We’re on the final stage of Jandamarra’s story. After being severely wounded in the siege at Windjana Gorge, Jandamarra retreated into the hills and caves that he knew around the Napier Ranges. One of his hideouts was our next destination – Tunnel Creek. It was from here that he conducted more of his raids on the surrounding properties. The local police for years after had trouble locating him. We’ll soon see why.
We walked along a sandy track, and then around large boulders, down to the cave entrance.
It was cool, wet and sandy inside the cave. In fact, a creek flowed through it (hence the name). It’s a sanctuary also for freshwater crocodiles in places, though we didn’t see any.
The deeper we walked into the cave, the more interesting the cave formations were. There were even some micro bats living in the rafters of some places.
Half-way through, there was a part of the cave that had fallen in, giving us a glimpse of daylight.
And then more daylight – we reached the opposite end and had walked right through the Napier Range! Obviously, Jandamarra used this place to great effect after his raids. So effective was he many people thought that he held supernatural powers.
But he eventually ran out of time. The police eventually found his hideaway, and he was shot dead at the entrance of Tunnel Creek. He might have died almost 120 years ago, but his story has not been forgotten by the Bunuba people. Now others have the opportunity to learn of this piece of Australian history.
One place we visited that had nothing to do with volcanoes was Waitomo Caves. The caves were set in dense rainforest, and is famous for their glow worms. I have been to some of these caves before but since then they have opened up some new caves – we were able to visit three of them.
They weren’t the biggest caves I had ever seen, but they did have some lovely details.
One of them you descend into by a giant corkscrew ramp, and had suspended walkways to keep you above the wet floor. Now that’s engineering.
The Kiwis are good like that, very creative, out of the box thinkers, and you see evidence of it everywhere. Sorry to say, but often Aussies seem like square pegs in comparison.
Well, we’ve come to the end of our geological tour of NZ, and all the travel posts too. I’ll be posting about things much closer to home from now on, which isn’t all bad, because 4 months of travelling was very exhausting.
All too soon, it was time to head back downstream. There was no shortage of people going the other way.
We saw a few interesting things along the way, like an entrapped creature in a spider web.
And cave paintings (Hubby thinks it’s of a turtle).
All in all, it was a lovely afternoon in a wondrous place.
Later in the day we travelled 15 minutes away to Dripstone, to look for more fossils, this time to take home.
We had to look a bit harder among the tall grass for them, but we did find a few things in the end. Like little stromatolites (they are small here, the little circular things).
Corals in different shapes than those at Wellington Caves.
And another block rich in crinoid stems.
There were also caves in the area, although the entrances are so small that no one was willing to climb in.
The proportions of the cave were quite impressive. The stalactites were large and heavy overhead, meaning that they must have formed over hundreds of thousands of years.
There were other interesting formations in the cave that you don’t usually see. We saw lots of evidence of folding.
You have to imagine that these layers were once flat, and that the earth’s forces over time had folded them over each other like pancakes.
I think it’s as impressive a sight as anything in the cave.
I’m back from holidays, and starting where I left off, at Wellington Caves.
We are going into the caves proper for the next couple of posts. Cathedral Cave is the main attraction of the cave system. It is actually only made up of one room, plus a well and an ‘attic’ but the room itself is very impressive.
Look at all the flow stone at the back, like organ pipes. The ceiling is also very high, and so the acoustics are good. Not surprisingly, the space is available for functions – concerts, weddings, etc etc.
The area south west of Wellington is well-known for its caves, even from early colonial times. It was already settled on by the time explorer Thomas Mitchell and his party ventured through in 1835 to trace the course of the Darling River. He was led by the local magistrate, George Rankin, to the caves, where they discovered some peculiar things. But more on that later.
The first thing you notice about the landscape is that it’s, well, lumpy. It’s what is called a karst landscape – the landscape of caves – and apart from the vegetation, it’s similar-looking everywhere you go on earth.
But the interesting things aren’t on the surface, as you might have guessed, but in a WWI phosphate mine. So let’s go underground.
And we finally emerge into the daylight.
Thanks for venturing through Mammoth Cave with me. I’m taking a bit of a break from blogging this week. More from Margaret River mid next week.
Now it’s time to climb back up to the surface. You can see that the tree roots have penetrated this far.
Something you might not see too often – a red stream. The redness comes from the tannins in the soil outside.