Visitors to Princess Margaret Rose Cave descend 20 metres underground into an enourmous cavern cut into the surrounding limestone. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Reputed to be the most decorated cave per square meter of any in Australia, it features some of Mother Nature's greatest work including spectacular stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, cave coral and rimstone pools.
The cave is 20 meters underground and approximately 150 meters long. It was formed some 800,000 years ago when river water seeped into a 500 metre long fault line dissolving the limestone and creating calcium carbonate which crystalised when it was exposed to the air. The magnificent formations within the cave have been formed by those crystals and coloured by tannins & minerals from the surface soil carried in by water seepage.
The cave contains an amazing display of Mother Nature's finest work - stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, cave coral and rimstone pools. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
As the moisture drips to the floor below, carbonate adheres to the ceiling and a hollow stalactite is formed. Moisture continues to drip through the stalactite to create a stalagmite building up from the floor.
The cave was discovered by a local farmer, Keith McEachern, in 1936. With the help of three friends, McEachern lowered himself more than 17 metres down a vertical shaft to discover one of nature's great treasures.
First discovered in 1936 it's reputed to be the most decorated cave per square meter of any in Australia. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Over the next 5 years, McEachern and his friends dug a stairwell through the limestone and opened the site to the public as a tourist attraction, commencing guided tours in January 1941.
'McEachern's Hole', the place where local farmer Keith McEachern had himself lowered into a hole in the ground to discover the Princess Margaret Rose Cave. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Walking through the cave, you can't help but be amazed by the spectacularly coloured formations and mind-blowing timeframe of their creation, but I couldn't help wondering what it was that possessed a man having stumbled across a hole in the ground to tie a rope around his waist and be lowered all that way into a pitch black abyss.
Today the cave complex includes an information centre & kiosk, landscaped surrounds and camping facilities including on-site cabins and caravan sites. A River View Nature Walk leads down to a jetty and views of the Glenelg River Gorge.
The Princess Margaret Rose Cave is located at Mumbannar in western Victoria, an idyllic camping spot above the Glenelg River. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
The caves are open daily except Christmas Day and between 9 AM and 12 noon on ANZAC Day. Tours run at 10 AM, 11 AM, 12 noon, 1.30 PM, 2.30 PM, 3.30 PM and 4.30 PM. Winter (June, July & August) tour times are 11 AM, 12 noon, 1 PM, 2 PM and 3 PM.
Tours cost Adults $20, Concession $17, Children under 16 years $13 and Family (2A 3C) $44.
Guided tours take approximately 45-minutes.
Glenelg River Cruises run a 3½-hour return trip between Nelson and the cave site cruising through the stunning Glenelg River Gorge with its spectacular limestone cliffs towering up to 50 metres overhead. Contact the company for full details, cruise schedule and cost.
Getting There …..
The Princess Margaret Rose Cave is at Mumbannar, Victoria, about a 30 minute drive from Mount Gambier and 15 minutes from Nelson.
Why? Don't miss the opportunity to visit one of Australia's most spectacular underground sites, the Princess Margaret Rose Cave, reputed to be the most decorated cave per square meter of any in the country.
When:The cave is open daily except Chirstmas Day and between 9 AM and midday on ANZAC Day. Tours run at 10 AM, 11 AM, 12 noon, 1.30 PM, 2.30 PM, 3.30 PM and 4.30 PM. Winter (June, July & August) tour times are 11 AM, 12 noon, 1 PM, 2 PM and 3 PM.