World Heritage Fossil Caves

Adelaide – Naracoorte Caves

I knew on the way back towards Melbourne I wanted to check out the Grampians, however when I went for the aimless meander ride the other day, I worked out that there were some special limestone caves a bit before the Grampians that would be work checking out.

What makes this area so special you ask?

Naracoorte Caves within the Naracoorte National Park are part of a 28 cave system (4 open to the public, while others are for scientific research) that form part of the 800,000 year old Naracoorte East Range.  This is the insert of the National parks office “They are World Heritage listed, and one of the world’s most important fossil sites. For half a million years the caves acted as pitfall traps and predator dens. Animals would fall in through a hole in the ground and not be able to escape. Bones collected – layer upon layer, year after year – creating a rich fossil record of the ancient animals that roamed the area. The fossil record covers several ice ages and the arrival of humans in the area.”

This certainly tickled my funny bone since I remember I always loved seeing this stuff throughout my university days, and it would give me a chance to see a world heritage place.  Left Adelaide in a relaxed manner and went directly to the Caves.  Being the middle of the week, I didn’t bother booking or looking for any accommodation as I figured there would be some available at a local pub or hotel.

Town was much bigger than I had imagined so I did a bit of a riding loop around it to check it out and decided upon a pub to stay at – the Buhman’s Arms Hotel.  Only when I parked outside and got my wallet out did I realise that this place made me a little uneasy.  While walking to the main entrance I saw a whole bunch of male eyes staring at what I was doing.  This is one time I didn’t want to know what they were thinking.  When I walked into the pub and through it to get to the cashier to check in; I realized that although through the middle of the week, it must have coincided with some sort of festivity of miners; as the pub was full of men in high viz safety gear, looking rather dusty and brown….  Hmmmm.   Too late to make a quiet appearance and sneak into the accommodation. 

Walking past the throngs of men, all looking on with curiosity with beer in hand, I had to muster and channel my inner strength and walk past holding my head up high in an authoritarian manner, channelling my ‘inner b1tch’ emanating the ‘leave me alone’ vibe.   As I was talking to the cashier/bar tender and handed over the cash for the room I could feel so many sets of eyes boring into my back.  I did the transaction as quick as I could, and left rapidly.  By this time there were a few guys who thought they would try catch my attention and engage with me.  I semi smiled, waved them away and told them I had to go.

Now outside with the Lawnmower, although I wanted nothing more than to unload and go up to the room for a rest and a shower; I thought that it was still early enough in the day, so I decided to get back on him and ride out to the caves system a little out of town.  This would give me some time for the men I the pub to get their fill and disperse a bit more.

With that I went off to the caves to suss them out.

The park entrance had some really rad looking megafauna and nice welcome sign.  Recycled wood and metal sculptures. Very fitting.


Outside the main info centre and establishment, there are some self info walks, which I chose to do.  Since it was later in the afternoon it was good to do them at my pace as well as feeling no pressure since the majority of the tourists had gone home.

As some of the stories go; this landscape has been fairly porous, and due to the rain over millennia, creates caves underground.  The cave ceiling gets thinner and thinner until sometimes the weight of a species of megafauna collapse it, and they fall into the cave, generally a fall like that would kill them and or severely injure them.  Over time this body gets covered with silts and the cycle can happen again and again.

Cool palaeontology story, but not so for the hapless fauna that gets stuck in the caves. However, due to this today, we have this wonder which we can marvel at.  It was a nice afternoon, but when I saw a kanga-hoppy (kangaroo) skip by in front of me, I realised the time…the sun was getting low, the temperature going down and the nocturnal animals were beginning to stir.  I had about a 20 minute ride back into town and I didn’t want to be around as the hoppies were coming out for a feed next to the road verge.  Time to go home.

The ride back to town was a gentle ride, being vigilant on the side of the road for any karmakazi kangaroos hopping out.  Once in town I started looking for places to have dinner as I remember seeing that the food in the pub accommodation I had gotten didn’t look that appealing – not to mention the company in there didn’t either.

I went past a place that looked 100 years old, a bit dusty and run down looking, but judging by the amount of frills and doillies from the outside, this had to be an old grandma’s place, lookalike diner.  That meant that food should hopefully be served ‘just as grandma’ used to make.  I walked in and I wasn’t disappointed.  They had a fire place going, filled tablecloths and mismatched, gold rimmed plates and silverware.  The menu was basic but hearty warm winter meals – so it was lamb shanks and mashed potato for me, and of course, when I found out they had gf flourless cake; I was a gonner!

With a warm and full belly I looked at the time and it was now dark outside.  I think by now most of the drinking miners should have had their fill and retired or gone for the day.  I got to the pub, went round the back and hid the Lawnmower in the lock up area where they kept the booze and forklift before I locked it down.  Then I went walking in through the pub towards my room.  To my horror the place was still very packed and again I felt like the prey being set into a rink full of predators.  This time however they were even more drunk, and a few tried to make passes at me as I was walking past. . One grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him and the bar, citing that he wanted to buy me a drink or two.  No thanks.   I brushed his hand off and kept walking.  Then I heard a few now loudly calling me over to join them for some fun.  Hell no.  Then more calling and thank god there was one sane guy around as I heard them saying ‘leave her alone’.  As quick as I could I crossed the main pub floor and went upstairs straight to my room.  Once there I made a sweep of the place for security.  Closed the window and locked it and closed the front door.  The lock looked flimsy, and so I grabbed a chair, and wedged it underneath the door handle.  I also moved a chest of drawers and part blocked the door.

This was the best thing I could have done, because later that night, when I was just drifting off or in the light part of sleep, I swear I heard noises outside my door and heard someone jimmy the door knob and press against the door a little.  This wasn’t the sounds of someone trying to put a key into their mistaken room…. This was trying to get inside, let’s see if we can get this to jimmy open, cause I want what’s inside.

Although the noise was soft and slight, this noise made my hairs stand up on the back of my neck.  I was a sitting duck for some drunk, burly guy wanting something to do with me that’s unsavoury.  I’m glad I followed my instincts and barricaded the door. Although warm in the room, I didn’t really sleep the rest of the night – as my mind was receptive to any more noises outside my door.

I am pretty sure most guys don’t worry about things like this when touring alone.  But it’s something that a lot of solo females have to take into consideration…

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