This morning we packed up at Busselton to continue to our most southern point, Augusta in West Australia. We stopped just outside of Karridale at a parking bay to have our morning coffee and then headed into town and settled in to our caravan park. We are close to the water here being on the shores of the Hardy Inlet of the Blackwood River (left). This leads out into Flinders Bay (right) and the Southern Ocean. Augusta is the most south-western town in WA.
We had a quick lunch and then headed only about 10km north again to the Jewel Cave. It was discovered in 1880 but not fully explored until 1958. It is one of four caves along a 100km limestone ridge that runs from cape to cape. We were also lucky that google searches told us about the Winter Play Pass aimed at getting more people to the Margaret River area in winter. While most of the attractions were discount offers for wine or lunches there was also a 2 for 1 offer for this cave and I simply had to download the pass. Today was the last day of winter so the timing was perfect. The cost is $22.50 per person for a one hour guided tour.
We entered through a man made entrance and using steps and platforms found our way into the first chamber. Here we were shown the original entrance, being a hole in the ground above, and the guide started the explanations of the stalagmites and stalactites. We also saw the ‘straws’ hanging from the ceiling of the cave.
Making our way down more stairs to another platform we were introduced to some of the formations. From left to right – Totem Pole, Karri Forest, Frozen Waterfall
Our next platform revealed a section on the walls of the cave that looks like coral and soon another called The Organ Pipes.
We were now in the base of the cave and our guide used a laser light to show us the levels of water when the cave was entered in 1957. This can be compared to a photo on the wall at the entrance.
We were introduced to helictites which change their shape from vertical and have curves and angles. Before reaching the base we were introduced to The Shawls and the area of the cave where the fossils of seven Tasmanian tigers have been found. Carbon dating has estimated that they are 25,000 years old.
The tour over we had to climb back up those steps so with 500 steps in total it was a workout and we enjoyed a coffee in the gift shop after the tour before continuing our afternoon.