The Undara lava fields west of Mt Surprise is the toe of the lava flow that originated from the 164 craters of the McBride Plateau. There are basalt tunnels, which run for some 100 miles underground and can be accessed only through the Savannah Guide Post located at the Undara Lava Lodge on the edge of the Undara Volcanic National Park. You can take local day tours or take advantage of the camping and accommodation on offer. Guided tours can be organised either by Undara Experience or Bedrock Village. Walk the path of an ancient volcano during the day then sleep cocooned in an antique railway carriage. Check the Undara Experience website for details of the famous Undara Opera in the Outback and the Undara Outback Rock and Blues events.
The Einasleigh Hotel is walking distance from the beautiful Copperfield Gorge. The town comes alive at the famous races and rodeo, usually held around Easter.
GEORGETOWN sits west of the Newcastle Range and is the administrative centre for the region and a service centre for local pastoralists and mining operations.
Gold was discovered near here in the mid-1860s and a reminder of this is the Cumberland Chimney, 20km west of town. It is all that remains of the gold crushing plant – it processed nearly 66,000 ounces – built by Cornish masons. The adjoining dam is a great place for bird watching, especially in the dry season. The town is home to a motel, hotel and caravan parks. A must-see in Georgetown is the TerrEstrial Ted Elliott Mineral Collection of more than 4500 display specimens. About 90km from Georgetown is the striking Cobbold Gorge, formed through sedimentation of the Hampstead Sandstone 134 million years ago and hewn by nature to leave permanent waterholes beneath spectacular cliffs. Cobbold Gorge forms part of a working cattle property and access to the gorge is by Savannah Guide-led boat trip and tours. Camping, powered sites and cabins, meals and tours are all available through Cobbold Gorge Camping Village.
Another outpost in the Etheridge Shire is The Lynd Junction, about 80km from Einasleigh. Accommodation and meals are available at the roadhouse and caravan park, which boasts the Guinness Book of Records’ smallest bar in the world. Fossickers may be interested in the Moonstone Hill Resource Reserve, about 90km south of the Lynd Junction on the Kennedy Development Road. The Etheridge region is an exciting, geological wonderland with history and romance at its core. Remember that any fossicking requires a permit and make sure you know where to dig as mining claims and mining leases are ‘no-go’ areas. When you have had your fill of the excitement and discoveries of the rugged, red Savannah country, head East towards the calming, soft greens of the Atherton Tablelands.
FORSAYTH is the terminus of the
Savannahlander’s four-day journey from Cairns. It is located within the Etheridge goldfield and adjacent to the Agate Creek Mineral Reserve. Ask the locals about some of the mining relics you can see when you visit. The newly renovated Goldfields Hotel offers meals, accommodation, general store and fuel (diesel and unleaded).
EINASLEIGH is a tiny township
originally named Copperfield, which began life after the discovery of copper in 1866. It is on the Savannahlander rail line and sits among some unusual scenery with flat top hills rising out of grasslands.
TRAVEL TIP: Did you know the
Etheridge Region is located just a couple hours drive west from the Atherton Tablelands, making it close enough for a weekend away or a longer relaxing break?