Thirty kilometres south of Mareeba and centrally placed for forays to most of the area’s attractions, the bland setting of ATHERTON is the largest town in the Tablelands. It was founded in part by Chinese miners who settled here in the 1880s after being chased off the goldfields.

Two kilometres south of the centre, the corrugated-iron Hou Wang Temple at 86 Herberton Road is the last surviving building of Atherton’s old Chinatown, a once-busy enclave of market gardens and homes abandoned after the government gave the land to returning World War I servicemen. The temple was restored in 2000, with an accompanying museum full of photographs and artefacts found on site.

You can spot local birdlife at Hasties Swamp, a big waterhole and two-storey observation hide about 5km south of town. While nothing astounding, it’s a peaceful place populated by magpie geese, pink-eared ducks, swamp hens and assorted marsh tiggets.

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