Chillagoe is a town in Northern Queensland, within the Shire of Mareeba. It’s located 205km west of Cairns, making it a popular day trip or camping destination for North Queensland Families. It is known for its combination of a relic copper mine, historic town, Aboriginal rock paintings and limestone caves. Here are some free things to do in Chillagoe that are family-friendly.

1. Old State Smelters

The Old State Smelters are an interesting collection of ruins, where at one point in time, copper from surrounding areas as far south as Einasleigh were brought for smelting. The chimney stack is a prominent landmark that can be seen from kilometres away.

2. Bauhinia Cave 

This is one of the caves that can be explored on a self-guided tour. The Bauhinia cave is just 300 metres return, but the hiking grade is difficult. Make sure you notify the ranger before entering the cave and bring a torch, and exercise care. Can be accessed from Donna Cave car park.

3. Pompeii Cave

Pompeii Cave is another cave that can be explored on a self-guided tour. It is 600 metres return, but the walk is steep. Keep your eyes peeled for bats sleeping in dark crevices. Same as above, notify the ranger before you head in, and bring a torch. Can be accessed from Donna Cave car park.

4. Balancing Rock

A short circuit walk will take you to Balancing Rock, a large boulder precariously balanced on a hillside. It’s certainly a stunning natural marvel that are sure to provoke a “wow!” from the kids.

5. Stargazing

Because Chillagoe is in such a remote location, it makes it ideal for stargazing. If you’re planning to stay the night, stargazing should definitely be one of your planned activities. You can also visit the Chillagoe Observatory for an even better experience, although it’s at a cost.

6. Indigenous Rock Art

Indigenous people have been living in the Chillagoe area for an estimated 37,000 years. You can see art at both Mungana and Wullumba. Mungana is located 15km out of town and Wullumba close to the Balancing Rock. Just remember to enjoy the art with your eyes only; no touching.

Fun fact: It’s thought the origin of the town’s name is from an old sea shanty which went “Hikey, Tikey, Psychey, Crikey, Chillagoe, Walabadorie.”

Feature image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.