Around three hundred and fifty caves are hidden within the limestone ridge underneath the area of Margaret River that runs from Cape Naturaliste in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south. Most of the caves are not suitable to be opened to the public. However, there are four major caves that are Yallingup or Ngilgis Cave, Mammoth Cave, Lake Cave and Jewel Cave. The caves are located off Caves Road, the delightful country road that runs through the area from Dunsborough to Cape Leeuwin in the south, and are clearly signposted.
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Yallingup Cave or Ngilgis Cave
Yallingup Cave, near Yallingup township and 8km west from Dunsborough, is also known Ngilgis Cave. Ngilgi is a local Aboriginal name given to the cave; a legend recounts the Dreamtime origins of the cave in terms of a vicious fight between a bad spirits that lived inside the cave and a good spirit Ngilgi who lived in the ocean. Whilst searching for stray horses, Edward Dawson discovered the cave in 1899. He began taking tourists through the cave in 1900. The tours were so popular that Caves House Hotel was built to accommodate the many visitors that would travel by horse and cart from Busselton. Today, the cave is open every day and tours are self-paced with guides available to answer questions. Visitors can view the First Chamber, the Main Chamber and the Amphitheatre. The cave is noted for its impressive Mother-of-Pearl and Oriental Shawls and the red and orange coloured Arabs Tent.
Aptly named Mammoth Cave, 21km south or fifteen minutes drive of the Margaret River Township, it offers an ultra modern self-guided tour through the massive caverns and tunnels. Discovered by Tim Connelly around 1900, some of the most valuable fossils in the southwest were found here. The remains of a Tasmanian devil, a Tasmanian tiger and a giant kangaroo have been found inside Mammoth Cave. These species have been extinct in this part of Australia for centuries. A total of over 10,000bones were found inside the cave, some fossils over 35.000years old. Its massive cavern, unusual stone formations, newly built boardwalks and CD-ROM headsets will make your experience a safe and educational one.
Just 2km south of Mammoth Cave lies Lake Cave, the most delicate and pretty of the entire southwest caves. With its specially designed coloured feature lighting, impressive natural entrance, and boardwalks, Lake Cave is a must-see for the Margaret River Area. Its most outstanding feature is the unique, suspended table formation that was originally two massive columns joined by a sheet of calcite on the cave floor. Over time, the stream has washed away the bottom of the sheet, leaving a thin table suspended a short distance above the water. It looks spectacular reflecting in the dark, icy waters of the lake in the main cavern.
Jewel Cave, 37km south of Margaret River Township along Caves Road, contains a number of interesting crystalline formations including the Waterfall, the Organ Pipe and the worlds largest straw stalactite in a tourist cave. The mangled forms of helictites- twisted, contorted stalactites that appear to defy gravity by growing sideways and upwards will amaze you and when the lights go out you get a real feel for the isolation of this stupendous underground landscape.