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Mareeba and Chillagoe Outback Tour from Cairns

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Key Highlights

  • Cruise through magical wetlands full of wildlife
  • A ′must′ for keen birders
  • Visit a mining ghost town and hear the stories
  • See coral reefs from the time of the dinosaurs
  • Activity Schedule
    When does it run?

    Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays


    12 hours

    Start time

    0650h (06:50am)
    Duration: 12 hours

    Meeting Point

    Your hotel in Cairns.
    (We would require your hotel details in order to arrange your pick up. If you do not have this information at the time of booking, please contact the local activity operator at least 48 hours prior to the start of the tour with these details)

    Ending Point

    Your hotel in Cairns

  • Overview & Itinerary


    Experience the wonder of wild Australia and meet the ghosts of speculators past in an old mining town.

    Take a guided cruise in an electric boat to see the fantastic variety of waterbirds at Mareeba wildlife sanctuary. Observe egrets standing sentinel among the reeds and jacanas feeding among the waterlilies.

    Visit the old mining town of Chillagoe. See the copper smelting towers, a monument to fortunes lost. Hear stories and scandals of the mining boom and bust.

    Visit the labyrinthine limestone caves of Chillagoe with an expert. Admire sparkling stalactites and spectacular stalagmites, and see ancient corals from the Age of the Dinosaurs.

    This is an Outback Adventure you will never forget!


    Your naturalist driver/guide will come to meet you at your hotel, Cairns CBD, Northern Beaches incur an additional transfer fee. After introductions you will set off in a 4WD (4-wheel drive) vehicle for your exciting Mareeba and Chillagoe Outback Tour from Cairns.

    You will ascend the McAllister ranges and drive west across North Queensland. After about an hour you will reach the wildlife oasis of Mareeba Tropical Savannah and Wetland Reserve. This pristine wilderness area protects over 5000 acres of savannas (tropical grasslands) and wetlands.

    When you arrive at Mareeba, you will have morning tea and then embark on a 20-minute cruise in an environmentally friendly electric boat. A naturalist guide from Mareeba Reserve will accompany you. As you slip quietly through the waterlilies, you can see egrets, jabirus, jacanas and numerous other water birds as well as frogs, freshwater crocodiles and other animals. This may change due to flooding in the wet season. Wet Season Alternate is Granite Gorge and to hand feed the rare Granite Gorge Rock Wallabies.

    After your cruise you will drive through grasslands where, if you are lucky, you may spot kangaroos, wallabies, lizards, emus and other wildlife.

    From Mareeba you head west across the Great Dividing Range to the historic mining town of Chillagoe, a journey of about 140km (84 miles).

    The old town of Chillagoe dates from the 1870s. You will visit the Chillagoe copper smelters, built in the 1900s by investors convinced of the area's potential. The mineral wealth failed to materialize, fortunes were lost by speculators and the smelters were abandoned in the 1940s.

    At Chillagoe, you will also enjoy a delicious barbeque Australian Pub lunch. The menu includes rump steak or veg patty or fish and a selection of salads. Home made Australian Beef Burgers and Chips or Fish, Chips and Salad. Vegetarians are catered for upon notification prior to commencing tour.

    After lunch, you embark on an enthralling tour of Chillagoe limestone caves (approximately 1 hour). A National Park Ranger from the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park will guide you through this underground 'wonderland'. As you view the spectacular caverns and fossilized coral reefs, you will be transported back to the time of the dinosaurs.

    Afterwards, board your vehicle for the return trip. You will stop for refreshments at the Australian Coffee Plantation “Skybury” (payable direct) on the way, admiring the spectacular views of the Atherton Tablelands and arrive in the early evening.

    At the end of your thrilling excursion, you will be dropped back at your hotel in Cairns.

  • Inclusions & Exclusions


    • Hotel pick-up and drop-off
    • Transportation in a 4WD (4-wheel drive) air-conditioned vehicle
    • English-speaking driver/guide
    • Entrance fee to Mareeba Tropical Savanna and Wetlands Reserve
    • 20-minute guided cruise at Mareeba Wetlands
    • Guided tour of Chillagoe Caves (approximately 1 hour)
    • Morning tea
    • Australian Pub Lunch, including a Home Made Beef Burger and Chips or Fish Chips and Salad, Vegetarians catered for via prior arrangements to tour commencing.


    • Afternoon refreshments
    • Transfers from the Northern Beaches are AUD27.00 per person
    • Transfers from Port Douglas are AUD54.00 per person
  • Please note & Additional info

    Please note

    A certain level of fitness is required for this tour as there are steps into the caves

    Transfers from the Northern Beaches are AUD27.00 per person (payable direct). From Port Douglas, transfers are AUD54.00 per person (payable direct)

    Please call the activity operator at least 24 hours prior to start of the tour for reconfirming departure details

    There should be a minimum of 2 passengers for guaranteed departure

    Voucher information: You must print and surrender a paper version of your booking voucher for this activity (showing your voucher on a smartphone is not accepted). No refund can be given for customers without a printed copy of their voucher.

    Additional info

    The confirmation voucher includes the local activity operator’s contact details and local telephone numbers at the destination. They will happily answer any logistical questions you may have.

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