ChillagoeMungana Caves National Park
About 400 million years ago Chillagoe was the site of a shallow sea with thriving coral reefs. Over time, the limestone formed by those ancient reefs has been folded, stretched, heated and weathered to form the jagged limestone bluffs and underground caves that characterise today’s remarkable landscape. These bluffs contain over 560 known caves, the largest having over 11km of passages. Travel deep beneath the surface to explore spectacularly-lit limestone caves. Three limestone cave systems, Donna, Royal Arch and Trezkin Caves, have been chosen by National Parks because of their different stages of natural development and have steps, walkways and lights for guided tours. Discover the hidden beauty of stalagmites and stalactites, and feel the excitement of following dark passages revealing breathtaking cave decorations. Above ground, take a ‘happy snap’ of Balancing Rock, an impressive limestone bluff and amble along walking tracks through open woodlands to spot agile wallabies, wallaroos and bustards. Be sure to listen for kookaburras laughing in the canopy.
Chillagoe & Petford
Easily accessed by conventional vehicles via the Wheelbarrow Way, Chillagoe is a genuine outback town with fascinating attractions and abundant wildlife. Starting at Mareeba, the Wheelbarrow Way was named after the gold mining pioneers who, when work was scarce and transportation limited, trudged out bearing their worldly goods in a wheelbarrow. An annual footrace with wheelbarrows commemorates this along The Way each May and raises money for charity. On route to Dimbulah, the gateway to the gold fields sprang up on the Walsh River to service the ore trains. Once mining faded, cropping became the focus and today sugar cane, mango and lychee plantations can be seen. Almaden, Petford and Emuford are all linked by the Etheridge railway line, which welcomes the Savannahlander train on its weekly run from Cairns via Almaden and Mt Surprise to Forsayth. Petford, the junction of the road from Herberton, was originally called Wadetown and known widely as a watering hole for the miners of the day. Climb the range to the remains of the 100-year old Lappa Pub, another famed stopover of old. On entering the Chillagoe region, a dramatic landscape created by massive limestone bluffs and rock formations greets travellers. HISTORY After the gold rush in the 1880s, Chillagoe’s population grew to thousands in a new mining boom, however the muchanticipated mother lode of copper did not materialise and the State Government took control of the smelter until production ceased in 1943. The ore smelter was never reused and can now be viewed from a high vantage point that also features interpretive storyboards. The site of the old smelter is also of interest for visitors who can view the tall brick chimney set high on the hill overlooking the town. This is Chillagoe’s landmark that can be seen from a great distance. TOURS Billy Tea Safaris offer a fully inclusive one-day Chillagoe and outback day tour, so why not let someone else do the driving, so you can take in all the history.
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