Visiting Chillagoe safely
Chillagoe is 215km west of Cairns, around 3hrs drive. It can be accessed from the northern end of the Atherton Tableland via Mareeba and Dimbulah. The road is sealed to Almaden. Over the final 32km of road there are both sealed and unsealed sections. Chillagoe can also be accessed from the southern end of the Atherton Tableland via Herberton, although there are more unsealed sections along this route. Conventional vehicle access is possible in dry weather but roads may be impassable in the summer wet season.
Another route to Chillagoe leads from Undara National Park. From Undara drive west along the Gulf Developmental Road for 30km towards Mount Surprise, then follow the narrow and unsealed Ootaan Road for 140km to its junction with the Bourke Developmental Road, near Almaden. This route takes about 3hrs and four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended. See the Department of Transport and Main Roads website for information about road and travel conditions.
A bus service operates from Mareeba to Chillagoe and charter flights operate from Cairns.
Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park is spread over the Chillagoe area with five main access points (see below). All distances are from The Hub Information Centre in Chillagoe.
Royal Arch Cave car park
The Royal Arch Cave car park is about 6km from Chillagoe. Follow Queen Street across Chillagoe Creek before turning left where signposted onto Bolwarra Road. Travel a further 4.3km along a gravel road to the car park.
Donna Cave car park
Donna, Trezkinn, Pompeii and Bauhinia caves can be accessed from the Donna Cave car park, 1.8km from Chillagoe. Follow Frew Street to the edge of town before crossing a cattle grid near Chillagoe Cattle Station. Follow the signs to the car park.
Mungana Archways car park
The Archways is located near Mungana, 17km west of Chillagoe. From Chillagoe, follow Queen Street across Chillagoe Creek and continue on the Burke Developmental Road. Travel 15km and turn right again where signposted. Drive a further 2km along a gravel track to reach the car park. The road will pass the Mungana Aboriginal art site along the way.
Balancing Rock car park
Balancing Rock car park is 2.5km from Chillagoe. Drive along Frew Street to the edge of town before crossing a cattle grid near Chillagoe Cattle Station. From here the route is well signposted.
The Chillagoe Smelters are 2.3km from town. Follow Queen Street across Chillagoe Creek before turning right where signposted. Discover the history of the smelters by following the road to the elevated viewing area that overlooks the historic site. No facilities are provided at this site.
The Chillagoe Smelters is a restricted access area and entry is prohibited. This is a former industrial site—the area is unstable and contains asbestos and other toxic contaminants. Serious injury, disease or death could result from entering this area.
No wheelchair-accessible facilities are provided in Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park.
People with mobility issues should check out Am I able to do a Chillagoe cave tour? and contact The Hub booking office in Chillagoe for advice on what facilities they might be able to access within Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park.
To enjoy a safe visit to Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park, visitors must be well prepared and responsible for their own safety.
- Always take at least two torches when visiting self-guided caves and never cave alone.
- Inform someone of your itinerary including starting and finishing times.
- Take care on loose, uneven and steep sections of tracks and caves, especially when wet.
- Always carry water, wear a hat and sturdy footwear and try to walk in the cooler part of the day.
- Supervise children closely.
- Wear protective clothing and insect repellent to protect yourself from stings, scratches and bites.
- Observe the Chillagoe Smelters site from the viewing area—do not enter the restricted access area .
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
Ranger-guided cave tour tickets
Tickets for ranger-guided cave tours are sold by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service staff based at The Hub in the Chillagoe township. Numbers are limited, so it is highly recommended that you pre-book before arrival and avoid disappointment. Please phone (07) 4094 7111 between 8:00am and 3:30pm to book your tickets, and then drop into The Hub to pay for your tickets. The preferred method of payment is via eftpos.
Essentials to bring
Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Make sure that you bring:
- sturdy non-slip shoes for walking on rough or slippery surfaces
- a hat and sunscreen
- insect repellent
- water container
- torches for exploring the self-guided caves
- protective clothing—the limestone rock has sharp edges, so protective clothing is advisable. Cave temperatures are approximately 22°C, so warm clothing is not necessary while in the caves.
Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park is open year-round, although roads may be impassable in the wet season (December to March). Ranger-guided cave tours to Donna, Trezkinn and Royal Arch caves operate daily—except Christmas Day. Access to these three caves is only possible on a ranger-guided cave tour.
A restricted access area has been declared over the Chillagoe Smelters site; access beyond the fenced area is prohibited.
Fees apply to ranger-guided cave tours—see ranger-guided cave tours.
Permits are required for commercial or organised group activities. See park permits and policies web pages for further information.
Domestic animals are not permitted in Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park.
Climate and weather
There are two seasons in the Chillagoe area—the wet season from December to the end of March, and the dry season from April until November. The mean annual rainfall is 850mm. Summer (wet season) temperatures usually range from 25°C to 35°C. October and November can be very hot and dry while the winter months from May until August can be cool at night. Thunderstorms and rain depressions at the end of November usually herald the approaching wet season. For more information see the tourism information links.
Fuel and supplies
Fuel, mechanical repairs and supplies are available at Chillagoe. For more information see the tourism information links.
- Temporary closure: Royal Arch Cave and Donna Cave, within Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park 9–31 January 2023
- Temporary closure: walking track from Balancing Rock car park to Royal Arch car park, Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park 1 December 2022 to 28 February 2023