Milk & Beer in Malanda – the Heart of the Atherton Tablelands

After days travelling in Central Australia over miles of red dirt and endless plains

Barkly Tablelands

…we turned left at Charters Towers (135 km short of hitting the east coast) in tropical north Queensland

Atherton Tablelands

and entered the lush green world of the Atherton Tablelands.

Image: Atherton Tablelands

 What a different landscape!

Image: Atherton Tablelands Roads

Malanda, our destination, is synonymous with milk and cheese, and when you see this verdant landscape, it oozes contented cows.

In 1908 John English (the Malanda Hotel’s first publican) along with James Emerson saw the district’s dairy potential and herded over 1,000 cattle, 2,000 km from northern NSW to Malanda ~ Only half made the arduous journey that took over sixteen months, but from those that did survive, the local dairy industry was established and by 1919 Malanda had it’s own butter factory.

Image: Malanda Hotel

Malanda township was officially established in 1911 (just over 100 years ago) when the railway from Cairns arrived. It had crept its way up the range reaching Kuranda in 1890, Mareeba in 1893 and Atherton in 1903. (The line was sadly closed in 1964.)

Image: Malanda Hotel

While James English founded Malanda pub it was his wife Catherine and daughter Mary that ran the pub. Mary’s husband Jack Hanrahan bought the pub from James in 1923, but in 1976 it was repurchased by Tom English, the grandson of the original owner and is now run by his son, Michael and grandson, Jeffrey.

It was officially opened on Boxing Day 19011 ~

Malanda Hotel 1911

Below is a photo from this auspicious day.

Malanda Hotel 1911

“Most of the revellers came on a special train from Cairns. They enjoyed the wood chops and sports during the day, then they danced on the balcony all night. At 8am the next day, they caught the train back to Cairns.”

Malanda Hotel windows

Walking under the verandah down the main street, this is the view you get through the open windows of where people can take a refreshing drink.

Malanda Hotel

From the inside, you can imagine kicking back whilst striking up conversations with people you know as they pass running errands or picking up supplies.

Malanda Hotel Stairs

As you walk inside the Malanda Hotel, you feel little has changed since it opened. You are greeted by a magnificent staircase made from local silky oak milled at the Malanda sawmill.  There is a claim that with the stunning timber ballroom and staircase that the Malanda Hotel is Australia’s largest wooden structure!

Malanda Pub

The original stained glass doors off to the right lead you into the ‘Commercial Room’.

Malanda Hotel Bar


In commemoration of the opening of Malanda as a township in 1911 a picnic was held at the beautiful Malanda Falls.

Image: Malanda Falls 1911


Today, little has changed other than the road that now goes over a bridge.

Malanda Falls

 Have you ventured up onto the Atherton Tablelands?

Where did you go? What did you see?

Or is it still on the ‘One Day’ list? 🙂


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15 thoughts on “Milk & Beer in Malanda – the Heart of the Atherton Tablelands

    • It was an awesome road trip –
      We went from the dry rugged red centre at Uluru to the lush green of the Atherton Tablelands and down to Cairns –
      Loved every km!! 🙂

  1. The Malanda Pub looks superb and that staircase is amazing. I’ve not been around that area before and another corner of the country to explore! Contemplating a little visit to Brisbane around Sept/Oct. I’ll let you know if it comes off. I’d love to catch up again. x

    • The Atherton Tablelands is such a delight being so green and lush, and the 1000m above sea level makes it markedly cooler than down on the humid coast!
      I’m off to Europe in a few weeks, for a few months – but of course would love to catch up if we’re in the same place at the same time 😉

        • I’m going to the south of France at the end of May for 10 days, then up to Scotland, which will be a working holiday for the UK summer –
          Would like to have seen a bit of Italy come the European autumn but will have to see how that develops (in other words your guess is as good as mine LOL)
          Watch this space, and you’ll find out with me!! 😉

      • You would have been most welcome, Linda. I’m glad you enjoyed your time here. There’s a lot to see — not all of it on the tourist route.

        • Our trip was a little bit of a whirlwind tour ~
          But first and overall impressions are what count and they were *wonderful*
          Loved the lushness – the rolling hilliness and the feeling of exploring little lanes –
          A beautiful place to live – envious 🙂

  2. The high vista our journey brought us to was a delight after the miles of flat hot land. The sweeping view as we looked over the lush green pasture land made me think of cheese. The Malanda Hotel is a delight of historic photographs retelling the history. Is there a way for readers to add more pictures to your blog? Looks like I have to blog myself but then they may not be tied together.

    • Unfortunately it’s not possible for others to upload images to this site –
      But if you have them online anywhere we could certainly swap links 🙂

  3. Pingback: How much does it Cost to Travel from Uluru to Cairns?

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