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Chillagoe - Cities, Towns and Localities
The historic town of Chillagoe in the Tropical North Queensland, offers visitors a taste of the real Outback, in one of the world’s unique geological sites. As well a history built on mining, the region rests on an ancient seabed that over 450 million years ago, teamed with prehistoric marine life.

Located 141 km west of Mareeba, 205 km west of Cairns, and at 352 m above sea level, Chillagoe offers the visitor a unique combination of a relic copper mine, historic town, limestone caves and Aboriginal culture, as well as its newest addition ‘The Hub’ from the Queensland Heritage Trails Network.

The human history of the region stretches back 35,000 years with significant Aboriginal rock art site that have been found here.

The region was first settled as a pastoral property in the 1870s by John Atherton’s son William, who had travelled down the Walsh River looking for suitable cattle grazing land and finally settling at Chillagoe Creek. In 1887 two men working for the mining baron John Moffat (of Irvinebank fame) found copper and silver deposits on Chillagoe Station. Moffat soon began mining the area, however transportation was a problem. He solved this by building a private railway line from Mareeba to Chillagoe and Mungana. Work on the line commenced in 1897 and was completed in 1900. The Chillagoe smelter opened in 1901 and at its peak employed over 1,000 men, extracting gold, silver, copper, and lead from ores which were brought in from the surrounding area.

In 1918 the Queensland Government purchased the railway from the Chillagoe Railway and Mines Company. The mine closed down in 1943.

The town’s biggest attraction are the Chillagoe Caves, described as a mystical underground world of rare limestone caves and Aboriginal art. The National Parks and Wildlife Services Office has free maps of the area with clear directions to each of the caves.

Don’t forget to visit Bluffs Lookout for a breath-taking sunset and sunrise view, and to Boogie Hole, where water spills over rocks into a deep pool and children can play on the sandy beach. You can try your hand at fossicking for crystals at nearby Muldiva Creek, there is also good fishing along the Walsh River.

Check out our listing of Chillagoe accommodation. In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local maps and other information.

Information Centre The Chillagoe Hub
Queen Street
Chillagoe 4871
Ph: 07 4094 7111

Tropical Tableland Promotion Bureau

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service - Chillagoe

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Chillagoe Attractions

Chillagoe Caves
In an area characterised by volcanic activity it is surprising to find limestone caves, however the limestone in the area is the result of an unusual uplift of sediments (that include coral) which were deposited in the ocean off the edge of the Australian continent about 400 million years ago. As the sea level rose, the continental shelf moved east and then, about 360 million years ago the sediments were compressed and uplifted.

Over 600 caves have been documented in the Chillagoe region, with the largest system claimed to contain over 6.5 km of passage. Every cave is different and names such as ‘The Cathedral Cave, or ‘The Piano Cave’, often give clues to what may be found within.

More information on the geology of the area can be found in the publication ‘Rocks and Landscapes of the Chillagoe District’ which is available from the Parks and Wildlife Service office in Chillagoe Ph: 07 4094 7163.

  Royal Arch and Donna Caves
• Five caves are available for viewing. Both the Royal Arch and Donna Caves are by guided tours. The Royal Arch is a series of 13 chambers spread along a 1.5 km passage with roots from trees and patches of light reaching into the caves. The Donna Cave is the prettiest of the caves in the area, but is quite small.
  Bauhinia Cave and Pompeii Cave
• These can be seen on self-guided tours, but you should bring a torch and must notify the Ranger before entering the caves.

There are a number of interlocking walks which connect the caves, the lookouts and the landmarks. It is possible, for example, to walk from the Balancing Rock to the Donna, Bauhinia and Pompeii Caves (which are all close to each other).

The National Parks and Wildlife Services Office has free maps of the area with clear directions to each of the caves as well as the smelters and the Balancing Rock.

  Other caves include Trezkinn Cave, Castle Cave, Haunted Cave and Spring Cave.

Chillagoe - The Hub Interpretive Centre
• Queen Street, CHILLAGOE QLD 4871 • Ph: 07 4094 7111 • Fax: 07 4094 7122
Located in the heart of the town on the former National Australia Bank site. The Hub is a one-stop shop for visitors, offering information, tours, and an interpretive displays telling the story of Chillagoe.

Chillagoe Museum
• Hill Street, CHILLAGOE QLD 4871
A private collection that includes local Aboriginal artefacts and a collection of pieces of mining equipment. A highlight of the museum is the projectors from the town’s old cinema, in particular the manually operated silent projector.

Marble Pits
The marble produced from these pits were used for the marble floors of the Westpac Bank Headquarters in Sydney.

Just 15 km past Chillagoe is the old settlement of Mungana, once the site of the famous Lady Jane and Girofla copper mines. North of Mungana is The Archways, an open daylight cave system with maidenhair ferns growing in the passageways, and an Aboriginal art site.

Old State Smelters
Continue down the main street of Queen Street, cross the Chillagoe Creek and follow the signs to the Smelters, along a road that passes the Chillagoe Limeworks and crosses the railway line, where you will reach the Old State Smelters. Here is a interesting collection of ruins, which make obvious the scale of the smelters when they were fully operational. Copper from the surrounding area (as far south as Einasleigh) was brought here for smelting. The old chimney stack is still a prominent landmark that can be seen from many kilometres away.

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