Thursday, July 16, 2009

UNDARA – LAVA TUBES

Undara is located 512 kms from Townsville. Undara Experience lies on the eastern edge of the ruggedly beautiful Gulf Savannah.

Undara means a long way in Aboriginal language. One of the lava flows from Undara extends more than 160kms making it the longest lava flow on planet Earth from a single volcanic crater in modern geological time. One tube formed by the flow extended about 100kms.


One hundred and ninety thousand years ago the earth trembled, the sky darkened and flaming fountains of lava bathed the land in a fiery glow. Undara had awoken. Wave after wave of molten lava spewed from the crater and flowed across the land incinerating everything in the path. Toes of lava, searching out for easy ways to flow, found their way into the low contours of the land, forming rivers of molten rock which wound their way across the now blackened landscape.

The air began to cool the surface changing it from scarlet to a sullen crimson and finally to a solid black crust. Underneath the lava continued to flow. Now insulated from the surrounding cooler environment, the lava continued to flow beneath the surface in the lava tube carrying it further and further from the crater, flooding more and more land as it went.


The eruption slowed then stopped. The lava flowed out the far end of the tubes, leaving hollow tunnels, hidden below the devastated land.

The once green forest was now a vast black sheet of twisted rock.Nothing stirred except for small pockets of life which survived rose above the sea of rock on the tops of the granite hills.

About 6 months before I went to Undara to see the lava tubes. These tubes are formed when lava flows from a volcanic eruption. The air cools the outside of the lava, which solidifies, but the lava inside continues to flow. When the eruption stops, the lava flows out of the end of the tube leaving behind a long tunnel. One of the lava flows at Undara extends for more than 100kms making it the longest known single lava flow on Earth.


The vegetation around the tubes is completely different to the surrounding area and it's quite striking in aerial photographs. Thousands of years ago, the area was covered in closed-canopy rainforest. The climate became drier, which the rainforest plants could cope with. What they couldn't cope with is fire. So the open canopy eucalypt forest took over except where the risk of fire is low, such as around the lava tubes. The rocky tubes don't allow much grass to grow and this stops the fires.

The guide handed me a torch and we walked down some wooden steps spying a couple of rock wallabies on the way. The tubes were wide. We walked about 50 yards inside one before we came to what looked like the end. In actual fact, the tube continued on but downwards. The lava probably flowed over an old waterfall and the bottom of the cave has now filled out with mud.

I saw the lava circles looked like stalactites but weren't formed by water action. Instead they occurred when the roof or an overhang dripped lava as it cooled. I also observed on the walls a kind of candle wax effect.

Every year the area experiences a lot of rain in the wet season, so there is also a build up of mineral salts on the roof. These formations are known as “cave coral” because of their structure.

After the first cave, I wandered along to another one which was nearby and spent another 20 minutes or so inside that one.

It is a place where everybody can explore natural geological wonders, enjoy the comforts and hospitality of a unique outback setting and where the local wildlife are as abundant as they are at home in their surroundings.

I stayed at railway carriages, beautifully restored turn of the century Railway Carriages was the most unique style of accommodation. The carriages were set along the original Cobb and Co. coach road and were shaded by tall trees and surrounded by Australian native wildlife.

Undara Experience included evening wildlife spotlighting walks, campfire evenings and delicious dining featuring the region’s best produce as the outback sunset fades into the clearest starlit night.

Undara was one of my best trips till date.


26 comments:

Jarlin said...

Very informative post and wonderful pictures. Wish to visit this place...

Thanks for sharing.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Fantastic series of lovely and beautiful photos !! This place sounds to be very interesting.Would love to visit it some day..Another fascinating post Babli Ji !!Great..Unseen Rajasthan

ZiLliOnBiG said...

wow, i first thought its some kind of painting. Just wonderful.

Perhaps its natures paintings. You are lucky lady, enjoy and keep sharing. We were planning a new zealand vacation this year (2009) may, but so happened that my wife got pregnant and my bundle of joy arrived. Probably next year we would like Australia, and i would remember these places. :))

yuva said...

It's a wonderful post. I really impressed by the geographical description of the place... so much that I even planning to visit OZ.... Keep it on.

Nazish Rahman said...

wonderful post and lovely pictures!!!
must b more beautiful in real!!

M VERMA said...

wonderful information, wonderful description, wonderful photos. In totality we can say wonderful post.

Pradip Biswas said...

undara cave is a place of geological debate. The reason why a part flowed out and another part soldified is not very clearly accepted. I saw some photographs abot 30 years back when I was a student. This is really abeautiful post.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

What a fascinating place! And you have blended history and geology and geography so nicely in this post.

Rush said...

undara looks like an exciting place to visit..interesting..love the trip amnd how u brought the entire trip together!!

Vivek Patwardhan said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and ,eaving encouraging comments. I enjoyed reading yours too.

I had visited Townsville a few times when my emplyers had a unit called Apco Coatings there. But never had occasion to visit the site.

Thanks for bringing some great photograophs to us.

Best wishes,

Vivek

nsiyer said...

Sush a beautifully designed blog. Your post on lava and its origin is fabolous.

nituscorner said...

Very interesting babli.and amazing pictures. this is all that we read in geography back in school ...only now it sounds more interesting.

Rajesh said...

Very informative and interesting. Until now had no idea of existence of such a place.

श्याम सखा 'श्याम' said...

i allways read ur post and i have found them interesting.keep on
shyam skha

महामंत्री - तस्लीम said...

REALY INTERESTING.
-Zakir Ali ‘Rajnish’
{ Secretary-TSALIIM & SBAI }

Sandy said...

Your post is very informative about many things of interest. Beautiful scenery throughout. Excellent learning tools....

Jeevan said...

Of course it must be the best and the post was very interesting and informative. It’s been long time since I read something related to volcano or lava and this post took me into a strange cave and the pictures remind me the movie volcano. Your blog title was apt to your posts!

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

Oh! That's so fascinating, and you're so lucky to be there!!

Slow and Beautiful — Snail

abdul hai said...

Nice place and nice figure you look ultimate?

Cuckoo said...

That's an interesting place to visit. I wish to go there sometime.
Your post is very informative also.

Thanks for sharing.

P.S.- Can you pls enable the Name/URL option for commenting ? This blogger id will take you to my old blog. Following is my current url.
Cuckoo

Cuckoo said...

Hi Babli,

I have linked this post to Blogbharti, a blog aggregator.
Here is the link for your reference

http://www.blogbharti.com/cuckoo/travel/have-you-ever-seen-lava-tubes/

Cuckoo

The Survivor said...

This is some place to visit!!! :)

indicaspecies said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
indicaspecies said...

Interesting post! Thanks for sharing these fabulous pictures.

knkayastha said...

Very interesting, very informative, very beautiful and as expected as we expect from you, thanks,Ma'am

knkayastha said...

Very interesting, very informative, very beautiful and as expected as we expect from you, thanks,Ma'am