Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park is located approximately 27km from Katherine on the Stuart highway south of Katherine. The carpark and visitor centre are one kilometre from the highway along a sealed road. Cutta Cutta is a Jawoyn name meaning many stars; it was taboo for Aboriginal people to enter the cave, which they believed was where the stars were at rest during the day. Other source believe that Cutta Cutta Caves are associated with Barrac Barrac, or Diver Duck dreaming creation stories by the local Jawoyn people.
The Katherine region has quite a few unexplored cave systems. There are even a few that have been plugged with cement in the centre of town, so if one of the shops should disappear one day, you'll know why.
In Cutta Cutta cave you venture along the caverns 15 metres under the surface for a few hundred metres. The main cave system goes for 700 metres until it enters the water table. This very special cave will give you a very special nature experience. Why is so special about this cave? Because this is the only publicly accessible tropical limestone cave in Northern Territory and a home for various species of bats and other unique wildlife.
10 minutes walk from information center to cave entrance
You can discover the limestone caves formed millions of years ago. Spectacular features such as Karst formations and complex cave networks are a feature of the park. Tower-like masses of Tindal limestone with some supporting large boulders and various surface depressions are other features of this landscape.
The nature park that covers 1499 hectares of karst limestone landscape is home to five species of bats, including the rare carnivorous ghost bat and orange horseshoe bats, the harmless brown tree snake and about 170 species of birds, including the Hooded Parrot and the endangered Gouldian Finch.
Even though it is widely understood that the Jawoyn people did not regularly enter the deep caves, there is evidence of occupation by the Jawoyn people (such as a number of campsites and stone artifacts and at least one unnamed cave within the park showing evidence of man-made grooves on an interior wall some distance from the entrance) throughout the park.
Following European settlement, the main cave was discovered by a stockman around 1900, and has been known by several names. It was called 16 Mile Cave by servicemen in WWII. It was frequented by servicemen during WWII and shows the remnants of many a 303 gunshot at the stalactites.
In 1967 the caves were placed under the management of the Northern Territory Reserves Board as the Sixteen Mile Caves Reserve, and guided tours commenced. The park got Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park as its name since 1979. In 1991, a second cave, Tindal Cave, was opened to the public. There are two caves open for guided tours. But currently, Tindal Cave is currently closed again due to water damage. Cutta Cutta Cave extends 750m (2,460ft), with 240m (790ft) accessible to the public with lighting and walkways. The passages of Tindal Cave are 1,700m (5,600ft) long, with 200m (660ft) developed for tours. There are a number of other cave systems within the park which are not open to the public.
Back in the 70's a caver lived for over 60 days in this cave to get into the Guinness Book of Records. There are still remnants of his occupation further back in the cave.
The Cutta Cutta Caves has guided tours that are conducted daily. It will take you on a journey through the wonderful caves. Guided tours of the caves run on the hour and are operated by a concessionaire. Tours start at 9am and the last tour of the caves is 3pm. The walk between information centre (the start point to cave entrance) will take around 10 to 20 minutes. If you can go to the earliest tour as you can as later the day inside the cave very hot and stuffy as this cave only has one open end (the entrance). Please contact Nitmiluk Tours on phone number 1300 146 743 for more information about tour.
Lights alongside that help to enjoy this nature beauty
The park also offers a Tropical Woodland walk, with information for visitors about the local flora and fauna. The Tropical Woodland walk begins near the car park and enables visitors to experience the open tropical woodland. Allow 10 to 20 minutes to complete the walk. You can do this while you wait for your guided tour and discover some of the local plant life and how they survive in the harsh Top End climate.
Either to do bush walking, cave exploring, bird watching, guided tour or all of them, you can enjoy this little beaut nature offer. But please remember that you should not enter the caves without a guide, do not touch or damage the cave formations, stay on the walking tracks. Cultural items and wildlife are protected here. Pets, nets, traps and firearms are not permitted in the park. Check that your vehicle is not transporting pests like weeds and cane toads or it will disturb the wildlife here. Remember always to put your rubbish in the bin or take it with you.
To enjoy more your trip to Cutta Cutta cave, please always observe park safety signs. Carry and drink plenty of water, wear a hat and sunscreen also put on some insect repellent as this place could be very hot and lots of insects around. Avoid strenuous activity during the heat of the day and carry a first aid kit for "just in case"reasons.
The park will open daily from 8.30am to 4.30pm but in the Wet Seasons, rains flood the area and the caves can be closed at times between December and April. The most comfortable time to visit the park is between May and August. They will closed on Christmas Day.
Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park has facilities such as Visitor Information Centre, a small kiosk that sells tour tickets, refreshments and souvenirs. Public toilets and covered seating area for picnic are provided. Car park and coach parking also available. Drinking water is provided for the guided tour.