Are you looking for a genuine “Australian” experience? You know, the kind where you wander through the outback and stumble across all sorts of plants and wildlife that can kill you? Undara may just be the place for you!
Situated just over four hours drive west of Cairns, the Undara Experience will satisfy your craving for kangaroos, cockatoos, taipans and drop bears (amongst other deadly creatures). Though the boundless wildlife-spotting opportunities are a good reason to visit Undara, it’s certainly not what put this area on the map. The word “Undara” is an Aboriginal word meaning “long way”, and it’s a fitting name considering what you’ll find here… some of the world’s longest lava tubes!
If you’re holidaying in North Queensland, you’d be well advised to make a side-trip to Undara Volcanic National Park. In this area you’ll find 164 volcanoes, cones and vents, hinting at the continent’s prehistoric past; it’s like a land that time forgot.
Lava tubes are formed when large flows of lava run through valleys and a crust forms on top. Once the lava has drained, the “tube” remains behind. Over time, some of the roof sections have collapsed, resulting in caves which support a wide variety of flora and fauna.
The Collins family has run Undara Experience since 1990, and have owned the property since the late 1800s. There are a number of walking tracks around Undara, but to see the lava tubes up close you’ll need to book a tour. Tours start at $50 which may seem a bit steep, but this is not something you see every day. The guides are very knowledgeable and friendly, and seem to know just about everything about the area including any wildlife you may come across during your excursions.
Undara offers unique accommodation in restored railway carriages from the turn of the century, however they can be a little cramped and hot. There are various other accommodation options including dorm-style rooms, caravan park, swag tents and a campground. There is also a lovely pool area to take a dip in the afternoon. A word of advice: consider bringing your own food if you’re trying to keep costs down. Given the remote location, the only option for food is at the restaurant, and the prices are understandably quite high.
All in all, this is a place you should definitely experience in your lifetime. These amazing lava tubes cannot be described in words, and you really have to see them to believe the scale. While the prices may seem high, the staff are all very friendly and the guides very knowledgeable. Add a couple of days on to your Queensland trip and discover this magnificent part of Australia.
More information and bookings at Undara Experience website.