UNDARA LAVA TUBES
Although the Undara Lava Tubes is not a regular tour for Perentie Tours, they are significantly important and well worth mentioning in a blog. This region approximately 240kms Southwest of Cairns passing through Innot Hot Springs and contains over 160 volcanoes, vents and cones and lava flows can easily be seen from the highway. Although the origin of the lava tubes was unknown until recently, white man was aware of their existence since the late 1800’s with intermittent and unsupervised visits. The tubes are considered to be the longest and largest known in the world, originating from a single volcano and was once over 100kms in length. The tubes were created by volcanic lava flows as recent as 190,000 years ago also forming a light weight rock called quinkang as the magma was suddenly exposed to the air. The flat landscape and slow flow rate of the lava was conducive to a tube formation. The surface of the lava was cooled by the air and solidified while the insulated interior became a pathway for the molten rock. When the eruption ceased, the molten lava drain away leaving a hollow tube. The tubes are well known by the aboriginals and the subject of Dreamtime stories. The word Undara is a local aboriginal word for ‘long way’ and even today aboriginals in the region are frightened of the Quinkan Men who must live in those dark and mysterious chambers that are exposed by various collapses along some portions of the tubes. Examples of the Quinkan men can be viewed at some aboriginal galleries near Laura some 250kms to the north.
The first white man to visit the area was Edmund Kennedy in 1848 during his journey to the tip of Cape York. Some poles from the Old Telegraph Line still stand on the property. Original mapped by the Chillagoe Caving Club, the tubes are located on a cattle property that has been owned by the Collins family since the 1860’s and the fourth generation station owner Jerry Collins instigated the creation of a National Park in the region and in 1989 purchased eleven decommissioned railway carriages from the Chapman family who were about to embark on their tourism project –the ‘Kuranda Skyrail’ and tastefully placed them in line to create unique accommodation thus developing a tourism attraction based around this amazing and unique natural geological phenomenon.
There are various operators who visit these amazing tubes and more information can be found at http://undara.com.au/
To learn more, have a look at the Perentie Tours home page