When travellers visit Australia one key attraction is the famous Aussie Outback. And there are a few locations you can stay at and use as your base to explore this beautiful heartland. With this blog we are looking at the Australian Outback tours from Cairns.
Its fair to say that most holiday makers have a short time on the Australia continent – so using domestic flights is the key to saving you valuable travel time. Believe me, staying longer at key locations makes total. The climate and weather situation also needs to be considered carefully. So read on:
Where? Chillagoe Outback ex Cairns
The trip inland from from the Queensland coast will take you about 3 hours drive – and that is just one-way! That is why we recommend that you do this trip with a local operator such as Billy Tea Safaris. You will get to drive off-the-beaten-track along the Outback’s classic red-dirt roads. And you will learn so many interesting things from your local guide’s commentary. And there is no need to worry about the details. You will be picked from your hotel, given lunch and a guided tour through a caving area.
What does the Outback tour include?
Your tour begins from the moment you are collected by an accredited guide. If you are staying the Cairns CBD, this will usually be around 6.45am. If you are staying at Holloway’s Beach or Yorkey’s Knob, expect pick-up at approximately 7.00am. Guests from Northern Beaches and Port Douglas will be collected from their accommodation by International Coaches. The coaches actually provide a transfer to the Canopys Edge Bus stop. From the Bus Stop, you will leave the coach and transfer to the Billytea Tour vehicles.
Your tour van will climb the McAllister Ranges to the first stop which is at the Skybury Coffee Plantation. This is where you will see so many bird species. Think of a Ostrich like creature, then you will be able to imagine what an Emu looks like. I guarantee you will be awed by the Wedge Tail Eagles as they swoop around for prey. Let us not forget the iconic Kangaroo species you will see around here – and this is just the first stop!
Can you do this by car yourself?
If you are really determined to drive to Chillagoe yourself, you will need to check the policies of your car hire company. Ask if you can take your car on a dirt road. The road to Chillagoe is not sealed all the way. Many companies will not allow dirt road travel. The thing is, by joining a small group tour and being driven around, is so convenient for you. And although this particular tour does not pick up in Port Douglas, they opt for a private transfer to the bottom of the Karanda Range. This option will cost you an $87.00p.p. return and paid direct to your private transfer driver.
What is Chillagoe Outback about?
Chillagoe actually covers the whole of the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park. This area is not really that well known, but it does have such an interesting local history. Chillagoe was once the centre of a thriving mining industry that brought great riches and progress to the area. Of course, nowadays that the Chillagoe smelters are now in ruin, they are still quite a fascinating structure to explore.
The chimneys of the smelters stand as a reminder of the pioneering spirit – you almost picture the workers who had to load the heavy ore on to the trains.
Caving Options at Chillagoe
It seems for a lot of travellers, no tour is complete without a cave explore. At Chillagoe, you will enter a mysterious underground world of majestic caverns and the most exquisite limestone formations.
Donna Cave 9am: 830m return (1hr), moderate grade. At Conna Cave, you will climb downwards through a narrow cave entrance into a hidden world. This cave is a fantasy come true of magical columns and sparkling crystals. In fact, the crystals are so bright, they pierce through the darkness. (To cave: 180m walk with 50 steps from Donna Cave car park. Inside cave: 470m walk with 330 very steep ladder-like steps).
Trezkinn Cave 11am: 830m return (45min), moderate grade. This one is an easy stroll along a steel catwalk. There is a very famous structure here called a handelier’- this is a spectacular cluster of stalactites, lit up by spotlights. (To cave: 300m track with 140 steps from Donna Cave car park. Inside cave: 230m walk with 250 very steep ladder-like steps).
Royal Arch 1.30pm: 1.3km return (1.5hr), easy/moderate grade. You’ll have a great time exploring a labyrinth of passages and 11 caverns with hand-held lamps – how cool is that! Ancient marine fossils can be seen here and of course, limetone formations. (To cave: 250m walk from Royal Arch car park. Inside cave: 800m walk with 300 steps and low overhangs).
Depending on your mobility and fitness, you may find the caves quite challenging. There are many flights of stairs, steep steps, narrow passages and low overhangs. Most travellers have absolutely no problem with this tour. However, some of us do have claustrophobia or perhaps a health condition – it pays to have all the info at hand before you start.
Summary on Australia Outback tours from Cairns
As mentioned before, it’s a good idea to stay longer in key regions. If you have your heart set on going to see Uluru Rock (Ayers Rock), then by all means do it. But just remember, you don’t have to visit Ayers Rock in order to see the great Australian Outback. By leaving Uluru out, you will avoid the cost of additional domestic flights. So instead, spend 4 nights in Northern Queensland – either Cairns or Port Douglas. Go snorkelling one day, then visit the Daintree Forest the next day. Crown it all off with an Outback tour into the Chillagoe area. You will get Australia on ‘one plate’ and with far less interstate travelling. Anyway, something for you to think about.