The Atherton Tablelands & tourism authorities penchant for changing place names

I received an email newsletter from a Cairns (far north Queensland) marketing firm, talking about the ‘Cairns Highlands’. They are referring to what has always been known as the Atherton Tablelands, named after John Atherton who founded the town of Mareeba in 1877, and after whom the town of Atherton is named.

The Reef & Rainforest obsessed tourism marketing mob in Cairns decided a name change was in order, simply to extract more cash from tourists, and renamed the Atherton Tablelands the Cairns Highlands. As if it is an outer suburb of Cairns, rather than one of Australia’s most productive farming regions, densely populated in parts, in Australian farming terms. This century-old place name change occurred in the same way that tourism industry obsessives changed the Landsborough Highway to the Matilda Highway, etc. Australia’s tourism marketing associations would turn everything to plastic if they could, not realising there’s far better long term prospects for authenticity, anyway.

I’d love to see Atherton Tablelands residents petition the government to change the name of Cairns to ‘Atherton Tableland Lowlands’. After all, the Atherton Tablelands feeds Cairns, not the other way around. Or maybe Cairns should be renamed an outer suburb of the Gold Coast?