Sitting relaxing feeling quite mellow after a couple of cold drinks at the end of the day we are listening to the bird calls and watching the antics of a couple of Pied Currawongs as they dance around willing us to feed them the biscuits we are nibbling on. We have arrived at Undara Resort Caravan Park and are safely ensconced on a powered caravan site in the middle of the bush. Talk about camping out!
Our journey to Undara started on Saturday morning in Charters Towers and we headed north as we left the caravan park on the road to The Lynd. To start off, the road north was first class rivalling many highways we have travelled on over time; however we were in for a rude awakening not long after passing through Fletcher Creek when the road narrowed to a single lane of bitumen with very rough edges and deep drops to the shoulders.
Speaking of Fletcher Creek (http://www.findacamp.com.au/camp-site.php?camp=857); – there is virtually nothing there no real settlement just a roadside rest area; but the spot is obviously extremely popular with caravaners and other travellers and when we drove through there must have been close to a hundred caravans and motor homes camped on both sides of the road fronting the actual creek. A mob of cattle were sharing the creek frontage with these travellers and may well have been wondering what they had done to deserve this significant intrusion to their home. I guess the proximity to the Dalrymple National Park may have something to do with the site’s popularity.
We made it through to Greenvale without mishap despite having to “head for the bush” on a couple of occasions to avoid oncoming vehicles. At Greenvale, some 200 kilometres north of Charters Towers, we fuelled up and had morning tea before pressing on.
Just north of Greenvale we were held up on a couple of occasions with road works in progress.
At the turnoff to Georgetown and the west we stopped for lunch before travelling the remaining 30 odd kilometres to Undara. Arriving at the resort we obeyed the signs and found ourselves in a pickle trying to find somewhere to park to check in and had to reverse out of quite a tight spot which was obviously not designed for caravan parking. In the end we ignored the “5 Minutes Only” parking restriction and parked across from Reception so we could be advised of our site. We parked and set the van for our stay and had a short stroll around the resort before relaxing with a cold drink.
The Undara Resort (http://undara.com.au/) has been established by the Collins family who originally owned the land upon which the lava tubes are located. In the era of the Goss Government the land was sold to become a “closed” national park. By “closed” it means that the only way one can access the lava tubes is via an organised tour, you can’t simply drive in and do your own thing. (http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/undara-volcanic/about.html)
Situated in natural bushland the facilities have been established so as to minimise disruption to the existing bush and the location has been maintained in as natural a condition as possible. Extensive use has been made of old railway carriages and relocatable buildings so that if, at some future time, it is decided to turn the whole thing back into national park this can be achieved with as little disruption to the bush as is practical. The place is alive with birds and kangaroos and wallabies wander through the resort area at will with a couple regularly resting on the grass next to the resort pool.
There must have been a fire sale on old railway carriages as there are about 27 on site being used for guest and staff accommodation as well as part of the bar and bistro, reception area and information centre. I guess staying in one of these old carriages would be a unique experience.
Sunday morning saw us awakened by the birds; one currawong decided the cord on our television antennae was a good snack and was hopping about on the roof above the bed making all sorts of noise trying to detach what I presume it thought was a snake or a worm; the noise only ceased when I opened one of the hatches and told it to hop off (or something like that).
After breakfast we decided to take a drive to the Kalkani Crater (https://www.google.com.au/search?q=kalkani+crater&client=firefox-a&hs=IsB&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=np&tbm=isch&imgil=t8ShkArtzfTQTM%253A%253BxJich73PyxQvxM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fmntviews.blogspot.com%25252F2010%25252F08%25252Fundara-kalkani-crater-qld-australia.html&source=iu&usg=__yWed95WtjkzYfNjCjwayaB07y0k%3D&sa=X&ei=Aw_fU72yEI3i8AW39oLQCA&ved=0CCwQ9QEwAQ&biw=1366&bih=629#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=t8ShkArtzfTQTM%253A%3BxJich73PyxQvxM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F1.bp.blogspot.com%252F-P0rJRtSdz3w%252FT3r36BCE1rI%252FAAAAAAAACpE%252FCg5kVISvIw0%252Fs400%252Fy15%25252BUndara%2525252C%25252BKalkani%25252BCrater%2525252C%25252Baerial%25252Bview.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fmntviews.blogspot.com%252F2010%252F08%252Fundara-kalkani-crater-qld-australia.html%3B400%3B300), about 16 kilometres from the resort. Once at the picnic area one can walk along a track (about 650 metres) which eventually delivers you to the rim of the crater. Once on the rim there is a walk of about two kilometres around the crater. From this track there are lots of opportunities to look down into the crater itself or out towards the surrounding country – quite spectacular.
During the walk we were lucky enough to see a “pretty face” wallaby who was obviously aware of our presence but didn’t seem to have any fear of us as the wallaby stayed in the one spot while we took a lot of photographs. Once we completed the tour we returned to the caravan park for coffee. The trip provided us with our first taste of real dust on this trip and the car is now quite dirty – a taste of things to come once we reach the gravel roads of Cape York.
Sandwiches for lunch then a tour of the lava tubes known as the “Active Explorer”. This tour requires a reasonable level of fitness as one is required to negotiate rock falls and slopes with the aid of a rope attached to poles fixed in the ground. The tour was two hours approximately and about forty minutes of this is taken up in travel to and from the lava tubes. The tour was an interesting experience and not too strenuous in most places. We visited and walked through three lava tubes of varying sizes and received a running commentary interestingly provided by one of the Savannah Guides employed by the resort.
Monday morning at 8:00am we hopped on a bus to take another tour of lava tubes this one known as The Archway Explorer – the Archway being one of the tubes we visited. We saw another three lava tubes on this tour with easy walking provided by way of timber walkways and many stairs. In all there are 69 accessible lava tubes in the Undara Volcanic Park and we have seen only six. The visit has been well worth it as the whole place is extremely interesting and well worth the visit.
A group of students at the mouth of the lava tube
One could stay quite a few days at the resort as there are a number of guided tours (each at a cost of course) that can be taken as well as a number of self-guided bush walks from 1.5 kilometres return to 12 kilometres return in length and having varying degrees of difficulty from easy to challenging. We have taken a couple of the shorter walks this morning to Atkinson Lookout and The Bluff. There are a number of other self-guided bush walks around the resort area that one could take if time was available.
Tuesday morning we depart for Lakeland and then Cooktown.