How do you cool off on a hot summer’s day? Go to a place where the temperature is a cool 9°C year-round, that’s what. A place where straws, stalactites and glow worms are suspended above your head and where calcite crystals have grown in the dark over many, many years. Mole Creek Caves provided a magnificent refuge today, but our visit involved much more than just escaping the sun!
Mole Creek Caves
Both King Solomons Cave and Marakoopa Cave were discovered in 1906, King Solomons by two men chasing an unlucky wallaby and Marakoopa by two boys. A few years later, both caves were open to the public for tours. You can still see the oil burner used to light King Solomons Cave (which has left its inevitable and unfortunate mark on the crystals).
King Solomons Cave is a compact gem. When our guide turned on the lights, looking up to see the stalactites pictured was a breathtaking experience! King Solomons Cave contains a variety of magnificent calcite crystal formations, winding passageways and a stunning larger chamber, in which you can see the original entrance to the cave and the oil burner. We were even able to see a Tasmanian Cave Spider (a very intriguing creature!).
Marakoopa Cave is a much larger cave and has two tours, both of which include seeing the beautiful glow worms (these are found only in the Eastern states of Australia and in New Zealand). The first Marakoopa Cave tour takes you to its underground rivers and the second takes you up to the “Cathedral” formations. We took the second tour, which requires a higher fitness level due to having to climb a large number of stairs. We passed several magnificent flow stones, a swinging pendulite (perhaps the only one in the world!) and several magnificent shields, all lit up by the brand new lighting system (replaced due to recent flooding). We saw glow worms in almost every chamber of the cave. Five glow worms had even arranged themselves in the shape of the Southern Cross, a very patriotic move on Australia Day!
The drive to Mole Creek Caves is an amazing experience in and of itself. Driving along the Bass Highway from either Devonport or Launceston takes you past several excellent food establishments and gives you a fabulous view of the Great Western Tiers. This view only improves as you drive along the B12 road to Mole Creek, passing boulder-strewn paddocks that are nestled up against the mountains. Both caves are located in the Mole Creek Karst National Park and both have fern glade walks near their entries (these are short but well worth doing). The turn off to Marapooka Cave and the main ticket office appears first and is clearly signposted. If you follow the B12 a little further, King Solomons Cave is the first turn to the right.
Tickets can be purchased from the ticket office near Marakoopa Cave or, via card only, from King Solomons Cave and you do not need a Parks Pass if you purchase a cave tour ticket. The cost for cave tours is currently $19 per adult ($15.50 concession) and $9.50 per child for one cave tour. See Parks and Wildlife for more information about prices. The cost is well worth it. Facilities have recently been updated (note that the toilets at Marakoopa Cave are now located at the ticket office, which is 500m from the cave) and the caves are such a unique experience! Further to this, extensive work has recently been done due to major flooding (Marakoopa Cave was closed for approximately six months). So, escape from the sun in summer and the wind in winter by going underground!
For more posts about Tasmania’s north, click here.