Caves at the Park:
Blanche Cave was the first of the Naracoorte Caves to be discovered, in
the mid 1840s. During the latter half of the ninetenth century, the
large, stone-canopied entrance of Blanche Cave was used as a venue for
extravagant parties. It was here that the first Pleistocene bones
were found, in 1859. However, the bones recovered from Blanche Cave
are very few by comparison to the enormous number within Victoria Fossil
Other caves at the park include Alexandra Cave, Wet Cave, and Bat Cave.
Alexandra Cave has a high ceiling from which hang numerous stalactites.
In places, mirror images of these formations can be seen in the pools of
crystal clear water below them. When the sea level rose during the
Early Pleistocene (approximately 1.2 million years ago) the Naracoorte
caves were inundated, and many of the original cave formations dissolved.
Both the Alexandra and Blanche caves enlarged somewhat during this time.
Remnants of the more ancient speleothems can still be seen within each.
Bat Cave is named for its colony of many thousands of Southern bent-wing
bats (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii),
which use the cave as their maternity chamber. In the summer months,
when the bat population in the cave reaches as high as an estimated 250,000
individuals, visitors can observe the bats as they make their nightly exit
in search of insect prey. Infrared cameras have been installed in
the cave, so that visitors can see the animals during the day from a Bat
Observation Centre without causing them any disturbance.
views from Blanche Cave. This cave has a high ceiling, with spacious
front and back entrances. Great swathes of climbing vines overhang
the entrances in places.
The Visitor Centre is a place where guests to the park can become familiar
with the story of the Naracoorte Caves, and the important part that Victoria
Fossil Cave has played in increasing our understanding of the Australian
On display at the centre are fossils from the site, maps, charts, dioramas
and various exhibits describing how the caves were formed, the geology
of the area, and the deposition of the sediments and bones in Victoria
Fossil Cave. In 1998, the Visitor Centre was completely rebuilt through
a three million dollar renovation which incorporates a reconstruction of
the extinct animals and their environment. The life reconstructions
are animatronic models, including Diprotodon, Palorchestes,
Zygomaturus and Wonambi.
on exhibit at the original visitor center (1996) which discuss the natural
history of the Naracoorte Caves.
Shown below is a composite skeleton of
Thylacoleo carnifex partially
embedded in cave earth. This replica was created by making casts
of bones from various Thylacoleo specimens found in Victoria Fossil
Cave. Any bones needed for the skeleton which could not be cast from
originals were sculpted by extrapolating their proper size and form through
study of the existing skeletal elements.
composite Thylacoleo skeleton (cast replica) assembled from bones
found in Victoria Fossil Cave.
Since the time of my 1996 visit, the Naracoorte Caves have become a National
Park. Please see the Naracoorte
Caves National Park web site for additional information.