Just 200kms from Cairns awaits a true Outback experience: a historic desert town complete with country pub, old copper mines, stunning scenery, aboriginal rock art, wildlife, and awe-inspiring caves.
Formed by the action of groundwater dissolving and reforming limestone rock, Chillagoe Caves are an extraordinary and extensive cave system. They are considered to be a world-class example of their kind and they’re well worth exploring.
Discover Chillagoe Caves
If you’re driving your own vehicle to Chillagoe, get there early for the first tour – Donna Cave. All three of the most famous caves can be seen in one day with a guide.
Chillagoe Caves tour tickets are available at Chillagoe’s pub or you can book a tour out of Cairns. Then, prepare to be amazed.
Over 400 million years ago, the Chillagoe Caves began as coral reefs in a shallow sea.
Today they’re a series of eye-popping caverns and passages adorned with impressive stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones. Several species of bat roost and breed in the Chillagoe Caves and they’re also one of just five nest sites for a white-rumped swiftlet.
Royal Arch Cave
This large, intricate cave is the easiest to walk through as the path is mostly horizontal, so it’s easy on the legs. It offers the longest tour – at 1.5 hours – through 11 grand chambers.
Graded ‘moderate’ this one has 200 steps. The tour takes around an hour and highlights the cave’s stunning limestone columns and many calcite crystals.
From the entrance there are great views of area. This cave’s claim to fame is a beautiful ‘chandelier’ formation. This tour takes just 45 minutes and is graded ‘moderate’ as there are a few steep flights of stairs.
There are also three Chillagoe caves you can enter without a guide, although they are difficult to access and you will definitely need a torch.
Things to do around Chillagoe Caves
There are many things to see and experience to do in the surrounding area, including visiting the historic smelter site, bushwalking, swimming and fishing.
Galleries of ancient Aboriginal rock art are all around, but keep in mind that these are protected. Wildlife abounds – so, you’re sure to spot wallaroos, rock wallabies and snakes. There are also around 75 species of bird, so it’s a birdwatcher’s paradise
If you’re into photography, you’ll find plenty of inspiration around the Chillagoe Caves. Top of the list are the gravity-defying Balancing and Dome Rocks. They’re especially beautiful at dawn and as the sun goes down.
Find out more about Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park.