04 October 2006

Outback Undara

A trip to Australia is nowhere near complete without at least a short encounter with the outback. On our journey inland to the lavatubes at Undara we got our dose of outback ambience. First one must get to whatever destination one has picked and this includes a loooooong drive on single lane road where one has bear the constant risk of not managing in time to avoid a massive aproaching roadtrain. On the other hand there's an unmistakeable air of liberty when one takes off into the horzon on an endlessly long stretch of tarmack. At around 19:00 we arrived at Undara Experience, which is a large tourist complex right in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Only thing around is cattle and wildlife. We cooked a bit of dinner in the campsite kitchen and then cuddled into our tent for a night in the wild. On the following day we had bush-brekky and then headed on a half day tour of the place's attraction, the lava tubes.

Our little tent containing two beds, a light and that's it. Temperatures do creep down to only a couple of degrees at night, so you'd better tuck yourself well under the blanket.

In the morning we were honoured with the company of these Northern Nailtail Wallabies. Notice the length of its tail!

This is what the outback brekky is all about, you pay a heap of money to toast your bread over a pile of embers. To be fair the toast did actually turn out to be quite tasty and eggs, bacon and toms were provided by the bush-chef.

When having bush brekky you had better watch your bacon! If you clear your plate to far from your body (maybe only half an arm's lenght) you might have a kookaburra air-raiding your food.

On the way to the lava tubes we passed a very funny looking bird. Unlike the emu and casowaries this Brolga can actually fly.

Finaly a lava tube. This is the second out of three sites three that we visited. As can be seen the tubes are not complete as many sections of them have collapsed during earthquakes. The tubes at Undara are the oldest remaining lava tubes in the world, thanks mainly to the dry weather, which has kept erosion low. In its entirety the tube is around 100 km's long. The floor of the tube is covered with fine dust generated from the erosion of the volcaning rock. The walls of the tube are full of cracks, but like a roman bridge the individual peices of the ceiling keep it up.

On the third site on the tour we got to enter a longer intact segment of the tubes. Here the walls were covered with signs of the volcanic origin of the caves. One could see how lava had flown at different levels, how the walls had re-melted and started dripping and on several places gas-explosions had melted huge hollows in to the ceiling.

The tubes are not without life. Small bats like this fella like to "hang out" in the tubes.

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