Undara caves - is it worth it?

We are thinking of visiting Undara caves with our three young children but the only details I can get online show it as being very, very expensive and having to do a 4 hour tour and I can't find the camping costs any where. So, is it worth visiting and paying all the money or can we get a great cave experience somewhere else? We're on our way west from cairns, going all the way around oz in a 4wd ct. Thanks guys!
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Reply By: Member - mrlocks - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 13:49

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 13:49
check this link
caravan park powered site about $45

AnswerID: 492585

Reply By: Rip64 - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 13:52

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 13:52
Quite a different cave experience at Undara - My opinion is that a visit is well worth it. We stayed in permanent tents - would not do that again.
AnswerID: 492586

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 14:03

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 14:03
HI Astro Travel

The area out there is very pretty, but can not advise the cost of camping. As for the tour...............we had a new guide and will say no more.

Value for money, my opinion, not really, but can recommend the Chillagoe caves, in my opinion better and better value.

They are worth seeing, but not at the fees that they charge. If you check out my latest Cairns Blog, you will see that we went there an you can see a few images of what it was like. The main chamber, was well and truly under water and will be so for months to come.


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AnswerID: 492587

Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 14:25

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 14:25
Check out Bedrock Village at Mt Surprise. Also Badgers Report-Bedrock Village
From reports I've heard this is a good alternative to the park at Undara. They have tours to the lava tubes.
AnswerID: 492589

Follow Up By: fawkesp - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 21:35

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 21:35
I agree with Rod, Bedrock was a wonderful stopover when we were there in 2008.

I seem to recall that Undara was only about 40 minutes away anyway. Very interesting tour, just a bit difficult to get my head around how the 'tubes' were created - still thinking it through after 4 years!

FollowupID: 768291

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 21:55

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 21:55
Another vote for staying at Bedrock. You can do the same tour from there at Bedrock prices or pick it up at Undara and pay their commission as well.

The trip is probably too long for very young kids. I would suggest staying two days at Bedrock. You do the trip one day and the navigator do it on the other day.
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FollowupID: 768292

Reply By: Member - Scrubby (VIC) - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 14:36

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 14:36
We were there a couple of years ago, things may have changed .
It is a "closed National Park" there is no unescorted public access allowed.
I didn`t like the idea of a private enterprise mob having exclusive rights to the National park. The same mob had the only accommodation/camping/caravan park near there.
We asked some who had just returned from a tour their thoughts, some said it was ok, others were disappointed.
Apparently if the level of gases in the cave is high you don`t go in.
The smell from the Bat Droppings can be very powerful.
Anyway we decided not to lay out so much money on only a "maybe" so we decided to give them a miss and drove back a few K`s and found a good free camp spot on an old screenings site well off the road..

We found out later that if you go to the caravan park at Mount Surprise they have a daily picnic tour of the caves which is much better value.

Chatting to other travelers along the way later many had had a disappointing experience visiting the lava tubes.

Just my opinion of course.

AnswerID: 492590

Reply By: BFreer - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 15:30

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 15:30
visited Undarra 2 weeks ago - in my opinion, whilst an interesting place to visit it is a bit overated and overpriced. Got the feeling that the place was being milked pretty well which I guess is a supply and demand thing.

Talked to one family with 3 kids and they were a bit in shock at what it was costing them, although I noticed that they had family rates for tours etc that made it a bit cheaper for families with more than 2 kids.

The tour guide was good and the overall tour suited us but was $90 pp for 4 hours but did include morning tea. two hour tours are $50. For us, 2 people staying 3 nights powered van site ($35 per night) 4 hour walk, one meal (average) and a few extras, the bill was around $425. The van site was unshaded and fairly tight, facilities good but barely adequate for the numbers, and some of the on-site tents had people walking within 1 metre of them on their way to the loo.

Heard go things about the Mt Surprise experience.
AnswerID: 492592

Reply By: Inflataduck - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 16:31

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 16:31
yes its worth it, do 1 tour at least, & do the volcano rim walk, They are totally different to a limestone cave & can not be compared not many other places you can easily access larva tubes.
AnswerID: 492594

Reply By: tdv - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 16:55

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 16:55
While a great place to visit as adults, speaking from experience, the tours are too long with young kids. And it is a little pricey.

We have taken our kids to Chillagoe caves a few times and they get much more out of it. Plenty of options for camping in Chillagoe and you can get a torch and a national Park map and explore some caves for free which the kids love.

Chillagoe is only a couple of hours easy drive from Mareeba/Atherton and if you want to head to Undara there is a well formed dirt road that short cuts across to the Kennedy Highway.Check a few maps.

My 2 bobs worth anyway.

AnswerID: 492595

Reply By: Member - Marilyn P (NSW) - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 17:54

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 17:54
Recommend Bedrock Caravan Park. Hosts Jo and Joe are excellent. Have tours of caves at a more reasonable price.
AnswerID: 492598

Reply By: Jedo_03 - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 19:11

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 19:11
We just did this 3 days ago...
Look here for all the details of the CP and tours:
Scroll down for tour setails and prices.
We did the morning tour, 4 hours - and out Guide (Steve) was priceless and very knowledable about the flora and fauna of the area as well as the tubes...
As ADULTS - we found the lava tubes interesting and fascinating. Saw a few bats in crevices (Most of them hibernate north for the winter...)
The walk around the volcano rim (Kalkani) - less than spectacular - though the views were exceptional...
Depends how old/young your kids are - and what interests them...
If they are inclined towards Nature and Natural phenomena, then it would be good for them to see the tubes and Kalkani...
BTW - there are 3 CP's at Mt Surprise. Bedrock is $35, The one with the snake handler s $33 - but there is another on the main street charging only $17 for a couple - presume kids will be extra...
The local copper will give you the number of that park..
AnswerID: 492601

Reply By: ao767brad - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 19:18

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 19:18
Did the 2 hour tour with girls 7 & 9 last year who enjoyed it and found it informative. I agree with the other posts re cost but in the overall cost of around oz trip it just means a few nights of free camping to make it even. Being the only location of this type in Aust it does make it worth the trip to tick it off the list.

Don't just arrive, make sure you ring a day or two in advance as we rang the day before and could not get on the tour we prefered and got the last powered site.
AnswerID: 492603

Reply By: Aussi Traveller - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 23:12

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 23:12
We did 7 years ago, it seems nothing has changed, great camp ground, the Lava tubes were interesting, the people that run it are thieves.

We will never recommend this place to anyone.
AnswerID: 492616

Reply By: Member - Bucky - Friday, Aug 10, 2012 at 04:28

Friday, Aug 10, 2012 at 04:28
Astro Travel

Well worth it !

AnswerID: 492623

Reply By: Rod - Friday, Aug 10, 2012 at 06:30

Friday, Aug 10, 2012 at 06:30
Go to Chillagoe instead. More caves with some self explore ones are free (which my boys love)
AnswerID: 492627

Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Friday, Aug 10, 2012 at 10:29

Friday, Aug 10, 2012 at 10:29
We found a number of retirees / grey nomads turning around and driving back out - cost of a couple of nights camping and tours etc, was going to eat a week or two traveling budget - said they couldn't afford it - was sad, but we could see their point.

We stayed up in Mt Garnet (nice CP) and drove through and took a 2-3 hour tour - end of that we'd had enough.

Worth it? - was interesting but borderline - certainly wasn't worth it if we had to stay in the Caves CP and pay the prices there - what happens when an operator gets exclusive rights....
AnswerID: 492650

Reply By: Member - Andrew L (QLD) - Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 20:33

Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 20:33
We were up that way 10 years ago, young kids and caravan in tow, I drove in, sussed it out, reckoned they were thieves running a Nat Park site..SAVANAH GUIDES..yeah right, drove back out and found alternatives.
AnswerID: 492724

Reply By: AstroTravel - Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 at 21:16

Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 at 21:16
Thanks for all your advice and replies everyone. We did seriously consider chillagoe but Decided in the end to do a 2 hour tour of undara. We had to fudge one our child's ages which saved us a bit of $$. 2 hours was definately enough for us although we didn't see that much. The kids really enjoyed it and it was pretty interesting for the grown ups too. I wouldnt say it was a "must see" and I'm sure it wasn't worth the exorbitant price but I am pleased we went.
Happy travels all :)
AnswerID: 492787

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