The Tour Specialists Tour Blog
Chillagoe Caves & Outback with Billy Tea Safaris
Posted on April 21, 2010 by Christina
For an authentic Outback experience in a day, look no further than Billy Tea Safaris Chillagoe Caves and Outback Experience. This full day excursion travels through the rainforest and the tablelands before finally arriving at the ultimate destination: The Australian Outback. So sit back, relax, and take in some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever see – all in a day you will never forget!
The day starts with a 6:50am pick up from our accommodation in a ‘purpose built overland vehicle’ which is definitely sturdy enough to handle the rough terrain of the day! After ascending the McAllister Range towards Mareeba the first stop of the morning is the Mareeba Wetlands at approximately 8:30am. On the drive into the park, Andrew, our incredibly knowledgeable guide, pointed out different lizards and birds that call the Wetlands home. Morning tea is served before hopping aboard the environmentally friendly boat for a 20 minute cruise around the lagoon. The lagoon is home to hundreds and hundreds of massive lotus pads and our informative guide explained the area and how the lotus flowers grew in different sections of the lake. On our departure from the Wetlands at 9:20am a family of emus came right up to our bus to say hello!
Our next stop was at a little town called Dimbulah for a quick rest stop, followed by an even smaller town called Lappa. In Lappa, we stopped at the extremely old Espanol Hotel & Public Bar for a quick informative tour. The pub was used by the coalminers when they were transporting coal from Chillagoe to different towns throughout the region.
We arrived in Chillagoe around 11:30am and drove through the small town towards the Chillagoe smelters, where coal was mined and processed. There isn’t much left of these old buildings as nature has done its damage over the years since the smelters shut down. However, what remains of the site is spectacular. Placed against the never ending sky of the Outback, these smelters look like something out of a postcard and are definitely worth a photo or two.
After a fascinating morning, its time for lunch at the Post Office Hotel, located on the main street in Chillagoe. Enjoy your choice of fish and chips or a burger before departing for the highlight of the day – the Chillagoe Caves!
Upon arrival at the caves, our tour guide Bob, gave us each a flashlight and at approximately 1:30pm we headed down into the caves. Our tour was about 45 minutes during which Bob introduced us to the incredible underground world of stalagmites and stalactites and all of the breathtaking chambers of the caves. There were plenty of little critters to keep us on our toes including snakes, spiders, and hundreds of bats! The caves are quite extensive and are historically important to the aboriginal people who used them as shelter from the rain and as relief from the heat during the hot summer months in Chillagoe. From the outside the caves look quite impressive but once you are inside and exploring, they are downright enchanting.
We departed Chillagoe for our return journey back to Cairns around 2:30pm. The trip home always seems to go by faster so before we knew it we were arriving at Skybury Coffee, our final stop of the day. Skybury coffee is a locally owned and operated coffee plantation that serves delicious coffee and boasts spectacular views of the tablelands. It was the perfect way to end our tour of this beautiful region. We were dropped back at our accommodation at approximately 6:00pm.
Chillagoe Caves and Outback experience is like nothing else on offer in the Cairns region. If you’ve got the time during your holiday to explore this incredibly diverse part of Far North Queensland – do it!
By: Andrea Teed, TTS Tour Consultant
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