What to do and see on the way here from Cairns
Chilligoe and Mungana Caves National Park. https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/chillagoe-caves/: These caves are well worth the visit and well worth the cost of doing a tour. The whole town is lovely and there’s a weir with extremely safe swimming (not even a skerrick of anything scary in these waters) and the tourist park it well appointed, as is other accommodation options throughout the town such as the guesthouse and hotels. Chilligoe was known for its marble production. Not the highest of quality, but there was and still is plenty of it. If you wander around town you are sure to find a chuck of two just laying around and on the drive in you will see huge 1m cubed blocks of it littering the paddocks. You can drive here out through Mareeba, and then onto Mount Garnet to see the lava tubes (it’s good solid gravel road, a bit windy but a really nice drive – ask at the Railway Hotel at Almaden for conditions – ph 07 4094 8307), or back to Mareeba so you can experience the waterfalls, figs, lakes, platypus, craters and other sites around the tablelands etc. and then onto the lava tubes. If you take the second route it’s all bitumen until you turn off for Einasleigh which is in the Etheredge Shire (http://www.etheridge.qld.gov.au/: has a link to its road report on the RHS of its home page).
Undara Lava Tubes
www.undara.com.au: have a camp ground with powered sites for two adults at $37/night, or unpowered at $30. They also offer tours of the lava tubes, which are the world’s longest known lava tubes. The Wildlife at Sunset Tour is highly recommended! Costs $60/person, but well worth it. You start with cheese, wine and bickies on the hill watching the sunset and then go down into one of the lava tubes to watch all the microbats flying out through the trees, trying to avoid capture by the night-tigers (a mildly venomous tree snake) that are hanging in the trees and trying to grab them on their way passed. Don’t fret if you’re claustrophobic or petrified of snakes, you honestly won’t have a problem! True!! The tunnel is huge and the snakes are nowhere near you.
Continuing west further along the Savannah Way there is a turnoff for Einasleigh which is known as the gem trail that goes out to Forsyth and onto Cobbolt Gorge. There’s also Copperfield Gorge which is found right beside the township of Einasleigh as you pass through and an easy stroll from the pub.
Cobbolt Gorge www.cobboltgorge.com.au: Cobbolt Gorge is on private property, via the township of Forsyth. They have a camp ground sith sites from $30/couple/night for unpowered and $40 for powered. The gorge itself is only accessible by tour. It’s a cool little narrow gorge that runs for only one km where you can touch both sides of the gorge at once in some places. These tours start at $89/person, but it’s a pretty nice way to spend a couple of hours. They also offer station tours, chopper tours etc. The new infinity pool overlooking the dam at the campground is a feature virtually unheard of in the bush!
Georgetown Georgetown is the next stop and if you stay at the Council run caravan park you get a free token for the pool/water park across the road, and you are right across from the river walk, which circumvents the town. It’s a very pleasant walk with plenty of greenery and prolific birdlife. The Visitor Information Centre is home to Terrestrial and a world renowned mineral collection that is well worth the time to see.
Carpentaria Shire www.carpentaria.qld.gov.au: has a link to its road report on the RHS of its home page. Also has some useful tips and links to other bits and pieces across the Shire. Even though you probably won’t be off the tar in this shire, if there’s rain about you need to keep an eye on the creeks between Normanton and Karumba as the road can get cut. Up at Karumba there are several tour operators, but the best feedback we get is from the Croc and Crab Tours: www.crocandcrab.com.au, particularly their sunset cruise. Also at Karumba is the Barramundi Discovery Centre where you can tour the facilities and even feed the big girls (if you can hold your nerve that is – they mightn’t have teeth, but they are intimidating to say the least when you see them hurtling towards your outstretched hand with all the pace they can muster!) There’s also plenty of charter operators, it just depends what you want to do. There are no boat hire facilities here, so if you want to get on the water you need to go on a tour or charter.
Back at Normanton is the home of the Gulflander train: http://www.gulflander.com.au/Pages/Default.aspx which gets some very good reviews, particularly for its overnight runs from Normanton to Croyden if you have the time. It’s a pretty cool trip just rattling along the track, with great commentary provided by qualified Savannah Way Guides
- Updated Fri 24 March 17