CHILLAGOE-MUNGANA CAVES: A perfect two day Outback experience from Cairns

Not far from Cairns, in Queensland’s Tropical North lies an intricate and mystifying underground network of caves. It has tunnels, caverns and nocturnal wildlife to explore.  Be in awe of the underground beauty and geological history that Queensland has to offer in this excellent two-day adventure. 

Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park is less than 3 hours away from Cairns. This actually makes it the perfect little Outback Queensland area to explore.  But don’t just believe me, kids are also enthused about this incredible experience and even naming it there must place in Queensland! It is on mostly sealed roads, except for the final 30 kilometres which have unsealed sections.  Queensland National Parks recommends this is suitable mainly for conventional vehicles, except during the Wet Season.

Day 1:

Set off from Cairns nice and early to make the first 11 am rangers tour of the Trezkinn Cave.  Be sure to check the rangersguided tours for their current schedule.The drive will take you through the drastic landscape changes of northern Queensland.  Leaving the Tropical North coastlines, you will pass by the rolling green hilled farming communities of the Atherton Tableland. Finally, entering the rugged and rocky outcrop landscapes of Outback Queensland.

Terezin Cave: Chandeliers and accident at 11 am

Arriving into Chillagoe is like a step back in time. 

This town was once a thriving mining town, mined for a range of minerals. However, today Chillagoe is where you’ll find the most impressive cave structures you will be visiting. Noteworthy for the marble quarries and small zinc mine.  Access to Trezkin Cave is by guided tours only.  Remember to drop into Chillagoe Hub Information Centre to finalise your tickets.

Trezkin Cave named after the two National Park rangers that fell in and accidentally discovered this cave. In fact, this is considered to be the most beautiful of all three guided cave tours.  Furthermore, the reputation comes from the intricate yet dominating central ‘chandelier’ in this cave made over millions of years and now bathed in the spotlight for our best view. 

Most of all, the feature includes stalactites that have branched and grown over each other to form this grand hanging chandelier.  The electrical lighting in this cave, although not great for photography, will actually leave you romanced. It is indeed spell-bound that a pile of recycled calcium carbonate is a very beautiful feature. 

Royal Arch: Fossils and  at 1:30 pm

Next, on your second guided cave expedition for the day. The Royal Arch cave offers you a differing perspective of our dark underground world.  First of all, you’ll see 11 chambers with an unexpected shaft of daylight and even the labyrinth of tunnels. Then,  false floors are one of the largest cave systems in the area. 

Your tour guide will impress you with the naturally sculptured limestone formations scattered throughout the cave. The ancient beds of marine fossils are highlights of this tour.  Through the partially lit passageways with handheld lights, you’ll see an astonishing number of microbats that will dart in front of you. This vital bat breeding habitat.  

Settling In For The Night

Chillagoe offers a range of accommodation from motels, cabins, caravan parks and even a free camping spot.  Don’t feel like cooking for the night, no worries!   Chillago is a small town but offers excellent outback hospitality with a café, hotel and the local pub meals and an opportunity to meet the friendly locals.   


Day 2:

Mesmerised in Donna Cave at 9 am

Descending a narrow cave entrance into the hidden underground world, you will discover the fascinating stalagmite columns. You’ll also witness sparkling crystals and the enchanting cave decorations such as The Madonna illuminated in the darkness.  Above all, at low sections of this illuminated cave, you will need to crouch down. When you do. you’ll to get a cave dwellers view of the limestone formations.

How is that still standing?  Balancing Rock and Aboriginal Rock Art

An easy walk from the Donna Cave car park, the Balancing Rock makes for some great photos, especially at sunrise or sunset.  But,, How this rock is still standing up is beyond me!  Nearby the Archways, you will find the Mungana Aboriginal Art Site.  Follow the trail that meanders through the rocky outcroppings and discovers the ancient works of art on the rocks and the semi-open caves and tunnels.  

Keen To Go On A Self-Guided Cave Adventure?

Have more time? See more of what is in the area.  Make sure you are well prepared with plenty of water, torches with new batteries, appropriate caving attire and footwear and notify someone of your journey and what you are expected to return.  

  • The Archways – 220m return Grade:  Easy
  • Pompeii Cave – 600m return Grade:  Difficult
  • Bauhinia Cave – 300m return Grade:  Difficult
  • Tour the Chillagoe Smelters


PRICES for the three cave tour:

$141.40 for a family for the three cave tours.  Includes the guide and lighting if required.  Wear appropriate footwear and caving attire, and research if the grade level of the cave is suitable for you.  Organise and pay in advance at The Hub Chillagoe Information Centre.


Looking for another easy two-day itinerary in Outback Queensland, check out family-friendly Cobbold Gorge, FREE and CHEAP THINGS TO DO on the Australian Dinosaur Trail and Porcupine Gorge: Take the Detour!

Need more advice? We’d love to hear from you. We love travelling as a family, sharing our handy advice and saying YES to every adventure! Send us a message and connect with us on social media – Facebook, on Instagram, Pinterest, and our YouTube.



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