This weekend, we had the rare opportunity to leave the Gorge and explore a new part of the Savannah region. We headed to Undara Volcanic National Park for the night and enjoyed every minute of our mini vacation there.
Undara isn’t too far off the beaten path. It’s about a 3-hour drive from Cairns in the aptly named “Accessible Outback,” and luckily for us it’s only 3 hours from Cobbold Gorge, or the “Ultimate Outback,” as well.
There are a decent amount of activities (mostly bushwalks) to do once you get to the Undara Experience lodge, but we couldn’t resist a relaxing afternoon lounging in the lagoon pool before our sunset tour.
The Sunset Tour with champagne and nibbles was wonderful. Leaving at 5:30, it was prime kangaroo, wallaby, and wallaroo spotting time. For the actual sunset, we walked to the top of a hill where we each got not 1, not 2, but 3 glasses of champagne each! We sipped on bubbles, snacked on fruit and cheese, and watched the sky turn the world pink before the sun said goodnight.
I would have been happy to end the tour there (it’s very rare to be offered bottomless champagne and nibbles on these types of outings and I was pleased as pie with Undara’s generosity), but we weren’t even half way through! We piled back into the bus and drove to a lava tube where, after descending a few flights of stairs in complete darkness, we were surrounded by flying bats. You could feel them whiz passed you and in the faint light of the moon, you could see their silhouettes.
At one point, on the count of three, we all took a picture simultaneously as to try to disturb and blind the bats as little as possible. Even though the photos from that tour aren’t great, I was completely satisfied with my buzz and happy to report that I didn’t get pooped on once.
The next morning we went on the two-hour archway tour where we were awestruck by the immense size, beauty, and formation of 3 different lava tubes. We were lucky enough to go on tour with Bram Collins, whose family has owned the property for 6 generations. All of the guides and staff were incredible at Undara, but having a guide with such a deep personal connection to a place always makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
We weren’t sure what to expect when we started the tour that morning, but the lava tubes blew us away. The ecosystems they created in the otherwise dry landscape we beautiful little oases of dense forest in a desert of tall grass. The mineral deposits on the walls of the caves and tubes made the most unique and stunning patterns on the rocks, illuminating them with pink hews and orange highlights. I did my best to capture them, but as always, Mother Nature saves her beauty for those who are there to see it with their own eyes.