Mole Creek Caves

Traversing Tasmania, Mole Creek Caves
King Solomons Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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).

Stalactites, King Solomons Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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 © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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!

Getting There

Mole Creek Karst National Park © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Cost

Marakoopa Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Tamar Island

Traversing Tasmania, Tamar Island
Tamar Island © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

About ten minutes drive from Launceston, accessible via the West Tamar Highway, lies a fascinating place: Tamar Island. A long boardwalk leads out to the island, taking you between phragmites australis reeds and out over mudflats and the river itself. The boardwalk is open from dawn until dusk; we took the opportunity to have a picnic dinner on the island as the sun was beginning to set. It was beautiful!

Tamar Island Wetlands © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

On the walk out to Tamar Island, which takes 20 – 30 minutes (depending on how many things you stop to look at on the way!), you’ll see a variety of birds, such as pelicans, black swans and great egrets, and perhaps even a copperhead snake (which should be left alone as it is venomous! Be careful where you tread!). If you look carefully, you can see the wrecks that were sunk in the channel in order to improve the flow of water.

Facilities

Picnic Table, Tamar Island © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

On Tamar Island, there are picnic tables, public BBQs (you’ll need to take your rubbish with you though), a toilet block, a jetty (giving access to the island via boat) and a European stand of trees. These were donated by the Hobart Botanical Gardens. Even stranger still is the tree that has grown around an abandoned piece of farming equipment!

Tamar Island Wetlands Interpretation Centre © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The small yet informative Tamar Island Wetlands Interpretation Centre, with its distinctive circular roof, is open from 10am to 4pm everyday except Christmas Day (9am to 5pm in summer). There is a bird hide 0.5km from the interpretation centre.

Cost

Although it is possible to walk to Tamar Island for free, your donation really does help Parks and Wildlife as they work to conserve the native flora and fauna of the island and wetlands.

For more posts about Tasmania’s north, click here.