Leichardt Lagoon & Undara lava tubes

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August 5th 2012
Published: August 7th 2012
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4thAugust 2012

We left our Adels Grove campsite at about 8:15am and headed towards Gregory Downs. We saw several wallabies on the way. A road train, approaching us, appeared to be in a rosy halo, with the sun coming from behind the big dust cloud. It’s a very dusty road, we had to pull over to let the dust settle. We got some fuel at Gregory Downs and continued on a back road through Augustus Downs station. There are some very flat grasslands around Gregory Downs and Augustus Downs, the paddocks go on forever and the sky is huge. There was a lot of roadkill, and masses of birds of prey consuming it. We saw a couple of wedge tailed eagles, and a vast number of kites. We also saw six emus, and of course herds of cows, mostly white or brown. We saw one big red kangaroo. Mike did a good job driving on some bumpy roads.

We got to Normanton at about 2:30pm, an unfortunate time to arrive on a Saturday if in need of groceries – all the shops were shut except the video store. So we continued on to Leichardt Lagoon campsite, 20km out of town, where we are camped next to Mum and Dad with a lovely view over the lagoon. There are lots of waterbirds here, including some jabiru. We had a game of Scrabble after dinner.

5th August 2012

We left our campsite at about 9am and headed into Croydon. This looks like a nice little town with some historic buildings. It also had some shops open (on Sunday) and sells proper coffee, both very handy features. The Croydon road to Mt Surprise, past Georgetown, is good in patches and poor in patches. On the map it is shown as a sealed road but there are long stretches of single lane bitumen, which is basically half gravel, and a lot of roadworks. We saw three wild pigs, one alive and two roadkill. We are camped at the Undara Caravan Park and have booked a lava tubes tour for the morning.

We're just past halfway through our trip! We are pretty used to living out of the camper now. Some things I have learned (in addition to finding out about the places we've been)...

- fine dust can get everywhere!

- the tooth fairy travels too

- windscreens chip more often on bitumen

- washing machines are a highly under-rated appliance

- pizza can be grilled

- vibration opens jars and salt cellars

- cane toad tadpoles are squat, black and short tailed

- in-car dvd players are great for long drives with kids

- always adjust tyre pressure for sealed/unsealed roads

- you can cook a lot of things in a camp oven on the fire

- we don't need nearly as much stuff as we have at home

- flushing toilets are also much under-appreciated

- the sky is so often gorgeous, whether cloudy, blue or starry.

We're very lucky to have this opportunity for extended travel with family, in such a beautiful country (and still be getting holiday pay!).

August 6th

We started the day with an early breakfast and packed up the camper, so that we were ready to start our tour of the Undara lava tubes at 8am. We got a bus to the tubes, and saw several walleroo, whip tail wallabies and eastern grey kangeroos on the way. The lava tubes are very high and impressive, formed by a volcano about 190 000 years ago. The tubes are the longest known lava tubes, and can only be seen on guided tours. They are very sizable tubes, bigger than a railway tunnel (despite having 5m sediment on the base) and streaked with white and red oxides. We saw a couple of micro bats there, apparently in the wet season they are found in great numbers in certain tubes as they breed there.

After the tour, we were just hitching up when another traveller asked for help. They had towed their van into a tree and needed us to pull the top of the tree aside so they could drive through.

We then drove to the Kalkani Crater Rim, and walked around the edge. As the name suggests, this is the crater of an extinct volcano and the walk provides a good outlook of the surrounding country and other extinct volcanoes (there are 164 in the area).

We free camped at Archer Creek, which has a flat grassy area and toilets. It was packed with caravans. We invited some European travellers to share our fire and they told us about their travels. The night was cold as we are up high here.

August 7th

We stopped at Millstream falls, which are very wide falls. We called in to the Ravenshoe visitor's centre, which has some nice historical and cultural displays. We then went to the Gallo cheese and chocolate factory and tried some cheese, and bought a bit of both. They also had an animal nursery, with a gorgeous turkey and other farm animals.

We did a big shop at the IGA in Atherton, and we saw a massive python in the carpark. One of the other shoppers picked it up and took it out of the carpark so it wouldn't get run over. Ravenshoe and Atherton are both very scenic towns, with lovely agricultural areas around, as well as tall lush forest. We saw the first sugar cane we've seen on this trip.

We then made our way to Danbulla National Park, Lake Tinaroo, Kauri campground. The campground is advertised as unsuitable for caravans as there are few flat sites, however we managed to find one. It's a beautiful site overlooking the lake. Apparently there are giant white tailed rats here which eat the scraps. The camp area has nice toilets and you can have a campfire.


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