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Yungaburra, QLD

Charming Heritage village famous for its Curtain Fig Tree.

Yungaburra is an attractive and historic timber township/village on the Atherton Tablelands which subtly mixes a sense of history with an 'alternative lifestyle' culture. Situated 720 metres above sea level it is cool in summer and can be quite chilly in winter. It is a popular holiday destination for people wanting an alternative to the bustle of Cairns. It is surrounded by fascinating crater lakes, World Heritage rainforest, huge and ancient strangler fig trees and extinct volcanoes.


Yungaburra is located 68 km south-west of Cairns and 1,682 km north of Brisbane.


Origin of Name

It is widely accepted that 'yungaburra' is a local Yidindji Aboriginal word either meaning 'meeting place' or 'place of questioning'. Prior to becoming Yungaburra the settlement was known as Allumbah Pocket.


Things to See and Do

Peterson Creek Wildlife & Botanical Walking Track
This is a delightful 2 km (one way) walk from the Platypus Viewing Platform along the Peterson Creek to the old Railway Bridge. Apart from being a pleasant walk there are twelve points of interest along the way. These include (1) the platypus viewing platform (3 & 4) viewing points where platypus can be seen (5) an old pump and coal shed which were used by trains that arrived in the town (6) the Allumbah Pocket Platypus viewing platform (7) another spot where platypus are often sighted (8) the Williams Weir and water wheel turbine (9) an interpretative centre (10) the railway bridge (11) views of a group of volcanic cinder cones known as the Seven Sisters and (12) the railway cutting. A very good map can be downloaded at http://www.yungaburra.com/site/wp-content/uploads/docs/map_petersonCreekWalk.pdf.

Viewing Platypus
The chances of seeing platypus (or platypii) are always slim because the creature is very shy and will hide when there is noise or disturbance. The best times to see platypus are in the early morning or at dusk. The technique is simple (i) keep very, very quiet and (ii) keep your eyes out for lines of bubbles on the surface of the water - this usually means a platypus is below and it will eventually surface.

Yungaburra's Heritage Buildings
There are a total of 17 places of historic interest in Yungaburra listed on the Queensland Heritage Register. There is a walk around the Historic Sites of the town which can be downloaded at http://www.yungaburra.com/site/wp-content/uploads/docs/Old-Town-Loop-brochure-2015.pdf. The walk is about 3 km long, can take up to two hours and is a comprehensive overview of the town's most interesting buildings.  Of particular interest are:

(4) Butcher's Shop
Located at 2 Kehoe Place and built in 1922, this Butcher's Shop is recorded in the Heritage Register as "a good and intact example of the type of simple timber commercial building which served many new settlements and has been continuously in use as a butchery". It is typical of this remarkable town. Check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600482 if you need more detailed information.

(7) St Marks Anglican Church
Located at 7 Eacham Road and built in 1912, St Marks Anglican Church is a symbol of the importance of timber in the Yungaburra area. The "church is a good and intact example of the type of simple timber chapel which served many new settlements as their first church." and it was "Constructed by community endeavour and served by the Brotherhood of St Barnabas for some years, it illustrates the way in which the Church endeavoured to reach small and isolated communities which could not support an incumbent [clergyman]." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600484.

(10) St Patrick's Catholic Church
Located at 1 Penda Street, St Patrick's Catholic Church was built between 1914 and the 1930s. The Queensland Heritage Register notes that "St Patrick's is a single-storeyed timber church with exposed framing set on concrete stumps. It has a gabled roof clad with corrugated iron and is cruciform in plan. The church is entered through a gabled entry porch below a triple lancet window assembly. The front wall of the building has chamferboard cladding. The roof has decorative timber brackets at the eaves and fretwork panels to the gable ends. Inside the roof is supported by timber trusses and is lined with diagonal boarding. The interior is simply finished and retains the original pews and much of the original furniture. There is a free standing steel-framed bell tower located at the eastern corner of the site." Fr. Patrick Bernard Doyle (born Ireland 1874) served the Yungaburra community between 1913-1924. The church was renamed in his honour and the bell-tower dedicated to him. John Joseph (Jack) Kehoe, the first stationmaster of Yungaburra and Marion Maud Williams of the Lake Eacham Hotel were the first couple married in the church on 29 April 1914. There is more detailed information at https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600488.

(16) Yungaburra Court House and Police Station
Located at 6-10 Cedar Street, this building was constructed as a school house and, as the Queensland Heritage Register explains "This building was constructed around 1909 and in order to use it as a court it was enlarged and doors, windows and the steps to front and back were moved. The work was completed in May 1921 and a small office was constructed on the verandah as something of an afterthought in September. The completed cost was £264/10/5 and provided a court room, an office to be shared by the Clerk of Petty Sessions and the Dairy Inspector in the extension, and the verandah office for the constable." The result is a simple building that barely looks like a typical Court House. For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600477.

Shops at 7-9 Cedar Street
Located at 7-9 Cedar Street, these two single-storyed timber buildings were erected around 1920. They are typical shopfronts of the era. As the Queensland Heritage Register explains: "Both buildings have similar square parapets with cantilevered timber and iron awnings supported by deep, curved timber brackets. These awnings are propped with round timber posts. Both buildings have display windows with recessed central entrances. The east and west elevations have window hoods with timber battens and corrugated iron, and the buildings contain both casement and sash windows." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600480.

(20) Yungaburra Community Centre
Located at 19 Cedar Street, the Community Centre, since it was built in 1910 (it kept evolving until 1926), has served many purposes. It has been used for "dances, concerts, meetings, political rallies and weddings. From 1915 it was used by travelling ‘picture showmen’ and from 1928 for regular movie screenings. From 1954 Alfred and Alice King operated it as the Tivoli Theatre. It continued operating as a cinema until 1969." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600479.

(24) Billy Madrid's House
Located at 32 Cedar Street (see photo of Yungaburra Pharmacy) this simple dwelling was built in 1925. The Queensland Heritage Register explains that its significance is that "As an early commercial building in Yungaburra, the shop marks the emergence of the town as a gateway to the Tablelands following the arrival of the railway in 1910 and the commencement of a road link with the coast in 1926. This facilitated the growth of agriculture and dairying on the Tablelands and heralded the development of tourism in the area." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600478.

(26) Bank of New South Wales 
Located at 27 Atherton Street, this single-storeyed timber building was erected in 1914. It was closed in 1967 and sold in 1968. It was the first bank in the area and, by any conventional definition, looks nothing like a North Queensland bank. In fact it was built for a local timber merchant, Arthur Herbert Belson, and leased to the bank.  For more information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600468.

(27) Eden House Restaurant
Located at 20 Gillies Highway, this beautiful old house was built in 1914 as a private residence for the timber merchant, Arthur Herbert Belson. The Queensland Heritage Register records that "The house was reportedly named Cedrella when constructed, and was later described as having wide verandahs, a tennis court and "Old English" gardens. The house was very much a social centre of the district, and was transferred to Mr Belson's son-in-law George Alfred Duffy in July 1922, who later became the local Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600467.

(28) Lake Eacham Hotel
Located at 6-8 Kehoe Place and built in 1910 and then added to in 1926, the Lake Eacham Hotel is a "two storey timber building, L-shaped in plan, and has a hipped roof clad with corrugated iron." It is a fine example of an early hotel built specifically to cater for tourists. The Queensland Heritage Register notes that "The hotel is uncommon in the quality and intactness of its dining and reception areas and such details as the receptionist's office and guest telephone booth in the lounge, and the massive cast iron commercial range in the kitchen. It also retains much of its original furniture." For more details check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600473.


Other Attractions in the Area

Curtain Fig Tree
Located 2 km south-west of Yungaburra (via Gilles Range Road and Curtain Fig Tree Road), the famous Curtain Fig Tree is a 50 metre high stranger fig with roots which drop up to 15 metres to the ground and a circumference of 39 metres. It is estimated to be over 500 years old and has been an important tourist attraction since the 1920s. The Queensland Heritage Register explains "Strangler figs are a parasitic species of tree that develop when the seed of a fig germinates on the top of another tree and then tries to plant its roots in the ground. Once the root system is established, the fig grows vigorously, finally killing the host tree and then growing independently. The unusual formation of the Curtain Fig Tree was created when its vertical roots strangled the host causing it to fall into a neighbouring tree on a 45 degree angle. The extensive aerial roots of the strangler fig then dropped from the oblique angle of the fallen tree 15m to the forest floor, forming a "curtain"." For more detailed information, check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602734.

Lake Eacham
Located 6.5 km south-east of Yungaburra (take the Gillies Range Road east out of town) is Lake Eacham a huge, 65 metre deep, clear blue crater lake which was probably formed as recently as 10,000 years ago. Geologically the lake was formed by massive explosions of heated groundwater. It is known as a maar.
The local Aborigines, the Ngadyan people, explained the origin of the lake in a way that seems to blend myth with reality. Apparently two newly initiated men broke a taboo and the rainbow serpent punished them with a fierce act which destroyed their camp with a combination of winds like a cyclone, a red cloud in the sky and the earth shaking. The people tried to escape but were consumed by a hole which opened in the earth. This sounds like an accurate description of what actually happened.
Lake Eacham is a place of remarkable beauty and peacefulness. There is an excellent 3 km return (it takes around 1 hour) walk around the lake where it is possible to sight some of the 180 bird species, as well as saw-shelled turtles, water dragons and musky rat kangaroos, all of which have been observed in the surrounding rainforest. There is also a special 1.4 km return children's walk with signage. It is possible to swim in the lake. There are steps, ramps and ladders to assist with access. For more information check out https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/lake-eacham/about.html.

Lake Barrine
Located 9 km north-east of Yungaburra on the Gillies Range Road, Lake Barrine, is a clear blue crater lake which was probably formed as recently as 17,000 years ago. Geologically the lake was formed by massive explosions of heated groundwater. It is known as a maar. At that time a volcano erupted and the crater has filled with water over time. It is the largest of the volcanic lakes on the Atherton Tablelands being about one kilometre in diameter with a 4.5 km shoreline and an average depth of 65 metres. There is a pleasant 5 km walk (about 90 minutes) around the lake where the walker will see the 1000 year old twin kauri trees (they are 50 metres tall); may spot an Amethystine Python (Australia's largest snake); observe in the lake both Eastern Water Dragons and Saw-shelled turtles; and see birds ranging from pelicans to whistling ducks, and brush turkeys. If you are lucky you may see the musky rat kangaroo. There are 45 minute cruises on the lake (usually three a day) and a tea house which overlooks the lake. For more information check out http://www.lakebarrine.com.au.

Cathedral Fig Tree
The 31 km Danbulla Forest Road winds around Lake Tinaroo from Yungaburra to Tinaroo. It runs from the Gillies Range Road to the east of Yungaburra (turn at the Boar Pocket Road which becomes the Danbulla Forest Road) and is partly sealed and partly dirt. It winds through a variety of vegetational zones from rainforest  to the precisely planted pine forests which are administered by the Atherton Forestry Office. Only a few kilometres from the Gillies Range Road is a sign to the 500-year-old Cathedral Fig Tree, a huge strangler fig which is particularly impressive because visitors can walk inside it and look up at the walls of roots. It is surrounded by rainforest but be warned: this section of rainforest is characterised by huge mosquitos, leeches, ticks, spiders and snakes. In 2016, during the rainy season, the fig was closed because a huge branch fell and smashed the boardwalk.

Lake Euramoo
Located 26 km from Yungaburra on the Danbulla Forest Road (past the Cathedral Fig Tree), is the beautiful crater lake, Lake Euramoo. Lake Euramoo (it is known to the local Yidinji Aborigines as Ngimun), like so many lakes on the tablelands, is volcanic in origin. It is contained in a double explosion volcanic crater (which gives it a dumbbell shape) and is recognised as one of the youngest geological features on the Atherton Tablelands. It is thought to be little more than 10,000 years old. It is a popular haunt for bird watchers and an ideal place for a relaxing walk through the bush. The local Aborigines explain the formation of the lake as a story about how "two newly-initiated men broke a taboo and angered the rainbow serpent Yamany, major spirit of the area ... the camping-place began to change, the earth under the camp roaring like thunder. The wind started to blow as if a cyclone were coming. The camping-place began to twist and crack. While this was happening the sky lit up like a red cloud. The people tried to run from side to side but were swallowed by a crack which opened in the ground ...". This raises a fascinating question. How many Aboriginal legends are based on fact because this is a very accurate description of exactly how the double lake might have been formed.
Beside the viewing platform at Lake Euramoo there is an "Arbour Walk" which passes beside many of the trees which have grown up beside the lake including red cedar, tulip oak, northern silky oak, mahogany and rose butternut.

Afghanistan Avenue of Honour
Located on the shore of Lake Tinaroo (take Tinaburra Drive) is a living memorial to those who served, and those who died, in the on-going wars in Afghanistan. The memorial comprises a 250 m long avenue of Illawarra Flame Trees, a sculptured set of wings in full flight depicting the contributions made by all the armed services, and an honour board displaying name plaques of those who died in Afghanistan. There is also a tribute to the bomb detection dogs. The Avenue of Honour was opened in 2013. For more information check out http://www.avenueofhonour.com.au.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was occupied by the Yidinji Aboriginal people.

* James Venture Mulligan explored the area in 1875.

* John Atherton found tin and gold at Tinaroo Creek in 1878. 

* John Robson, who had been with Atherton when he found the tin, cut a track from the tablelands to the coast which became known as Robson's Track. The settlement of Allumbah Pocket, which grew up on this track, eventually became known as Yungaburra. 

* In 1886 the state surveyor, Edward Baird Rankin, marked out the town for a Village Homestead Settlement Scheme. It failed.

* In 1890 John Ignatius Stewart became the first settler in the town.

* By 1891 people were settling in the area. The town operated as a staging post for people moving to and from the coast. There was some timber cutting in the early days but the town's primary function was as a service centre.

* By 1907 the Walker Brothers had opened a store and a butchery.

* In 1909 the Allumbah school opened.

* On 5 November, 1909 the town's name of Allumbah was officially changed to Yungaburra.

* The boom period for the town occurred shortly after the arrival of the railway on 15 March, 1910. 

* Between 1910 and 1920 some of the town's most attractive buildings were constructed. 

* St Marks Anglican Church on Eacham Road was built in 1913 at a cost of £250. 

* In 1913 St Patricks Catholic Church was completed. 

* The buildings along Cedar Street, the narrow street at the side of the Lake Eacham Hotel, all belong to the period between 1910 and 1920. 

* Tourism became the town's biggest industry in 1926 when the Cairns-Yungaburra Range Road was opened. The trip from the coast took three and a half hours and visitors had the sights pointed out to them by the drivers of the White Car Company which operated tours to the town. 

* The town, and particularly the Lake Eacham Hotel, became the centre for sightseeing on the Tablelands. The hotel's gracious surrounds included two tennis courts and a nine hole golf course. 

* In 1964 the Yungaburra railway closed.


Visitor Information

Yungaburra Information Centre, Maud Kehoe Park, tel: (07) 4095 2416. Open Monday to Saturday 9.00 am - 5.00 pm, Sunday 10.00 am - 4.00 pm.


Useful Websites

There is an impressive local website with lots of detail and information. Check out http://www.yungaburra.com.

Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

3 suggestions
  • The ‘Red Sheds’ shops on Eacham Road occupy what was the Williams Estate motor vehicle building which included a car showroom (now a cafe) and mechanics workshop (now an art studio). The original timber car ramps outside and car hydraulic system inside are still in situ. At the rear of the Red Sheds is what was the store shed for Yungaburra’s first grocery store and the ‘rat cage’ that protected the dry stores is still there. Both Red Sheds were built in the early 1900’s

    Geraldine Mallinson (owner of the Red Sheds)
  • In 1914 members of the Yungaburra Rifle Club were amongst those mobilised to garrison Thursday Island. They were joined by members of Rifle Clubs from the North including Townsville, Charters Towers and Cairns Many then volunteered to join the Naval and Military Expeditionary Force which had been raised in NSW to take German New Guinea which had its administrative headquarters at Rabaul. They were on the transport ship The Kanowna, which was a coastal steamer. Due to the conditions on board and other issues The Kanowna was turned back before it could reach Rabaul and was sent back to Townsville. There, many of the Dirty 500 as they became known or the Kanowna boys as the also called themselves joined the AIF. These men served at Gallipoli and in France and some still lie there, far from home. Others returned immediately to the Tablelands only to go to war later or to stay on the home front. A small group of volunteers has researched these men and we are happy to help others who may be researching one of the men or who wish to share their information. Please leave a message or a contact at our Facebook page Yungaburra Rifle Club 1914 Our Boys Their Stories

    Ros Lauder volunteer
  • The streets are adorned with hanging baskets of beautiful flowers

    Karl Buderus