COWARAMUP

Quinninup Lake Cave Co 1.
Snake Pit Cave Co 6.
Cowarumup Cave Co ?.
Meekadorabee Cave Co 8.

Quinninup Lake Cave Co 1 The next area is Cowaramup, stretching between Ellensbrook and Quinninup Brook. This narrow belt of limestone has very little cave development that is known. Quinninup Lake Cave is one of the better known caves to visit. Situated near the beach at Quinninup, this cave is reached by a pleasant walk along the beach and across the sand dunes. A small colony of bats has been observed here for some years. This is quite important because this is the only known cave in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge in which bats have been recorded. The cave contains two small streams. One of these can be can be examined by climbing down through the entrance rockpile. The other is seen in the south-eastern section by looking down a hole under some flowstone. These streams seem to be at different levels and resurge some distance below the cave entrance to form a small lake. This lake is trapped behind the dunes and it is assumed that the water percolates beneath the sand into the sea. The cave is well known to the public and has suffered accordingly.

Members of WASG have recently embarked on a stalagmite repair program code named 'Operation Jigsaw', to repair the many vandalised (though in some cases naturally degraded) stalagmites in the main chamber of the cave.

Snake Pit Cave Co 6 Further to the north-east is Snake Pit Cave CO 6 which is believed to be part of the same system. Equipment is needed to descend the 23 m vertical entrance pitch. When the bottom is reached, a medium sized chamber is seen, its floor covered with sand and rocks.

Cowaramup Cave Co ? Cowaramup Cave is also worth a visit. A guide is needed to find this cave as very few people know its location. It is found in a valley within which a dune has arisen and through which a stream flows, forming a small but interesting cave containing a small waterfall.

Meekadorabee Cave Co 8 Another cave to inspect in this area is Meekadorabee Cave CO 8 situated on the Ellensbrook Stream. This is a good example of a cave which is formed by the action of a stream cutting through an arm of limestone overlying a valley. The entrance is well endowed with tufa and calcified rushes. A waterfall also flows over the entrance, seeping through the roof and forming an excellent display of cave pearls on the flowstone below. The trip through the cave is very wet but short as the cave is approximately 100 m long. The recently constructed walkways have somewhat reduced the aesthetics of the area particularly as the stairs go very close to the stream and eastern entrance of the cave. However to the uninitiated the area still has a lot of charm with its Peppermint Groves and Arum Lillies. It is worth walking to the beach to see the early historic property built by the Bussells which is now part of the national park. It is also a very pleasant walk in the direction of Milligan's Cave if you are interested in getting away from the crowds.

AUGUSTA

Deepdene Cave AU 1.    
Harley's Cave AU 6.    
Old Kudardup Cave AU9.    
Jewel Cave AU 13. Photo added 4 October 1995    
Easter Cave AU 14. Photos added 7 September 1995    
Labyrinth Cave AU 16.    
Moondyne Cave AU 11.

Deepdene Cave AU 1. This cave is noted for its massive formations. Consisting of two large chambers, the cave is just over 100 m long and 35 m deep. The two chambers are heavily decorated with columns and stalactites. When visiting the eastern chamber, take note of the old rimstone pools, some of which are over 1 m deep. Deepdene was developed to a small degree as a tourist cave around 1900. It was never opened to the public. Although only a small cave, a typical photographic trip can last several hours so be sure to take water with you. While in the cave examine the walls. Deepdene is packed with small helictites. No special equipment is needed to enter Deepdene Cave, which is all horizontal.

Harley's Cave AU 6. Surveys have proved that Harley's Cave, which is about 100 m from Labyrinth on the surface, comes to within 1 m of Labyrinth underground. There is limited photography in the cave, the main attraction being the entrance pitch, a fifteen metre solution pipe which opens out into a large bell-shaped chamber with excellent acoustics. A small extension on the southern wall will lure the more sporting caver. A series of vertical squeezes leads to a small well decorated chamber. It is at this point that it is carved closest to Labyrinth. Typical time in Harley's would be no more than two hours. Equipment needed is a 15 m ladder and rope as there are good belay points nearby. Click here to see the survey plan ( GIF)

Old Kudardup Cave AU9. Formed on the high slopes of the new dunes, this cave is one of the most interesting to see. The cave is a large single chamber with no side extensions. It has formed in massive dimensions, over 30 m deep with a ceiling 30 m above the cave floor, massive columns have grown up to 18 m high near the entrance. Photographically, Old Kudardup can offer impressive shots of the columns. Most of the roof decoration is too high to be photographed. Old Kudardup Cave is recommended to everyone, just to see a really nice easy cave.

Jewel Cave AU 13. Jewel Cave is a complex phreatic cave 1.9 kms long, of which only 40% has been developed for tourism. Opened to the public in 1960, Jewel Cave has been thoughtfully developed to show the cave off to visitors and not to make just the easiest path. Lighting is all natural and indirect. Formations in Jewel are identical to Easter and Labyrinth Caves. Formations are excellent. A straw measuring about 580 cm is the longest in any tourist cave.

There are many flowstone canopies, including the famous Organ Pipes. Myriads of straws can be seen reflected in the lake at the lowest level of the cave. The price of a tour is reasonable and the tour lasts for one hour. Photographers are encouraged, so take your cameras and get some rewarding shots.

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Organ Pipes in Jewel The black and white photograph above is a historical one of Cliff Spackman (on the left) and Lloyd Robinson taken in the Camel Cavern in Jewel Cave prior tothe development of the cave for tourism. Both are original explorers of the cave. (82Kb jpg). Photograph by WA Newspapers - scan supplied by Peter Bell of the Augusta Margaret River Tourist Bureau.

Easter Cave AU 14. Easter Cave is the longest (7.5km) and most heavily decorated cave in the south-west. A typical trip lasts 8 hours so supplies of food are necessary. The entrance is a 12 m shaft which is best laddered. This opens onto a large sand floored chamber, a small crawl leads to the system. As you enter the crawl, look to the right for cave pearls. These are 30 years old and began growing when the tunnel was dug through.

[From here on it is wadeable most of the way.] The previous statement is no longer true - the water has drained from the cave and is now totally dry until Lake Nimbus past what was the second duck. The Epstein Section contains the most well-known formation in the cave, the Epstein sculpture, a helictite of massive size hanging from the ceiling.

epstein

The black and white photo above of the Epstein sculpure features Joanne Barratt. Photo by and © 1995 to Rauleigh Webb.

easter

Past the "first duck" (now dry) are some wonderful decorations such as this flowstone adjacent to the marked trail in the photo above.

Here are some other pictures of some of the caves famous helictites.

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helic3

helivs

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Photos by and © 1995 to Rauleigh Webb.

Labyrinth Cave AU 16. Labyrinth is a phreatic maze of interconnecting passages. Entry is as with Easter, a 12 m shaft best laddered. The formation is excellent, straws being the dominant feature. Labyrinth has two main trends, north-west and south-west. Both are photogenic with the south-west having the edge. A visit to the Winged Eagle's Nest is worthwhile. Labyrinth is also very sporting. There are a few sumps and lots of mud squeezes. Most of the trip is spent walking or crawling along phreatic tubes containing water and mud.

Moondyne Cave AU 11. Moondyne is an old tourist cave which was closed in 1958. It has been the subject of an exercise in cave restoration. A concentrated effort by W.A.S.G. has seen the introduction of track marking, removal of old stairs and the cleaning of formation. Fortunately a lot of the damage has been reversible and Moondyne still retains its beauty and is excellent for photography. The cave has good displays of columns and helictites. Consisting of two large chambers, Moondyne is the smallest of the four caves which reach the water table. The lower chamber which was once an old crystal pool, is completely covered with calcite flakes. This known as the Snowflake Chamber and contains some side extensions with fine displays of helictites. Carbon dioxide levels are often high in this chamber. The upper chamber is in complete contrast to the lower containing many large columns and stalagmites, and also some very long straws. Moondyne Cave is one to be enjoyed by all cavers.

There are few active surface streams and places to obtain water in the Augusta caving area during summer. Take supplies of water on all field trips. Temperatures are likely to be high and considerable distances must be walked to reach caves. If at any time you are separated from a party and become lost, always head east and you will arrive at Caves Road.

Note that the Moondyne Cave was reopened as a Guided Cave in 1993. Tours are conducted by the Augusta Margaret River Tourist Bureau and can be booked at the Tourist Bureau in Margaret River. The cave is not lit and tours are conducted using helmet mounted electric lights and overalls which are provided in the price of the tour ($25 per person).

Augusta
Climate.
Tourism.
Cosy Corner.
Leeuwin Lighthouse.
Leeuwin Water Wheel.
General Cave Information.
Augusta Cave Descriptions

AUGUSTA

The Augusta area boasts some of the most well decorated and longest caves in W.A. Covering an area over 16 km long from Cape Hamelin in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south, the Augusta caving area, designated AU, contains a belt of coastal limestone consisting of Pleistocene deposits laid down during glaciation periods. Some characteristics of the aeolianite are sharp jagged limestone which has been greatly eroded by high rainfall, very heavy vegetation (Karri Eucalyptus diversicolor), heavy undergrowth and many speleological features and caves.

Climate.
The climate here is Mediterranean, humid and receives a high annual rainfall followed by a short summer drought. Temperatures often rise to 35 degrees and warmer during the summer, so if you can't keep your cool in the caves every day, the local beaches offer a pleasant diversion for even the most dedicated caver.

Tourism.
Tourism is an important industry of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge, so if you can spare a day from caving, go touring as there is a lot to see. Within the Augusta area are:-

Cosy Corner:
A great beach, sheltered and ideal for children. While you're there, check out the limestone outcrop on the beach to the south of the car park. It contains many blowholes spurting water up to six metres on rough days.

Leeuwin Lighthouse:
Built in the 1890's by M.C. Davies and Co. entirely out of local limestone, it is the tallest lighthouse in W.A. Check at the lighthouse for inspection times.

Leeuwin Water Wheel:
Built in the 1800's to supply water to the lighthouse and Augusta, the wheel is now completely covered in calcite from the spring which once flowed over it. No cave has been found for the Leeuwin Water Wheel Spring (AU 26) so if you have time take a look,......

There are many more places to see both in the Augusta area and in other parts of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, for example, Cape Naturaliste, Yallingup Beach, Canal Rocks, Sugarloaf Rock, Prevally Park and Boranup Beach. For more information see the Augusta- Margaret River Tourist Bureau in Margaret River.

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Photograph of the Leewin Lighthouse and water wheel by Brian Combley.


The caves.
There are 29 known speleological features and caves in the Augusta area. The possibility of finding more is certain, the only limiting factor being the dense forest around them and the generally small entrances to the caves. Most of the caves have solution pipe entrances, and a few have large collapse entrances. The caves are nothephreatic and can be divided into two categories:

1. Caves reaching the water table: These caves are complex in their layout. There are three caves in this category, namely Easter, Jewel, and Labyrinth. If one looks at the walls, ceiling and formations of these caves, it can be seen that the rise and fall of the water table has been considerably responsible for their formation. The depth of these caves is approximately 44 metres at water level. They are all heavily decorated, predominantly with straws. They have many complex interconnecting passages. They all show a vague north-east trend due to the underlying Pre-Cambrian gneiss. One common feature of these caves is that they are multi- level, having as many as four different levels. It is these levels that explain the presence of caves not reaching the water table.

2. Caves not reaching the water table: These caves are generally much smaller and are usually vertically developed, for example, Harley's Cave and Bat Cave. These caves are surely consolidated for extension into bigger systems as they are probably remnants of higher water levels. As cave development would still have occurred while the water level fell, it is possible that there are small tunnels, now blocked by soil, which lead to lower levels. Evidence supporting this is the discovery of Easter Cave. Originally a small sand floored chamber, digging at the lowest point broke into a system over 7 kms in length at a lower level.

Formations in the caves. Straws and helictites are the most common type of formation to be found in the caves of Augusta. In such caves as Easter Labyrinth and Jewel, there are literally thousands showering from the ceilings, some reaching up to four metres in length. Some are completely transparent and almost all are active. They present a challenging task to photographers.

Helictites in amazing forms are to be found in Easter Cave where some grow horizontally out from the wall for more than 60 cm. Excellent displays of columns and stalactites can be seen in most of the Augusta Caves. Old Kudardup possibly has the best display, its columns being over 18 metres high. Large formations such as these are particularly common due to the high rainfall and humidity. They are nearly always found in the upper levels of the caves.

Calcite crystals can be seen in three of the caves. Jewel Cave has some fine crystal pools which can be seen on inspection of the cave. Deeondeeup which is part of Jewel Cave has the best display. Here a wall of the cave some 18 m high is completely studded with crystals up to 10 cm in length. Easter Cave has Tiffanys, an old crystal pool 4 m long and 1 m deep. Crystals up to 10 cm cling to all sides of the pool.

 

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