Our Big Lap trip-o-meter has just cracked 21,500 km. Completely unremarkable except that this figure is close to the total ‘point-to-point’ distance I calculated we’d do on the whole lap. By my reckoning, excluding day trips, we should have done about 14,000 ‘point-to-point’ kilometres by now. Only about 40% left to go as we slide into day 208 out of 365ish, we’re definitely on the way home. After our brief visit to the Gulf we headed off east.
We serendipitously came across the Gulflander on its way home from Croydon, stopped at Black Bull Siding for morning tea. A few photos later and it was off, as were we heading towards Georgetown.
We stopped for lunch and the boys and Kris were keen to check out the mineral collection held at the visitor centre. The collection of over 4500 specimens (both local and foreign) was donated by a local collector – Ted Elliot. Well worth a look.
Another hundred or so kilometres down the road was our next bucket list item, the Undarra lava tubes – a privately owned resort within the National Park. There are 160 km of these tubes, which formed just 190,000 years ago. A mere blink in earth’s 4.6 billion year history. These examples are the biggest and longest in the world and formed when lava oozed out of a volcano as molten rivers, which cooled on contact with the air, and in some cases water, to form a hard outer crust through which more and more lava continued to flow. Many have collapsed or are quite small, but several, including the ones we walked through, are colossal.
In the first almost perfectly circular chamber section we visited, the roof was at least 10+ m high. One intact tunnel is apparently 100 km in length, 11m high and 22m wide, but has lethal carbon dioxide levels and so remains inaccessible. Our tour guide (and this is the only way to see the tubes) was excellent, my only complaint was that it was over too quickly. After about an hour and after visiting just two tubes, we were bundled back in the bus.
After the tour, we coerced some homework out of the boys before they both had to fix flat tyres – a regular occurrence on our trip (K – so much so, that Sam is now proficient in carrying out his own puncture repairs and James is almost there).
We lashed out on dinner in a 1930’s train carriage – a nostalgic and rather quaint experience. There must be 50 plus of these old carriages dotted around the place, in use either as dining cars, accommodation and even the gift shop. An original sign states the fine for engaging the emergency brake is $10. It was $20 when I was a school boy in the 80’s. These 1930’s era cars, must have been well past their lifetime when finally retired to Undarra.