Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Lava Tubes, Birds and Sunsets – Sept 2011

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on October 9, 2011

Karumba panorama

Campsite at Undara

Communal Camp-fire area

Restored railway carriages

Hi Everyone,

We arrived at Undara, took a powered site for 2 nights and set up camp. The camping area is set in the bush but has power to the sites and water but the pressure is atrocious so we filled the tanks and used the pump. We got here a bit late in the arvo to do any walks so we did a load of washing and it is the cheapest place we have found to do the washing at $2 a load.  Most charge $4 a load and I thought a couple of times the $3 a load places were a score!  We had a delicious dinner of crumbed steak and vegies then down to the camp-fire entertainment for the evening which was presented by Chris, titled “Travelling around Oz”.  All the Savannah guides give a presentation/talk in the evenings

Bar-Bistro area

Mt Undara on a cool morning

Amazing colours and huge size

Big lava tubes

and the topics range from

Climbing down into a lava tube

Minerals leaching through the rock

Water in one of the lava tubes

Marbelling caused by mineral leaching

travelling to birds/animals/stars, etc.  The Undara Experience is a great place and you have the choice of camping or on site accommodation like restored railway carriages, swag tents or safari shelters.  There is a bar and bistro area all under a massive, canvas shade sail and the kitchen/bar, etc is all made from restored railway carriages.  It looks amazing and creates a unique feel to the place.  The enormous roof over the bistro area was specifically made to capture all the rainfall and top up the tanks and it looks amazing too.

The Undara Volcanic National Park  has evidence of volcanic activity from about 164 craters and one of the most recent eruptions (like 190,00 years ago) produced 23 cubic metres of lava, most of which flowed down the western side of the Great Dividing Range. This flow has created the phenomenon now known as the Undara Lava Tubes.  The tubes acted like conduits, distributing lava over 100km from the crater, the longest flow in the world from a single volcano.  Access to the lava tubes is only available through the Savannah guide tours from either the Undara Experience or the Bedrock Village CP in Mt Surprise.  We booked to go on a Volcano Valley tour which was four hours long and included morning tea.  We

Imagine the lava flow to make this tube

Pool at Undara Experience

Safari Tents at Undara Exp.

started out at a lookout which was a decent enough climb over some rocks.  We had a lot of oldies with us in this tour and a few of them struggled to get up onto the rocks.  I was already thinking that it was going to be slow going on the tracks to come.  Our bus driver/Savannah guide was a Kiwi and a sheep farmer and who had a passion for the history of the place.  The actual lava tubes were amazing!  We walked through one set and stopped to check out the insides of the tubes.  It was quite dark in the long tubes and thankful we had brought our headlamps.  The guides have a strong torch and showed us the cooling lines and formation of the tubes.  One of the tubes we visited was half-full of water which covered the walkway for the most part, but you could see

Historic Cumberland Chimney Site for lunch

Leichhardt Lagoon Camping Park

Rainbow honeyeater just gorgeous

the colours leaching from the rock due to the different minerals in the rock.  They are quite spectacular.  We stopped out on the property at an old station outhouse for a morning tea of scones, jam and cream and tea/coffee/cordial.  The kids scored extra scones as there were a few spares! I think the kids got a bit bored with the tour and in reality maybe the 2 hour tour would’ve been better for us.  There were a lot of oldies and I mean oldies, on this tour who really struggled to do some of the climbs in and out of the tubes so it made for a very slow trip. We stopped to help a couple of them a few times, which I didn’t mind but I was worried they were going to fall. We got back to camp, lunched and decided it was way too hot for any more walks.

Colourful, friendly geese

Swing time

Joel and I braved the very cool pool water to cool off while

Swing time

the kids read their books and played on their DSis. After dinner we headed down for the camp-fire entertainment which was presented by Chris, titled “Wings’n’things”.  He was very entertaining and I imagine that if we had had him as our guide yesterday the tour might have been very different. He reminded me a lot of the comedian Carl Barron with a very similar humour as well! Wade loved his presentation on things with wings, covering most birds found in the area as well as some frogs and lizards too. A great night.

Next day we packed up and drove and drove and drove.  We were travelling on the Savannah Way which is considered a

Funny joke

Early sunset

sort of main highway but the road was quite bad bitumen

Late sunset

and for a lot of the way, only single lane bitumen. It was very interesting as wet met a lot of road trains along here and mostly you just have to pull right off the road as they go past, so long as there is some road to pull off onto and not a steep drop! We stopped at the historic Cumberland Chimney for lunch and watched the abundant bird life down at the lagoon here.  We stopped in Georgetown to post some mail then continued on towards Croyden.  We stopped to grab some fruit and admire some of the historical building of the place.  The town is nice and clean and the streets have the old, electric lampposts which give a nice feel to the town.  Joel and I thought we’d love to come back and visit this place in years to come without the kids.  We carried on driving and decided to check out a place called Leichhardt Lagoon Camping  Park.  It’s no. 254 in our Camps 5 book and turns out to be $7 per

Definitely a boy!

Why are we doing this again?

person, per night. They have toilets and showers and even a new twin-tub washing machine; that if you plug-in your generator, won’t cost you a cent. We found a spot not too close to the water (in case of crocs) and set up our chairs to watch the magnificent bird life and sunset over the lagoon.  It was a beautiful spot.  There were heaps of birds and also a couple of weird twitchers (avid bird watchers).  The kids told Joel and I to relax as they were

View from the beach

taking care of dinner. They cooked up some great burgers, with bacon, onion, eggs and salad. How fantastic! We saw lots of egrets, ducks, geese then brolgas and just on twilight a couple of Jabirus flew in as well.  We did get a lot of visits from some very friendly red, black and white geese too. The sunset over the lagoon was pretty specky too. The kids ran amok playing with their rope and making swings, etc. We all decided that this place was quite a find!

Brolgas a plenty

Yeah, some enthusiasm

Next day we headed into Normanton for some milk and bread.  We continued on to Karumba and booked into the Sunset Caravan Park out at Karumba Point.  The staff at reception were amazingly friendly and we got heaps of info on the place too, like cheapest fuel, etc.  After setting up we got out the tent, set it up and washed it as it was still a bit damp from Cape Tribulation pack-down.  We also managed to get some jobs done around the van and car. It is stinking hot so we all went for a swim in the pool. Holy cow it was freezing! The pool is surrounded by palm trees so it is always in the shade and mighty cold too. It’s refreshing and certainly drops the body temperature a bit. There are a lot of kangaroos and wallabies that come right up to the fence as well which Wade just loves. We went out to eat at Ash’s as we’ve been told it’s the best fish and chips around.  The food certainly was delicious and the seafood baskets could have fed the two of us! The kids walked back to the van and Joel and I went down to the foreshore, near the Tavern to watch the sun set. OMG the colours were just glorious! There is just a bit of smoke in the sky and that made the colours in the sky more brilliant.  The sunsets are quite brilliant but the afterglow in the sky once the sun has gone down was just amazing! Next day we all went for a run or bike ride then booked a half-day fishing tour for tomorrow.  Daniel is getting better with the boats-

Beautiful colour banding after sunset



on-water-thing but he’s not happy Jan! The kids caught up on some schoolwork, Joel with some more odd jobs and me with collating our photos from the Cape Trip. We also saw heaps of Brolgas today and on the drive into Karumba as well. We watched the sunset again, not hard as the caravan park is right on the beach. Early to bed as we have to be up early for the fishing trip.

Next day we got up at 5:45am to be over at the boat ramp by 6:45 to head out with Kerry D fishing charter.  Daniel and I both had a “Quell” as there is a bit of wind and chop around at the moment and did i mention that it’s freezing cold too! We all had jumpers on for the whole trip out and didn’t take them off till we were back at the van! We didn’t venture too much out of the gulf and there were other charters out for the day also but they didn’t catch much either.  Dan caught a blowie, then a blue salmon and then Wade caught a sooty grunter.  One of the other guys on our charter caught a smaller blue salmon too.  We were a little disappointed for the kids as we thought we might have a better chance of catching fish out here but apparently the fishing has been a bit off for the last week or so as the weather has been windy and the water a little cold. It’s just not meant to be! When we returned to shore the other guys on the charter decided to do another half-day in the afternoon so they said we could have their fish.  We thanked them and went back to camp for some lunch.  We were all a bit tired from the early morning and windy day so we had a swim and relaxed for the rest of the day.  Joel and Wade filleted the fish and we had fresh fish for tea.  The kids did some more schoolwork, Joel refueled the car and I was checking out some places to see in NT next.  I rang Adele’s Grove to see what the road was like and whether we could take our caravan in there, as it is not an off-road van. They assured us that the first 40 kms from Gregory Down was good gravel as it is maintained by the mines, the next forty a bit rougher but okay if we take it easy. Alrighty then, we’ll head off tomorrow to Gregory Downs for a free overnight camp then onto Adele’s Grove for a few days.

Till Next time



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