Buchan Caves - VIC

 

Position

DEG: -37.501991 148.160233
DMS: 37º 30' 7.17" S 148º 09' 36.84" E
UTM: 55 H 5848806mN 602552mE
Altitude: 121.47m

Description

Address & Contact

Lousadas Rd
Buchan VIC 3885
Phone: N/A
Email: N/A
Web: N/A

Information

The turn into the caves reserve is only a couple of hundred metres past the store and taken just before the bridge over the Buchan River. The reserve itself is a revelation with acres of grassy green picnic, camping and day visit areas, as well as every amenity for the camper including powered sites, Eco cabins and lodge/cabin type accommodation.

The Caves Reserve History


At some 285ha the Buchan Caves Reserve is situated in the Buchan-Murrindal cave system, a large outcrop of cave and karst-forming limestones in south-eastern Victoria. The earliest known written reference to the caves is in a report of Gippsland written in 1840. The earliest known tourist reference to the caves was in a guide to the Gippsland Lakes in 1886, but the caves were undoubtedly a visitor curiosity long before then.

In 1906 Francis Herbert Arthur (Frank) Moon explored Moon's Cave and was appointed by the Government of Victoria to officially search for new caves. This led to exploration of Kitsons Cave in 1906 and the discovery and exploration of Fairy Cave in 1907. The same year Frederick Wilson was appointed Caves Supervisor, a position he held until 1921. Wilson had experience from managing the popular Jenolan Caves in New South Wales. By the time of the First World War the area was being promoted by the Victorian Railways and the caves were a very popular tourist attraction. Infrastructure works in the caves before the First World War included some lighting and barriers. After the First World War an electric lighting plant was installed, and tunnelling that facilitated a link for Fairy Cave and Royal Cave.
In 1929 Hugh Linaker prepared a landscape plan. Linaker was a landscaping consultant to mental hospitals, prisons and local governments. His plan showed predominantly exotic trees although natives were not entirely excluded. Work on Linaker’s plan proceeded piecemeal, but in 1938 the existing reserves, and a new camping reserve gazetted in 1930, were consolidated into the Buchan Caves National Park.

The entry to Buchan Caves Reserve lies on the south bank of the Buchan River, and is approached through a stone and timber pole archway that was erected in 1938. The entry drive runs parallel to the river, and is lined with London Planes and Poplar’s. At the confluence of Spring Creek and the Buchan River are examples of mature specimen trees, including Cottonwood, (Populus deltoides) and River She-oak (Casuarina cunninghamiana). The drive swings west away from the river and into the Spring Creek Valley. Many of the buildings and facilities constructed along the drive in the 1930’s remain include a manager's residence, tennis courts (now parking area for DSE vehicles), the spring fed swimming pool bridges and camping facilities such as the Campers Kitchen, rotunda and Campers Lounge (Now the information centre).

The valley floor is planted with exotic and native trees to a plan prepared by Hugh Linaker in 1929. Structures from the 1930s period in the valley include the entrance arch, a rustic rotunda, campers kitchen, a campers lounge (now functioning as a visitor centre), and the entrances to Fairy and Royal Caves. Buchan Caves Reserve is aesthetically and scientifically significant for the spectacular caves and geological formations that comprise the underground features of the reserve. Some of this infrastructure was the work of Frederick Wilson, including the stairway entrance and wire netting in Fairy Cave. As an example of early cave infrastructure, these works are rare in Australia.

Discovery and development of the Caves


Frank Moon was contracted by the Victorian Government to locate caves of significance in the state. Caves were a popular tourist attraction at that time. While exploring the area he stopped to investigate a small hole and felt a cool breeze emanating from the hole. With a liberally applied charge of dynamite, Moon enlarged the hole and lowered himself down. Using only a candle for light, he found the amazing wonderland that was to become the fairy cave. Over the next two years, Moon created pathways and stairs within the cave system. In exploring the Fairy Cave, Moon crawled through a hole only some 40 cm wide to locate the initial cavern that would later become known as the Royal Cave (in honour of the royal family who were visiting Australia at that time). A significant tunnel was also hand chiselled to gain access to the western most chamber of the Royal Cave system rather than destroy some magnificent formations to link the Fairy and Royal Caves.

The present cave system was formed over the past million years or so and supported a major underground stream until at some time in the distant past, the water table dropped exposing the current system to air and allowing the amazing calcite growths to begin. This process was aided by the fact that the limestone making up the surrounding rock has a calcium concentration of 54% which is very high in geological terms. It is interesting to note that there is a secondary and equally expansive cave system below the Fairy/Royal systems. The majority of this system is still largely below the water table meaning it is inundated. It is water from this cave system that feeds the swimming pool further along the park.
The National Parks maintain the facility brilliantly and conduct cave tours on a regular basis. The guided tours of the Royal and Fairy caves take approximately 45 – 60 minutes each. Tickets are purchased at the visitor centre which is open from 9:30 am to 3:30 p.m. While there are car parks near the entrance to each cave but they are only a 10 minute walk from the campground. Despite being packed with calcite formations, both caves are distinctly different. The Royal Cave is entered by a long tunnel hand dug from the inside by Moon and his staff. Royal Cave is larger and more open than Fairy Cave having many large caverns but it is it’s calcite rimmed pools of crystal clear water that are most spectacular. Fairy Cave is simply that, a wonderland of calcite shapes where stalactites and stalagmites abound. This cave is a lot more confined than the Royal cave and a good portion of the walk is spent in a crouched or bent over position. Both are simply amazing and the various formations, sheets, lambs ears, tites and mites are tactfully lit to provide a fantastic visual experience.
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Weather

Closest Weather Station

TemperatureFeels LikeRel. HumidityDew PointPressureRainfallWind DirectionWind SpeedGusts

Closest Climatic Station

Mount Nowa Nowa
Distance from Buchan Caves 22.02km S
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C24.824.522.419.215.713.412.914.417.018.921.022.2
Mean Min. °C14.214.212.710.68.67.05.96.37.88.910.911.9
Mean Rain mm56.072.056.576.461.677.262.863.056.069.788.881.3

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