A glittering palace of shimmering rock formations that sparkle like an Elvish palace from Lord of the Rings, the caves are easily one of the best – if not the best – tourist destination in Tasmania. In fact, it's world-class. In darkness, glow worms beam incandescently from the walls, giving visitors the feeling they're standing in a universe beneath thousands of glowing stars.
The caves are located in Mayberry, just west of Mole Creek. It's an isolated spot, with the most common access being from Deloraine. It's a three-hour drive from Hobart or just over an hour from Launceston, so give yourself plenty of time to get there.
There are three cave tours to choose from – Marakoopa Cave's underwater rivers and glow worms or the Great Cathedral and glow worms, or the neighbouring King Solomon's Cave tour. They're all fantastic – just make sure you arrive at least half an hour before your scheduled tour to secure your spot. Also remember that no matter how hot it is outside, the caves are always wet and cold, so dress warmly and wear sensible shoes.
Marakoopa Cave is home to the most incredible stalactites (the ones that hang from the ceiling) and stalagmites (the ones that grow from the floor). Your tour guide will teach you all about how moisture dripping has led to these stunning mineral formations over thousands of years. Also fascinating is the Tasmanian Cave Spider, which has adapted to living in the caves without any light.
The Great Cathedral at Marakoopa Cave is just magical. It's a huge, hollowed-out formation. As our tour guide pointed out to us, if you look hard enough you can also see the nativity scene – a baby in a cradle, three wise men, and the Madonna and Child – formed by the rock formations and stalagmites. Some visitors have even been known to have a bit of a gospel croon while on this tour – it's worth it if you're so inclined (and have got the talent) because the acoustics in the "cathedral" are truly magnificent.
As the largest glow worm public-access cave in Australia, it's worth a trip to Tassie just to see it alone. The guide will turn off all the lights as you stare at the ceiling. Tour groups tend to erupt in a collective "ahhhh".
Your guide will explain the mystery of the formations
The connection of Indigenous Tasmanians to the Mole Creek area is thought to date back some 10,000 years. European settlers found Marakoopa and King Solomon's Caves in the early 20th century by two boys who initially kept them a secret. The caves were soon opened to tourists, with the boys operating tours with bicycle lamps to light up the dark caverns.
It's a little off the beaten track, but the Mole Creek caves are well worth the visit. It's important not to touch anything – the caves have been around for thousands of years and they're worth protecting. But as far as top tourist destinations in Tasmania, Marakoopa has got to top the list.