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“Unique Outback Experience”
Review of Undara Experience

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Undara Experience
Certificate of Excellence
Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
282 reviews
71 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 144 helpful votes
“Unique Outback Experience”
Reviewed August 8, 2012

We have just enjoyed 2 nights camping in a powered site at the Undara Experience. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this unique part of Australia. We have 2 small children who loved camping in the bush and the chance to have a campfire at night. We did two tours while we were there (Archway Explorer and Wildlife at Sunset). The tours were both excellent and we had the same guide (Lorina) for both. Lorina was very professional, friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the lava tubes and with wildlife and geography of this area.

We did not eat at the restaurant and did not stay in the accommodation, so I can't comment on these things. The amenity blocks in the camping area where reasonably clean and tidy given that the campground was almost full on each night of our stay.

We would be more than happy to recommend Undara Experience to other travellers. As the lava tubes can only be seen on a guided tour, I would say that a guided tour of the lava tubes is essential to maximise your enjoyment of this interesting place.

Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
Helpful?
1 Thank Mewett_Family
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Far North Coast NSW
Level Contributor
24 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed July 14, 2012

We underwent The Undara Experience in June 2012. We were on the tail end of a week touring in a camper van where we headed south from Cairns to Townsville then across to Charters Towers and up to Undara National Park before heading back to Cairns.
We arrived mid afternoon after having booked a camp site via phone along the way. We received a warm welcome from the reception staff. I was uncertain as to which tour to take the following morning but when I mentioned that I was a keen photographer and wanted to go on the tour that gave me the best photo opportunities, the lady on reception offered to find another staff member who was a keen photographer and find out for me and book us on that tour. But that wasn't all, after talking to the gentleman concerned, she came looking for us in the campground to tell us that he suggested that we take the Swamp walk around 5.10pm to catch the excellent light on the lagoon/swamp - which we did and luckily came across the fellow while down there. This was wonderful as he also gave me some good tips on settings to use to capture the scene and some panorama's as well. That night we headed down to the campfire which turned out to be a trivia night - great fun and met lots of people and best of all it's free.
The next day we headed off on the easiest tour which gave good photo opportunities. The lava tube and caves are amazing. some of the richest colours in the rock formations. There are also some caves with pools of water in them which make wonderful reflections in your photos, Overall we enjoyed our stay and experience at the Undara Lava Tubes Wilderness Lodge and Camp grounds. Because we were self catering etc in our camper van, we didn't really experience the expense of the restaurant etc. We found the camp kitchen good, the amenities were clean and quite good and not too far from our camp site. We saw lots of wildlife during our stay and found the staff remarkably helpful. Just wish we had time to stay another night.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank tkf-oz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mackay, Australia
Level Contributor
98 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed July 8, 2012

We booked a 2 night package in the railway carriages WITH ensuite, meals and tours. The accommodation was quaint but the bathroom was very poky and noisy. The disappointing room was well and truely made up for by the quality of the meals, the friendly office staff and the quality of the local walks. It was a very busy time and we were so glad that we booked our tours as part of our package as we heard so many missed out. Cant wait to return and will try the new Pioneer cottages.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank yorkygirlCentralQld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
92 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
Reviewed July 8, 2012

We spent two nights at Undara in their railway carriages and felt that we'd been ripped off.
The "Unique Railway Carriages" are interesting but they just don't cut it for value. Our "Family" carriage had barely enough room to swing a cat, the 3 beds occupied almost the entire floor space. Bathrooms are shared, basic and poorly maintained (a nasty smell in one). There was no kitchen or fridge available, however there were tea and coffee making facilities in the bistro area.
The Carriages are also antiques, meaning that there was no heating (although there were fans) and some of the windows did not properly close - making for a very chilly couple of nights.

Our travels in this region had seen us pay about $130 per night for a self contained cabin. Undara was charging almost twice this price for less than half the product (shared bathrooms, no kitchenette, etc). For us the "unique-ness" of the product didn't justify the very high price. There were no accommodation alternatives (eg. ordinary cabins) available for a family, other than camping, for which we didn't have the gear.

We also found a similar experience with their "Bush Breakfast" where you toast your own bread over a campfire. It was fun - don't get me wrong - but very much like a school camp breakfast (self serve, limited choice, metal plates, etc), and not worth $23 for an adult!

I'm afraid some tourism operators which have fantastic (monopoly) locations, sometimes forget about forums like Trip Adviser and charge a premium for a poor product. Undara really need to have a long look at their pricing policy.

On the positive side, the 4 hour tour of the lava tubes we went on was well run and very informative - albeit a bit long for our boys ages 9 and 11 - but worth the money. The Undara campground looked well maintained and had good facilities. The bistro produced competent pub food (plenty of chips, large portions) for a reasonable price. The service was in general very good and friendly.

We would recommend you either camp or limit the nights you stay in the carriages to only the one.

If you would like to read more about our travels in this area click here:
www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g255067-i460-k5571404-A_guide_to_touring_central_and_northern_Queensland_with_boys-Queensland.html

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank wills68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
30 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed July 5, 2012

We have just spent a lovely night at Undara.
On booking over the phone the lady was helpful and informative. I booked late during school holidays, and she spent a long time making sure I could do the activities I wanted while I was there. She was upfront with the pricing, and I received a confirmation email vey promptly.
On arrival the reception lady was kind, and specifically encouraged feedback on the form provided.
We stayed in a permanent tent, which was VERY basic, without even cups which we were expecting, but very comfortable. We had a little sink. We didn't use the camp kitchen, which looked serviceable, although a couple of barbecues were out of order. The best thing was the little fireplace in front of the tent, and the availability of firewood fromnreception.
The sunset tour was AMAZING. Tim, the guide was engaging and helpful. Champagne and cheese on a beautiful lookout, followed by a once in a lifetime experience of micro bats leaving a lava tube at dusk. Unforgettable.
The morning 2 hour lava tube tour was good, but not as exciting as the previous evening. Koruna, our guide, was again friendly and funny, and especially sweet to a couple of the smaller children.
The food at night was fine...pub grub, and at prices between $22-38, reflects the lack of alternative unless you BYO, but I was happy it seemed competitive to prices in Cairns. The bush breakfast again was A little expensive, but was a wonderful "outback" experience with Billy tea, DIY toast on a fire, and both hot and cold food.
There is a lot of opportunity to commune with nature including doing very little. We did the Kalkani rim climb, which was okay.
I really enjoyed this trip. It hasn't been cheap, but it is a short stay we will remember for many years as it is something we have not been able to experience previously, with wildlife, geology and volcanoes. Lovely.

Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
Helpful?
3 Thank Catherine G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Corvallis, Oregon
Level Contributor
24 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed June 28, 2012

We spent two nights in one of the railway car cabins with en suite facilities, in early April 2012. Setting - a great location in the midst of "outback" scenery, with rocks and wetlands and trees and wildlife. A highlight was our late afternoon stroll along one of the well-marked trails which was interrupted by five kangaroos hopping casually along. They stopped near us for a few minutes grazing and returning our stares, and then went leaping off. The lava tube tour was worth while as a chance to see a unique geological formation. Accommodations - we enjoyed the railway cabin -- fun! -- EXCEPT for the not-very-private en suite -- no door between it and the cabin with the bed. I did notice that some of the other RR cabins DO have such a door, and if we were staying there again I would specifically request one of those. Meals - enjoyed two dinners, one lunch and one "bush breakfast" (included in our "package"). We shared an entree each dinner and this limited the expense and justified our purchases of wine and beer! Conclusion - we would recommend a visit to Undara, and two nights rather than one gives one the chance for a full day of hikes and enjoying the wildlife. Service - every one of the staff we dealt with was friendly and competent.

Room Tip: If staying in one of the RR cabins request one with a DOOR between bathroom and room with the bed.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank JOHN & GRETCHEN M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed June 27, 2012

We went to Undara excited about the lava tubes and keen to see them. Because you are only allowed to visit the tubes on tours we had to book a tour. These are a very expensive $50 per adult and $25 per child for a 2 hour tour.

We arrived at 9am but weren't able to do a tour until 1pm. To fill in the time we did a nice drive and walk to a nearby volcano crater.

The lady at reception wasn't really the right type for a tourism job....

The tour however was very disappointing. The person who led it did not have the right personality for being a guide, and while knowledgable, did not create an enjoyable trip. There was a fair bit of promotion of their business and the guide's experiences, which was not what we paid for.

In the end we only spent a very short time in the lava tubes and could only go a very shirt way into one because of the water level.

Overall a very disappointing experience which we all felt ended up being a waste of a day yet really should have been good.

There are much better experiences around that are better value for money. I wouldn't go back and wouln't recommend this one.

  • Stayed June 2012
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
Helpful?
3 Thank OzWally
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Undara Experience

Property: Undara Experience
Address: Savannah Way, Undara Volcanic National Park, Queensland 4870, Australia
Location: Australia > Queensland > Undara Volcanic National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Undara Volcanic National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Undara Experience 3*
Number of rooms: 45
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
UNDARA EXPERIENCE – AUSTRALIA’S ACCESSIBLE OUTBACK! Only 3½ hours drive from Cairns and four hours from Townsville in Tropical North Queensland Australia, Undara can be easily accessed via the Savannah Way by conventional vehicle and is situated right on the edge of the Undara Volcanic National Park. The Undara Lava Tubes are a world class natural geological phenomenon. Huge tubes formed approximately 190,000 years ago; molten lava drained out under a thick cooler crust, leaving a series of long, hollow tubes. Today, Undara’s highly trained Savannah Guides conduct small group tours from the natural Bush Resort, into the lava tubes where visitors marvel at this incredible geological wonder. Booking Essential ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Undara Experience Australia/Undara Volcanic National Park, Queensland

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