Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lake Cave

Last weekend Jason and I headed down south for a trip to watch Ironman Western Australia, catch up with some friends and do some sightseeing. We drove to Busselton on Friday night after work, it took us about 3 hours. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling well as I had picked up a cold during the week. It doesn't feel right having a cold in such a warm climate :-)

On the Saturday we decided to drive down through the Margaret River Wine region, carry in down to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin and then back up to Cape Naturaliste. On the way back up there are a number of Caves (on the appropriately named Caves Rd). There are three main caves to visit, Jewel Cave, Lake Cave and Mammoth Cave. Mammoth Cave is a self guided visit whereas the other two are guided tours. We decided to visit Lake Cave, its $19 for one cave or $45 for all three. We didn't really have time to do all three though so figured we would come back down and do the others another time.

Lake Cave is a stunning place of timeless beauty. The lake inside (which is rapidly disappearing) acts as a mirror of infinite reflections of the crystal formations which is truly magical.

The journey into the cave starts with a descent into the huge cavern... you head down 350 stairs to begin the journey, here is a shot of the group descending.

As we head down the stairs you can see the massive ancient Karri trees (some more than 20 stories high and 500 years old).

Halfway down our tour guide joined us and told explained the history, geology, hydrology and ecology of the cave.

Once the initial talk is over we head into the cave itself. The steps are really steep and in you aren't careful you will smash your head against rocks...

Once inside the cave we are treated to some amazing sights. The clear water is incredibly still and reflects the delicate crystalline formations. Continual drips of water ride down the stalactites and echo in the massive cave.

One of the most renowned features of the cave is the "suspended table" formations. The table is a massive column of calcite weighing in excess of 5 tonnes that seems to hang precariously from the ceiling, defying gravity and hovering just a few cm from the lake itself.

We were in the cave for a while and near the end of the tour we got to touch a sample of the calcite crystal... it was amazingly heavy!!! After that we were treated to a light shiow which highlighted various bits of the cave and then it was lights out... not sure how the discoverers would have been able to see anything back in 1867!

These are just some of the steps that we had to climb back up at the end of our tour! We are both fit but they were hard work!!!

All in all a great tour though and as the company is non profit (all tour money goes back into the cave upkeep) it was well worth the entry fee.

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