Located in the picturesque Limestone Coast tourism region, adjacent to the Victorian border, the Naracoorte Caves in the south east of South Australia (Australia) is one of the popular and highly-visited tourist sites. The Naracoorte Caves Conservation Park is 12 kilometres southeast of Naracoorte and just 30km from Camawald Cottage in Coonawarra..
The Naracoorte Caves is one of the historic and beautiful sites close to Coonawarra. Naracoorte Caves National Park stretches over 305 hectare of landscape, including caves, local flora and a series of coastal dune ridges located parallel to the present South Australian coastline.
Naracoorte Caves National Park is a World Heritage Listed Area (South Australia’s only) comprising more than 60 limestone caves and the Wonambi Fossil Centre. The site was officially recognised in 1994. The fossils represent major stages of the earth’s evolutionary history, and are outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological evolution. A World Heritage site is a place of cultural or physical significance to the planet, as determined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
There are five magnificent caves open to the public. Three are regular show caves with guided tours, one cave may be visited in a self guided tour, and one has no light and is visited with electric torches. Beneath the five show caves there are different spelunking tours offered, called Adventure Caving and Wild Caving.
Additionally, the Wonambi Fossil Centre will delight. The static displays are colourful, interesting and professionally laid out. The reconstructed megafauna, complete with movement and animal noises, are just amazing.
Fossils at Naracoorte Caves
The Naracoorte Caves are part of the 800,000 year old Naracoorte East Range. The caves have acted as pitfall traps and predator dens for over 500,000 years, creating Australia’s most complete fossil record of ancient animals that roamed the area. This fossil record covers several ice ages and the arrival of humans in the area.
The park is home to over 100 known fossil deposits, preserving the bones of megafauna that became extinct roughly 60,000 years ago. Palaeontologists have excavated and dated many of the fossils in Naracoorte Caves and have reconstructed the skeletons of a number of the megafauna that inhabited the area so many years ago.
Wonambi Fossil Centre
The Naracoorte Caves National Park visitors centre, doubles as the impressive Wonambi Fossil Centre where science and theatre come together, to provide a snapshot of ancient Naracoorte. Step back in time and discover what Naracoorte was like over 200,000 years ago!
Enjoy fossil displays and a walk-through diorama with life-sized models of extinct animals in their ancient habitats.
The interpretive centre also shows you how the caves have acted as pitfall traps, dens and roosts for more than 500,000 years, leading to a vast accumulation of skeletal remains of reptiles, birds and mammals.
In ancient times, the Southern Ocean lapped at the shores of the Naracoorte Caves, 100km inland from the coast today. The limestone of the area was formed from coral and marine creatures 200 million years ago and again 20 million years ago when the land was below sea level. Ground water since then has dissolved and eroded some of the limestone, creating the caves. Mammals and other land creatures have fallen into open caves and been unable to escape. The fossil record has been preserved in strata formed from eroded topsoil washed and blown in. In some places, the fossil-bearing silt is up to 20 metres thick. Some of these areas are being preserved for future research when better methods of dating and reconstructing fossil records may have been found. These fossil traps are especially significant for tracing Australian megafauna.
|The Naracoorte Caves is a popular attraction among the visitors due to its numerous subterranean wonders. Presently, some of the caves are specifically closed for the scientific research in order to protect the caves and its fossils, however that still allows the inquisitive visitor plenty to explore. Many of caves contain spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.The Naracoorte Caves are also home to Bent Wing Bats. A unique bat viewing facility has been installed, which allows visitors to see the bats via five high definition infra-red cameras.|
The park is a visitor destination in itself, with a camping ground and caravan park, dormitory accommodation for groups, picnic grounds and a licenced cafe. The range of visitor activities is extensive. Cave tours are guided by professional interpreters through highly decorated caves with some tours visiting amazing fossil deposits. Other opportunities include adventure caving, a selection of specialty tours and special events.
The World Heritage trail is a popular 1.3 kilometre track in the Naracoorte Caves National Park. It stretches from the Wonambi Fossil Centre to the Victoria Fossil Cave. The walk features informative milestones that highlight the World Heritage features of the park, making it popular with school groups and those with an interest in the park’s ancient history.
There are a number of regular cave tours open to the public that explore the fossil sites of the caves, as well as adventure tours through some of the undeveloped caves are available for novices and advanced cavers. The popular show caves include the Victoria Fossil Cave with its Pleistocene fossil deposits, Alexandra Cave, Cathedral Cave, Blanche Cave, and Wet Cave.
You can go on a self-guided tour through the Wet Cave, however, for the others, you would need to join a guided tour.
The park is open from 9am-5pm winter, and extends to sunset during summertime
Tour times (daily)
|Victoria Fossil Cave
|Blanche Cave + Bat Centre
|Wonambi Fossil Centre +
|9 am to 5 pm
Note: Tour times are set so that you can start in the Alexandra cave, then move on to the remaining caves without any rushing.
At the Naracoorte Caves Campground there are ten powered sites and a large area for tents at the park. Laundry facilities and rainwater are also available.
For full fees and camping conditions contact Naracoorte Caves on the details below.
|Further Contact Details
Website:Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Phone: (08) 8762 2340
Entry to the park is free, however tour fees apply. Visit the Naracoorte Caves website for full details – Naracoorte Caves Fees