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We decided on another night away on Saturday before the boys return to school, so we decided to head to Chillagoe. This time last week, we didn't know anything at all about Chillagoe, we just saw it mentioned on a sign post when we were going to Undara and thought we'd head off there next time. Anyway, Bobj filled us in about Chillagoe and mentioned the area is full of Caves. We also had a quick Google about the area. Chillagoe is located about 3.5 hours west of Cairns. The road isn’t too bad, quite a bit unsealed but still ok in a 2wd, although maybe not in a few weeks when wet season arrives. We got there at lunch time and booked ourselves on a 13:30 ranger guided cave tour. As we'd some time to kill, we then headed off to the site of the old state smelters. While in many respects, Australia is a 'young' country, it's still full on interesting historic sites, and this is no exception. The smelter (for lead and copper) was constructed in 1900 and was used intermittently before being before being abandoned in 1943. There's no cost to visit and a track for cars runs round the site with various information points dotted around. (Photos below) Next stop was the cave tour At the Royal Arch Cave. We've been down a couple of caves in Australia before, but this was definitely the best. ($50 for a family of 5, decent value for money) The tour lasts 1.5 hours and takes you about 400 metres into the cave, through various chambers and passages. The total length of the cave system is around 3km. Unlike the other 2 guided cave tours you can book, there's no lighting in this cave, so everyone is kitted out with battery packs / spotlights. Special Mention for the ranger who did the tour, very knowledgeable, combined with a good line in stand up. One interesting feature of the cave systems are some ancient marine fossils dating from the time when the area was a shallow sea (around 400 million years ago) After the cave, we decided to explore the area a bit more before heading off back to our accommodation. Around 15km away is a self guided cave called ‘The Archways’ and also an area known as the Mungana art site with some aboriginal rock art (pictured below). Not sure on the age of the rock art, but the first habitants of the area were around 40,000 years ago. Next stop was balancing rock back towards town. It's around a 300m walk to the rock and once there, you get a good panoramic view of the surrounding country (picture below). We'd a bit of time left in the day after balancing rock, so we just spent some time driving around looking for wildlife. Accommodation wise, we didn’t book in advance, as it was a last minute decision to go. There's not an enormous choice of places to stop in Chillagoe, but no complaints where we stopped. We stopped at Chillagoe Tourist Village, it was $110 for a family unit for the five of us. It was a decent size, clean, aircon, plenty of hot water (the shower was painful it was that powerful!). A husband and wife were running the site for a month while the owners were away on holiday. Food was good as well, 5 meals cost and drinks cost around 65. Sunday morning, we went to the Trezkinn cave on our second guided ranger tour. This cave system is illuminated throughout so no need for torches. The cave is nothing short of stunning with stalactite and stalagmite formations throughout. The cave was only discovered around 40 years ago and the steps / gangways were built around 30 years ago. (Photos below, although, unfortunately, they really don’t do the cave justice). After the tour had finished, in another man v wild, Bear Grylls moment ! I thought I'd scale the rocks for a better photo opportunity. (below) However, a word of warning, ‘wild’ won. Boy, is that limestone sharp Not sure where we headed too next. We really want to go to Mount Mulligan (rock face 10 times the size of Uluru) and the surrounding area – ghost towns, but that will have to wait until we’ve got a 4wd.