Chillagoe, Queensland

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Chillagoe is located in Queensland
Coordinates17°09′S 144°31′E / 17.150°S 144.517°E / -17.150; 144.517Coordinates: 17°09′S 144°31′E / 17.150°S 144.517°E / -17.150; 144.517
Population192 (2011 census)[1]
LGA(s)Shire of Mareeba
State electorate(s)Cook
Federal Division(s)Kennedy
Localities around Chillagoe:
Nychum Mount Mulligan Thornborough
Rookwood Chillagoe Dimbulah
Crystalbrook Almaden Petford

Chillagoe is a town and locality in the Shire of Mareeba, Queensland, Australia.[2][3] It was once a thriving mining town for a range of minerals,[4] but is now reduced to a small zinc mine and some marble quarries.

Just out of town is the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park containing limestone caves. There are between 600 and 1,000 caves in the Chillagoe-Mungana area. The caves, the spectacular karst landscape and the mining and smelting history are the main tourist attractions to the region.

It has been stated by leading geologist Professor Ian Plimer that the Chillagoe region has the most diverse geology in the world.


A horse and carriage at Tower Rock in 1897

Chillagoe was named by William Atherton in 1888. The name is taken from the refrain of a sea shanty: "Hikey, Tikey, Psyche, Crikey, Chillagoe, Walabadorie".[5] James Mulligan had explored the area in 1873 and Atherton backed up his reports of rich copper outcrops in the area. Mining pioneer John Moffat sent prospectors to the field in 1888 and quickly monopolised the field. A receiving office opened in 1891 (with W. Atherton as Receiving Office Keeper) but closed in 1893. A post office opened in 1900 with F. Donner as the storekeeper and postmaster. The Chillagoe Railway and Mining Company's line opened from Mareeba in 1901 and a Town Reserve was proclaimed 27 October 1910.[6]

Chillagoe is sometimes remembered for its involvement in the Mungana affair, a mining scandal which brought down the government. In 1919, after fluctuating fortunes and closures, ownership of the smelter was transferred to the Queensland Government. This acquisition by the Labor Government brought allegations of political corruption which persisted for many years. Closures plagued the smelter again in the late 1920s. When the Labor Party lost power in 1929, the new government ordered a Royal Commission into the incident. The political careers of two former Queensland Premiers, 'Red' Ted Theodore and William McCormack, were ruined by the Commission’s report. Read the famous book by Frank Hardy: "Power without Glory".

The Chillagoe Public Library opened in 2002.[7] Chillagoe State School opened on 1 April 1902.[8]

At the 2006 census, Chillagoe had a population of 227.[9]

Although Chillagoe is currently and historically within the local government area of Shire of Mareeba, between 2008 and 2013 the Shire (and hence Chillagoe) was amalgamated into the Tablelands Region.[10]

In the 2011 census, Chillagoe had a population of 192 people.[1]

Heritage listings[edit]

Limestone boulders, Chillagoe

Chillagoe has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


Woothakata is a property on beautiful Chillagoe creek named after the early Tableland shire which Chillagoe was a part of. Woothakata is an Aboriginal word which describes the way Aborigines traveled to Ngarrabullgan/Mount Mulligan, an important meeting place.

The heritage-listed Chillagoe smelters, the cemetery and the many old mines attract history buffs to the area.


The Mareeba Shire Council operates a public library in Chillagoe at The Hub, 21-23 Queen Street.[13]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Chillagoe (SSC)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 11 June 2016. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ "Chillagoe - town (entry 7067)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Chillagoe - locality (entry 48570)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  4. ^ The Chillagoe Railway and Mining Company Ellis, R.F. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin December 1976; January–April, 1977 pp 270-291; 16-23; 36-48; 62-81
  5. ^ Bolton, G.C. (1975) A Thousand Miles Away: A History of North Queensland to 1920, Australian National University Press, ISBN 0-7081-0091-0
  6. ^ Frew, Joan (1981) Queensland Post Offices 1842-1980 and Receiving Offices 1869-1927, p. 235. Fortitude Valley, Queensland: published by the author, ISBN 0-9593973-0-2
  7. ^ "Queensland Public Libraries Statistical Bulletin 2016-2017" (PDF). Public Libraries Connect. State Library of Queensland. November 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Opening and closing dates of Queensland Schools". Queensland Government. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  9. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Chillagoe (L) (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  10. ^ "Mareeba Shire". Queensland Places. University of Queensland. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Chillagoe Smelters (entry 600675)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Mungana Archaeological Area (entry 700001)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Chillagoe Library". Public Libraries Connect. State Library of Queensland. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2018.

External links[edit]