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About Undara

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Getting there and getting around

Map

Undara Volcanic National Park is about 300 km by road south-west of Cairns. From Cairns, drive south along the Bruce Highway to Gordonvale. Turn right and follow the signs to the Atherton Tableland, up the Gillies Range. The range road is 19 km long and very winding. Once at the top of the range, continue on to Ravenshoe and then follow the signs to Mount Garnet. Continue towards Mount Surprise, passing through Forty Mile Scrub National Park (Savannah Way). The turn-off to Undara is 17 km along the Gulf Developmental Road. Travel a further 6 km to a fork in the road. Undara Experience is 9 km along the road on the right-hand side. To reach the Kalkani day-use area, turn left at the fork and travel 6 km on an all-weather gravel road. All roads are suitable for conventional vehicles although the roads can be corrugated.

If travelling from Townsville head north along the Hervey Range Developmental Road for approximately 130 km, then turn right onto the Gregory Developmental Road. Travel a further 174 km through Greenvale to the Lynd Junction. From here, take the Kennedy Highway towards Mount Garnet and turn left at the Gulf Developmental Road (Savannah Way). Continue on as above.

See the Department of Transport and Main Roads for information about road and travel conditions. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Access to the lava tubes is only by guided tour. Concealed holes where the tubes have collapsed, a confusing landscape, and high carbon dioxide levels in some tubes, make the lava tube area dangerous for visitors without an experienced guide. The Kalkani Crater rim is accessible to the public without a tour guide.

For more information see the tourism information links and park alerts.

Wheelchair accessibility

The Kalkani day-use area has wheelchair-accessible toilets. Road Cave has ramps and a lift that can be accessed as part of a guided tour. For more information, see the tourism information links.

Park features

The Arch lava tube. Photo: Tamara Vallance.

The Arch lava tube. Photo: Tamara Vallance.

On the western slopes of the McBride Plateau, open woodlands give way to the vast open spaces of the savanna. Here in Undara Volcanic National Park, rich volcanic basalt soils, covered in a sea of seasonal grasses, conceal the Undara lava tube. This geological tunnel of global significance extends under a ribbon of remnant dry rainforest.

‘Undara’ is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘long way’. The park protects one of the longest lava tube cave systems in the world. About 190,000 years ago, a large volcano erupted violently, spewing molten lava over the surrounding landscape. The lava flowed rapidly down a dry riverbed. The top, outer-layer cooled and formed a crust, while the molten lava below drained outwards, leaving behind a series of hollow tubes.

Semi-evergreen vine thicket grows in the moist, sheltered entrances to some of the lava caves. The roofs of some tubes collapsed, creating ideal conditions for dry rainforest to grow and wildlife to shelter. Rock-wallabies, insectivorous bat colonies and owls roost here in the cool. Birds shelter in the fruit-filled canopy and predators lurk in the tumbled basalt terrain to complete the food chain.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Camping is not permitted in Undara Volcanic National Park.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation at Undara Experience and in and around Ravenshoe, Mount Surprise and Mount Garnet.

For more information and contact details, see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Kapok flowers dot the landscape with colour. Photo: Eleanor Collins, NPRSR.

Kapok flowers dot the landscape with colour. Photo: Eleanor Collins, NPRSR.

Kalkani day-use area. Photo: NPRSR.

Kalkani day-use area. Photo: NPRSR.

Red-winged parrots are one of the 120 bird species in the park. Photo: Brian Furby Collection.

Red-winged parrots are one of the 120 bird species in the park. Photo: Brian Furby Collection.

Spotted pythons live in the lava tubes and caves. Photo: NPRSR.

Spotted pythons live in the lava tubes and caves. Photo: NPRSR.

Walking

Undara Volcanic National Park offers a range of walking opportunities ranging from 2.5 km to 12 km return. Be realistic about your walking abilities and ensure you chose a track that suits your skills.

Map

Key to trail grades

Each track is classified according to its most difficult section although other sections may be of an easier level.

There are also a number of easy grade walking tracks accessible from Undara Experience.

Grade 3 Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections, a rough surface and many steps. Walks up to 20 km.
Grade 4 Bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may be long, rough and very steep. Directional signs may be limited.

Kalkani Crater rim walk

Grade: 3

Distance: 2.5 km return

Time: allow 1.5 hrs walking time

Details: Starting from the Kalkani day-use area, this self-guided walk climbs to the saddle of the Kalkani Crater and around the eggcup-shaped rim. Enjoy the views across the lava plains to other volcanic vents. Look for the distinctively darker vine thicket following the lava flow from Undara Crater. Signs on this track explain the explosive geology of the area, including the origins of the variety of volcanoes seen from the walk. Mountain bikes are not permitted on this track.

Atkinsons lookout trail

Grade: 3

Distance: 3.8 km return

Time: allow 1.5 hrs walking time

Details: This trail is primarily a walking trail although mountain bikes are permitted. Starting at Undara Experience, this shared trail passes up and over a small granite knoll before gently descending to Iron Pot Creek, which is usually dry in winter. After crossing the creek, the trail climbs west for a short distance towards a second ridge. The trail then turns south and passes through small boulders onto a large south-easterly facing granite slab, known as Atkinsons lookout. The lookout has great views south to The Granites and Racecourse Hill—the highest shield volcanic cone in the park. Walkers can return the way they came or continue on to the Rosella Plain lookout trail (details below).

Rosella Plains lookout trail

Grade: 4

Distance: 12 km

Time: allow 4–6 hrs walking time

Details: This trail is primarily a walking trail although mountain bikes are permitted. Starting from Undara Experience, this trail can be walked in either direction—although the clockwise direction is recommended. Walkers continue on from the Atkinsons lookout trail, or walk in a clockwise direction from Undara Experience.

Walking clockwise from Undara Experience, the first 3 km of this trail follows a section of the old telegraph line from Cardwell to Normanton. Original telegraph poles and a replica of a settler’s hut can be seen. Information signs along the way introduce the lifestyle of 19th century pioneers in the area.

From the hut, the trail continues in a south westerly direction along the lowlands before the short, steep “Cardiac Climb” to Jump Up lookout.

The trail then winds through beautiful granite country with volcanic vistas. Look for the red-flowering native rosella bushes Hibiscus heterophyllus, bright yellow flowers of the kapok tree Cochlospermum gillivraei, and the distinctive, spreading crown of dark green rounded leaves, belonging to the Cooktown ironwood Erythrophleum chlorostachys.

The most westerly point of this walk is Rosella Plains lookout with fantastic views of the province. From the lookout, walkers can return the way they came, or continue for another 6 km to complete the loop, via the Atkinsons lookout trail, to Undara Experience.

Signs along the track introduce natural and cultural values of the area, including the geology of the landscape, a variety of plants and animals, and the way-of-life of the area’s Traditional Owners. This track is steep and rocky in some places and walking boots and gaiters are recommended.

For more bushwalking opportunities in the area, visit Undara Experience.

Guided tours and talks

Access to the lava tubes is by guided tour only and several tours are offered.

Picnic and day-use areas

The Kalkani day-use area, about 17 km from Undara Experience, has toilets, picnic tables and access to the Kalkani Crater rim walk.

Viewing wildlife

More than 120 species of birds, including the vulnerable red goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus, have been seen in the park. Early mornings are best for birdwatching.

The caves within this park are home to thousands of insectivorous bats. At dusk, these bats create a spectacular display as they flock from their dark roosts. Spotted pythons Antaresia maculosa and other predators will often position themselves at the cave’s entrance to catch the exiting bats.

See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about Undara's diverse wildlife.

Things to know before you go

Sunset over Undara Volcanic National Park. Photo: Eleanor Collins, NPRSR.

Sunset over Undara Volcanic National Park. Photo: Eleanor Collins, NPRSR.

Essentials to bring

Preparation is key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Make sure you bring:

  • drinking water
  • sunscreen, enclosed footwear, hat and sunglasses
  • insect repellent and suitable clothing to protect against insect bites
  • rubbish bags.

Opening hours

Undara Volcanic National Park is open 24 hours a day. Temporary seasonal closures may be encountered. In very wet periods, sections of caves may be flooded and closed to visitors. To protect breeding bats, access to the Wind Tunnel Complex and Barkers Cave is restricted from November–February. See park alerts for up-to-date information.

Permits and fees

Permits are required for commercial or organised group activities.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Undara Volcanic National Park.

Climate and weather

The weather at Undara Volcanic National Park is hot, humid and can be very wet from late October through to late March. September and early October are generally dry and hot. The drier, cooler months of April to August are considered the preferred time to visit. For more information see the tourism information links.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available at Mount Surprise, Mount Garnet and Undara Experience. For more information, see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

Make safety a priority when visiting this national park.

  • Wear sunscreen, a hat, protective clothing and sturdy footwear.
  • Always carry water and try to walk in the cooler part of the day.
  • Take a track map from the lodge on all walks and stay on the walking tracks and trails provided.
  • Walk in daylight hours only.
  • In an emergency phone Triple Zero (000). If you have difficulty connecting to 000 from your mobile phone, try dialling 112.

For more information, please read the general guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

Assist the Traditional Owners and rangers in preserving the natural and cultural values.

  • Take care if driving at night—wildlife may be encountered on the roads.
  • Stay on the walking tracks at all times—this reduces the risk of injury, prevents disturbance to native vegetation and reduces erosion.
  • Limit the spread of weeds by ensuring clothes, shoes and gear are clean and free of seeds before arriving at the park.
  • Where no bins are provided, take your rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Feeding of wildlife is prohibited—it can affect the health of animals and alter their behaviour.
  • Leave domestic animals at home—they are not permitted in national parks.
  • Everything in the park is protected—leave everything as you found it.

See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

Gazetted in 1990, Undara Volcanic National Park is part of the extensive Einasleigh Uplands biogeographic region.

The park is managed for the purpose of protecting the natural and cultural values of the area, while allowing the public to continue to enjoy a range of recreational activities.

A combined management plan for Undara Volcanic National Park and Forty Mile Scrub National Park (PDF, 2.6M)* has been prepared and implemented.

Tourism information links

Ravenshoe Visitor Centre
www.ravenshoevisitorcentre.com.au
24 Moore Street, Ravenshoe Qld 4888
ph (07) 4097 7700
email info@ravenshoevisitorcentre.com.au

For tour bookings

Undara Experience
www.undara.com.au
Ph: 1800 990 992 (within Australia) or (07) 4097 1900
Email: res@undara.com.au

Bedrock Village Caravan Park
www.bedrockvillage.com.au
Garnet Street, Mount Surprise QLD 4871
Ph: (07) 4062 3193
Email: info@bedrockvillage.com.au

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

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Last updated
20 February 2013