World Heritage Naracoorte Caves
World Heritage Naracoorte Caves is one of the world’s best fossil sites, a place where marsupial lions, enormous kangaroos and giant monitor lizards met their deaths and were preserved by layers of ancient sand. At the Caves, discover the unique Australian history of the region’s fauna and flora.
Since 1969 when cave explorers entered a vast underground chamber and discovered skulls and jaws of Australia’s lost giants, the megafauna, the Caves have attracted global scientific attention. Today, new scientific discoveries are being unearthed and the Caves continue to reveal stories about our natural history as far back as 500,000 years.
Layered fossil deposits reveal megafauna species including heavyweight plant eaters such as Zygomaturus trilobus, short-faced leaf-eating kangaroos such as Procoptodon goliah, and the five-metre snake Wonambi naracoortensis. The most famous of these is the marsupial lion Thylacoleo carnifex. As well as world significant fossil deposits the Naracoorte Caves also contain spectacular calcite formations, such as stalagmites.
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). Only exceptional places around the world are listed.
The Naracoorte Caves is a destination for all seasons and can be explored on self-guided, guided and adventure caving tours. The Victoria Fossil Cave showcases the World Heritage values of the Naracoorte Caves. The Fossil Chamber in this cave is the most extensively studied and provides a unique look back into the climate and environment when megafauna roamed the area. Your guide will tell you about the accumulation of bones in the caves, excavation techniques, current research and World Heritage.
Alexandra Cave is full of speleothems – stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. Grand and inspiring, Stick-Tomato Cave (public access section only) is the only cave you can visit without a guide - discover at your leisure. Too difficult to choose - then the World Heritage Tour is for you. This is a unique opportunity to visit the working fossil digs and Fossil Lab.
The Naracoorte Caves is one of only two known breeding places for the critically endangered southern bent-wing bat. On the Bat Centre and Blanche Cave Tour watch and learn about the fascinating activities of the southern bent-wing bats, in the Bat Observation Centre, via infrared camera, see the bats move about their maternity chamber. The tour then heads into the majestic Blanche Cave where in winter, you may see bats hibernating in a huddle on the cave roof. In summer at dusk, from above ground, watch the bats' spectacular flight from the Bat Cave as they head out for a feed of insects. If you’re an early riser, you can also see them return at dawn.
Other above ground activities include a visit to the Wonambi Fossil Centre - step back to a time when megafauna roamed the landscape. Enjoy one of four main walking trails in the Naracoorte Caves National Park where you can explore the above-ground world for free and learn more about the World Heritage features of the park.
The Roof Top Loop Walk provides universal access for all ages and abilities with viewing platforms providing a glimpse into the cave interior. At the start of the walk explore the Fossil Hunters Nature Playground. Along the Roof Top Look Walk and World Heritage and Stoney Point Hikes take in the above-ground world, while keeping an eye out for native animals and birds.
After exploring, enjoy a picnic lunch in the beautiful grounds (barbeque facilities are available) or relax in the Caves Cafe. The Naracoorte Caves camping area is suitable for tents, camper trailers, caravans, motor homes and camper vans. Wirreanda Bunkhouse has dormitory-style accommodation.
Plan your visit to the Naracoorte Caves www.naracoortecaves.sa.gov.au
The information on the Naracoorte Caves is available in The Conversation article https://theconversation.com/naracoorte-where-half-a-million-years-of-biodiversity-and-climate-history-are-trapped-in-caves-78603