Chillagoe Caves; completely worth the drive

We’ve seen our fair share of caves all over Australia, but when a number of people recommended we make the 150km drive (one way) out to see the Chillagoe Mungana Caves, we wondered if it would be worth the effort.

Chillagoe is most well known for its caves, and for good reason; when you arrive and see them, its hard to not be awestruck.

Exploring Donna Cave in Chillagoe
Chillagoe Caves have a huge reputation, and for good reason
Chillagoe Archways
The caves at Chillagoe are truly sensational
Exploring the archways cave
Walking into the beautiful Archways Caves

How many caves are there?

Chillagoe has 6 caves that are accessible to the public (with supposedly hundreds more out there).

3 of these can only be accessed with a ranger guided tour that you book in town, and the other 3 are self guided caves. That means you head there when you want, with your own gear, and go in on your own.

Cooper and Oliver in the caves
Some of the caves are free and self guided, and others cost money and need to be done on a tour

Accessing the caves

The Chillagoe Mungana Caves vary in length, size and difficulty. If you are doing a guided ranger tour, you’ll be going into a cave that is set up for people to tour through, and that makes it a lot easier.

The Donna Cave for example, has lights inside, full stainless steel handrails and stairs, and requires you to duck down a bit at most. This is classified as a moderate grade, and 830m return taking around an hour.

Donna Cave is guided and huge
Donna Cave is well set up with lots of walkways, hand rails and lighting
Donna Cave views
Incredible scenes every direction you look

Trezkinn Cave is also a moderate grade, and 830m return, but only takes about 45 minutes.

Royal Arch is 1.3km return, and 1.5 hours, but easy to moderate grade.

Then, you have the 3 self guided Chillagoe Cave tours.

The Archways is easy to access, and you walk through the majority of it without a head torch, with only one short tunnel requiring you to crawl through on your hands and knees (with lots of clearance).

Archways Cave in Chillagoe
The Archways are just as beautiful from above as a walk through
Looking down on the Archways
They’re massive, and have to be seen to be believed
Walking through the Archways
This was the first cave we did, and we completely fell in love
Looking at the Archways
If you take your time and have a good look around, its incredible
The Archways Cave
We all thoroughly enjoyed this cave

Pompeii Cave is much harder to get into, and requires you to climb down rocks to the bottom, and hop around a number of bigger boulders to look around. This is one giant cavern, and you really need a head torch to see it well.

Pompeii Cave at Chillagoe
The entry to Pompeii Cave sets a tone
Inside Pompeii Cave
It opens up a lot, but you still want to be fit and confident

Bauhinia Cave is even harder again, with a small, steep descent down into a cavern at the bottom. We managed to get our 4 and 6 year old boys in (just my Dad and I) safely, but it was starting to push the friendship, and if you aren’t confident in your climbing abilities this is not a cave to go to.

You absolutely need a head torch for this, and a backup light source in case things go wrong.

Exploring the Bauhinia Cave
Bauhinia Cave was harder to get down, and pitch black

Balancing Rock

Whilst this isn’t a cave, its worth mentioning as its pretty incredible. On your way out to Donna, Pompeii and Brauhinia Cave, you’ll go past the turn off to the Balancing Rock, which is a short gravel road and a car park at the end.

There are some more aboriginal art viewing options here, or you can walk the 220m to Balancing Rock.

This is a massive vertical rock that is literally balancing, and if you look at it from the right angle you can see its leaning a fair bit. I’d say the rock is a good 6 metres tall, and is quite the sight to see, along with the scenery nearby.

You should absolutely check this out; its fast, beautiful and would be a magic place to watch the sun go down.

Looking at the Balancing Rock
The Balancing Rock is seriously impressive too
Dad at the Balancing Rock
It’s a big Rock!

See our vlog

YouTube video

What are the caves like?

I love being shocked by amazing places, and it didn’t take long for that to happen at the Chillagoe Caves.

The Archways are absolutely magnificent, and huge. You’re walking for a decent amount of time, exploring so many amazing different scenes. Even from the outside, its pretty clear that this is a super special place.

Donna Cave is massive, stunning and well worth a look through, and we thought Pompeii and Brauhinia Cave were much less exciting, although still worth doing (especially as the kids loved them).

We didn’t do Royal or Trezkinn, but met others who said they are worth doing.

Sign at Chillagoe Caves
We thought the caves were absolutely worth a look

What do the ranger guided cave tours cost?

Adults are $30.45 for each cave, children under 4 are free, children between 4 and 15 are $15.10, and concessions are $24.40. You can also get a family pass for $76.40, and there are some better deals if you do 2, or 3 cave tours.

What else can you do in Chillagoe?

There’s a surprising amount of things to see around Chillagoe, and they’re all very close to town.

You’ll find a couple of aboriginal art sites, water holes on the creek that are up there with the best you’ll go to, a very well setup smelter lookout from the mining days, and plenty of history throughout the town. We spent a couple of nights at the Chillagoe Hotel, and really rated it.

Aboriginal rock art at Chillagoe
There’s a fair bit of Aboriginal Rock Art at Chillagoe
Chillagoe Weir Swimming
The swimming holes here are absolutely insane
Chillagoe Smelter
There’s a heap of interesting history in Chillagoe too

I was completely and utterly blown away by Chillagoe, and if you are looking for a reason to come, the Chillagoe Caves are enough, but it offers much more than just that.

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