What’s this – I hear you ask? An actual blog post from the Fealy Family again? I know – we’ve been AWOL recently and I’m very sorry if anybody has been missing us! But guess what? We went camping over this Queen’s Birthday June long weekend and it was so, so awesome I have to share it with you and hopefully I will kick back into blogging gear again and fill you all in on what has been happening up here recently!
So, here goes. Let me tell you about Chillagoe!
We had been wanting to head out to Chillagoe for ages and originally decided to offer the camp as a bit of a social/family outing for the kids’ Joey Scout Group. However, we only had one family brave enough to join us – big shout out to the Dickinson boys who have now survived their first Fealy Family camping adventure! Uncle Jimbo also came along on this trip too, but he is an old hat at camping with the Fealy’s so knew what he was in for!
We left home much later than we had hoped due to several bits and pieces going wrong on the farm at Blue Sky that day, but we got away in the end and after a short 1.5 hour drive from Mareeba we arrived in Chillagoe. The road was great – mostly sealed with small patches of dirt (recently graded) with the biggest problem being lots of cattle out and about on the road which meant we had to keep our eyes peeled and slow down many times to pass them.
We opted to camp at ‘9 mile’ a privately owned camp on the banks of the Walsh River at Chillagoe Station. As always, Matt’s decisions on where to camp are firstly reliant on if we can set up the HotTap Shower, and this spot was just perfect! To access this camp you must contact Chillagoe Station and request permission and directions in exchange for a carton of beer! We arrived in Chillagoe as the sun was setting and made a quick decision to head in to the camp site rather than wait for Uncle Jimbo as we were fast losing the light. Armed with some very rough verbal directions, we headed in to the station and our half an hour drive to the ‘9 mile’ campsite. It was a little nerve-wracking as we were racing the setting sun and crossing our fingers that we were heading in the right direction as there were station tracks running off everywhere!
Fortunately we found the campsite with no problems and even got to inspect the site with a little bit of daylight left. We ummed and ahhhed about whether we would give it a shot to camp down on the river bed in the nice shady spots and decided that the river sand didn’t look too soft, and we made it easily into a top spot! We did have to set up in the dark, but we are getting pretty good at that now and had everything organised in no time, including hot showers for all of us and hamburgers cooked for tea! Unfortunately though, we didn’t think we could navigate the station tracks in the dark to head back into Chillagoe to locate Uncle Jimbo, which meant he spent a night in town camped in his car until we were able to go back and find him in the morning – eeek!
Here’s a few photos of Camp ‘9 mile’ – we loved it!
The HotTap got a real work out this weekend, but we set it up right near the rivers edge, with a slight fall and being sand, all the water just drained away back into the river. not including the 30 odd showers it did during the day for every time the kids were cold from swimming, it showered all 10 of us each night without missing a beat!
There was only one other group camped there when we arrived, but a few more came in over the weekend which made it a little busier than we liked but there was still plenty of room for us all to spread out. The kids had a ball, climbing trees, kayaking, fishing, yabby catching and just playing in the sand – it was even great for Kipp as it was not too dirty and the sand was lovely river sand that just brushed off easily.
The real highlight of the trip though (aside from the awesome hot shower) was visiting the caves! They were amazing! We opted to do a two cave paid tour which cost about $30 per adult and $20 per child (tickets need to be pre-booked and purchased from ‘The Hub” Visitor Centre in town). We visited the Donna Cave in the morning, then headed to the Pub for lunch to spend a few dollars and support the local town economy, after that we headed out to the Royal Arch Cave tour for the afternoon. There is another guided cave tour of the Trezkinn Cave available, but that was closed on the weekend we were there as they are doing some reconstruction work. There are also some free caves which you can explore, but unfortunately we did not have time on this trip. Head here to the National Park website for all the information about what to do and explore in and around Chillagoe – we need to go back as there were heaps of bits and pieces we didn’t get to see!
Honestly, the caves were spectacular and you must add a trip out to see them to your list! The photos really don’t do them justice but here’s a few for you anyway!
There were rocks to climb and all sorts of different walks and free caves to explore around the Donna and Trezkinn Caves area. You could easily spend a whole day out here! A word of warning though – it would be extremely hot here in summer and there is not a lot of shade to picnic in!
The Donna Cave was very pretty and well lit with lights, but the Royal Arch Cave tour after lunch was a real experience. We all got our own torches and there was even a little bit of ‘caving’ involved with squeezing and climbing if you were keen to have a go! The older kids loved this cave, but the little ones were getting a bit tired by the afternoon.
One of the best bits of the Royal Arch Cave was the option to do a bit of a crawl through and slide out the bottom of a section of the cave! The kids loved it, the adults thought it was a bit of a squeeze!
After our caving we made one last stop (with some Tim Tam bribery to the tired kids) to have a quick walk and visit to Balancing Rock.
It was such a great day, but unfortunately we had a little bit of a hiccup with the Dickinson car getting a little lost trying to find camp on the way home (it really is quite tricky keeping your bearings on the Chillagoe Station tracks) and then Lexi vomitted in the tent that night after eating waaaaay too many roasted marshmallows round the campfire, so that kind of dampened our spirits a bit for the last night of our camp, but now we can at least say it was all part of the adventure!
We had a quick look at the Chillagoe Eco Lodge & Observatory Campgrounds while we were there too and they looked great with a pool, outdoor cinema and observatory, but just not a lot of shade! The Caravan Park on the way into town did have plenty of shade, but didn’t look very big. Oh, and I nearly forgot the iconic Chillagoe Smelters! We did a quick drive out to them on our way home for a look – lots of interesting history there!
Definitely one of our family favourite camps to date and has us all excited for our annual two week camp coming up soon!!