top of page

30 Minute Scenic Flight

Atherton Tablelands Lake Tour

Relax in the comfort of your own private aircraft, as one of our experienced pilots take you on a breathtaking half hour tour of the picturesque Atherton Tablelands. Experience the rolling green hills and farmlands as we take you over Tinaroo Dam, Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham, then over Atherton township, the Mt Emerald wind Farm and then back to Mareeba.

The Route

1. Mareeba Aerodrome

Mareeba Airfield is located 8.0 km south of Mareeba, Queensland, Australia. Built in 1942 as a US Army Air Force base during World War II, the airfield had two runways, with a complement of taxiways, hardstands and a containment area. After the war, much of the airfield reverted to agricultural use, while the southern runway remains as an active airfield.

From 1942 to 1945, up to 10,000 Australian and US service personnel used Mareeba Airfield as a staging post for battles in New Guinea and the Pacific. The Americans referred to it as Hoevet Field in honour of Major Dean Carol “Pinky” Hoevet who was killed on 16 August 1942. Units that were based at Mareeba during World War II included No. 5 Squadron RAAF, No. 100 Squadron RAAF, the Australian 33rd Light A-A Battery, 19th Bomb Group USAAC, 43rd Bomb Group USAAC and 8th Fighter Group USAAC.

2. Lake Tinaroo

In 1952, the Tinaroo Dam and Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Scheme was approved by the Queensland Government. Construction on the dam was started in 1953  at a cost of A$12.666 million. When the dam was filled in 1959, the old township of Kulara near Yungaburra went underwater, and all of the residents relocated to Yungaburra and surrounding towns. The area around Kulara was among the last to flood when the dam filled. Earlier the area of Danbulla, located on Robson’s Creek – which also feeds into the lake, went underwater. Most of these residents relocated to the tablelands area as their farms were resumed. The dam is located close to Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham (Yidyam).

The dam wall, constructed with 223,000 thousand cubic metres of concrete, is 42 metres (138 ft) high and 533 metres (1,749 ft) long. The maximum water depth is 41.8 metres (137 ft) and at 100% capacity the dam wall impounds enough water from the Barron River to create a lake approximately 75% the size of Sydney Harbour with a capacity of 438,919 megalitres of water at 670 metres (2,200 ft). The surface area of the Lake Tinaroo is 3,500 hectares (8,600 acres) and the catchment area is 545 square kilometres (210 sq mi). The ungated, central ogee spillway is capable of discharging 1,160 cubic metres per second (41,000 cu ft/s). Two 500-millimetre  radial gates serve as irrigation outlets that yield a205,000 megalitres annually. In addition, one 500-millimetre core valve serves as an outlet for Barron River.

The dams construction was completed in 1958.

3. Lake Barrine

The largest of the natural volcanic lakes in the area, Lake Barrine is 730 m above sea level. It is about 1 km in diameter, with a shoreline of almost 4.5 km and an average depth of 65 m. No streams or springs feed the crystal clear lake; it is filled only by rainwater. During the wet season a small creek flows out of the lake. It joins Toohey Creek which is a tributary of the Mulgrave River.


Lake Barrine was formed over 17,000 years ago when a large volcano erupted, leaving a crater that over time filled up with water to create a lake. The crater or maar was formed as a result of a series of volcanic explosions. These explosions were caused by the hot molten rock coming into contact with groundwater. This caused a build-up of steam, gases and pressure which blasted the central core from the volcano. This massive explosion left a huge crater, which filled with rainwater to create Lake Barrine. Local Aboriginals called the lake Barany.

4. Lake Eacham

Lake Eacham (Yidyam) was formed approximately 12,000 years ago by molten magma. Magma from the center of the earth that rose to the surface and heated the water table. The steam that resulted from the boiling water was trapped underground, until massive explosions signalled its release. Huge cracks appeared in the ground and the trees that once lathed the mountainside were levelled and burnt. Eventually, over hundreds of years, water filled the craters and the trees grew back, creating the tranquil lake used today by families and tourists for recreation. There are no streams that flow into or out the lake, water is only lost through soakage and evaporation and only replenished through rainfall, the level can fluctuate up to 4 metres between wet and dry seasons.

5. Atherton

Atherton is the main centre of the 'Atherton Tablelands'.

6. Mt Emerald Wind Farm

Mount Emerald Wind Farm is a 180 MW wind farm situated on Mount Emerald. It is approximately 8 km WNW of Tolga, and 49 km SW of Cairns. The project is a joint venture between Port Bajool (land owner) and RATCH-Australia (wind farm developer and operator). The wind farm registered its first grid output in August 2018 and reached maximum output in January 2019.

30 Minute Scenic.png

Are you ready for an adventure?

bottom of page