ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA’S GUIDE TO UNIQUE UNDERGROUND EXPERIENCES
Australian tourism is known for its sun, surf and sand. What is often overlooked are the fantastic underground experiences that can be found throughout Australia. Whether you are an adventurous traveller seeking a deep dive into the heart of the earth or just seeking a memorable event venue, this guide has something for everyone looking for a different underground Australian experience.
1. See Glow Worms
Endemic to Australia and only found in damp tropical caves, glow worms light up the interior of caves as a means of attracting smaller insects. Only a few places in Australia offer tourists a chance to visit these seclusive creatures, but three of our fantastic operators run regular guided tours to visit caves with large glow worm populations. Ecotourism Certified Cedar Creek Estate Winery in Queensland, for example, not only produces great wine and hosts events, but also runs guided tours to the Mount Tamborine Glow worm cave. This cave has been artificially developed to help local glow worm populations grow and is combined with a rain forest walk for a truly unique experience.
If you want to visit glow worms with a twist, Gogo Tours in Victoria and Doki Doki Tours and Global Travel Services in Cairns are both ECO Certified and both run guided glow worm tours to natural caves with Japanese guides. This is a great opportunity for Japanese travellers and students learning Japanese to experience glow worm caves while leaning facts and stories in fluent Japanese.
2. Cave events and functions
Ever dreamed of hosting a wedding underground?
Capricorn Caves, only a 35-minute drive from Rockhampton in Queensland, holds Advanced Ecotourism Certification and hosts several cave-based activities that you might not normally associate with caves. Hosting concerts and weddings in their famous Cathedral Cave, Capricorn caves allows visitors to create truly memorable experiences that will be hard to top.
With a history as a secret dance hall for the Perth elite, the Cabaret Cave at Yanchep National Park is another great place for special functions, dinners and themed events. Yanchep National Park is Respecting Our Culture (ROC) Certified and is part of Parks and Wildlife Western Australia.
3. Caving experiences
Cave exploration, also known as spelunking, can range in difficulty from crawling through gaps deep beneath the earth, to taking a guided tour through a gigantic underground cavern. Several of our certified operators host various levels of cave exploration, from the hardcore spelunking tour to an easy open self-guided walk. This guide there has caving experiences to suite all levels of comfort.
For those seeking a unique adventure, K7 Adventures hosts several adventurous activities throughout both the summer and winter seasons, including hiking, abseiling, skiing, photography workshops and most importantly, caving exploration tours.
K7 Adventures holds Advanced Ecotourism Certification on their caving exploration tours in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains region, which involves abseiling down into the depths of the Wee Jasper limestone cave system where visitors get to explore the wondrous natural limestone formations with the expert guidance of the K7 team. This full day trip can be combined into an overnight camping track depending on the package that best suits your interests.
Mentioned earlier for its event space in Cabaret Cave, Yanchep National Park also has over 400 recorded other caves to explore. With so much choice there are options for the professional spelunker as well as the casual tourist. Two main caves in the park are used for guided tours. Crystal Cave hosts an easy 45 minute walk through a glittering limestone cavern, or for a challenge and to push yourself out of your comfort zone, Yonderup Cave offers a 90 minute caving adventure guided tour where visitors can experience real spelunking with an experienced guide.
(Left to right: Crystal Cave, Yonderup Cave)
Another option for caving adventures is Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, which holds Advanced Ecotourism Certification on four different cave tours, Ngilgi Cave Semi-Guided Tour, Mammoth Cave Self-Guided Tour, Lake Cave Fully-Guided Tour, and Jewel Cave Augusta Fully-Guided Tour. These self-guided and fully-guided tours offer a fantastic opportunity to explore the caves of the Margaret River region at your own leisurely pace or at the direction of a knowledgeable guide.
Finally, while we already mentioned Capricorn Caves for their event space, they also offer caving exploration tours for those looking to push their comfort zones. Capricorn caves also run exploration and fossil discovery activities designed for families, school groups, and team building exercises.
4. Cave Kayaking
If spelunking is not your style, and you’re not looking to organise an underground event in the near future, how about some cave kayaking? While not completely underground, the concept of visiting sea caves in a kayak is too unique to pass up. Making its way onto this guide, Roaring 40°s Kayaking Tours are Advanced Ecotourism Certified and are a must do for those travelling to Tasmania. Their unique tours offer visitors the chance to paddle along the Hobart coastline in the Hobarts Cliffs, Caves and Beaches tour.
5. Sleep underground
Opal mines, blistering heat hot enough to cook an egg and houses like no others in the world: Coober Pedy in South Australia is well known as the opal capital of the world, but what you may not know is that many of the houses, buildings and shops are underground. Groovy Grapes Tours offer a Rock Patrol Tour through to the centre of Australia, including a stopover in Coober Pedy to visit a local opal mine and stay the night in an underground bunker like the locals.
The Rock Patrol tour is Ecotourism Certified and takes visitors on a six day tour from Adelaide to the town of Alice Springs, stopping off at unique landmarks and attractions along the way. Being a bit off the beaten path, this is a great way to visit Coober Pedy and experience a unique underground lifestyle.
Have you visited any of Australia’s caves? Tell us about them in the comments below.