A review of Undara falls into two sections. The journey to Undara to see the tubes/caves was most definitely worth the trip for us. We booked for two nights, with a sunset tour on the first evening. Ross, our Savannah Guide for the tour was very knowledgeable and extremely amiable, stopping the mini-bus at frequent intervals as yet another kangaroo/wallaby was spotted. We watched the sun dip below the horizon from an elevated position, glass of sparkling wine in hand, while Ross delivered a poem dedicated to the sun. We were then driven to the entrance to one of the tubes, and stood in darkness listening to the bats flying around us as they left the cave in search of food. When we turned on our torches we could see snakes hanging from the branches above our heads as they tried to catch the bats! A first for us, and something we would have been reluctant to miss. Ross also led a sing-song around the camp fire in the evening – felt like turning back the clock and being back in Scouts/Guides.
The next day was a half day tour which familiarised us with the tubes. Our Savannah Guide was Tim, a very different style to Ross, but also very knowledgeable. He impressed us with his continued thirst for knowledge about his subject. Once again the tour was interesting and informative, and it was fascinating to hear how the tubes had been formed and to hear of the contradiction of a "Dry Rain Forest". In the evening Tim ran a slide show around the camp fire.
The positive aspects of the Undara Experience are largely confined to the professionalism of the guides and to what nature itself has provided. We stayed in the converted railway carriages in an en suite room. Photos of the rooms are flattering. Initially we were bemused by the idea of sleeping in a railway carriage, but the novelty soon wore off, and two nights was one night too many. The housekeeping left a lot to be desired. The drop down wash basin was an interesting feature, but we didn’t need to view the remnants of other people’s toothpaste. To provide a list of shortcomings would be tedious, suffice to say that this was no more than two star accommodation.
Unless you are self catering the only option is to eat in the Lodge’s restaurant. Only an okay experience, with limited choice and rather bland. The Bush Breakfast outdoors, preparing toast over an open fire using a "wire fork" gained more points for novelty value.
Our stay in late November was out of season, and the whole place had a rather out of season feel, with some of the staff really not being bothered to make much of an effort. This was disappointing as it was one of the few places in Australia where we found that service was not paramount. Maybe having a captive audience had something to do with it.
On our second afternoon there was little to do. Only the Crater Walk, some 15km distant, which we did undertake and the Circular Walk (8km in 32C temp), were available. The other “local” walks were closed as a recent bush fire had destroyed the signs. The National Park restricts the type and content of information that can be displayed and there were no “approved” replacements available!! The invitation outside the pool area was to come inside and lounge – unfortunately there was only one lounger. A small detail, but it added to the rather sad feel of the Lodge.
Suggest if you are considering using a camper van for any part of your trip, your visit to Undara would be a good time to do so.
Don’t regret the trip because the nature was so exciting BUT so much more could be done with the accommodation.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- UNDARA EXPERIENCE – AUSTRALIA’S ACCESSIBLE OUTBACK! Only 3½ hours drive from Cairns & 4 hours from Townsville in Tropical North Queensland, Undara is easily accessed via the Savannah Way by conventional vehicle and sits 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 resort into the lava tubes where visitors marvel at this incredible geological wonder. Winner of “Unique Accommodation” at the Australian Tourism Awards, Undara Experience offers a variety of accommodation options from restored turn-of-the-century railway carriages to beautifully appointed Pioneers Huts. Budget options include the Swags Tent Village. Shady camping and powered sites are available. Bookings Essential ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Undara Experience Australia/Undara Volcanic National Park, Queensland