The Mole Creek Karst National Park includes some of Tasmania's most visited cave systems, including ...
Image thanks to: Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

Mole Creek Caves

It’s an adventure and a half when you delve into the wonders of Mole Creek Caves. Head underground for a guided tour of the spectacular powers of nature, whatever the weather or the season, in this World Heritage Listed site. Mole Creek Caves are a family-friendly attraction, and you are welcome to take photographs everywhere except for the cavern where the glow worms are found – here there is a ban on flash photography, but if your camera is more passive then snap away to your heart’s content.

Mole Creek Caves are divided into two places: King Solomon’s Cave and Marakoopa. As they are a little over ten kilometres apart, you should give yourself at least fifteen minutes drive time if you are planning to visit both of them on the same day.

There are three forty-five-minute tours on offer. One takes place at King Solomon’s Cave and the other two are at Marakoopa. You need a moderate level of fitness, although the most strenuous activity is climbing a staircase on one of the three tours so you get an idea of how much effort is needed. Definitely dress for a chilly environment as Mole Creek Caves are a constant nine degrees Celsius all through the year.

Before you enter the caves themselves, you should set aside a quarter of an hour to enjoy the enchanting atmosphere of Fern Glade Walk, which takes you from the parking area by the ticket office to the way in. It is possible to drive right up to the cave entrance, but this is a much prettier way to get there, following the creek which will reappear later in the cave itself.

King Solomon’s Cave

The lasting impression you will have after going on the King Solomon’s Cave Tour is of the lavish colours that surround you. Aeons of calcite formation have created these compact chambers that you may now feast your eyes on. This tour is suitable for all fitness levels. King Solomon’s Cave is home to a number of endangered species, such as the Tasmanian Cave Spider. Your guide will tell you a lot about how the various creatures have evolved to live in an environment with little or no light, giving this tour an added wildlife element.

Marakoopa Cave

If you have only encountered glow worms in fiction, now is your chance to see these marvellous creatures in their natural habitat. Both of the tours available here are rounded off with a display of these luminous beauties. For the record, Marakoopa is an indigenous word which means ‘handsome’. You will see why it is such an appropriate name, although perhaps an example of understatement, when you enter.

The Underground Rivers and Glow Worms Tour of Marakoopa Cave

Descend into the lower chamber where stalactites and stalagmites have slowly been forming over millions of years. As the name suggests, on this tour you hear the sounds of subterranean waters flowing through the cave, while you will also see the courses of rivers that have now run dry. Sparkling crystals can be seen amongst the rock and, if you stand still, there is as much charm in the silence of this place as there is from the sounds. The Underground Rivers and Glow Worms Tour of Marakoopa Cave is also suited to all fitness levels, so it is a leisurely walk in this awesome geological world.

The Great Cathedral and Glow Worms Tour of Marakoopa Cave

The upper chamber, where the acoustics do wonderful things to your voice and other sounds, is The Great Cathedral and it is this tour which requires a medium level of fitness so as to climb the staircase to reach it. To save you from counting, it’s two hundred and fifty steps! Before you get to it, enjoy the section of the cave known as The Gardens. What stands out is the way the cave changes as you walk through the various fossil layers, deposited at different times over the millennia. Sparkling crystal and limestone festooned with stalagmites and stalactites create a wondrous display.

Then you encounter the glow worms!

Both of the Marakoopa Cave trips finish with Tasmania’s, and in fact Australia’s, greatest display of glow worms, something which many a visitor has described as something you need to see in order to appreciate. Take their word for it. One point worth bearing in mind is that, although the caves are unaltered by the seasons, there are times of year when the glow worms are more active than at other times. In the Australian winter, the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, you will still see the fantastic light display. However, spring and summer are times to see it in all its glory.

As with King Solomon’s Cave, the two Marakoopa Cave tours are led by highly knowledgeable and friendly guides, so you get to discover a lot about the history of this part of Tasmania.

Geocaching

For those of you who are part of the GPS-based activity of geocaching, the Mole Creek Caves and the surrounding region have a number of caches which range from Beginner to Moderate levels. It is certainly a novel way to explore this World Heritage attraction, incorporating all the fun of a treasure hunt without the damage to the environment that the seventies version caused. The lengths of the puzzles range from around fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.

Getting to Mole Creek

Mole Creek and Chudleigh, home to the Mole Creek Caves, is in the northern part of Tasmania, roughly equidistant from the east and west coasts. It takes around forty minutes to drive here from Deloraine and is well signposted on the B12 road. You are advised not to do the journey at night, on account of the fact that the local wildlife roams freely in this area and it is easier to avoid accidentally hitting something during daylight hours.

From Hobart, Deoloraine is a little under three hours by car. The main route is along the A5 Highland Lakes Road, although when the traffic in the lake area is experiencing congestion it is possible to take an alternative route along National Highway 1, leaving the A5 at the Melton Mowbray junction.

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