Browsing Tag

Queensland

Destinations Hiking

What to do in Chillagoe, a tiny Far North Queensland town

August 20, 2015

North Australia is unlike anything you can possibly imagine. Theres the endless stretch of scrub, the blazing sun, the dry red dust.. if this combination doesn’t make you crazy, the flies sure will. But more than anything, there’s the heat. Just before sunrise, a calm breeze would dance through camp as if tormenting us, because once that sun rose, it would set fire to the land and suffocate us in a blazing inferno of heat. Welcome to Chillagoe, Far North Queensland.

Plenty of water, good shoes, and an Akubra are a must when exploring Chillagoe

Plenty of water, good shoes, and an Akubra are a must when exploring Chillagoe

Chillagoe is a small town 3 hours from Cairns. The drive will take you through dry and remote country, filling you with an overwhelming feeling that you are about to explore a land filled with historic sentiments.

We camped at local show grounds for almost nothing (see the town Visitor Centre to pay a small fee). This is a small empty field with a tap/dump point and toilet/shower shed. We camped in the rear corner, and I much preferred setting up a makeshift outdoor shower over using the germ-pit provided, out of fear of falling through the floor. But the camp experience was not why anyone comes to Chillagoe. Let me share some ideas on what to do in Chillagoe.

We were here to explore the Chillagoe caves, fish the Walsh River, visit the ruins, and sneak around the Australian scrub looking for whatever wildlife we could find.

What to do in Chillagoe

Say G’day to Old Tom

This guy’s a bloody legend, and famous for his unique Ford car collection. If you’re lucky, he’ll let you take a seat in his gleaming red and white 1965 Shelby Mustang in the open garage- it gets the girls, he says. Drop a donation to get him closer to driving his 1958 green 18cwt Freighter around Australia. Well worth the morning visit listening to his passion explode from within.

Get to the Chillagoe Rodeo

May 8-9. You don’t know Queensland if you haven’t experienced a rodeo in the West. The best $25 you will ever spend. Make sure to book the camp grounds as the Chillagoe rodeo brings folks from far and wide. We were bummed to miss out on the rodeo when we visited in September, but it sure makes Chillagoe come alive.

See the Chillagoe Caves

These are the main attraction to Chillagoe, as theres nothing quite like it in North Queensland. You can self-explore the smaller caves if you have the right footwear and lights, however to see the three big guys, you must do a tour with a Ranger. A 3-cave tour will set you back about $50, but there’s cheaper options for the budget-wise fellas like us. By camping at the grounds we could afford to do a two-cave tour and it was definably worth it. Other walking tracks around the area are best to do in the early morning and offer insight to Australian life on the land.

Amazing natural Cathedral- a welcome relief from the scorching sun outside.

Amazing natural Cathedral- a welcome relief from the scorching sun outside.

Check out the Balancing Rock

Yep, nestled along a walking track in the Australian bush you will discover Chillagoe’s Balancing Rock. If you’re running out of ideas on what to do in Chillagoe, go for a walk. Not only is the raw coloured landscape a photographers delight, the unique rock formations formed from Volcanic activity will blow your mind.

A photographers dream! Take advantage of the amazing textures, shaddows, and natural light affects in this unique landscape

A photographers dream! Take advantage of the amazing textures, shadows, and natural light affects in this unique landscape

Standing in awe of the underground cave system that opens up in parts to the sunshine.

Standing in awe of the underground cave system that opens up in parts to the sunshine.

Visit the ruins

Growing up in Cairns you are more than likely to have a school excursion and camp-out to learn about the rich history of Chillagoe and the mining boom that put it on the map. Prospecting is still a huge drawcard to visitors to Chillagoe, and you are still likely to find things from old medicine bottles in dried out creek beds to unique gemstones in clay walls. If scurrying around the scrub in blazing heat isn’t for you, then head to the old Smelters to learn a little more about the old mine. The scale of infrastructure for that era is incredible, not to mention this place feels as if it is in the middle of nowhere! History aside, the ruins makes for some pretty incredible photo-ops. If you’re a budding photographer and running out ideas on what do do in Chillagoe, then I highly recommend heading out to the ruins at night and watch the stars light up the land.

Chillagoe Smelters

Chillagoe Smelters

During our two-day stay we met some of the most unique and interesting locals and travellers alike, from crazy bushmen, talkative grey nomads, and 4wd enthusiasts on their way towards the famous Telegraph Track. I advise you to be prepared for Mars-like conditions and you will fall in love with this cute town. Step out of your zone and have a chat with a stranger, they may even share some insight for finding gemstones, or ways to get to the secret fishing spots. Sit down, enjoy a cold brew, and reflect on the harsh country that is the wild west of Queensland.

Here is a collection of places you can buy bitcoin online right now.

Diary Road tripping

Finding Peace – Making My Australian Van-Life Home

August 17, 2015

Making Australian van-life home and finding peace

Nothing. Nothing is what I had, and yet it was what I searched for most. Vast emptiness was my dream, and the land- Outback Australia- was now my home.

‘Home’. My suburb was a sparkling speck on the glowing orange horizon. The window was down and my feet dangled in the humid Queensland breeze as we drove as far as we could away from everything we knew. The first few days were tormenting, traces of humans stalked us at every camp we made. From the low hum of ACDC blasting from a shitty ute across the fields in which we pitched, to ciggie stubs and XXXX cans littered on the croc riddled river bed. We needed to go further, we needed to find Australia- the land, the wilderness, and the outback.

10665626_1475575616053068_1640257879_n

10611280_147927942044564_1898502926_n

Anxiety and frustration tangled with excitement and curiosity as the first few days flew by in a heartbeat. I had my tasks –swag set up and damper prep, as did he- fire, chairs and wood collection, and without exchanging words we worked like ants at each glorious sunset.

10632395_363877897095028_453075942_n

North-West Queensland was unlike any country I had seen before– the land was harsh and dry, the dirt was a patchwork of rich red that pierced through fields of sharp rocks and dead grass, and the sky was a dull blue haze with not a cloud in sight.

IMG_8898

He drove in silence, simply following the highway, as I was lost in my mind daydreaming about what great discovery lay ahead. We camped in dry creek beds and at the edge of fields off the highway, constantly aware of a human presence lingering. With every dirt track, we veered off the road in the hope of driving to ‘nothing’ but were continually met with fences, closed aboriginal land and sacred grounds in which we could not cross. Where was this vast land we dreamed so much of?

10683912_648781188576614_220975007_n

10624378_681923978570419_1777871023_n

As I sat, defeated, on a derelict park bench overlooking the Gulf of Queensland, I realised that my expectations had drowned my experience. It felt as if my great adventure had consistently been so far from my reach, and that whole time I had been simply chasing my exploration of a lifetime. That was it, the last straw- this was not the life I wanted yet I had nothing to go back to. Maybe it was the bottle of Chandon I was drinking, or the fact that I turned 22, but that day I let go of all control and expectations. I was already on my journey, and it was goddam magical. My great Australian van-life home is complete.

a

 

Diary Travel Tips

Flying Free: Travel after University

August 17, 2015

So, all your friends have already flown the coop while you slave away for your fourth and final year of studies. They’ve managed to score ideal post-grad jobs already, or started travelling to places you can only dream about. Finally, its your chance, classes have finished and you’re done. Free. Only, by choosing to live without a housemate in your last year your bank account resembles the crumbs of fluff in your empty pockets. This is how I found myself. How could I possibly itch the bug of travel after university?

242322_394744833940467_724213833_o

465356_394744967273787_1698926305_o

 

Throughout my childhood in Far North Queensland, Australia, I dreamed of working on the dive boats – a simple and pure life, in the water and under the sun, and now my chance has come. I’ve packed up my entire life, said farewell to the closest friends I have ever made, and convinced my boyfriend to follow me back home to the Northern Beaches of Cairns.

One tiny hatchback stuffed to the brim with homewards, clothes, trinkets, eventually a bike, and a heart full of ambition to live out simpler days of no exams or assessment pieces in sunny Far North Queensland.

The next day, I landed a job with a highly reputable company doing day trips to the Great Barrier Reef, and my job was to ensure every single person on that boat got in the water and had an incredible time. I would take non swimmers, non-english speaking swimmers, and somehow convince them to grab hold of a floaty and let me guide them through my back yard of vibrant corals and curious fish. It was an amazing experience with a wonderful crew, but the days were long, really long; and with a fixed amount of pay for the day, it didn’t matter what time we mored up at the marina, it would still be another hour of cleaning, stocking, and filling up ready for another sunrise start the next day.

A few months passed and I began to get restless. Days off were scarce and my bank account wasn’t appearing to reflect my hard work and passion for this dream job, not to mention my relationship was hanging by a thread. Turns out, sleeping every chance you get doesn’t make a nice environment for romance.

Restlessness turned into rage as I realised I was once again, stuck, unhappy. Then it hit me- my mom was on the West Coast and we had never been. Both of us, Luke and I, had a raging desire for adventure and getting off the beaten track, so we decided to pack it all in and head across Australia to reach the West. 18 months later we arrived in Perth. 18 sweet, incredible, life-changing months and unfathomable experiences later.

If you’re lost, confused, and your friends seem to be the only people with their shit together, maybe its time to look for your own future, and realise nothing is permanent. Every decision you make can take you closer to finding peace with your life. Many nights were spent curled up in a ball regretting everything and comparing my world to everyone else’s, and even now I wonder if this is right for me. Don’t let comparison confuse your goals and dreams. Graduate, get your piece of paper, and do what you love until you find something else to love. And if travel after university is all you want, then get a job (or many jobs) in the industry to make this happen. Figure out the rest from there 🙂