30 June, 2020 By: Tatum Stafford
Western Australia is dotted with caves and underground systems that provide a unique glimpse into our state’s rich history.
Be it archaeological fossils or Indigenous Dreamtime rock art, there’s plenty to explore in caves underneath our State’s surface.
So if you're heading off on a WA road trip, here are 10 of our favourite caves to visit.
1. Tunnel Creek Cave, Wanaamin Miliwundi Ranges
Nestled within the Wanaamin Miliwundi Ranges, the Tunnel Creek National Park is home to WA’s oldest cave system; featuring a tunnel with shallow water pools that visitors can wade through.
The 750-metre long trek through Tunnel Creek Cave leads you to the other side of the Napier Range. On your way through, you may spot a variety of bat species, stalactites that descend from the roof, and a series of refreshing pools to walk through. Be sure to take a torch, wear sneakers, and be prepared to get wet.
Access to the park via Gibb River Road will require a four-wheel drive. National park fees apply, and the park is generally inaccessible during wet season. Areas of the cave may be home to freshwater crocodiles, so make sure you’re CROCWISE before visiting.
2. Jingemia Cave, Watheroo
Jingemia Cave is a distinctive natural feature within the Watheroo National Park. Comprised of chert (an organic sedimentary rock) and other old rock types, the cave is significant not only because of its association with the Yued People of the South West, but due to the unique flora that can only grow in association with chert. This includes the large-flowered regelia, which is only found on ridges with exposed chert.
To access the cave entrance, park in the nearby carpark and set off on the 150-metre long walking trail. As the trail covers uneven ground and loose surfaces, sturdy footwear is recommended. National park fees apply.
3. Mimbi Caves, near Fitzroy Crossing
Formed from the remains of the Devonian Great Barrier Reef, the Mimbi cave system is home to some of the best-preserved fossilised reefs in the world. The caves are a place of deep spiritual significance to the Gooniyandi people, who have inhabited this part of the Kimberley for more than 40,000 years.
To explore the caves, book a tour with a Gooniyandi guide. Along the way, you’ll enjoy traditional billie tea and damper, learn about the native flora and fauna found around the cave system, and hear Gooniyandi Dreaming stories by the campfire. Afterwards, you’ll have the chance to cool off in one of the nearby freshwater pools.
The caves are a 90-minute drive south-east of Fitzroy Crossing, and are accessible by all vehicle types.
4. Stockyard Gully Cave, Leeman
The Stockyard Gully Cave system lies within Stockyard Gully National Park, three hours northeast of Perth. This group of limestone caves leads to an impressive river system, and the largest chamber is the easiest to access. It's 300 metres long, covered by a sandy floor, and leads off to a variety of smaller caves that are a little trickier to manoeuvre through.
You’ll need a four-wheel drive to reach the cave carpark – regular vehicles are not appropriate due to the soft sand driving and limestone road base you’ll encounter on the way.
5. Crystal Cave, Yanchep
Located just 45 minutes north of Perth, Yanchep National Park is home to the only cave in Perth that is open to the public: Crystal Cave. Dubbed a ‘jewelled city’, this limestone cave is decorated with elaborate natural formations of stalactites, stalagmites, columns and helictites.
Guided tours of the cave take place every day of the year – or if you’d prefer a self-guided option, there are nine different walking trails that weave around the park’s large number of collapsed cave systems. National park fees apply.
6. Lake Cave, Margaret River
Just 20 minutes south of Margaret River Town, a visit to Lake Cave involves a 350-step descent through a sunken forest into a crystal chamber. Named because of its rare permanent lake, the cave is home to a unique ‘Suspended Table’ illusion (pictured below) that hangs from its ceiling, and almost touches the lake’s waters.
The cave can only be explored on a fully-guided tour. Operating daily, this one-hour tour includes a unique ‘underground ambience’ experience in which the guide alters the cave lighting to provide rare views of various features and formations.
7. Ngilgi Cave, Yallingup
Ngilgi Cave has a rich history, as it was the first cave in WA to open for tourists. Located on Caves Road in Yallingup, the cave is renowned for its large number of naturally-formed shawls – some of which date back to over 386,000 years ago. The cave has a constant temperature of 20 degrees, so it’s an ideal place to visit all year-round.
There are a range of ways you can explore the Ngilgi Cave. For the thrill-seekers, the ‘Ancient Riverbed’ and ‘Explorer Adventure’ tours provide a unique, up-close-and-personal experience through some of the cave’s deepest structures; in some cases, immersed in complete darkness.
If you’d prefer a more relaxed experience, join the semi-guided show cave tour to explore the formations from the safety of a platform. All tours can be booked here.
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8. Mammoth Cave, Margaret River
Surrounded by towering marri trees, Mammoth Cave is not just a cave system, but the site of one of Australia’s most significant palaeontological digs in the early 1900’s. Just south of Margaret River town, the cave still contains the fossil jawbone of a long-extinct marsupial species, and is renowned for its expansive first chamber from which it earns its name.
Tours through the cave are self-guided and accompanied by audio descriptions that are available in several languages. The cave is the most easily accessed of all caves in the Margaret River region, with wheelchair access available into its first chamber.
9. Jewel Cave, Augusta
Boasting three massive chambers, Jewel Cave in Augusta is the largest show cave in the State. Featuring an array of helectites, cave coral, pendulites and flowstone, the cave is extremely well-decorated. It’s also home to a few fossilised Tasmanian Tiger remains; one of which is on display in the information centre.
A fully-guided tour is the best way to explore the incredible size and features of Jewel Cave. The tour takes you through all three of the cave’s chambers, and allows you to get up-close-and-personal with one of the longest straw stalactites found in any tourist cave in Australia.
10. Giants Cave, Margaret River
Nestled within the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, Giants Cave provides one of the State’s most immersive caving adventures. It's the deepest cave in the park - and thanks to its tight spots, ladders and minimal lighting, it isn’t an experience for the faint of heart.
As you make your way down and through the cave, you’ll need to complete vertical ladder climbs, traverse rock scrambles and navigate through a few tight spots. The cave staff provide helmets, torches and a safety briefing, and you’ll need to wear enclosed footwear. Children under six are not permitted entry.
Ready to explore these natural wonders?
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