An interesting and worthwhile stop on the way to Mount Gambier in South Australia, is the stunning Tantanoola Cave.
This little cave, set in a cliff face just off the road, has a fascinating human and geological history, and is recognized as a significant and important Australian treasure.
Discovered in 1930 by the 16 year old son of the Lane family - who owned the land at the time, the cave was opened to the public, with visitors accessing the cavern through a small opening that they had to slide down into using ropes and ladders, with a big drop down into the dark cave. The cave unfortunately was damaged during this time, due to visitors breaking off pieces of the stalactite and stalagmite crystals to take as souvenirs, evidence of which can still be seen today.
The cave was acquired by Parks Australia in the 1980’s, as it was deemed unsafe for people to access and therefore closed to the public. They reconfigured the area to create a more suitable entry way, and put in walkways and lighting to protect the cave and crystal formations, while making it safer for visitors to come and enjoy.
The cavern itself has a magnificent collection of cave decorations...that are extraordinary in their size and the extensiveness in such a small cave
These changes also saw the cave become wheelchair accessible, making it one of the only caves in Australia that has wheelchair accessibility. The cave was reopened in 1983, and while now protected from further damage, the slow rate of growth of these natural wonders means full recovery unfortunately may never occur.
The cavern itself has a magnificent collection of cave decorations or speleothems, formed by mineralized pink and brown limestone called dolomite, that are extraordinary in their size and the extensiveness in such a small cave. These formations have been created over many thousands of years and are so impressive due to the range and size, unexpected for such a small cave.
If you are there at a quiet time, you might capture a few lucky moments inside the cave alone, where the silence highlights the serene beauty and wonder of this natural creation.
Tantanoola cave is an excellent example of the geographical significance of the whole of the Limestone Coast. When you see this elaborately decorated cave, you can’t help but wonder if there are other undiscovered caves around the area still hiding their own beautiful mineral creations!
For more information visit the Tantanoola Caves website.
1st September to 30th April - 10am to 3pm daily
1st May to 31st August - 10am to 3pm Saturday, Sunday and Monday only.