Day Ten – Undara Lava Tubes

My sinuses are infected (happens whenever I get tired – or more specifically, when I rest after being tired/busy) so had another restless night – just couldn’t get comfortable. But, enough about my man flu.

20130523_RCH_2297We took the deviation inland from Townsville to see some giant lava tunnels that were formed 190,000 years ago – back when Australia was geologically active. The lava tubes are in a national park, but it’s not the way a usual national park seems – it’s very privatised. The whole park feels more like a tourist resort than a national park, which for some people would be fantastic, but for us, it made it feel like a trap.

The only way that you can visit the tubes is within a guided tour, with prices starting from $52.50. Each! Yes, I know, I’m complaining about costs again. Anyway, I wanted to see the tunnels, so I ponied up the cash and made a booking.

20130523_RCH_2232 20130523_RCH_2243But, before the tour began, we had an hour or so to kill, so we hiked to the top of a small bluff for an overview of the plains below.

20130523_RCH_2258The tour began, and we joined 20 odd other tourists and jumped in a bus to the starting location. I don’t know why, but I kept thinking that it would be like a hole in the side of a mountain/hill. Access to the tubes were through sections that the roof had collapsed. It was odd, the flora changed dramatically in the areas by the tubes – it went from savanna to rainforest like.

They are said to be the largest single flow of lava known, and it all happened within 25 years – much, much more than the lava that has flown from the volcanoes in Hawaii! This lava flow followed the natural contours of the land, flowing down areas that were previously streams. The top of lava flow was exposed to air and cooled much quicker than the lava beneath. This cooling lava grew a skin, and eventually turned in to the roof of the lava tubes. Eventually, the lava stopped flowing from the volcano and the last remnants that dribbled out solidified to form the flat surface on the bottom.

Over time, erosion has caused some of the roof sections to collapse, which is how they were discovered, and how we gained entry.

20130523_RCH_2278The tour took us into two of the tubes, and along a large section that the roof had collapsed (and was now rainforest).

20130523_RCH_2288 20130523_RCH_2268It was hard not to think of them as caves, but due to the material that they are formed by (basalt), they don’t form stalagmites (or tites). Also, due to the extremely porous nature (ie, they leak – a lot), they supposedly weren’t used by Aboriginal people (so, no cave art – and even if they did draw, it would have been washed away). The guide mentioned that after all the heavy rain in 2011, it was open to swimming tours! (with scuba/snorkels etc)

In short – the tubes were interesting, but mostly for geological reasons.

I was exhausted (I was sick) so after the tour, we crashed at the first rest stop we found (about 30 minutes drive). Not long after we set up, two German men also joined us. We shared their fire (ran out of Butane cylinders) to toast our sandwiches, and just shared travel stories. They had just come from Adelaide via Broome, Darwin, Alice Springs and Mt. Isa – in seven weeks! And I thought we were going to be rushed…

10日目 いざ溶岩トンネルの中へ! Undara  Lava Tube


午前中に少し時間があったので、いくつかあったトレッキングコースの中の見晴らしコースを散策することに。  ここは、後ほどツアーでも説明をうける通りとても古い火山があった場所で、190、000年前に溶岩が形成されたようです。  顔が黄色く、体が水色の大型のインコの仲間や、小型のカンガルーやワラビーとあちこちで遭遇することができました。 ゆるやかな坂道を30分ほど登って行くと、大きめの岩が転がっており、良い眺めの自然の展望台となっていました。
周りは、平らな草原と背の低い木々が広がり、ちょっとライオンキングぽかった笑 ふつうの山の様に高くはないので、種類が分かるくらいの距離で目下を鳥が飛んでいる光景はとても美しかったです。

軽いトレッキングのあとに、サンドイッチを食べて休息をした後、いよいよ溶岩トンネンルへ行くツアーに参加しました。 最大25名のツアーなので、マイクロバス2台で約15分ほどで到着しました。

バスを降りるとそこは、変哲も無いオーストラリアのサバンナが広がっていましたが、数歩歩くと、とつぜん熱帯雨林の森に変化しました。 溶岩ドームができた際にその部分は、ドームの屋根が落ち、草原から一段低くなっているので、湿潤な陰の多い場所となり、周りと環境が変わったようです。(草原の割れ目というかんじです)
熱帯雨林に囲まれた階段を下りて行くと、ひんやりと冷たくなり、間の前にぽっかりと空いたトンネルがありました。 これが溶岩トンネルです。 どう形成されるかは、長くなってしまうので、ネットで調べてください。しかし、溶岩トンネルに付いては、まだまだ調査が進行中で、まだまだ色々なことが仮説だそうです。

トンネルは、鍾乳洞ではないので、奥深くまでは続いていませんが、赤茶色っぽい岩の層のトンネルは、なかなか感動的でした。 雨期には、半分以上が水に浸ってしまうことも年によってはあるそうで、その際は、スノーケリングでツアーを行う事もあるそうです。  溶岩トンネルは1つのみかと思いきや、この辺りには、いくつか存在するそうで、(発見されていないものも沢山あるらしいです。) そのうち今回は3つ探索することができました。
ガイドのおじさんも地質学者でとてもおもしろく、分かりやすく説明してくれ、とてもいいツアーでした。 地学の勉強みたいで、ちょっと懐かしかったなぁ。

私たちの他に、ドイツから来た同年代くらいの男の子サイモン君とマイケル君2人が同じく車泊をしていたので、キャンプファイヤーを囲み、旅について、生活について、色々と語り合いとてもいい夜となりました。 やっぱ旅って最高だね!!

明日は、なんと、、温泉に行くぞ!!! 楽しみーー!!!


One response

  1. Lance

    Looks like a place I would like to visit one day. Thanx 4 the pix/info. Safe travels:)

    May 24, 2013 at 20:38

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