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A General Run Down on the Caves of Western Australia.

Mike Wilson

During a recent holiday in Western Australia I managed to do some walking and caving.  The best walking by far are the Kalbarri Gorges - north of Perth.  They are well mapped and documented.  The ideal base for these routes is the town of Kalbarri situated on the coast.  Plenty of good camp sites.

Most of the well-known caves, including the show caves, are situated in the in the Margaret River - Albany area south of Perth.  Obviously Mammoth, Jewel and Lake are the three most well known tourist caves and well worth a visit.

In fact many caves are open for caving but are quite difficult to find in the bush.  The five I visited were Devils Lair, Strongs, Moondyne including the snowflake extensions (very eerie and beautiful), Golgotha an old show cave and Giants Cave which is a nice 1½ hour through trip. There are three others worth a visit; - Block, Crystal and Dingo's. All about 45 minutes duration.  Fairly short by English standards.

There are longer caves in the area, Easter being one, but they are all locked and controlled by the W.A.S.S., limited numbers allowed on trips, and you have to sort out trips in advance (not possible on a short holiday).  Many other caves abound in this area, 170 have so far been mapped and logged by "one man".

Although there appears to be great potential I wonder if any new finds will exceed the standard depth and short length!!  The average depth appears to be about 60', usually in pothole form, and the caves are all well decorated.  The floors tend to be flat or level.

I had a lengthy discussion with a geologist (female) and was told that the limestone is a capping of approximately 60' to 70' and the rock is a sandstone-limestone mix.  This accounts for the odd flooring and ease of caving.

In the north and east of Perth there are the Nullabor Caves (east) and the Oscar, Cape, Windjana and Geike Ranges (north).  The Nullabor caves are the deepest and longest caves.  The longest being Mullan Ulang with 11 km. of passages. Wee Bubbie is 120 m. deep, and the other big cave is Cocklebiddy.  I have no information on the latter.  The W.A.S.S. have made several trips to the Nullabor and are, therefore, the best people to contact for information.

North of Perth is the most interesting area!!  No-one appears to have made much effort into exploring the various limestone regions. This is probably due to the vast distances involved.  I feel the best way would be to use a 4x4 vehicle and go with the intention of carrying everything one needs "including water".  The WA park rangers would be a great help I am sure (don't bother with the rangers at Yanchep, they were very unhelpful).

Anyone who wishes to follow up this article will find maps, guides and national park info. in the library at the Belfry.