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Undara Volcanic National Park. (22 January 2011)

contributed by DerrickJessop
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Undara Volcanic National Park Looking across the Undara Volcanic National Park scrub plain to the extinct Undara Crater in the distance. (See story).

On the Atherton Tablelands a vast area of 550 square kilometres has been covered with lava from volcasnic eruptions up to 300,000 years ago. The Undara Volcanis National Park covers just a portion of this and was established by private enterprise as recently as 1990 before being supported by the government.

Undara Volcanic National Park On the way to visit a lava tube we nearly ran over this 3.8 metre Olive Python. These and other snakes thrive on the bats who make their homes in the lava tubes.

Its feature is the amazing lava tubes created by the eruption of Undara volcano 190,000 years ago, the youngest of the volcanoes in the field.

Undara Volcanic National Park The tubes sometimes dip and in the 'Wind Tunnel' tube mud has built up preventing further progress. Note that rock has flaked off from the roof of the tube.

The lava pouring out from the eruption spread over an area up to 160 Kms away, often following creek courses and this is how the lava tubes were formed.

The slow moving lava set on the top exposed to the air and the molten lava continued to flow beneath. When the eruption ceased the lava contined to flow out leaving a tube. The end of this tube can be seen at Einasleigh Copperfield gorge.

Undara Volcanic National Park Barkers Tube, the longest one tours are taken on, ends at the 'Big Bend'. From there on foul carbon dioxide laden air from bat droppings prevents further progress without breating apparatus.

Over time sections of the tubes have collapsed and here there have survived pockets of old rainforest and allow access to the tubes. It is thought this may be the explanation of the river like formations on the moon.

Undara Volcanic National Park The 'Arch Tree' is a great example of nature's ability to survive, and is one of many wonders in the park.

As well as the tubes, the park has other attractions like a tree that has fallen over a narrow creek but has sprouted upward from the centre and makes what has been labelled the 'Arch Tree'.

Undara Volcanic National Park In the 'Picnic Tube'  Bay Fig roots have found their way through cracks searching for water.

There is also a lot of wildlife, among them snakes who thrive on bats that make their colonies in the tubes. Up to 40,000 bats have been assessed as living in Barkers Tube alone. We nearly ran over a 3.8 metre long Olive Python on the road.

Not all the tubes have been explored, but Bayliss Cave has been mapped for 1.35 Kms, but with breathing equipment.

Undara Volcanic National Park 'Road Tube' is relatively short, and is a good introduction to the lava tube experience.

All tours are guided, and the Road Tube is an introduction. It is short, but illustrates how entrance is gained due to the tube collapsing, and demonstrates the size of the tubes, up to 11 metres high and 14 metres wide.

Undara Volcanic National Park Interesting iron oxide staining comes from seepage from the surface.

Features of other tubes visited are, interesting staining by seepage, Bay Fig roots descending from the roof, rock fall sections, dips filled with mud preventing further progress, bat colonies, lava drippings on the walls, breezes created by difference in air pressure and the strench of bat droppings and carbon dioxide.

The guides are very knowledgeable and the resort caters very well for all types of tourists. This is truly an amazing place to visit.

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