Chillagoe is on an Alternate Route of the Savannah Way and well worth a detour. The full 4WD Alternate Route runs from the Savannah Way near Mount Surprise along the Ootan Road following the Savannahlander tracks to Almaden, then on a remote loop to Normanton and Karumba, via Wrotham Park and Dunbar Stations. There are no visitor facilities on this loop so be self-sufficient and check road conditions.
A popular short cut to Chillagoe is from Mareeba via Dimbulah and Almaden on a mostly sealed road. This is a great way to link to the Ootan Road or just visit for a few days from your Tablelands base.
The highlight of Chillagoe is a visit to the stunning caves. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service runs excellent guided tours daily through the spectacularly-lit Donna, Trezkinn and Royal Arch caves, full of hidden beauty. Tickets must be purchased in advance from The Hub in Chillagoe.
Visitors can also explore self-guided caves in the National Park. Please check with the ranger base and be well prepared. The Archways (220m / 30 mins / Easy) is a semi- open cave. Pompeii Cave (600m / 50mins / Difficult) is a cleft in the rock filled with large boulders, the remnants of a previous collapse. A short but steep climb to the bottom reveals a dark passage and some attractive formations. Bauhinia Cave (300m / 20mins / Difficult) is entered via a dark, narrow crevice requiring a steep scramble down large boulders to see cave coral. As in all caves please don’t touch the formations, and bring a torch. Check out the caving adventure experiences offered by the local caving club for novices or more experienced cavers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park offers many scenic walking opportunities. Drive 2.5km south to Balancing Rock and stop to view the expansive surrounding landscape on the 440 metre moderate difficulty track. The Balancing Rock track can also be accessed from the Donna Cave car park, 1.8km from Chillagoe, with a walk through open woodland. From Balancing Rock car park the Royal Arch track (9km / 2.5 hours / Easy) passes the Wullumba Aboriginal rock art site and winds past several striking limestone tower karsts to the Royal Arch bluff, an imposing jagged limestone outcrop rising abruptly from the surrounding woodland.
Look for local wildlife, from Rock Wallabies and bats to skinks and insects. Chillagoe is an interesting bird watching region, with over 75 species recorded. In town be sure to visit historic sites such as the Chillagoe Smelters, Police Museum and authentically restored Railway Station. Chillagoe has a selection of caravan parks and accommodation. River swimming is available close to town – ask the locals and stay safe.