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Undara Lava Tubes

A popular destination from Cairns, taking about 3 and 1/2 hours drive, from Mt Garnet to Undara Volcanic National Park is about an hour. Not realising this, we went on to set up at Mt Surprise, with the intention of returning for our booked afternoon tour. If you find yourself in a similar situation, go directly to Undara, as the Undara Experience Centre has a beautiful bistro, eating area, souvenir selection and waiting space where we could easily have spent the few hours before our tour and then gone on to Mt Surprise later. It would have saved the fuel, at any rate, even if we bought a drink or something. They also offer free tea and coffee, but it’s not of a standard that would have you going back for more.

The lava tubes were explored by one of the Collins family members, who used to take people there when they visited. Later, working with the Queensland government, a National Park was established on the Collins’ land and formal tours and trails have been set up, complete with information about how they formed. The Collins family run the Undara Experience, with whom we took a tour.

So, how did they form? About 200 000 years ago there was a huge volcanic eruption and the lava flow was so fast that, as it travelled along a river bed, the top cooled and formed a crust, while the lava underneath kept flowing on and out, until hollow tunnels were formed. They extend 90km in one direction and 160km in another, making them Australia’s longest lava tunnels and one of the longest in the world.

Over the years, a roof might collapse, forming arches or caves and allowing rare plants and creatures to flourish. Some plants are believed to be relatives of those from Gondwanaland.

Stephenson Cave

Outside the caves, you can see birds and insects unique to the area, including the spider that weaves a net to catch falling prey. I can’t remember what they are called and can’t find the information, so if anyone knows, please send me a message.

Not quite baskets, but an effective series of nets.

We travelled far in to caves and learnt about what lives there and what drips from the ceiling. The formations and surfaces have asuch a fascinating variety of shape, colour and texture.

The Undara Experience has accommodation and there are many walking trails that you can do independently. We chose the only daytime tour available in Covid times, but there are usually several to choose from, including night treks.

If you are staying in Cairns, it’s about a 3 and 1/2 hour drive to Undara, so you might choose to stay there. Be sure to book before you go, as even in these restricted times, the tours filled quickly.

Definitely worth putting on your bucket list.

Safe travels. Take water, hat and insect repellant.

From Cooktown to Mt Garnet

We travelled back to the Tablelands, stopping at The Coffee Works in Mareeba, after a recommendation.

What a lovely set-up with all sorts of nick knacks and plenty of coffee. We had the ‘house’ coffee, Black Mountain, and bought some for us and for a friend.

The drive to Ravenshoe, through the Atherton tablelands was pretty drizzly and foggy, but brought back good memories.

It wasn’t far to Innot Hot Springs in Savannah territory, and we parked beside the caravan park and took 20 steps into the reserve. The creek was very shallow nearby, but sure enough, the water was warm. I ventured a little further and found some warmer spots. Looking up, towards where it was deeper, I could see steam! I went over and carefully felt the water. It was quite hot.

Little islands of sand had formed and as I stepped between them, my foot sunk in and removed my rubber thong. It was VERY hot and I quickly retrieved my foot and footwear, wiser. Im sure I saw fish in there.

The bank was steep enough that you could sit on the side and dangle your feet in or, if you had come prepared as another couple had, go in for a soak. The reviews warned about how hot some patches were and they aren’t exaggerating, so be careful.

The drive to Mt Garnet BP (for free camping for the night) was short and we set up by the side of a deep creek (empty I think) with horses grazing on the steep banks. The camp is free, beside a BP service station, but they ask you to buy something from the shop, so hot chips for dinner it was!

Booked our Undara Experience for the next day and found the archways tour was the only one available and at limited times. This was, after all, the reason for coming this way. Read more about those in my next post, as the lava tubes were better than we expected and I’d ecommend them.

Safe travels. Take hat, water and burn cream.

Bright Bollards #3

They don’t look too bright, but they’ll do the trick for Becky’s squares.

If you’re an Australian you might think one or two look familiar…

And why are they there? From https:\\geelongaustralia.com.au

Baywalk bollard trail walk

Following the Bollard Trail, you will meet some of the unique characters who played a part in Geelong’s history, from the original Indigenous inhabitants to more contemporary characters.


Artist

The colourful bollards are the work of artist Jan Mitchell. Jan was commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong to transform old timbers and piles from a city pier, demolished in the 1980s, into remarkable works of art that stop young and old in their tracks.