It’s another fine, sunny day. Just one of the many 300 fine, sunny days a year which are enjoyed by Undara Volcanic National Park, 362 metres above sea level.
We pull into the Undara Experience … the gateway to explore the nearby natural wonder, and a caravan park and resort oasis in the middle of the bush.
Originally known as Spring Creek station, six generations of the Collins family have farmed here since 1862. They opened up the property as an outback accommodation experience in 1990, and have since won the Australian Tourism Award for unique accommodation. From swag tents on platforms, to railway carriages it’s a rather unique part of the world. We’re parking the camper in the bush under shady trees and are keen to explore.
At the campsite we are entertained by Pretty Face Wallabies (or Whiptails) grazing and bounding around us. Little Miss Squid is in animal heaven – spotting Rufous Bettongs, Betwing Bats, Echidnas, Rainbow Lorrikeets, Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos and Kookaburras.
We’ve set up camp at Undara Experience and there’s a wisp of a sunset surrounding us as the Squids light the campfire.
I’m dazzling them all with my camp dessert speciality – Nutella and Banana jaffles. MasterChef contestants have nothing on me!
Talking food – while we don’t eat at the restaurant we love the charm of the outback bar – a huge open plan area with train carriages for dining. It’s well regarded for its Bush Breakfast served down at the Ringers Camp but the Skipper’s making pancakes so we don’t want to let him down. The Undara Experience is also home of Opera in the Outback, and annual calendar highlight. After having been involved with the PR for Opera in the Alps in my previous working life at Mt Buffalo, I’d definitely love to come back and check this out sometime. It’s won the 2009 & 2010 Queensland Tourism Awards.
But this is all just the warm-up act for the star attraction of the area. The Undara Lava Tubes, a 160km lava tube system – the world’s longest lava flow from a single volcano.
Here’s where those talented Savannah Guides shed some light on something we know very little about on a 2 hr Active Explorer Tour.
The Undara Lava Tubes are a fascinating tunnel of lava flow – formed 190, 000million years ago from a single volcano. The forces of nature provided a pretty impressive show creating the rarest volcanic phenomena on Earth, more than 90 kms to the north and over 160km’s to the north-west.
Our Guide tells us it’s estimated that 23 cubic kms of lava, at a temperature of 1, 200 degrees celcius flowed from the volcano.
What we are standing in today is the result of a lava flow that could fill the Sydney Harbour in 6 days.
The tour takes us though a host of lava flow tunnels, down staircases and along winding boardwalks into darkness. Torches at the ready, our voices whispering in awe, our guide sheds light on the region’s geology, volcanology and even a bit of mythology along the way. The Squids love spotting for the tiny Horsehoe Bats hanging from the ceiling and little subterranean insects.
The Lava Tubes continue in and on and on – it is like nothing we have seen in our lifetime and its impressive Archway reflects the warm glow of the sun outside. The bigger Squid, as ever, is right on the heels of our guide, his torch swinging in all directions as he makes out patterns on the rockface and peers back towards pinpricks of light from the entrance.
This blast from the past is one impressive experience.
We were glad we’d taken the time to do a self-drive / walk up to the Kalkani Crater earlier in the day so the kids could connect the dots with volcanic eruptions and lava flows.
As for the rest of days activities – there’s a swimming pool back at camp beckoning to the Squids. The perfect way to end one of those 300 fine, sunny days at Undara.