The Caves

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2007

After leaving 1770 we headed North a few hors to a town called “The Caves”. Here there is privately owned land with a series of spectacular DRY caves on it. They had been running tourists through this area for well over two hundred years now, and they even had a little campground beside the reception. We got there in the late afternoon and only planned on staying one night. So the next morning we woke up planning to take the tour, then check out and head North. The “basic” one hour tour was so incredible and enjoyable that we needed more! The “intro” tour (as we now call it) is suitable for all ages, (babies in strollers to 100+ year olds) and has a couple sections of stairs, some handrails and has switchable illumination all the way along. The sights and inside views were amazing and we barely had to crouch slightly in one or two spots. During this tour our guide alluded to a slightly more complex “Adventure Tour”.

It took some convincing on the part of Luke, Alex and myself; but eventually Claudette consented to staying an extra night, and staying for a second, longer adventure cave tour in the afternoon. She went along because the guide insisted on having two other s for safety. Claudette went on the understanding that she would NOT be crawling and that she would be taking the easy way around whereever possible. It was along some of the same portions of routes as before, but there were crawl holes and thin passages to go through. The first few were pretty cool and we got a little dirty slithering around. Then the guide sent us (kids and I only) into one set that had a small entryway, and larger cavern inside with lots of short dead end passages and only one way out via a boost into a hole in the ceiling. The kids had a tremendous time excitely going too and fro, here and there looking for the way out. The guide had told me approximately where to look so I let the kids explore all of the other options first with their flashlights darting around all over the place in front of them. Eventually I gave them a little boost at the spot and jumped in myself to find the passage back to Claudette and the Guide waiting for us in the main cavern.

After that we (the three us only of course) went in to “The Whale’s Belly”, a spot where the original guides kids used to crawl into and hide scaring original tourists by making screaming sounds and crazy noises. There was a crack in the Whale’s Belly which allowed sounds to get out into the main cavern. Getting in entailed going up a fairly steep incline, which quickly went down at a similarly steep incline for a few meters. To continue on out of this spot was a very tight squeeze wiggling around through a passage called the “Nutcracker”. There was a small (large fist sized) outcrop right in the middle which affects most men’s ability to safely navigate this particular twisty, 35 degree incline passage. Luke and then Alex both bot through without too much problem. I was forwarned that all adults would have to have their arms straight out ahead of them to narrow up the shoulders to even have a hope in hell of worming through. I got lodged partway into the passage, (right at the nutcracker) and quickly determined that it would take considerable effort (and maybe about 20 minutes!!) to finish getting through the 5m or so long passage. Suddenly a thought flashed into my head that expending such effort would no longer be fun, and I wormed my way back down into the whale’s belly. Backing out from that point to the main cavern was no easy feat, but I managed to scramble up the steep slope backwards to ensure that I would land feet first into the cavern where I had begun. The guide was quite shocked that I was already out, since most people who chicken out tended to come out the wrong way (head first), and wait for help from a few others on the outside.

After that she took us to a couple spots that only the kids could do while we watched from either end. I took some spectacular photos and a bit of video using the light and the enhanced night mode at different times. One other favorite part of all of us was the cathedral. This was one cavern with stunning vaulted ceilings and a bunch of pews brought in for weekly church services. They also book weddings and all sorts of other meetings and socials in there. She told us that there was a two year waiting list of weddings and other bookings! On the first tour she asked for volunteers to sing and Luke went up to the front and gave us all a beautiful low key rendition of “Put A Little Love in Your Heart” to a round of wild applause from everyone at the end.

The caves tour was an absolute highlight for Australia and for Luke and probably Alex, almost of the entire trip so far. A website with further information is: http://www.showcaves.com/english/au/showcaves/Capricorn.html

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