Posted by: Ted | December 23, 2007

The Accessible Outback

Undara National Park, Australia November 20-21, 2007

This is the description on all the advertising and literature for the Undara Experience, an outback “development” taking place about one full day’s drive from Cairns. “Accessible” is subjective since you have to brave some pretty hairy dirt and gravel “roads” primarily dominated by road trains and 4WD vehicles that have spare gas cans and tires strapped on top, We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and pushed ahead in our tiny 10-year-old Mazda 121 rental. Bravery or Stupidity? Only our fate will decide but we will learn some lessons along the way.

During the last few hours drive toward Undara, the scenery changes dramatically. No more mountainous rainforests or waterfalls and virtually nothing green. We’re entering true Crocodile Dundee outback landscape with dry, sandy outreaches, enormous ant and termite mounds that stand up to ten feet high and sparsely spaced trees.


Roadkill kangaroos and wallabies emerge every twenty minutes to remind us just how many there must be roaming this open territory.

Arriving at this park area we are immediately impressed. Accommodations include basic tent camping, RV spaces with full hookups and basic cabins. Luck smiling on us, we scored their best room at a last minute half price deal and checked into an ensuite double room.


Not just a cabin but an entire 1950’s passenger train of sleeper cars that have been restored!


It’s still about $20 per night over our budget but how could we pass up this experience? Best part is that there is almost nobody around. The facility can accommodate over 200 guests but they only have 34 since it is fringe season. There is a fresh water pool, restaurant, bar, laundry, hot showers and terrific staff. No need to blow money on expensive tours as everything you want to see here is all around you, totally accessible and free.

One afternoon, Heather walks 7km into the Outback to “scope things out” on her own in the sweltering heat. What a champ!


She finds a group of kangaroos on her way back, so I’m immediately in tow. We hike ten minutes and find a whole group of Kangaroos including babies.


Wild Roo’s can be aggressive and territorial so you must be slow and cautious approaching them. The staff was amazed that we were eventually able to get twenty feet away for about ten minutes before they hopped away faster than you can imagine.


Lesson #1: We were lucky. The six foot male would normally have attacked us to protect his family. No harm, no foul right?

Outback Lesson #1: The closest supermarket is an hour away so dinner options at Undara are simple. Either you already knew that and brought all your own food OR you pay $25-$35 per person for dinner in the restaurant. Trapped without options we decide to spoil ourselves and enjoy the experience. After a gourmet dinner we are treated to live music around the campfire while we get acquainted with the other guests.

Heather is chosen to act out the actions we learn to a popular Australian song and compete against others. She wins a free cocktail from the bar. We didn’t have a flash with us, so you’ll have to imagine Heather looking stupid while the cowboy plays the guitar.

Next day we toured the Lava Tube Caves and saw some incredible natural formations in cavernous underground caves.


Outback Lesson #3: Bring bug spray for the flies and mosquitoes. For some reason they always go for your ears and it gets annoying. Here’s a photograph Heather took from inside one of the pitch-dark tubes by “painting with light.”


We spent the rest of the day enjoying the pool and shooting a video segment on the wildlife. Another gourmet dinner and an after-dark wilderness hike that revealed a highly deadly tree snake, more Kangaroos, possums, wallabies and a Kookaburra. Satisfied with everything we packed into two days, we set out away from the outback and back toward the tropical areas.



  1. Merry Christmas! It’s the day after here in the states and that means one thing… SALES. I tend to avoid shopping at all costs but today Anthony and I will be forced to get out and about this day. However, agenda item #1 for me today is ridding the house of all signs of Christmas. Hey, would you keep birthday stuff around for months on end– I think not. Tonight my brother comes to spend the night and meet some friends before heading out to Vegas for a few days, returning and then going to Dallas to the Cotton Bowl with my dad and Vince. The Razorbacks are in the “big game.” Anthony had a beautiful holiday despite hitting some horribly cranky moments over the past four-five days. I’m told that’s part of being four. He was very excited Christmas morning, though, and that was sweet. He woke us up saying, “You’re not going to believe this!” referring to the gifts under the tree. Vince’s December 15 surprise party was fantastic!! Wish you had been here. Working on a way to get you the video of some highlights (my song, some people speaking including cousin-in-law Justin). Best part of the party was seeing Vince’s FACE when we walked in. My dad took a photo I hope to email to you soon. He was truly surprised. Last bit of exciting news, Ari and I are launching ahead on plans for the Little Black Dress Brigade. TR (Justin’s friend who was a groomsman) designed a website for us: We hope to use some of Heather’s photos (C) Faces. I did a spot of KATV Channel 7 (local ABC) on Saturday 12/22 for the LBDB. The topic was a New Years party with a Cotton Bowl twist, you know, pull out your Hog stuff and gourmet tailgate grub and ideas that can be used for Dec 31 or Jan 1 (game day). Luckily my partner in crime has a load of Razorback stuff. We’re also hopeful to get the video posted on our website. I’ll be contacting the station today with the request. Here’s hoping that you have email access soon and that you are healthy, happy and up for another round of globe traveling adventures. Absolutely love reading Jump A Monkey and keeping up with your travels. Much love to you both from good ol’ Arkansas. Happy Holidays!! -Mandy

  2. Merry Christmas the next day!
    I just realized something…you guys are in the future right? Awesome. I hope your new year is a blessed one filled with laughter and friends…God Bless!

  3. Heather, I forgot to tell you that your UT Steers lost AGAIN to OU and OU AGAIN is the BIG XII Champion. It’s kinda boring winning over and over and over and over! That may be why you left the US for 2 years! 😉 Glad to see you two are having a good time. Strange way to spend Christmas, but hey, it beats no snow in Kentucky!

  4. hey people …
    Finally I arrived to your nice blog 🙂
    I am Maarten, one of the two Belgians you met at the crocodylus village in cape tribulation.
    So how are you guys doing you still in australia or already somewhere else on this amazing little planet.
    We are in Townsville and got hit massively last night by the wetseason hehe, quite an experience. The roads in town were flooded almost wastehigh. Luckily we were in the highest spot of the campsite and were able to stay dry inside our tent yihaaa! I am doing an update today on our travels with also some of our pictures. I am just learning but some came out pretty well hehe like Heather said just try out and yeah its fun really. The adress is So guys I hope you had a great chrissie and already make sure you party hard to enter the newyear. Greetz from the Belgians

  5. Heather,

    I was reading some of the comments and I have to refer to one with a question: Why does ou coach Bob Stoops eat cereal on a plate? Because he keeps losing his bowls! ou may be the Big 12 champ, but at least UT knows how to win a bowl game! 🙂 Sorry, Sam Hines emailed me that today and I had to pass it on.

    I’ve been reading all your emails, but this is the first time I’ve been to your blog. It’s awesome! You take such great pictures! No wonder your company was so successful! Christmas and New Years were great. My boyfriend’s parents came to Texas (from Colorado) and we all went to Austin to hang out with my family for Christmas. It was a fun time except for a little stomach virus my baby niece decided to pass on. Chris and I were the only lucky ones to dodge that.

    Not much else is new. Work is busy with all the catch up, and we are closing a deal tomorrow. I won’t be doing any extensive travelling in the near future, so I will have to live vicariously through you. Take care!

  6. Hi Heather and Ted,

    I am finally up to date with your blog! WOW…what a holiday so far. The photos are fantastic and the content amusing and interesting. Two plus years travelling to go…looking forward to reading more and VERY jealous.

    Little upset you could not fit South Aussie into your travels but appreciate you are on a budget and need to see the best of the best when it comes to countries….and Queensland delivers!

    You never know, our paths may cross somewhere else in the world in the next couple of years.

    Cheers and beers

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