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.
The original road to Chillagoe began at Herberton and locals claim that a ‘T’ model Ford was used to blaze a shorter route close to the railway track between Dimbulah and Petford in 1949.
Today, the Wheelbarrow Way traverses this same country and follows a similar path close to the railway line which was originally privately owned but has since been incorporated into the state rail system. The line was originally used to ship material from the Chillagoe smelter to Cairns via Mareeba.
Today a journey along the Wheelbarrow Way takes the traveller through rich farmlands and wooded Savannah country.
All but 20kms of the road close to Chillagoe is sealed and travellers should be on the lookout for cattle and horse which wander freely across the unfenced road.
Wildlife abounds in the region and it is not uncommon to see wallaroos and wallabies feeding beside the road.
Travellers should also be aware that road trains use this section of road to take supplies and produce to and from the more remote parts of Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf country.
On the third weekend in May of each year, Mareeba Shire Council plays host to ‘The Great Wheelbarrow Race’. This is an event where competitors push an empty wheelbarrow along the ‘Wheelbarrow Way’ between Mareeba and Chillagoe in three stages.