The rich volcanic soil around Mount Surprise is the result of the copious amounts of lava that spewed forth from the surrounding chain of volcanoes over tens of thousands of years. Undara is one of the youngest craters, responsible for the remarkable tunnel system located beneath the rich grasslands. Undara is also the largest lava tube system in the world.

One of the cave entrances at Undara Volcanic National Park.
Heading inland on Highway 1, the first sign that you have reached the Gulf Savannah is the Undara Volcanic National Park, one of Australia's great geological wonders. 'Undara' is an Aboriginal word meaning "a long way", and although it is only 275 kilometres from the Cairns coast, you may feel a long way from anywhere as you roam the park. The Undara Volcano is just one of over 160 volcanoes, vents and cones within the McBride volcanic province, a region that spans a radius of 40 kilometres. The crater of Undara is 330 metres across, and 60 metres deep, but it is the spectacular caves that most people come to see. This park is home to the largest and longest lava tube system on the planet, formed only 190,000 years ago. Compared to some of its neighbours, Undara wasn't an enormous volcano, neither was it an extremely violent eruption, but it did produce an impressive amount of lava... the lava field extends 90 kilometres to the north and 160 kilometres to the north-west of the crater!

It is estimated that 233 cubic kilometres of lava, at a temperature of around 1200 degrees Centigrade, flowed from the volcano, at a rate of about 1,000 cubic metres every second.

Within the park, you can tell the location of the lava tubes from a distance, by observing the change in vegetation. Around you, the landscape of open woodlands has been replaced by dry grassland, but in Undara, surprisingly, rainforest plants thrive in the sheltered entrances and dark, moist depressions formed where the roof of the lava tubes has collapsed. Rock wallabies can often be seen, and inside the caves owls and colonies of bats roost.


Undara Volcanic Park, Mount Surprise

Whether you wish to join one of the small, personalised Savannah Guide group tours, or wander quietly discovering the flora and fauna on your own self guided bushwalk, Undara will give you an experience as unique as its ecology. Undara Experience offers tours to suit all interests and levels of fitness, from two hours to full day, and a 'Wildlife at Sunset' experience.


Undara is a National Park, so as you would expect, activities here revolve around the unique nature. There are guided tours of the caves, or you can hike the 2.5 kilometre (1 hour) Kalkani Crater circuit. The national Park is a favourite with birdwatchers, with over 120 varieties of birds, including the endangered Red Goshawk, to be found.

Nearby National Parks and State Forests include:

This is one of the few inland dry rainforest remnants in north Queensland. Camping is not permitted, but it's a pleasant spot for a picnic or a short walk. Toilet facilities and sheltered picnic tables are provided in the day use area beside the Kennedy Highway. For more information about this park, please CLICK HERE.


You have never seen or heard anything like it before. An opera concert under the stars in the Ooramin Place, at the Undara's amphitheatre!!!

Outback Country Rock and Blues presents different styles of music for everyone, all with the spectacular beauty of Undara in the background. There will be different performances and events across the weekend, including the 'Bush Breakfast', where visitors can experience what living in the outback is.


Undara Volcanic Park, Mount Surprise

Camping is not allowed in the National Park, but visitors can spend the night at the Lava Lodge, inside Undara Experience, sleeping in comfortable and beautifully restored antique railway carriages, or in a central camping area. Campers have access all of the Lodge facilities, including the pool , as well as their own undercover barbecue areas, sinks, guest laundry, and hot and cold showers for the use of campers. Individual campsites have campfire pits with firewood supplied.

For those without their own camping gear, there is a special 'Swags Tent Village' where you only need to bring your own swag (bedding). The Swags Tents are comfortable "off-the-ground" tents with full head room, lighting and of course ... beds!

There are also three powered caravan sites but the majority of the sites are unpowered. No pets are allowed at the Lava Lodge, but a pet minding service is available in Mt Surprise at the Bedrock Village Caravan Park.


Cairns Unlimited will find you the best deal on a rental car so you can make your way to the Undara Lava Tubes at your own pace.For those with their own vehicle, Undara is an easy and enjoyable four to five hour drive from Cairns via the picturesque ATHERTON TABLELANDS. There is plenty to see and do along the way, and this is is a trip not to be hurried. We recommend you incorporate an overnight stop in the Cairns Highlands, allowing you to explore this unique area a little more. If you require a rental car, please visit our CAR HIRE page to make an obligation free enquiry.

Undara is also serviced by local tour operators, either as a day trip from Cairns, or as part of a longer outback experience. To view the range of tours available, please visit our NORTHERN OUTBACK TOURS page.