Southern Tablelands

Fast Facts

Catchment Profile

Explore the natural and social characteristics of the Barron Catchment in this interactive story map.

Barron Catchment Profile Story Map


Additional useful information about the Barron Catchment can be accessed through Queensland Government’s WetlandInfo site, with interactive mapping, NRM data and the widest range of wetland management resources in Queensland.

Barron Basin WetlandInfo

Land Use Chart Southern Tablelands


Population: 6,871
Elevation: 752 m


Population: 1,043
Elevation: 750 m


Population: 1,672
Elevation: 732 m

Millaa Millaa

Population: 290
Elevation: 830 m


Population: 900
Elevation: 918 m


Population: 849
Elevation: 930 m

The Southern Tablelands are a blend of the best attractions of the tropics. Among the World Heritage listed rainforests, national parks, mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls are some of Australia’s richest agricultural lands and charming small townships.  

This area is famous for its green rolling hills and rounded volcanic cones, with the backdrop of the highest mountain range in Queensland topping off the stunning scenery.

The fertile, red soils of the flatter ‘Golden Triangle’ around Atherton, Kairi and Tolga  are more ‘tableland like’ and give the area its reputation as the food bowl of the northern tropics – yielding a constant supply of fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains to local and export markets.

Natural Environments


Cool, winter days and soft drizzle, reminiscent of more southern climates, provide respite from the heat and humidity on the coast.  People and animals alike find sanctuary in the towering World Heritage listed rainforests.

Tree kangaroo and baby

The elusive Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo conceals itself amongst the forest canopy, while in more intact rainforests, the majestic Southern Cassowary searches the forest floor for large, brightly coloured rainforest fruits.

The eerie, trumpeting call of brolgas and sarus cranes echo through dawn skies as they leave their wetland roosts to feed at surrounding farmland, although the birds may be hidden from view in the mist-shrouded mornings.

Mabi Forest

Unique forest types, like the critically endangered Mabi Forest, are found almost exclusively in this Local Landscape.  Mabi Forest is a drier rainforest named after the local Aboriginal word for tree kangaroo (Mapi), and is one of the most threatened vegetation types in the Wet Tropics.  Many community and government groups are working cooperatively, with the focus on protecting remaining forest patches and expanding the forest’s extent.

Barron and Johnstone Rivers

Both the mighty Barron and Johnstone Rivers begin life in this Local Landscape, with spectacular waterfalls and tumbling, rocky streams in their headwaters giving way to wider, more serene expanses of water, which help sustain both the environment and agricultural production.

Sunrise over Mt Bartle Frere - Southern Tablelands

Shy platypus emerge to forage for food at dawn and dusk, while tiny rainforest frogs call at night from their streamside perches.

Tinaroo Dam

The construction of Tinaroo Dam on the Barron River to provide irrigation water for agriculture has provided an additional spin-off for keen watersports’ enthusiasts, who regularly visit the region with ski boats and fishing tinnies, keen to hook one of the enormous barra stocked in the dam.

Communities and Culture

Community involvement

Vibrant communities from diverse ethnic backgrounds are particularly active in the area, with many residents volunteering their time and expertise with community and environmental groups.

At any given time throughout the year, volunteers could be involved with monitoring numbers of vulnerable animal species, planting trees, attending and hosting educational field days and workshops, caring for sick or injured wildlife or just catching up for a cuppa after a busy day’s work!

Rural community

The community is a unique mix of farmers – many who have family ties to this area extending back more than 100 years – professionals and ‘tree changers’ – people who have moved from all over Australia and the world to live in this tranquil and special place.

The opportunities for raising children in this rural area is another major drawcard.

Indigenous community

There exists a rich and enduring Aboriginal cultural heritage across the whole of the Wet Tropics region, with at least 17 Traditional Owner groups made up of more than 20,000 Rainforest Aboriginal people.

Click on the Local Cultural Connections link for more information on the Traditional Owner groups and history for this Local Landscape.