Leaving Croydon and continuing along the Savannah Way we spent the next couple of days at the campgrounds in Undara Volcanic National park. We had heard from a number of travellers about the Lava Tubes here and were keen to have a look around. What we hadn’t realised was that the only way to access them was on a guided tour, with one company having a monopoly over the area.
The campground itself was in a very nice bush setting, with a pool and free coffee & tea making facilities available. Our site cost us $35 a night with a range of other accommodation options available, including converted rail carriages.
After phoning ahead we chose the tour we were interested in and were assured we didn’t need to book it until we checked in to the campground. Needless to say when we did arrive we were told that the tour we wanted was booked out, of course. Then again, we were also told that this particular tour wasn’t currently running so who knew what was going on (they didn’t). Not to worry, we selected another tour and booked ourselves in for that instead, or so we thought! When we turned up at the designated time the guide informed us that we weren’t actually on the manifest and we may not be able to join the tour. It turned out that we had somehow been booked into the previous days tour which a few ran hours before we had even arrived at Undara!
Is your heading hurting yet?
Luckily (for them) we were able to go along as we planned. The tour was two hours long (20-30 minutes of which was spent on the bus) and involved visiting and walking in two lava tubes. It was really very interesting, we all learnt a number of things as well being able to hold some volcanic rock and learn about its features but in comparison to other things we have done we are still not convinced that, at the cost of $141, we received value for money. Oh and it may be worth mentioning that this was the cheapest tour available.
There are a number of walks that can be undertaken in the National Park and we enjoyed The kalkani Crater Rim Walk. Here we were able to walk round the rim of a dormant volcano and also look out over the surrounding valley at many other dormant volcanoes. With our new found knowledge we were able to identify where lava tubes were running underground. Ben & I walked into the base of the crater and were spooked by a troop of kangaroos and quickly high-tailed it back up to the top.
The small town of Ravenshoe was our next stop and what a great find this was. Our first stop was the information centre which had some detailed displays on local history and a volunteer manning the help desk that loved a chat!
We had heard that although not ‘authorised’, camping was available at the railway station with gold coin donations requested for hot showers. We really appreciate it when we find towns that are receptive to campers and went from the intended over night stay to staying four nights in total. In return for the cheap facilities we were only to happy to spend money in the town, including a large grocery shop, joining in the fun at the local fair and having a meal at the highest pub in Queensland. Whilst we were there we learned that powered sites are being set up in the station grounds and should soon be ‘officially’ available for campers for around the price of $10 a night.
Ravenshoe became our base to explore the beautiful Atherton Tablelands which for a few days seriously got us thinking about a tree change. The whole area is just gorgeous and parts of it reminded me of Bridgetown in southwest WA, where I completed my final teaching prac. The steep, windy roads were the only things we weren’t keen on.
We visited the famous Millaa Millaa waterfall circuit and Mt Hypipamee Crater as well as surrounding towns such as Malanda which had the best pies, Herberton, Mareeba and Yungaburra which was not only my favourite place but also where we first spotted a platypus in the wild. We also spied a Boyd’s Forest Dragon on one of our waterfall walks.
On our last day in Ravenshoe we jumped aboard the volunteer run steam train The Capella for a short run to Tomoulin, the highest train station in QLD. This trip is taken every Sunday and for the family price of $40 we were more than happy with our time on board. A number of cuddly toys had been strewn amongst the track side trees for the kids to look out for and there were lots of helpful people on board willing to have a yarn about the train and the town’s history. In Tomoulin we had a cuppa and some yummy scones and all of the kids had a turn at pulling the whistle. A water cart followed the train to make sure that no hot coals fell on the track and started a fire. Well, they must have missed one because on the trip back we had to stop while a fire on the track was put out. Ooopps!!
The final thing we did before leaving was to pay $35 for our names to be put onto a sleeper that will be placed somewhere along the track. We did this to show our appreciation for the time we spent staying at the railway station and also as inspiration to go back another time and see it in place.
Next off we head to Cairns where we get to spend a week with the Rae family, swim on The Great Barrier Reef, head up to Cape Tribulation and for someone with a fear of heights I do something pretty dumb!