About 275km southwest of Cairns and two hours’ drive east of Georgetown are the ancient lava tubes of the Undara Volcanic National Park, which are estimated to be 190,000 years old. Incorporating these into an unforgettable tourism attraction is the Undara Experience, which has been welcoming tourists to its establishment since 1990.
An oasis in the wilderness, Undara Experience is neither a resort, a restaurant nor a hotel yet incorporates all three. Guests arrive by self drive, luxury coach or by light aircraft and have the choice of camping, cabins or staying in the Lava Lodge’s authentic turn-of-the-century railway carriages, which have been restored into individual accommodation complete with ensuites.
Savannah Guides also lead tours of the lava tubes from here with multiple departures daily and Wildlife at Sunset tours. The history of the geological site is rich and has been moulded by director Bram Collins and his ancestors. “Settlement first began when William and Elizabeth Collins, who went on to have 10 sons and four daughters, immigrated to Australia looking to start a new life,” Bram says.
“At the time my family settled here, the northernmost settlement on the east coast of Australia was Bowen, so when their sons Thomas and Charles rode into this region, following explorer Ludwig Leichhardt’s tracks, the pastoral area they would finally call home had not been opened for settlement.” When searching for a lost bullock, Thomas found a source of water, which became known as Spring Creek and as Bram puts it, “it has been in the family ever since”.
In an effort to entice more visitors, Bram and his team created the three-day Opera in the Outback festival in 2000. A second event, the Undara Rock and Blues Festival, is also held every year in April and celebrated 10 years in 2016. “This is such a unique experience, it is something you should enjoy with your closest family and friends.”