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About Us

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) strives to provide excellence in health care, wellbeing, research and education in Far North Queensland. It provides an extensive range of health services at more than 30 regional, rural and remote facilities across a geographical area of 142,900 square kilometres, ranging from Cairns to Tully in the south, Cow Bay in the north and Croydon in the west.

Services delivered include surgery, trauma care, paediatrics, general and specialist medicine, intensive care, cardiology, mental health, outpatient, maternity and neonatal care, aged and dementia care, emergency medicine, environmental health, and general public health.

The population of the Health Service’s region is approximately 250,000. This has grown by six percent over the past five years, with further growth of 15 percent (1.4 percent average annual growth) projected to 2026. More than 20 percent of the population is aged over 60, which is one third higher than the national average. Tourism is a key industry and contributes to a relatively high transient population. It is estimated that 14% of the population are Indigenous Australian, compared to 3.5% for Queensland as a whole.

The Health Service is 95 percent self-sufficient with only a small number of high-level acute services being provided in Townsville and Brisbane.

For more information about living in Tropical North Queensland, visit the Cairns Local Tourism Network website.

Atherton | MareebaCairns |  Babinda |  Innisfail |  Tully

The Atherton Tablelands


Atherton, centrally located on the naturally air-conditioned plateau of the Atherton Tablelands enjoys a cooler climate than the coast.  Amidst fields of maize, peanuts, macadamia nuts, sugar cane and tropical fruits, the town of Atherton shares the rainforest landscape with cattle grazing on verdant pastures.

The town of Atherton is well equipped with both recreational and shopping facilities.  It has a population of 11000 and serves a population of 40000. Good access roads and plenty of parking facilities are features of the Atherton business district.  Palms and picturesque gardens line the streets filled with well known 'name' stores and a fascinating array of local stores.  Branches of all major banks and building societies can be found and Atherton is well represented by government departments.  Atherton also hosts a number of dental, legal and general practices.f


Atherton is situated 800m above sea level on a plateau atop the Great Dividing Range about 100kms south west of Cairns in Far North Queensland.  Bisected by the Kennedy Highway approx 30 kms south of Mareeba and 50kms north of Ravenshoe.  The Atherton Tablelands is easily accessible from either the coast or the Gulf area.

Getting There

Because of its proximity to Cairns, travel to and from Atherton is easy.  Driving time is approximately 75 minutes via the Kuranda Range or the Gillies Range.  Those travelling from the south can access the Tablelands via the Palmerston Highway just north of Innisfail.  For those without personal transport who do not wish to hire a car, there's a regular bus service that runs between Atherton and Cairns via Mareeba.  With an international and a domestic air terminal, the busy Cairns Airport has several flights a day to many parts of Australia and overseas.  While for travellers who prefer a bus or train ride, a coach and railway terminal in Cairns provides regular services along the eastern seaboard and to interstate centres.


The locals claim Atherton has the best weather in Australia and they could be right as the Tablelands is well known for its mild tropical climate and is untroubled by the climatic extremes such as flood, droughts or destructive cyclonic winds.  The temperatures are very pleasant ranging between 17 degrees C and 30 degrees C in summer and between 10 degrees C and 21 degrees C in winter.  In summary, the climate is very pleasant having cool summer nights and mild and sunny winter days, and does not have the high humidity levels experienced on the coast.

The People/Social Demographics

Atherton is a mix of cultures - many of the old farming families being able to trace their ancestry back to Ireland, Scotland, England, France and Southern Europe.  Several of the Chinese business and community members in the area are descendents of those who came seeking gold in the Palmer River and Cooktown areas in the late 1800's, later moving on to the tin fields of Herberton before finally settling in the Atherton area as very successful market gardeners and entrepreneurs.

Education Facilities/Family Care

Atherton has a State High School with classes through to Year 12, two primary schools (private and State), pre schools (First Steps, and others) and kindergarten.  There are several quality day care centres in the town providing care for children of those parents who work.  Several play groups and activities such as Gymbaroo and Kids in Harmony meet weekly and there are book readings at the local libraries as well as a play cafĂ© where kids can play and parents can Latte. There are also private secondary education facilities nearby at Herberton. There is a catholic private high school in Mareeba.

For those wishing to pursue further education, the Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE has off-site campuses in both Atherton and Mareeba which offer a small range of vocational, computer and recreational courses.  Mareeba Environmental College is about 30 km away and offers selected full and part-time courses.  The Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE located in Cairns, an hour's drive away, has a comprehensive range of courses available, specialising in tourism and hospitality.  A campus of the James Cook University is situated in Cairns and offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Real Estate/Accommodation

Atherton's real estate market is rising and a good investment.

Places of Interest

This area is a tourist's dream with some of the most spectacular scenery in Queensland on Atherton's doorstep, making this town a fascinating place to be all year round - the warm balmy days make sightseeing easy.  The region offers visitors many rewarding sights and adventures.  There are the rainforest-fringed volcanic crater lakes such as Lake Eacham and Barrine, gushing waterfalls and fertile farmlands.  Historic Yungaburra steeped in Aboriginal and pioneer legend sits on the southern shore of Lake Tinaroo Dam- a great place to catch a barramundi or water-ski.

Within easy driving is the Great Barrier Reef; one of the world's seven wonders an hour's boat trip away from Cairns with one of the many tourist operators.  Travel a bit further north and you're in The Daintree Rainforest, a World Heritage Area and the white sand beaches of Cape Tribulation, Cape York wilderness begins further north, while to the west lies the Gulf Savannah and the Undara Lava Tubes and Talloroo Hot Springs.

To the west are also some historic and iconic old outback towns (like Chillagoe and Dimbulah) with typical central Australian landscape and climate

Sports Facilities/Clubs

The town of Atherton has excellent recreational facilities which include an Olympic sized swimming pool, golf course, squash courts, indoor cricket facilities, ten pin bowling, lawn bowls, gun/rifle clubs, soccer, hockey, athletics and gymnastics, tennis courts and many other sporting activities.  There is a sailing club at Tinaroo, the Tablelands Walking Club and Tablelands Canoe Club to take advantage of local beauty spots.  The Atherton Turf Club is very active and has regular meets at the Turf Club at Tolga, as does the Atherton Pony Club which has its own grounds at Rangeview near Tolga.

There is a strong cycling fraternity with rides every Sunday morning

Local Entertainment/Events

There is a wide variety of entertainment offered by community organisations throughout the year such as the Atherton International Club and RSL Club.

Numerous historic pubs and hotels make finding a cold beer and hot food easy as well as satellite sports channels.

For those who enjoy wining and dining there are many restaurants and bistros in and around Atherton, offering a wide variety of dishes and styles such as Australian, Chinese, Italian, Swiss, French, Laotian, Indonesian and Indian.  Atherton is also well represented by a wide range of take-away franchises and cafes.

There is a wonderful old picture theatre in nearly Malanda which features the latest movie releases every weekend, a nightclub and very active community theatrical production companies in both Atherton and Malanda.  Events and festivals dot the Atherton calendar and include the Atherton Show held every July, the Maize Festival in September, Annual Turf Race Days and a Food Festival.

Art and craft markets similarly abound with markets on every weekend somewhere on the Tablelands.

Community Services/Support

The community service clubs are very active in the Atherton area and include Rotary, Lions/Lioness, Jaycess, Soroptimist and RSL.  Community health focus groups include Atherton Neighbourhood Centre, Blue Nursing, Meals on Wheels, Divisions of General Practice, Indigenous Community Groups and many others

Discover the local wildlife by pristine Waterfalls and Crater Lakes; Bird Watch or spot Platypus.
Tour our many galleries, wineries, cheese factories and coffee plantations to fully appreciate the local creative talents. Adventure out for a scenic drive midst the rolling green pastures pausing to take a leisurely bushwalk through the rainforest.

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A multi-cultural district rich in wildlife, museums, coffee and wine, with clear blue skies perfect for flying, Mareeba has a history going back to the gold mining days, and a strong sense of community spirit which sees support for traditional outback sports such as the famous annual Mareeba Rodeo.


Mareeba is situated 64 km west of Cairns at the northern end of the Atherton Tablelands at the start of the open savannah country. It is also 1765 km from Brisbane. Mareeba is situated about 50 minutes drive from Cairns


Mareeba has an overall tropical climate with significant rainfall most months of the year. With temperatures ranging between 17 degrees C and 30 degrees C in summer and between 10 degrees C and 21 degrees C in winter

Education Facilities/Family Care

Mareeba has two primary schools, two secondary schools and a TAFE campus.

  • St Thomas of Villanova Catholic Primary School
  • Mareeba State Primary School
  • Mareeba State High School
  • St. Stephen's Catholic College
  • Tropical North Institute of TAFE

Places of Interest

Mareeba is perhaps best known for coffee plantations and scenic landscape as a place to stock up before road trips to remote outback areas of Far North Queensland, but there’s actually more to discover here than most people imagine.

Coffee Plantations

Mareeba is known for its coffee plantations and many people self drive here to do the ‘Coffee Trail’ which includes Skybury Coffee, Jacques Coffee and CoffeeWorks. All three of these are different but equally great to visit.


If you love a good wine then you should drop into one of the wineries in the Mareeba region to taste some of our local varieties. DeBrueys Boutique Wines, the Golden Drop Mango and Mount Uncle Distillery provide a good selection of wines, ports and liqueurs.

National Parks

Mareeba is surrounded by some beautiful national park areas including Davies Creek and Emerald Creek Falls.

Sports Facilities/Clubs

Mareeba's local sporting teams are:

  • Rugby league — Mareeba Gladiators: The Gladiators participate in the Cairns District Rugby League competition. They last won the Premiership in 2007.
  • Football (soccer) — The Mareeba United Football Club, known as the Mareeba Bulls: the Bulls have dominated the local football scene for the past decade. The sustained success of the Bulls has brought the title for Mareeba as 'Football Capital of North Queensland'. In 2009, the Mareeba Bulls entered the Queensland State League, as the FNQ Bulls, incorporating the entire FNQ Football area, being based at the Bulls home ground at Borzi Park, Mareeba.

Both the Mareeba Karting Club and the Far North Queensland Motorcycle club hold monthly race meetings at the Makotrac International Racetrack which is located five kilometres from Mareeba.

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The city of Cairns is located 1,807 kms North of Brisbane and about 350 kms North of Townsville


Cairns, like all tropical regions, has a warmish climate. In cooler fmonths temperatures can drop to around 17°C. The warmer months generally experience temperatures in the low to mid 30’s. The rainy months tend to be December to April, when the waterfalls and rivers really flow. June to October experience the lowest rainfalls.

Getting There / Transport

Cairns is on the Bruce Highway. The city is serviced by a modern railway station and rail freight terminal. There is a coach transit centre and a privately owned public bus company and taxi company. The international airport is the fifth busiest in Australia. With the city’s well-equipped seaport, you can even arrive by cruise ship!


Prior to white settlement, the area was home to numerous indigenous tribes. The port was founded in 1876 to service the inland goldfields. The gold mines saw many substantial buildings erected, some of which survive alongside the best of modern architecture. The city was named after the then Governor, Sir William Cairns and was part of Mulgrave Shire. The first elected mayor was RA Kingsford, the grandfather of aviator Charles Kingsford Smith. The city is home to a century old Botanical Gardens. In the past, gold and other mining have been carried out. Secondary industries such as sugar and timber mills, meatworks, pineapple cannery and shipbuilding have operated in the area.

Economy/ Local Employment

Cairns provides for the commercial, industrial and agricultural and service needs of the area. Today, tourism is the biggest employer. Sugar, shipbuilding, the prawn industry and the public sector are significant sources of employment.

The People / Socio Demographics

Cairns is home to approximately 165,000 people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. This adds to the cosmopolitan feel of the place. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, as well as South Pacific Islanders maintain strong links to the area. Most denominations are catered for. All major service organisations are active in Cairns. There is also a Royal Flying Doctor base located here.

Education Facilities

Students of all ages are well catered for in Cairns. The Cairns campus of James Cook University is located North of Cairns at Smithfield. There is a well-established TAFE college, complete with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander campus. Tourism, Hospitality and Catering are major training areas for TAFE. The area boasts 24 State primary schools, 15 non-government primary schools, seven state high schools and eight schools for students with special needs.

Real Estate and Accommodation

The majority of the area’s housing is privately owned. The area is well served for rental accommodation. The council is encouraging unit, villa and apartment-style development, especially in the Central Business District.

Places of Interest

The historic Botanical Gardens and The Esplanade. Bird watching along the foreshore, the scenic Kuranda area, fishing on the reef, the weekend markets with their produce and crafts. White water rafting and the Barron Gorge. The many parks and gardens as well as the incomparable reef make Cairns a great place to explore.

Collage of Cairns

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The Boulders


About Babinda

Babinda is a small sugar town situated on the Bruce Highway 60kms south of Cairns and is located at the base of Queensland's highest mountains, Mt Bartle Frere and Mt Bellenden Ker.  Babinda is known for being one of the wettest towns in Australia with annual rainfall exceeding 3500 mm and is home to many natural swimming holes including "The Boulders".


The sugar industry dominates Babinda however some farmers are now diversifying into exotic fruit, hobby farms and alternate crops such as taro.


Babinda has a state primary and high school and private, catholic, primary school.  There are other state schools situated in surrounding areas of Miriwinni, Bartle Frere, Bellenden Ker and Macdonnells Creek.

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Innisfail Bridge View


About Innisfail

The town of Innisfail is a thriving community located 88 kms south of Cairns in Far North Queensland.   The population of Innisfail is approximately 12,000 people and most of the local employment is centred around primary industries, with seasonal work available on banana and cane farms and in the sugar mills.  Other industries include fishing and foundry.

Most major shopping chains are represented in Innisfail including KMart, Country Target, Coles and Woolworths and all major banks having branches located in the central business area.


There are basically two seasons.  From December to the end of March is the "Wet Season" with temperatures usually ranging between 20° - 37°C.  From April to November the temperature ranges from 14°- 28°C.  The annual average rainfall is approximately 3660mm.

Getting There

All major coach lines operate between Cairns and Townsville and air-conditioned coaches travel direct from Cairns Airport and CBD. The closest domestic and international airport is located in Cairns, and Innisfail is on the major train line to Brisbane in the south, and Cairns in the north. Driving time from Cairns is approximately one hour and the trip along the Bruce Highway is both comfortable and scenic.


Canecutter Monument Innisfail

Innisfail was established in 1873 as "Geraldton" on the junction of the South Johnstone and North Johnstone Rivers.   It was renamed Innisfail in 1910.  Its buildings, many of which date from the 1920's to 1940's, reflect a strong multi-cultural influence, including southern European and Asian, with many being listed on the National Heritage Register.

Many of the town's original timber buildings were destroyed in a cyclone in 1918 and were rebuilt in stone in the "Art Deco" architectural style.  Innisfail is proud of its unique collection of examples of Art Deco architecture and there is strong community support for the buildings to be restored and painted to their original glory.  The Art Deco theme is becoming a major drawcard for tourists.

During the Gold Rush days the area attracted a large number of Chinese who built in 1940, and still maintain, a Joss House which stands in the central business district.


Innisfail industries include sugar, fishing, grains, tobacco, bananas and various tropical fruits such as mangoes, paw paws and passionfruit.
There is a deep water port at Mourilyan Harbour which caters for cargo and freight ships and is utilised as a sugar handling facility.

Education Facilities

The area offers a wide range of education facilities including state primary and high schools and private (Catholic ) primary schools and colleges.  Further education is available at the local TAFE college and James Cook University is conveniently located in Cairns and Townsville.

Places of Interest

The area features many tropical beaches such as Etty Bay which has a "stinger net" in summer for safe swimming, Flying Fish Point and Ella Bay. Other places of interest in the area include:

  • Paronella Park - Spanish-style stone "Castles" in the rainforest with waterfalls, swimming hole, duck and turtle feeding and walks through magnificent gardens
  • Johnstone River Crocodile Farm - a commercial farm featuring over 1000 crocodiles ranging in size from 0.5 to 5 metres and other wildlife such as reptiles, rainforest dingo and cassowaries
  • The Australian Sugar Industry Museum - located on the highway 7km south of Innisfail at Mourilyan
    Warrina Lakes - botanic garden and playground featuring a swimming pool and function centre

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Tully Golden Gumboot


About Tully

Tully is located on the Bruce Highway 120 kms south of Cairns and 40 kms south of Innisfail.  Tully is part of the Cardwell Shire which includes Mission Beach and Dunk Island.  The population of Tully town is approximately 3,500 and a growing population of 10,000 resides in the area including Cardwell and Mission Beach.  Tully is one of the wettest towns in Australia with average annual rainful exceeding 3500 mm.


Tully has one high school and several primary schools including one Catholic school.  Tully has branches of most major banks and one major supermarket and many locally owned small businesses.  Mission Beach features many interesting galleries, bed and breakfasts, backpacker accommodation and restaurants.  Dunk Island can be accessed by Water Taxi from Wongaling Beach.


The main industries in Tully are bananas, sugar, cattle, aquaculture and tourism.  The Tully River is world famous for its white water rafting and many tourist buses visit the area every day.

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Last updated: 13 August 2018