Insider Guide – Kelly Hill Conservation Park

Insider Guide – Kelly Hill Conservation Park

Go behind the scenes to dis­cov­er the unique jobs and pas­sion­ate peo­ple that care for South Australia’s environment.

Nick Heath – Senior Guide at Kel­ly Hill Con­ser­va­tion Park

What’s the biggest draw­card at Kel­ly Hill?

The caves here at Kel­ly Hill Con­ser­va­tion Park are a bit dif­fer­ent because they’re rel­a­tive­ly young caves, so they have lots of del­i­cate for­ma­tions com­pared to what you might see else­where. Lots of caves are hun­dreds of mil­lions of years old where­as this one has a lot more of the small­er for­ma­tions like straws and helic­i­tites because it’s only a bit over half a mil­lion years old, so at the same time it’s got huge slabs of flow­stone because the rock is so soft.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It’s great meet­ing dif­fer­ent peo­ple from all around the world and get­ting to show them around a place like this. I like see­ing their reac­tions – until you open the door to the Show Cave they have no idea what they’re in for.

Also for me, work­ing under­ground means I get to stay out of the weath­er! The tem­per­a­ture in the cave is always a cool 16-degrees no mat­ter what the weath­er is out­side, which means it’s a cool place to be in sum­mer and com­fort­able in the depths of winter.

What’s the most amaz­ing thing you’ve seen at Kel­ly Hill?

It’s inter­est­ing to learn about some of the fos­sils have been found here. The biggest sur­prise was about 10 or 11 years ago when a group of cavers were doing a trip out through the south­ern exten­sion of the cave. There’s an area there where they found a short-faced kan­ga­roo skull which was about 45,000 years old.

Since then we’ve had researchers from Flinders Uni­ver­si­ty exca­vat­ing in part of the cave, and after dig­ging through four metres of dirt they’ve uncov­ered approx­i­mate­ly 130,000 years of ani­mals falling into the cave.

What would vis­i­tors find sur­pris­ing about Kel­ly Hill?

The biggest thing vis­i­tors are sur­prised by is how dry the caves are. Usu­al­ly you go into a cave like this and it’s very active, drip­ping wet, but most of the caves in this net­work haven’t had any water get into them for 25 years or more.

Through­out the month of Octo­ber, Kel­ly Hill Con­ser­va­tion Park is being cel­e­brat­ed as Park of Month – an ini­tia­tive between Nature Play South Aus­tralia and the Depart­ment of Envi­ron­ment, Water and Nat­ur­al Resources.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living