05 Jul Umpherston Sinkhole & Tantanoola Caves
I meant to post this ages ago but got too busy planning our Japan trip to finish it. This day trip was in April when bubs was 7 months old. We had been away but it was either to visit family or because we needed something.
We decided we were due for a day trip, one that was just for fun and we ended up in another state. Mount Gambier is in South Australia, located 450 kilometres from Adelaide and only 17 kilometres from the Victorian border.
The town sits mainly on the slopes of an extinct volcano of the same name. The volcanic features are a large part of the areas tourist attractions.
After leaving late morning, having lunch, avoiding the rain and giving bubs an afternoon bottle, we only managed to visit two places.
After having lunch in Mount Gambier’s town centre we drove just under 30 kilometres to the Tantanoola Caves. The caves are located within a prehistoric marine cliff named ‘Up And Down Rock’. The entrance is wheel chair accessible however there are some steps inside so viewing would be a little restricted. The underground cavern is small but full of interesting formations. We paid our entrance fee and were given a short tour. Our guide told us how the cave was first found and owned by a family, explained how the formations grow and pointed out some that had taken the shape of things such as a crocodiles toothy grin. We were then left to wander around and view the caves on our own.
More info, hours and fees: National Parks South Australia.
Other caves in the area
- Princess Margaret Rose Cave – This limestone cave is Australia’s most decorated cave and features actively growing formations. Note that the entrance to this cave involves climbing down 65 steps to the chamber.
Tour times and prices here
- Engelbrecht Cave – A popular spot for cave diving, there are dive sites and viewing platforms inside. This underground cave system lies beneath houses and streets of Mount Gambier.
Open: 9:30am – 3:30 pm, closed Wednesdays
Tours: hourly from 10am – 2pm, extra during holiday periods.
- Naracoorte Caves – There are four caves open to the public although The Naracoorte Caves National Park is made up of many more, the others are closed for research and protection. The park is World Heritage listed as a part of The Australian Fossil Mammal Sites.
Open: 9am – 5pm everyday
Entry to the park is free however fees apply for tours. List of tour fees and times here
Once a limestone cave, typical of the coast line, the sinkhole was created when the roof collapsed. James Umpherston transformed the sinkhole to a sunken garden in 1886 and present day sees it filled with Hydrangeas, ferns and other trees and plants. From the top you can view the sinkhole in its entirety and look down into the terraced garden. Trees surround the top and hanging vines cascade down the sides, creating a beautiful lush scene. Steps lead you down into what used to be a cave and you can view the limestone walls that contain the garden.
Watch out for possums!
A popular tourist spot is The Blue Lake, named after it’s gorgeous colour between the months of December and March. The lake is located within an extinct volcanic crater and there are several others among the volcanic landscape. A great viewing point of the lakes and craters is the Centenary Tower, located 190 metres above sea level.
For more information and other tourist attractions in the are visit mountgambierpoint.