Late in the 1800’s when work was scarce and transportation was limited, miners often used to travel about the region using a wheelbarrow to carry all of their possessions. In 2004, as a tribute to these early pioneers and to honour their amazing trail-blazing feats, the road between Mareeba and Chillagoe was named the Wheelbarrow Way.
Today a journey along the Wheelbarrow Way takes the traveller through rich farmlands and wooded Savannah country. All but 20km of the road close to Chillagoe are sealed and travellers should be on the lookout for cattle and horse which wander freely across the unfenced road.
Mutchilba is a small farming community approximately 34km west of Mareeba, well known for its large production of mangoes.
Further west on the Mareeba-Dimbulah Road is the township of Dimbulah. Dimbulah has a memorial hall, local shops, a hotel, caravan park, soccer ground, bowling club and swimming facilities.
Fifty three kilometres north of Dimbulah on the Mount Mulligan Road is the former mining town of Mount Mulligan, the site of Queensland’s worst mining disaster. Opened in 1910, the mine closed after an underground explosion killed 75 miners – all the miners in the town. It reopened in 1923 and continued in production until 1957 when a hydro-electric scheme eliminated the need for the coal. Mount Mulligan is quite simply spectacular with its 18km ridge that is ten times larger than Uluru.
The locality takes its name from the railway station named after John Joseph Petford, an official of the Queensland Railway Department for many years.
Almaden is a township with a population of 71 (2016 Census) and is on the railway line between Mareeba and the mining and cattle town of Mungana. The town is an overnight stop for the Savannahlander train which operates between Cairns and Forsayth.
Chillagoe is a genuine outback town with fascinating attractions and abundant wildlife. When you arrive in town you will instantly notice the tall chimney at the ruins of the old smelter which is iconic to Chillagoe. Entry is free and there is a viewing platform and car park on a high vantage point with informative plaques.
The site is a great photo opportunity and there’s fascinating information on how the pioneers toiled in those days. Today there are many surviving historic points of interest around Chillagoe to be explored at your own leisure. Check out the Railway Station, bank vault, Court House, Police Museum, Post Office and Post Office Hotel. There is so much to see and do that to fully experience, go back in time and immerse yourself in the history of Chillagoe a two nights stay is recommended.
AVIS and Budget car rental allow their conventional vehicles to drive to Chillagoe – but not further westward beyond Chillagoe.