Stepping off the plane in Cairns I had no idea what to expect for this trip. It was my first time visiting Tropical North Queensland and my prior knowledge of the area only included photos of beautiful reefs and beaches. Greeted by Will and Amy at the airport, we packed the car full of camera gear and treats and headed west, excited to see a side of Queensland that I didn’t know existed.
Out the car window the sugar cane and palm trees slowly merged into your classic Aussie bush with nothing around but massive piles of granite boulders, abandoned utes and the odd petrol station. After a few hours in the car we arrived in Chillagoe and we were all pretty excited to start exploring the area for what they’re know for, their caves.
Lead by the local park ranger, we headed straight under ground into the Donna and Trezkinn caves. From the drive into town you don’t expect much of the barren landscape but we were all blown away by what we discovered. What looked like razor sharp, jagged towers of limestone on the outside turned out to be massive caves systems which seemed to go on forever. The walkways put in place to protect the fragile mineral formations were the hallways of a spectacular art gallery complete with stalactites, stalagmites and some bat residents.
Heading south a few hours we arrived at our second destination, the Undara Volcanic Park. We were greeted by the lovely people at the Undara Experience who welcomed us by taking us on a sunset tour to one of the Volcanoe tube entrances. Here at the cave opening the snakes have figured out how to get a meal every night by hanging from trees and catching the bats as they flew out in search of their own meal. These sections of lava tubes are just small sections of what would have stretched for over a 100 km when they first formed.
On the last stretch of the trip we passed through the Atherton tablelands where we stayed in a tree house tucked away in the rainforest. During our visit, we had the chance to stop at Nandroya, Milla Milla and Millstream Falls. Each one we stopped at was just as impressive as the last and it was well worth the walk in the pouring rain. The waterfalls alone are a good enough reason to come back to the area as it was impossible to see them all in one visit.
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