Undara is very similar to Cobbold Gorge (last post but one) in that it is a privately-owned tourist operation showcasing a spectacular geological formation in the middle of what was once a cattle station in the Gulf country. We had two nights at each and would have been happy with longer.
Both places offer various levels of accommodation from campsites up to comfortable huts, bar and restaurant facilities, etc. Both also offer a range of self-guided walks as well as guided tours. At Undara the whole of the cattle station except the camp area, the Lodge, became National Park, whereas only a small part of the cattle station around Cobbold Gorge was protected. This difference is more theoretical than practical, however, since wandering around trackless Gulf savannah country is not a good idea anyway, however beautiful it may look at sunset.
The main feature at Undara is the Lava Tube formation, a fan of tunnels formed when lava spread slowly across the landscape 190 000 years ago. The stats (Wikipedia) are impressive: 23 billion cubic metres of lava released, flowing up to 160 km from the vent and forming tubes up to 100 km long. The tubes have gradually been interrupted by roof collapses and silting, but the collapsed sections have become sheltered pockets of green vegetation, “vine thickets”, important refuges for plants and wildlife.
The walks around the Lodge take twenty minutes to most of a day and take the visitor along the edge of a swamp and up on to the ridges for a good look at the wildlife (wallabies; lots of birds; insects) and plants (wattles, paperbarks and grevilleas in full flower when we we there; kapok; bottle trees) but there was no real need to go far: we saw three different macropods around the campsite as well as an emu and more small birds than we could count (photos later).
Cobbold Gorge is young and very beautiful. It was born about 10,000 years ago when a creek in Western Queensland was blocked and needed to find another way down into the Robertson River.
This is sandstone country so erosion proceeds quickly and the gorge is now many metres deep – still very narrow, and fantastically carved by floodwaters and the debris they carry. The creek water is some metres deep, we were told, and is darkened to a rich jade green by sediments it carries.
But let’s start a bit further back, for context, and zoom in from far above…
It’s over a week since the last post on Green Path and the reason this time is that we were celebrating the end of lockdown with a trip to Western Queensland and the Atherton Tablelands. Our route was Greenvale – The Lynd – Einasleigh – Forsayth – Cobbold Gorge – Georgetown – Undara Lava Tubes – Mount Garnet – Ravenshoe – Yungaburra – Millaa Millaa, and home via Innisfail after a total distance of about 1350 km over six days.
I hiked up Mount Marlow via the Many Peaks Trail on the Common (see map) four years ago and noted in my post about it that I was glad I had chosen not to rush it. Last Tuesday I started an hour later, at about 9.20, but finished at the same time, and wished I had allowed more time for it.