The region from Busselton to Augusta is one of Australia's most cave-rich areas with unique formations accessible to young and old. The entryways into these caves are as amazing as what is inside. Descend and explore them for yourself... 6 of over 100 are open to the public for viewing.
The caves in the Margaret River region are awesome!
Caves form naturally by the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground. The word "cave" can also refer to much smaller openings such as sea caves, rock shelters, and grottos. Speleology is the science of exploration and study of all aspects of caves and the environment that surrounds the caves. Exploring a cave for recreation or science may be called caving, potholing, or spelunking.
Solutional caves are the most frequently occurring caves and such caves form in rock that is soluble, such as limestone. Rock is dissolved by natural acid in groundwater that seeps through bedding-planes, faults, joints and so on. Over geological epochs cracks expand to become caves and cave systems.
The largest and most abundant solutional caves are located in limestone. Limestone dissolves under the action of rainwater and groundwater charged with H2CO3 (carbonic acid) and naturally occurring organic acids. The dissolution process produces a distinctive landform known as karst, characterized by sinkholes, and underground drainage. Limestone caves are often adorned with calcium carbonate formations produced through slow precipitation. These include flowstones, stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, soda straws and columns. These secondary mineral deposits in caves are called speleothems.
Caves are found throughout the world, but only a small portion of them have been explored and documented by cavers. Caves are visited by many surface-living animals, including humans. These are usually relatively short-lived incursions, due to the lack of light and sustenance.
"When water flows down through the ground and into a cave, it dissolves a mineral called calcite (a major building block of limestone) and carries it through cracks in the ceiling. The dripping water leaves behind traces of calcite, which slowly builds up on the ceiling until a stalactite takes shape, hanging down like an icicle.
Water from the end of the stalactite leaves more calcite in a pile on the cave floor, and pretty soon a cone-like stalagmite forms. That’s why stalactites and stalagmites are usually found in pairs. Sometimes they grow together to form a pillar or column."
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