Monday, 29 June 2015

Mt Surprise, Lava Tubes and lots of walking

 Tuesday morning we bid farewell to Toorak Lane, Dunrootin Drive...but that's another story. A very interesting place...the social dynamics of caravan parks. Back through Normanton and turned onto the Savannah Way. 
The Savannah Way back to the east coast

We followed the railway line for the Gulflander Railway.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​A legend​​ of the outback

  • Take a journey aboard the legendary Gulflander for a rail journey unlike any other. Originally built to connect the once bustling river port of Normanton with the rich gold fields of Croydon, today the Gulflander is a tourism icon.

    Also known as the ‘Tin Hare’, this legendary rail motor is one of the last great characters of the rail world. From wetlands and grasslands to arid Savannah territory, the Gulflander travels through countryside that most people will never see. This nostalgic rail journey is the perfect way to discover an area steeped in pioneering history and heritage. Normanton was the port for the Croydon Gold Rush and is a terminus of the Normanton Railway Station which features preserved Victorian architecture. Just 30 kilometres south west of Normanton is camp 119, Burke and Wills' most northerly camp. Croydon is a small town with a big history which started with the discovery of gold in 1885. With Barramundi fishing year round, Lake Belmore is located just four kilometres from Croydon. As the Gulflander only carries a small number of passengers, you will experience a friendly atmosphere which adds to the charm. Enjoy morning tea en route as the on board accredited Savannah Guides keep you entertained with trivia, species identification, amusing stories and colourful characters.

We followed that road through the same countryside with a quick morning tea stop in Croydon, an old gold town from the nineteenth century, occasionally coming across cattle.

Cattle along the road

Dry river beds

Not one drop of water in the wide rivers

 and finally the long awaited wedge-tailed eagle photograph. They are so fast when you approach, it's hard to get a shot..but finally success. They are one huge bird!

We pulled into Georgetown..the geologist in the car, enticed by the Terrestrial Display. An awesome display of thousands of minerals, mainly from Australia, but with some international displays as well.

Fascinating dispaly

Unusual minerals


An extraordinary place and well worth the visit. We travelled eastward and decided to stay at Mt Surprise for two nights.Now that was an awesome surprise. We did not expect to find such a welcoming place in the middle of the Queensland Outback. You pass many caravan parks of all types and sizes as you travel the miles but the Bedrock Caravan Park at Mt Surprise is the most welcoming park we have ever stayed at. 

Mount Surprise is a historic rail town in the Gulf Savannah. Its name comes from the surprise the Aboriginal people felt when they were resting at the base of the mountain and the loud white people of Ezra Firth's pioneer party arrived in 1864. The region has excellent gemfields for fossicking, especially for topaz, quartz and aquamarine and they were some of the gems we saw at Terrstrail in Georgetown. The town is on the edge of the Undara lava field, formed from the craters of the McBride Plateau. we booked a tour led by a guide form the caravan park the next morning.But before that we enjoyed the comforts of the park.

Bedrock Caravan Park is located in the historic township of Mount Surprise, some 320km south-west of Cairns, lies Bedrock Village Caravan Park & Tours. The region, known as Savannah Way, offers a diverse range of outback experiences including cattle stations, gorges, the Savannahlander train and the Undara Lava Tubes. The folk at Bedrock Village run a variety of tours to highlight these unique places in a fun and friendly atmosphere. One couple sat on their nine acre farm in 1998 and watched the caravans pass by and decided to turn their farm into a caravan park. They designed and built it, removing the rock (from the volcanic surrounds) themselves.

Bedrock Village

And they weer ymmy too

We are going to go back and stay a few weeks and explore the region in a year or two. It s close by to the Cobbold Gorge and the Dinosaur trail of western Queensland

Bedrock even offers a dog babysitting service when you go to the Lava Tubes... Sid was our camping neighbour's dog.

And the amenities were divided into Fred's and Wilma's

Unusual trees in the park

We will be back!

During the tourist season, affordable home made a la carte evening meals are served in a modern outdoor dining area. This is a great opportunity to mingle and enjoy the company of fellow travellers, and we met some great fellow travellers who were on our tour to the lava tubes the next day. Until you are on the road, you just don't realise the numbers of grey nomads who are out there travelling, away form home for months at a time.

Corned beef and white sauce and veg in great company the first night and then the best home made pizza on our second night. Who needs the gas stove in the camper trailer kitchen?
(I probably should confess at this point that I am yet to cook a meal on this trip. Ian has taken over the role as chief cook and bottle washer.

 We were up early on Wednesday for our trip to the Undara Lava Tubes.  Our guide Graeme was very knowledgeable and lots of fun.
Graeme..a top guide

 We were driven the 35km to the park and the first stop was a gentle climb up to and a walk around the Kalkani volcanic crater, a tow and a half kilometre walk. (I had the FitBit on that the kids gave me for my birthday so the distance was actually measured!)
The crater

Spot the child on the other side of the crater rim

The view from the top out over the area where the lava pushed across the land in the eruptions is was awesome. You can even identify some of the lava tubes from above by the different vegetation growing on them.
Looking at the view from the top

Looking out to the Newcastle ranges... the lava flowed 160kms

There are several volcanoes there

Climbing the crater

This subterranean marvel, exceeds all expectations. You can’t beat standing in the huge caverns and staring into the blackness of the disappearing tubes, imagining the scene 190,000 years ago. That's when scientists believe  that at the height of the eruption the volcano was expelling 1000 cubic metres of molten rock per second at temperatures of around 1200°C.
The tubes formed where the lava  filled meandering watercourses. The top layer cooled, forming a crust above, but left an underground river of lava. When the eruption ceased, the molten rock drained away, leaving a 100 km-long pipeline. In time, sections of the roof collapsed, resulting in the line of depressions and exposed caves we see today.
More than 300 roof collapses have led to the identification of 68 separate sections of lava tube, the largest measuring more than 21 metres wide and 10 metres high. Many of the tubes are undiscovered and unexplored.

They were so beautiful, the climb down the rope guided rocks was well worth it. Even the bats were pretty and put on a show for us.
The photos don't do justice to the huge caverns we explored.
Where we walked


You can get an idea of the size of the tubes from this view

Colourful walls as the skin formed

The climb down

Spiders and snake trails down there

Another climb

Another tube to explore

Light at the end of the tunnel

Proof that I did it!

Tiny bats on the roof
Amazing fungi on the walk
 So we ended our  exploration of the caves... and headed back to the park. As if we hadn't had enough walking we explored the track down to the spring-fed found a beautiful peaceful spot.
Reflection at the creek

A beautiful spring fed creek behind the park


Next stop...Airlie Beach... 782 kms of driving tomorrow...


  1. Annie
    I can see another trip coming up. What fantastic photos. Thank your for sharing.

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