A disused Marble Quarry


One of hundreds of caves


Minerals were discovered in the late 1800’s and the township of Chillagoe was formed in 1900 by the workers who toiled in the copper smelter, the mines and supportive infrastructure. Although Chillagoe dominated the economy of Far North Queensland for more than 40 years, the smelter was problematic due to a lack of ore supplies, fluctuating mineral prices, even a fire and cyclone played their part in its demise.

When the smelter closed in 1943, Chillagoe would’ve surely died if it wasn’t for the cattle trade and tourism created by the vast cave systems that were constantly being discovered in the region.

Due to my previous association with Chillagoe, I have a comprehensive knowledge of the region and visit it on a Two Day Outback Tour to these incredible subterranean environments, marble quarries, historic sites and other points of interest in the region. Today Chillagoe’s population is about 300 with some of the families in the region since the smelter days and others who enjoy the lifestyle and Outback hospitality. Mining still haunts the town with a lime works being established in 1970 and marble quarrying in 1982 and there are still regular discoveries of new ore bodies. The town has a fine collection of historic buildings and is a good example of an Outback town with an Aboriginal component. Although Chillagoe is a 2.5-hour drive from Cairns, it’s a must-see destination for those who wish to experience what Far North Queensland has to offer.



Many millions of years ago the Chillagoe region was the coastline of Queensland. Huge coral reefs slipped off the continental shelf and became buried beneath many kilometers of silt, the pressure transforming it to limestone. It later becoming exposed to volcanic activity transforming much of the limestone to marble and creating a reaction that caused intense mineralisation. As Australia eroded away, it exposed a combination of Limestone riddled with caves, marble and minerals. The mineralisation has created uniquely coloured marble with rich copper deposits on the fringes of these bluffs.

More information can be found at,_Queensland


 or have a look at the Perentie Tours home page


About Gary Bondeson

Gary has been directly involved in tourism in Far North Queensland since the 1990’s. His passion for the area was inspired by the rich history and many points of interest concentrated in the region and felt a strong desire to share this with others. Gary is heavily involved with tourism development and even co-hosted an episode of the popular travel show 'The Great Outdoors’ with Tom Williams showing the limestone caves of Chillagoe located 200kms west of Cairns. After being away for 5 years, Gary has now returned to the area that he holds so dear to his heart to share his knowledge and experience with those who wish to have a Fair Dinkum Ozzy experience.

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