We deviated from the Great Inland Way west to the Savannah Way to visit the Undara Lava Tubes as this trip had been highly recommended by the locals.
Back in 2008, we saw the ongoing lava flows on Big Island in Hawaii that ooze out to the sea creating huge steam plumes – very spectacular and basically what happened to form the lava tubes at Undara. The tubes are formed when a lava flow melts (1200C or more) the surrounding rock and then a crust forms of cooling lava over the liquid river… In Undara this happened thousands of years ago.
Our guided tour through these lava ‘tubes’ which were formed by one of the Earth’s longest lava flows was fascinating as we explored the beautiful underground caves and their very colourful rock formations. The entrance to these is where the tube roof has collapsed in places. These collapses are plainly visible from above as they have vegetation growing in them which has been spared the periodic fire that the plain above has experienced.
These ancient volcanic rocks cooled under different pressures – the scoria was full of gas and frothed like the head on a good Guinness whereas the granite was formed under intense pressure and now is as hard as a …rock really!
The nearby Kalkani Crater was a more traditional ‘fountain’ volcano and we walked up to the top and around the rim. This huge hollow is home to many birds and several species of wallabies that were new to us.
Undara has many types of accommodation and tours and is the venue for the two annual music events; Opera in the Outback’ and the Outback Rock and Blues concert – what a magical place to visit!