Your guide to the perfect Naracoorte Caves experience

Your guide to the perfect Naracoorte Caves experience

Get the most out of your next vis­it to South Australia’s Nara­coorte Caves with these point­ers for choos­ing a tour.

Have you been to South Australia’s only World Her­itage site? Just 3.5 hours from Ade­laide you’ll find the Nara­coorte Caves, part of the 800,000-year-old Nara­coorte East Range and one of the world’s most impor­tant fos­sil sites.

The Nara­coorte Caves offer both above and below ground expe­ri­ences for vis­i­tors to enjoy. 

Unsure of which tour options might suit you best?

Whether you want to head under­ground for a unique and enlight­en­ing cave tour or are keen to try some­thing a lit­tle more chal­leng­ing, there’s an itin­er­ary to suit every­one. We’ve com­piled the per­fect guide to help you get the most out of your next visit:

If you have small chil­dren or lim­it­ed time (or both!)

Start with Stick-Toma­to Cave, an easy self-guid­ed walk start­ing with about 20 steps lead­ing down into the cave.

With two cham­bers to explore, the cave is well lit and can be enjoyed by all ages.

Open­ing hours: 9:00 am to 5:00pm.

Top tip: Tick­ets can be com­bined with the Won­am­bi Fos­sil Cen­tre.

The Won­am­bi Fos­sil Cen­tre is a unique win­dow into the past, with exhi­bi­tions show­ing how the caves act­ed as pit­fall traps, dens and roosts for more than 500,000 years, lead­ing to a vast accu­mu­la­tion of skele­tal remains of rep­tiles, birds and mammals.

The fos­sil cen­tre recre­ates a time when megafau­na roamed the land­scape and the local ani­mal com­mu­ni­ty was more diverse than today.

Or, try Alexan­dra Cave. This short, easy 30-minute tour is ide­al for fam­i­lies with small chil­dren. This tour is a good intro­duc­tion to caves and the geo­log­i­cal process­es that form them.

Your guide will dis­cuss the geol­o­gy of the region and how the caves were formed.

Tour times: 9:30 am and 1:30 pm.

Top tip: Don’t for­get to vis­it the award win­ning Fos­sil Hunters Nature Play­ground while you’re there.

If you’re real­ly inter­est­ed in fossils

Make a bee­line for Vic­to­ria Fos­sil Cave – the cave the site is famous for. Explore the cham­ber of fos­sils recog­nised by UNESCO for its out­stand­ing sci­en­tif­ic value.

Dur­ing the one-hour tour you’ll walk through mag­nif­i­cent speleothem cham­bers while your guide out­lines accu­mu­la­tion of bones in the caves, exca­va­tion tech­niques and cur­rent research. 

About 400 metres of this cave has a devel­oped path­way and con­struct­ed stairs. There are about 50 steps into the cave and a steep slop­ing path out of it, but the walk is rel­a­tive­ly easy.

This tour is suit­able for all ages, how­ev­er it’s impor­tant to note as part of the tour vis­i­tors will sit for about 30 min­utes in the Fos­sil Chamber.

Tour times: 10:15 am and 2:15 pm.

Your guide to the perfect Naracoorte Caves experience

If caves make you nervous

You can still enjoy Nara­coorte Caves even if you’re not keen to head underground.

The award-win­ning Roof Top Loop Walk is ful­ly acces­si­ble and pro­vides wheel­chair and pram access for peo­ple of all ages and abilities.

Strate­gi­cal­ly placed view­ing plat­forms pro­vide a glimpse into the cave inte­ri­or, or even let you wit­ness bats fly­ing in or out of their under­ground home. There’s also plen­ty of inter­pre­tive sig­nage along the way.

Top tip: Read our sto­ry to learn about oth­er nation­al parks with acces­si­ble fea­tures.

Your guide to the perfect Naracoorte Caves experience

If you’re inter­est­ed in meet­ing some res­i­dent cave-dwellers

Start your tour at the Bat Obser­va­tion Cen­tre, where you’ll watch and learn about the fas­ci­nat­ing activ­i­ties of the res­i­dent south­ern bent-wing bats – a crit­i­cal­ly endan­gered species – and be able to watch them via infrared camera.

The tour then heads into the majes­tic Blanche Cave, which is rich in both nat­ur­al and Euro­pean history.

In sum­mer, you can watch the bats’ spec­tac­u­lar flight from the Bat Cave at dusk as they head out for a feed of insects.

Tour times: 11:30 am and 3:30 pm.

Your guide to the perfect Naracoorte Caves experience

If you like bushwalking

There are a num­ber of walk­ing trails in the sur­round­ing Nara­coorte Caves Nation­al Park where you can explore the above-ground world and learn more about the World Her­itage fea­tures of the park.

The World Her­itage Hike is per­fect for school groups and those with an inter­est in the park’s ancient history.

The Stoney Point Hike pass­es through stringy­bark and red riv­er gum forests and is great for spot­ting native ani­mals such as west­ern-grey kan­ga­roos, echid­nas and wombats.

Remem­ber to be pre­pared when bush­walk­ing. Ensure you have stur­dy shoes, a hat, and sun­screen and that you are car­ry­ing suf­fi­cient food and drink­ing water.

If you have a whole day to explore

Check out every­thing! Explore the walk­ing trails, vis­it the café and then plan your day around the fol­low­ing tour times:

Stick-Toma­to Cave

Vis­it any­time between 9 am and 5 pm

Won­am­bi Fos­sil Centre

Vis­it any­time between 9 am and 5 pm

Alexan­dra Cave

9:30 am or 1:30 pm

Vic­to­ria Fos­sil Cave

10:15am or 2:15pm

Bat Tour (Bat Obser­va­tion Cen­tre and Blanche Cave)

11:30 am and 3:30 pm

Roof Top Loop Walk

Vis­it any­time between 9 am and 5 pm

Caves Café

Mon­day to Sat­ur­day 10 am to 3 pm (hot food avail­able until 2 pm)

Sun­days 9:30 am to 3 pm (hot food avail­able until 2 pm)

Your guide to the perfect Naracoorte Caves experience

Park of the Month

Through­out March, Nara­coorte Caves is being cel­e­brat­ed as Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Service’s Park of the Month.

There are plen­ty of activ­i­ties on offer across the month, includ­ing a Wel­come to Bun­gan­ditj Coun­try Nature and Cul­ture Walk. Check out the web­site for all the details.

Want to learn about more of South Australia’s her­itage sites? Here are7 that you might not know about.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living