Australian summers’ day.

Ellinjaa Falls is also known to inhabit native animals such as the platypus and freshwater turtles. If you’re lucky enough, you just might see them!

I recommend allowing around 1-2 hours at Ellinjja Falls to take a dip in the rock pools to cool off or wander down Ellinjaa Creek. 

FULL BLOG POST → ELLINJAA FALLS

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WHERE TO STAY IN CAIRNS

There are hundreds of accommodation options to choose from in Cairns, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay to fit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.

See the list of Cairns accommodations below that I personally recommend:

 

LUXURY: PULLMAN REEF HOTEL CASINO

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MID-RANGE: CAIRNS RAINBOW RESORT

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BUDGET: MAD MONKEYS BACKPACKERS

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FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN CAIRNS, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM

 

WATERFALL CIRCUIT ATHERTON TABLELANDS MAP

 

MORE AUSTRALIA TRAVEL GUIDES

The coastline and hinterland areas along the east coast of Australia boast countless beaches, lakes, waterfalls, hikes, and many more fun-fuelled adventures waiting to be had!

This is what Australia is all about and what I love to share with you in my destination guides.

Click on the links below to see more related posts:

 

LONELY PLANET AUSTRALIA

One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Australia Travel Guide!

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Before you go from this Waterfall Circuit Cairns post, don’t forget to check out My Online Shop.

I’ve got a wide range of products for sale and I’m sure you’ll find something that will come in handy during your travels.

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FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WATERFALL CIRCUIT CAIRNS

I can’t talk highly enough of the Waterfall Circuit Atherton Tablelands, and I hope from this guide you’ll have all the information you need for an epic adventure.

Whether you’re a solo backpacker, traveling as a couple, or whether you’re taking a trip with the entire family, the Waterfall Circuit is a great day trip from Cairns.

If you have any questions at all about the Waterfall Circuit Cairns, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Happy Travels!

Jonny Melon
Jonny Melon

Hey, I’m Jonny – surfer, skater, photographer, and coffee-lover from Australia!

With a burning passion for travel and the outdoors, I launched this Adventure Travel Blog in 2017, and I’ve been exploring the world ever since!

My little corner of the interwebs is a space where I love to share all of my epic adventures, cultural experiences, and captivating photos from around the globe with the ultimate goal to inspire and motivate other like-minded travelers to explore this wonderful earth too!

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