When I first visited Chillagoe, I was unaware of its continuing mining ventures and, therefore a little baffled as to why tourists weren’t better catered for in this quaint, historic Outback village. I fell in love with the place, its world renowned cave systems with mining ruins at the end of every disused track. My then partner and I decided to build an accommodation facility in the town and called it Chillagoe Cabins with the intentions being a unique accommodation facility created on the site of earlier mining camps. Although the cabins were new, the site had been used by early settlers since 1900. In those early days, the town was littered with boarding houses and hotels to cater for the workers who toiled in the smelter and mines. The site for the smelter was chosen for a number of logistical reasons. It was close to a permanent water supply (the spring fed Chillagoe Creek), it was centrally located to the mines and the topography suited the construction of the chimneys for the furnaces. These days the smelter is a ruin and a reminder of the hardships that many faced in days gone by although visitors are still able to visit the site and read interpretive signage telling the history of what was the largest metallurgical development in Queensland prior to WW1.
We attempted to harness the spirit of those days but with modern day finesse. Externally the cabins appeared as rustic miners shacks while inside they are modern and clean with memorabilia tastefully scattered around the property. We became wildlife carers and often had injured native animals on site. A favourite with guests were the young kangaroos that often required bottle feeding and as expected, there was never a shortage of volunteers among the guests.
We constructed the cabins in the late 90’s and in between mining ventures in the region. Most other accommodation facilities catered for those miners, but the Cabins always focused on the tourist who visited Chillagoe ensuring they were well looked after in all ways. The Cabins could be used as a base to visit the Donna, Trezkin and Royal Arch Caves. Chillagoe was also a destination for guests on the Historic Savannahlander Train Experience as well as the end of the Great Wheelbarrow Race along the Wheelbarrow Way. Chillagoe is also the home of Tommy Prior and his amazing historic collection of Ford vehicles. There are no signs showing how to get to Tommy’s place but just ask anybody – they all know Tommy.
I now own and run Perentie Tours and Chillagoe is a favourite destination.
More information at http://www.chillagoe.com/
or have a look at the Perentie Tours home page