Chillagoe’s most famous tourist attraction of course are the limestone caves. These caves are located below the distinctively weathered limestone bluffs that grace the landscape of the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park in North Queensland.
One knows they have reached Chillagoe when they start to see these outcrops.
Inside the caves, dissolving limestone creates spectacular caverns and passages. The main elements are stalagmites (forming from the bottom up) and stalactites (formed from the ceiling).
When these meet, they form columns. Other spectacular formations can be seen throughout the caves, some even resembling animals, people or buildings.
We as tourists are given the opportunity to explore these caves with the aid of artistic lighting and sophisticated walkways. Of course there are many steps to tackle and occasionally low areas where one must crouch down.
For those fit enough to manage these conditions, the experience of actually being inside the caves is so incredible.
Adding to that are the very experienced local guides who take you through some of the caves. We had an aboriginal guide called Eddie who was both knowledgeable and personable making the tours a memorable occasion.
Cave Tours can be booked through the Hub in Chillagoe. It is well worth phoning ahead to book as the tours can be very popular at times.
There are three ranger-guided paid tours and three self-guided tours which are free to enter.
In our three days in Chillagoe, we chose to do two guided tours (Trezkinn and Donna) and one self-guided tour (The Archways). In hindsight, I wished we had also seen the Royal Arch cave, but the Bauhinia and Pompeii Caves were a little out of our comfort zone.
Below is a photographic tour of the caves we visited. There is so much written about the caves on the internet, and even in the caves themselves there are signs to read. For me I was just in awe of the beauty before us and hope I can convey that here.
To reach this cave, you must travel up 140 steps to the entrance. The cave itself is very well lit and apart from some steep steps, is quite easy to navigate.
Extra spotlights highlight the special features of this cave.
This beautiful “Chandelier” had everyone staring up to the ceiling of the cave.
Don’t forget to look up and down and then turn around and see what you may have missed.
If you are keen on photography, there is plenty of time to stop and take photos. The engineering of the walkways through this cave is exceptional.
Closer to the carpark with less steps, you descend into this cave through a narrow entrance to be confronted by the star of the show, the Madonna rock with her shadow cast upon the wall of the cave. Spectacular.
There is so much to see in here from sparkling crystals, huge open “rooms”, very tall structures and many levels.
Lots of interesting features to look out for as well.
I liked how the lighting in here was a little dimmer but with a focus on the highlights. Great for photography.
There were a few areas in which you had to crouch down but nothing too difficult.
Having researched this cave and seeing just one photo of the trees above the caves, I wanted to visit this place.
What an unexpected surprise of so many shafts of sunlight, tunnels and rock formations. Loved it.
Loved how little shafts of light shone into the caves.
It was very easy to navigate on our own with only one squeeze point and very little need for a torch (but still it is best to carry one with you).
As I mentioned before, we didn’t go into Bauhinia Cave due to having to scramble down large boulders. The Pompeii cave was similar difficulty. Will just have to leave them to the young and more adventurous people!
For those keen on hiking, there are a number of walks in the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park ranging from a couple of hundred metres to 9km return hikes.
Once again, I totally recommend that you find the time to visit Chillagoe and its surrounding district. So much to see and do and the people are really friendly.
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