Australia has no shortage of natural wonders, but its incredible array of caves is truly astounding.
From underground rivers and glowing caverns, to cave cathedrals and sunken forests, here are some of Australia’s best caves to explore.
The Jenolan Caves are the oldest known open caves in the world. Located a couple hours from Sydney, the Jenolan Caves are the perfect road trip destination. Visitors can explore the vast limestone caverns and narrow passageways – you may even spot a rare marine fossil. While tourists have access to eleven unique caves, more experienced cavers can also venture into narrow underwater passages. Jenolan is the perfect weekend getaway for families, couples or even a solo retreat.
Stay at the historic Caves House and enjoy dinner at Chisholm’s Restaurant. Take advantage of your time in the stunning Jenolan region and visit Secret Creek Sanctuary and The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. Whether you’re seeking a thrilling nature adventure or a relaxing weekend away, the Jenolan Caves have it all.
Buchan Caves Reserve, VIC
At Buchan Caves Reserve, there is never a dull moment. From touring prehistoric caves, driving four-wheels, rock climbing and even horseback riding, your visit will be filled with fun. The Reserve is jointly held by the state and the Gunaikurnai Nation, who care for the land and preserve their unique culture. The most popular cave sites are Fairy Cave and Royal Cave, which feature incredible pillars of stalactite and stalagmite. Visitors can venture into the beautifully lit caverns, many of which have rippling pools and underground rivers. The Buchan Caves are about a five hours’ drive from Melbourne, but are undoubtedly worth the trek.
Capricorn Caves, QLD
The best word to describe Capricorn Caves is magical. Surrounded by lush rainforest and incredible wildlife, you will be transported to another realm. Walk through the vine-covered entrance into the famous Cathedral Cave – a true wonder of the world. Here, you’ll learn about the geological history of the cave and experience its echoing acoustics. For the more ambitious cave explorer, check out The Flowerpot, Jack’s Beanstalk and Fat Man’s Misery. Just 23 kilometres from Rockhampton, Capricorn Caves is a quick and easy weekend escape. Onsite accommodation options include cabins, the Lodge and a caravan park.
Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park, QLD
Immerse yourself in nature at the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park, located in North Queensland. The impressive cave system formed over the past 400 million years, through erosion and weathering. Today the caves are filled with dazzling mineral deposits, as well as several unique wildlife species. Bats, spotted pythons, insects and spiders can all be found within the caverns of Chillagoe – the fossilised bones of the extinct giant kangaroo were even found! Popular caves include Donna Cave, Trezkinn Cave and Bauhinia Cave. Chillagoe is truly a nature-lover’s paradise.
Mole Creek Karst National Park, TAS
This incredible natural wonder is found in the Great Western Tiers of Tasmania. In addition to its caves, Mole Creek features countless springs, streams, sinkholes and gorges. Marakoopa Cave is perhaps the most famous cave, as it hosts a colony of glow worms that create a dazzling picture. Further into Marakoopa is the Great Cathedral, a vast cavern with near-perfect acoustics. Visitors delight in the underground streams and pools, which create a cool, relaxing atmosphere. Not to be missed is King Solomons Cave, which is home to gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites that reach from floor to ceiling. Within the caves you can find cave spiders and a variety of creepy-crawlers. Although other caves are scattered across the Park, only a few are accessible due to conservation efforts.
Gunns Plain Cave, TAS
Gunns Plain Cave was first discovered in 1906 by a possum hunter whose prey escaped into the cave entrance. The very hole the possum disappeared into is still the main public entrance into the cavern. Once inside, visitors can enjoy a dazzling array of helictites, flowstone, stalactites and stalagmites. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot the elusive platypus or Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish swimming in the underground streams. Just 30 kilometres from Ulverstone, this magical underworld is a perfect day trip for the Tassie local. For the best experience, contact a local tour guide who knows the ins and outs of the cave and its unique history.
Jewel Cave, WA
Just a 10 minute drive from Augusta, Jewel Cave is an absolute must for any cave enthusiast. It boasts cave coral, helictites, pendulites, stalagmites and flowstone – a trove of geological treasures. Incredibly, the fossilised bones of extinct Tasmanian Tigers were discovered within the cave after 3,000 years. Visitors can even see a complete tiger fossil at the Jewel Cave Centre. This crystal cave is one of the most popular caves in Western Australia, and for good reason. Make sure you book a guided tour in advance so you fully enjoy the stunning displays. After you leave the cave, don’t forget to stop by the Centre, where you can enjoy a snack at the cafe or buy trinkets for your loved ones.
Ngilgi Cave, WA
Ngilgi Cave, formerly known as Yallingup Cave, is truly a thing of beauty. The cave’s new name celebrates the Aboriginal spirit Ngilgi, a good spirit who defeated an evil foe. Only a 5 minute drive from Yallingup, there’s no excuse for not exploring this stunning cave. A web of boardwalks allows you to see every chamber of this wonderland. Calcite crystals sparkle along the walls and ceilings, and you can even touch some at the “Touch Table.” Expert guides will show you the way through the labyrinth, interweaving the tales of Aboriginal mythology with natural history. This cave walk is relatively easy, making it the perfect destination for your kids and even grandparents.
Lake Cave, WA
Lake Cave is nothing less than astounding. Visitors enter the deep crystal chamber from the floor of an ancient forest. Karri trees tower above you as you descend into the sparkling depths of the cave. Appropriately-named Lake Cave features a stunning lake that reflects the crystal structures hanging from the cave ceiling. This “Suspended Table” of crystals nearly touch the surface of the lake, creating an incredible mirror effect. After pulling yourself away from this gorgeous display, ascend up to the Lake Cave Deck. Here, you can enjoy a spectacular treetop view of the forest. Without a doubt, Lake Cave is one of the wonders of the world, and is well worth a visit.
Naracoorte Caves, SA
Cave explorers and scientists alike flock to the Naracoorte Caves year after year. Of the 28 caves in the region, just four are accessible to the public. The rest are the sites of active geological and prehistoric research, but may slowly open to experienced cavers. The Naracoorte Caves are listed as a World Heritage site due to their incredibly rich fossil deposits. For over 500,000 years, the caves acted as roosting sites and pitfall traps, leading to an enormous collection of animal fossils.
Caving tours allow you to explore beyond public access sections, so be sure to book a tour to escape the crowds. With so much to explore in the surrounding forests and walking trails, plan to stay a couple nights at the Wirreanda Bunkhouse or campsites. Immerse yourself in the prehistoric wonders of Naracoorte and enjoy a nice campfire story – the perfect escape from urban mundanity.