Down the Laundry Shoot
The other day I was chatting to one of my best friends, an absolute sunshine and sweetheart. It is needless to say that I miss her, particularly because of her amazing talent to put things into perspective and bring me down to earth.
While we were exchanging the latest gossip she asked me whether I’d be in heaven. I guess it was less of a question and more of an assumption. Well, despite the downsides of travel (missing good friends and good coffee) I’m enjoying life and seeing the glass half full. Nonetheless, perhaps I haven’t been critical enough and everything sounds too good to be true? Fair enough. Let me attempt a balanced account of our departure from Cairns. Yes, we’ve hit the road again last week and are finally travelling west.
Our first stop along the way was the little town of Chillagoe. In its heyday when the mining industry boomed only 100 years ago this town was home to over 10000 people. Today 250 souls live here, plus the occasional tourist. It’s still got two pubs, and two historic smelters. Apart from that little reminds of the heyday.
Chillagoe is situated on Limestone and underneath the region over 500 caves hold all sorts of exciting things, mainly stalactites and stalagmites, a gigantic population of micro bats and other creatures that form an underground ecosystem. Cockroaches live here that eat bat poo, huntsman spiders that eat cockroaches and snakes that eat bats. It’s a perfect system that may smell funny to some, but works well for the creatures involved.
The highlight of the tour was the laundry shoot, a two meter long and very, very narrow stretch of cave that I crawled through. While I was down on my tummy trying to move forwards with my hands and knees I definitely didn’t think of above described ecosystem. The crawl was, of course, optional and Thorsten waited on the other side of the wall to watch me drop out of a little whole that looked like a laundry shoot, hence the name. Funny enough, I did look like I was wearing dirty laundry too.
Because we got a taste for caves our next stop was the Undara Volcanic National Park. More than 200 inactive volcanoes are dotted around the park. If no-one tells you this you’d just look at the landscape and not even imagine that these gentle hills were once fiercely spitting lava. Well, they did and because of a series of extraordinary circumstances they created the longest underground lava tubes in the world.
And if no-one shows you these tubes you wouldn’t even imagine their existence either. These gigantic caves were like chalk and cheese to Chillagoe’s limestone caves, but extremely impressive. The guided tours to these tubes are pretty expensive, but because access is absolutely restricted and tours are the only way to see the tubes there’s no way around the fee. It’s definitely worth it though.
Tonight we’re staying in Croydon. I’m sitting under a huge Mango tree (at least I think it’s one) while the sun gently descends. I could mention the blazing heat and greasy roadhouse food along the way, but tonight my glass of wine is still half full.
Tell me about travel experiences you choose to ignore, I’d love to hear them!