Back Chillagoe-Mungana Caves Self Guided

Chillagoe-Mungana Caves

Chillagoe is 215km or three hours' drive west of Cairns via Mareeba and Dimbulah on the northern end of the Atherton Tableland. The road is sealed all the way except for about 16km of gravel just before Chillagoe. Chillagoe can also be accessed via Herberton from the southern end of the Atherton Tableland, although there are more gravel roads along this route. Conventional-vehicle access is possible in dry weather but roads may be impassable in the summer wet season.

Balancing Rock track 440m return (15 minutes) Grade: Moderate

From the Balancing Rock car park, located 2.8km from Chillagoe, a rough track climbs up the rock formation to view the spectacular limestone outcrop and the surrounding landscape of open woodland. Balancing Rock is an example of tower karst, a feature of world scientific interest found around the Chillagoe area. Balancing Rock can also be reached from the Donna Cave car park, via an easy 2km return walk meandering through open woodland.
Royal Arch track 9km return (2.5 hours) Grade: Easy

From Donna Cave car park, this pleasant walk passes Balancing Rock then winds behind the outcrop to cross the picturesque Chillagoe Creek, lined with huge, old, paperbark trees. The track continues on through open woodland featuring bloodwoods, Cooktown ironwood, teatrees and grevilleas, before reaching Royal Arch bluff, an imposing jagged limestone outcrop rising abruptly from the surrounding woodland. Here the vegetation changes once more to the deciduous species common on all limestone outcrops. Look for agile wallabies and the larger wallaroos and listen for the many different species of birds along the way.
Pompeii Cave — 600m return (20 minutes) Grade: Moderate to difficult

(Self-guiding cave - torches are required.)

From the Donna Cave car park, located 1.5km from Chillagoe, a well-formed track through deciduous vine forest and many steps leads to Pompeii Cave, a huge cleft in the rock, filled with large boulders. A short climb to the bottom reveals a dark passage and some attractive formations. Allow at least 45 minutes if you want to explore inside the cave.

Bauhinia Cave 300m return (10 minutes) Grade: Difficult

(Self-guiding cave - torches are required.)

From the Donna Cave car park, a short walk brings you to the entrance of Bauhinia Cave, a dark narrow crevice requiring a steep scramble down large boulders. Please contact the Chillagoe Hub Information Centre before visiting this cave as it is a difficult climb.

The Archways — 220m return (15 minutes) Grade: Moderate

(Self-guiding cave - torches are required.)

The turnoff to The Archways is located at Mungana, 15km along the gravel road west from Chillagoe. Drive a further 2km along a gravel track to reach the car park. This open daylight cave is a giant grike system. A rock-strewn track meanders through deciduous vine forest and huge limestone formations to The Archways. Allow about 45 minutes if you want to follow the tracks around the feature and explore the many side passages inside the cave system. Look for trunk-fruiting fig trees forming a canopy inside the open caves. Wildlife is abundant, and in the wet season the cave is noted for its "garden" of maidenhair ferns. The ferns are fragile so please don't touch.

Things to know before you go

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
* hat and sunscreen
* cool, protective clothing - the limestone rock has sharp edges, so protective clothing is advisable, and cave temperature is approximately 22 degrees Celsius, so warm clothing is not necessary
* torches for exploring the caves
* insect repellent
* rubbish bags, as no bins are provided.

Opening hours

Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park is open year round, although roads may be impassable in the wet season, December to March.

For cave tour bookings and tickets, the Chillagoe Hub Information Centre is open 8.30am-5pm daily and 8am-3.30pm on weekends.


Permits and fees

Fees apply to ranger-guided cave tours. Fees vary depending on age and tour option. For details and bookings, contact the Chillagoe Hub Information Centre.

Permits are required for all commercial activities or group functions within the park.


Pets

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 800mm. Summer (wet season) temperatures usually range between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius. 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 below.

chillagoe cavesmungana

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