Monday, 7 January 2013

Naracoorte Caves: Bat's Residence and a Cricket Ball Between the Stalactites

This journey was inspired by the weather forecast for the next day. It was predicted +41°C ... We decided to go with our grandparents to the Naracoorte Caves, as there should have been a comfortable temperature for life. We decided not to tell our grandparents the distance to the destination, as 350 km for them was a serious challenge.

When there were just about 80-90 km to the destination, Grandfather asked, if we would return home today. To reply to this provocative question Alex stopped the car in the middle of a field and silently pulled out and offered him a misted can of cold beer ... the rest of the way was much more fun.

Ancient animals in Wonambi Fossil Centre
"Living" ancient animals in Wonambi Fossil Centre, Naracoorte Caves, South Australia
We have been to the Naracoorte Cave National Park previously, so we knew exactly what cave we would like to visit that day. Unfortunately, despite the fact that we came half-hour prior to the tour, it was already fully booked. So we agreed to alternate Bat Tour (included Bat Observation Centre and Blanche Cave). As a bonus, we were invited to visit for free the Wonambi Fossil Centre which we have not seen before.

Enlarged model of the bat
Enlarged model of bats living in the Bat Cave, Naracoorte Caves, South Australia

In the Fossil Centre instead of the expected skeletons, we met friendly "living" stuffed ancient animals, organically placed in the twilight landscape of prehistoric Australia. There was a special entertainment for the kids - a small tunnel from one room to another, where our Grandfather almost got stuck chasing the grandchildren with the camera.
Kids walking to the entrance of the Blanche Cave
Walking to the entrance of the Blanche Cave, Naracoorte Caves, South Australia

The tour itself consisted of two parts. During the first part the guide told us about the life of the bats. Also we were able to watch a live video from their place of residence. As told by our guide, bats chose that cave because of the huge dome and higher, than in nearby caves, air temperature. We did not go to this cave, because of the 5000 bats living in the cave, creating noise, comparable to a medium-sized hurricane.

A garden bench in the сave
A garden bench in the Blanche Cave, Naracoorte Caves, South Australia
 After studying the life of bats, we went to see the Blanche cave. We learned that many years ago caves were discovered by local farmers, who accidentally got in there while looking for the lost sheeps.

Scientific research excavations in the Blanche Cave, Naracoorte Caves, South Australia

For years, these caves were used for picnics because of their invigorating coolness. A garden bench and a cricket ball, stuck between the stalactites, reminiscent of those times. As the guide told, the farmers' children took the candle and went to explore the distant caves, disappearing there for 2-3 hours. The guide never told us about how many kids never returned from those caves or, simply broke body parts while being there. :)

Stalagmites and stalactites formation in the Blanche Cave
Stalagmites and stalactites formation in the Blanche Cave, Naracoorte Caves, South Australia

Naracoorte Caves is the real global fossil treasury. The concentration of the various fossils of ancient animals is really high. It looks like it is enough to dig a hole size of a pair of cubic meters to collect material for a serious scientific research. However, due to the weather conditions in the same cave, the scientists can literally bury all their efforts, as that once happened with a student from the Flinders University, whom's half year excavations were suddenly washed away after a heavy rain.

The tour was over and we had to leave the pleasant cool cave. We will definitely return to this national park to see inside other caves.

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