Do you love getting underground, exploring the underworld of the earth and having a unique adventure?
If so, then it's likely that Mole Creek Karst Natural Park is somewhere that you'd do well to explore.
The park was established in 1996 to protect the area's fascinating cave systems, which are truly incredible. In particular, the Marakoopa and King Solomons Caves are especially famous and these are the two publicly accessible caves for all to enjoy.
Overall, however, there are actually over 300 known caves and sinkholes in the region. Gorges, large underground streams and springs are also present. It's like a whole other world of its own.
What you'll find
First of all, there are many creatures lurking the caves! For example, Marakoopa Cave, meaning Handsome cave, has the largest glow-worm display you'll find in Australia.
Other species you should keep your eyes peeled for include harvestmen, the ancient mountain shrimp and – gulp – the Tasmanian cave spider! These have very long legs which help them to move around and find their way in the pitch black of the caves.
In addition to the glow worms in Marakoopa Cave, there are two underground streams, large caverns, rim pools, shawl and flowstone features.
There are two tours available in this cave. One takes you to the glow worms and underground rivers, where you'll visit the lower chamber filled with beautiful crystals and reflective pools of stalactites.
Take a few moments to listen to the pristine, ethereal sounds of the cave – this can be a beautiful experience.
Another tour will take you to the 'Great Cathedral' cavern, which is as spectacular as its name suggests. There is also a section named the 'gardens' which is packed full of colour and gorgeous formations. This tour involves a stairwell up to the Great Cathedral so requires a moderate level of fitness.
Then there is the mighty King Solomons Cave. If you want to see an underground area completely packed and adorned with shawls, stalagmites and stalactites then let this stunning cave be your destination.
History of the caves
The history of these cave systems seems to almost have a mystical feel. The limestone material of the caves began forming in the Ordovician Period, which was 400-500 million years ago! That when when Tasmania was part of Gondwana, a supercontinent made up of Australia, South America, Antarctica, India and more.
At this point, it was close to the equator and was under a warm and shallow sea. Limestone was deposited as coral reefs and the accumulation of microscopic marine organisms. A lot to take in, right?
Fast forward and eventually Australia began to break away from Antarctica. At some points in the last 30 million years, meltwater from glaciers and snowfields began to form some caves. Now they are somewhere that everybody can enjoy and are a significant reminder of our earth's fascinating geological history.
Mole Creek Karst National Park is found in the central north of Tasmania. That's about a 40 minute drive from Deloraine. The two main caves are about a 15 minute drive apart, with the turn offs and entrances well sign posted.
If you are entering the area without a tour group then you will need to obtain a park pass. Remember, there are no camping facilities here so you will need to arrange other accommodation nearby if you plan staying the night. Mole Creek and Sheffield, two nearby towns, have petrol stations, accommodation and other facilities.
Now all that's left for you to do is enjoy your underground adventure.