Margaret River (Margs as the locals call it) in South West Australia is known for its wineries and turquoise beaches, yet it’s also popular for its natural wonders. Beyond its renowned surf coast, you’ll find endless walking tracks through Australia’s South West forests and hundreds of caves in the area (over 300 in fact). The caves in Margaret River are all located in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park with 6 open to the public. Spelunking in Giant’s Cave was my first time caving in Australia. I couldn’t have picked a better place to do it.
Exploring the unlit Giants Cave with a group of Canadian teachers who are in Australia on a teacher exchange was the perfect recipe for my vagabond heart. After traveling for two months straight in Australia, it was nice to get a little home while away. Traveling for 9 months (on and off) pretty much full time often leaves me missing home. I haven’t been home since January so it was nice to reunite with a friend from home, while meeting other Canadians who are also on their own Australian journey. Our tour was guided by a local Australian who has also experienced traveling abroad on a teaching exchange. With our helmets on and our torches in hand we entered Giants Cave as a group of giddy Canadian teachers excited to explore one of Margaret Rivers largest and deepest caves. Like our own school children, we laughed, giggled, and sometimes squealed throughout our adventurous experience.
At times, we were required to climb up latters, shimmy through tunnels, squeeze through tight spaces, and crawl our way through the dark cool cave. At one point, I wasn’t even sure I would fit through the small space I saw ahead of me in the distance as I neared the small dark space. With 100% humidity, the perspiration beaded on our foreheads as we trekked through the unknown territory. The gigantic dark rooms left us speechless and enamoured as we gazed around at the beautifully formed stalactites, stalagmites, straws, and shawls. After venturing down 86 metres in the cave, we were awed by the sheer size of the cave and the creation of this masterpiece (86 metres deep & 575 meters long ). How amazing is this? I said aloud. I’ve been caving before, but not in one so large and deep. Again, Australia left me speechless.
With minimal infrastructure, Giants Cave is left in almost its original form. With the first visitors entering the cave in the 1900’s, it’s considered a fairly untouched cave in the Boranup Forest. With Karri trees growing in the entrance of the cave and various tree roots hanging down from the ceiling inside of the cave, you feel as through you are exploring a mythical and magical place. The grander of the movie-like “Ball-room”, a large 70 meter chamber with a sand floor, makes you want to explore all the caves in the region to know what else is out there. Mammoth Cave, Jewel Cave, Lake Cave, Ngilgi Cave, and Calgardup Cave are the other popular caves open to the public. If only I were an expert (and experienced) caver so that I could get a permit to explore some of the other few hundred caves. Maybe in another life?
Visiting Margaret River was well worth the trip. Margaret River has so much to offer from wineries, beaches, forests, caves, and exquisite food. The Mediterranean windy climate was unlike anything I’d experienced in Australia thus far. It’s no wonder why I was able to stay busy exploring Margs for 4 days without running out of things to do. There was no better way to get the heart pumping and my day started then by exploring Giant’s Cave; the workout made relaxing at the beach a well earned reward.