Howdy all and ‘Happy Tuesday’ to ya! Yeah, I know it’s not really a ‘thing’, but still, it is Tuesday today. Well, in Australia, when this post is published it will be… Anyhoo! CAVES! Who doesn’t love a good cave? And today I am writing about my experience in some of the best caves I have visited in my life time – and they are right in not only my home country, but home state of Victoria! They are the Buchan Caves, a cave system just outside the small town of, wait for it, Buchan.
I first visited the Buchan Caves many years ago when I was probably younger than 10 years old. I remember the basic premise of caves – and the names stalagmites and stalactites. I’ve been lucky enough to check out caves in a few countries as an adult – China, Slovenia and Poland spring to my memory, but I haven’t taken the chance to return to Victoria’s Buchan Caves as an adult. Until this March, that is!
As part of a week away, it was on the way to where my wife and I were going in Southern New South Wales, and I thought it would make a great subject for a vlog and blog. The vlog won’t be up until early July (I have a huge backlog of vlogs to complete editing and upload to YouTube right now!) however today is the day I WRITE about my experience.
It is a fair drive to Buchan, around four hours from Melbourne’s South-Eastern Suburbs, probably you could add 20 minutes or so along the freeway/tollway from Melbourne proper. They are located in Gippsland – but a couple of hours further on from where I was last year, not too far from the seaside town of Lakes Entrance which is a very popular holiday destination in the warmer months, especially for those who love boating!
The drive is through some extremely beautiful country, but due to the distance, it’s not a place I would recommend as a day trip from Melbourne. There is accommodation in Buchan I believe, but we stayed at Nowa Nowa, a small town by a lake (wait for the vlog about that place and the motel there!!) which was I think 20-25 minutes from the Buchan Caves.
Tours are prebooked via the website and at the moment you must be fully (double) vaccinated. Rules I expected would come into force about needing to be triple vaxxed for a number of things have not materialised, and it doesn’t look likely but never say never. Also, a mask is a requirement to enter the caves.
There are two main sets of caves that people visit – the Fairy Caves and the Royal Cave. You can do them together on one ticket or choose to do one only on an obviously cheaper ticket. I chose the Royal Caves, for no particular reason other than the name sounded a bit grander!
The Fairy Caves were the first to be discovered back in 1907 by a European, Frank Moon. In 1910 the Royal Caves were discovered by a group who followed caves through to them from the Fairy Caves. Naturally though, they were known about a long time before a white man found them, and the Indigenous people had told the whites about them as far back as 1840. The caves themselves are thought to date back some 400 million years!
I checked in at the head office in the little valley where the caves are. It’s a really beautiful little spot actually that stretches on for a couple of kilometres, with a river and greenery and sounds of birds and animals. Plenty of kangaroos in the area, saw a couple after I exited the caves which was nice.
Then you drive on down to the caves entrance, and the group was milling outside the entrance with our guide. It’s pretty cool, a metal door slightly down a tunnel. It was a hot day, but inside the caves it is a constant 17 or so degrees Celsius year-round. The group was around 20 people. The guide opened the door warning the first bit was narrow and low, and certainly through the whole experience you have to watch your head. Sadly, there was a lady who entered twice and came straight back out as it wasn’t for her. Her family were very supportive though and they didn’t enter either. Hopefully they could get their money back.
The first really is quite a narrow and shallow passageway, the lighting is of course dim but sufficient. Luckily I am not blessed with height, but still I was having to be very careful. It really is the sort of thing that appeals to me – I feel like I’m exploring. The caves are a bit of a rabbit warren but break out into big openings from time to time. You really get a sense of adventure and despite being in a group of twenty, unlike caves I have visited overseas these are not particularly touristy and certainly don’t see the numbers that caves in Europe see.
The caves are great at Buchan and I can’t recommened them enough. Unlike some I have visited they don’t pump music and coloured lighting through them which I find a bit on the garish side to be honest, and the guide explains to you a bit of history and how caves are formed. In the case of the Fairy and Royal Caves at Buchan, there used to be an underground river running through them millions of years ago. When that dried up, the caves were left. Water seeps down from the surface through the limestone. If it congeals at the top, mixing with the limestone, it creates a formation called a stalactite. If it drops to the cave floor, and slowly builds up over the millennium into another formation, that is the stalagmite. We are talking about less than a millimetre per year. So when you see them one metre in length, well, how long does that represent? You can do the maths!
The path goes through chambers, some of which are chicken-wired off, but they leave camera holes and are lit nicely. Then you have the larger chambers which are really beautiful, full of stalactites and mites! You walk right into the hill, and deeply too. There are some bones of giant marsupials to be seen as well. Apparently wombats and kangaroos used to be 4 metres tall/long or more back millions of years ago. Kinda a freaky really I would be terrified of a 4-metre tall boxing kangaroo! This is not a joke, I personally didn’t realise either and I felt really ignorant when the guide talked about them!
Finally, after a little under an hour, the tour reaches the final point. You are quite deep and have to climb a few cases of stairs to get to the exit, and you come out in a different part of the valley, higher than the entrance, and of course your eyes take a little adjusting. But wow! What a mad experience (I realise words can’t really do the job of pictures here). Totally worth it!
Cost is $23.70AUD for an adult for one cave, $35.60AUD for both. Children are a bit cheaper but must be accompanied by an adult – for example one child and one adult is $56.20AUD for both caves. One Australian dollar is around 74 US cents.
For more information THIS is the Victoria Parks Website.
Thanks for popping by today! Take care – and May the Journey Never End!