Yungaburra to Undara National Park

Monday morning we drove a back road south from Yungaburra and stopped at a few waterfalls. We saw an interesting bird with a red head which we were later told is a bush turkey, somewhat of a pest.


We stopped for lunch in Ravenshoe. At the local bakery we bought lunch, a sausage roll and a lamington. They are both Australian foods that brought back memories of the tuck shop of my school in Brisbane.


We visited the local museum and had a great talk with the volunteer. It was interesting to hear about the local opposition to when the local rain forest was made a world heritage site. It meant all the locals who worked in the logging industry lost their jobs.  We also stopped at the grocery store and bought some snack foods. Duke insisted on buying a jar of vegemite.

The volunteer in the information office in Ravenshoe encouraged us to continue to follow the interior route which runs from Cairns to Sydney instead of cutting over to the coast road which he said rarely is actually on the coast. From the interior route we can cut over to the coast when we get west of Brisbane. We need to be near Brisbane Friday night for my reunion on Saturday. After we left Ravenshoe we almost immediately left the rain forest behind and were in dry land covered in with eucalyptus. 

We stopped for the night at Undara National Park where we stayed at a place called The Undara Experience. We saw our first kangaroo as we pulled in. Undara Experience has all sorts of accommodations and we chose the tent cabins and used our sleeping bags. 

You can't drive in the park on our own. You have to go on a guided tour. We went on the sunset wildlife tour. The guide drove about 20 of us out through the bush to a high point to watch the sunset. Along the way we saw many different kinds of kangaroos.


When we got to the end of the road we climbed to the top of a hill and the guide opened champagne and set out the fruit, cheese and crackers to share. We could see miles and miles of uninterrupted bush – trees and grassland with some mountains on the horizon. We watched a stunning sunset. It was a magical moment. The guide said that this is what Australia is all about. 046

After the sunset we drove over to the opening of one of the lava tubes. These lava tubes run for miles and are massive. We watched the bats flying out and even saw a snake in a tree over the opening trying to catch the bats as they flew out. Our guide said that Undara  just became a park in the 1990s.


When we got back from the tour we had a very good dinner in the open air restaurant at Undara and then went on a flashlight walking tour with another guide. They have had quite a bit of rain lately and the cicadas were very loud. (kind of like loud grasshoppers). He pointed out several of them on the trees coming out of their shells and drying out their wings.

Apparently they live for years underground and come out after rains. They live for only a few days, mate and then die. Our guide pointed out several other insects, and birds and a snake.

Sleeping outside is really nice. The weather was perfect and it is great to wake up to all the birds making lots of noise. Before we left we watched a pair of kangaroos and a joey for a long time. They were only about 20 feet from us!


We ate our pineapple for breakfast before we hit the road.


Cairns to Yungaburra

Tonight (Thursday night) we have internet for the first time in several days so I will update you on what we have been up to.

After our snorkeling on the reef on Saturday I had to deal with the back of my legs being badly sunburned. the sunblock had washed off.


On Sunday morning we picked up our rental car. As we left Cairns Duke and I were both concentrating on keeping on the left side of the road. An Australian friend said we just needed to remember to keep the passenger (me) in the gutter 🙂

From Cairns we had planned to immediately head south but several people told us it would be a big mistake to miss seeing the Daintree Rain Forest. So from Cairns we headed north up the coast. We drove along the ocean and stopped to take pictures.

At Mossman Gorge which is a part of the Daintree Rainforest World Heritage Site we went for a hike through the rain-forest. The forest we hiked through looked like it was right out of the set of the movie Avatar. It was lush, green, and humid with a raging river right through the middle. We saw an enormous colorful spider ( about 6 inches across!) at one point. I am going to try to not use the word amazing over and over again but it was!



After our hike when we were back on the road heading south we saw a sign for bananas and stopped and bought bananas and a pineapple. The trees with bananas on them were right next to the stand.


A little farther down the road we stopped at a stand selling locally grown nuts and coffee. We bought some warm freshly roasted cajun flavored peanuts and ate them as we drove down the road. My Mom used to roast peanuts and serve them warm as a snack. It brought back memories.

Right before we got to Yungaburra where we spent Sunday night we stopped to see a giant curtain fig tree in a small park. Apparently curtain fig trees start growing up in the air in another tree and drop roots down to the ground. Eventually the curtain fig kills the original host tree and it supports itself. The tree was enormous and the board walk around the tree gave us a really good view of the curtain of roots.


In Yungaburra we got a room at another back packers lodge. It wasn’t as nice as the one in Cairns but it was clean, the people were great and you can’t beat the price. It was called On the Wallabee and this time we even had a mosquito net although we didn’t use it.

Before dinner we went over to the local hotel for a beer. There had been a folk festival in Yungaburra over the weekend. It was done but on the hotel veranda they were having a jam session. All the people watching were joining in the Australian folk songs. I even recognized one about Ned Kelly, a famous Australian outlaw. Sitting there listening to the wonderful music and even joining in a bit was fun.


We had been told that at dusk we could watch a platypus feeding down in the local creek so we walked down to the creek watched the platypus then walked back up to the hotel and had a couple of beers while we listened to the singing.


After dinner we drove back to the big curtain fig which was just a few mile out of town. We used a flashlight to walk the board walk around the tree again. When we turned out the flashlight we could hear animals in the forest but we couldn’t see any. We did see some cool phosphorescent stuff glowing in the dark. I think it was a fungus.

Our first full day on the road was wonderful. If you would like to see all of our pictures in Australia they are available here.