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Australia's Coastal and Sea Caves




Talia Caves (SA)



On the dramatic dramatic west coast of South Australia's Eyre Peninsula, 18 km south of Port Kenny is a small town named Talia. The town was surveyed in 1882. The school opened in 1889 and the local hall was built in 1895. Looking at the town today it is hard to imagine that as late as the 1940s Talia was a thriving settlement. Six km out of Talia (on a road which runs from the town across to the coast) are the Talia Caves. The caves are in fact deeply eroded intents into the limestone cliff face. The main caves are Woolshed Cave and The Tub (right). The latter is a collapsed cave where only the cave walls and entry arch from the sea remain.
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  • Admirals Arch (SA)



    Cape du Couedic on Kangaroo Island is one of the most rugged, picturesque sections of the island's coastline. Protected by Flinders Chase National Park, it can be reached via a viewing platform and boardwalk around the cliff face which leads visitors to the spectacular natural arch sculptured by the sea, where New Zealand fur seals can be seen frolicking in the surf or resting on the rocks. Though its entrance is arch-shaped, Admirals Arch is in fact an open cave formed when part of the cliff collapsed into the sea. Nearby is Remarkable Rocks, another of nature's wild sculptures, the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and Light keepers cottages and Weirs Cove, the original landing site for the lighthouse settlement.
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    • Remarkable Cave (Tas)



      There are some beautiful bays around the Tasman peninsula, as well as some unique and amazing rock formations. Beyond the Port Arthur historical site is Maingon Bay and perhaps the most remarkable feature on the peninsula, the appropriately named Remarkable Cave. It is remarkable not only for its unique form, but also because its opening, when viewed from the observation platform, is the shape of Tasmania (see photo right). The cave is today a deep rock bridge carved out of the sandstone cliff face, but it was once a deep cave. The viewing platform at the bottom of steep stairs is where the back of the cave collapsed. The debris has long since been washed out to sea except for the large sea-smoothed boulders that remain in the hollow. Unlike most sea caves, Remarkable Cave has two entrances which were created by erosion along fractures created by ancient earthquakes.
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      • Bruny Island Sea Caves (Tas)



        All the caves on these pages are magnificent examples of the beauty of nature, but few compare with the breathtaking majesty of a series of sea caves found along the rocky coastline of Tasmania's South Bruny Island and Tasman Peninsula. 'Breathtaking' is an over-used word used to describe Australia's scenery, but when applied to these giant coastal caverns, it is totally appropriate. The only way to see these caves is by boat; small cruisers take tourists close to the huge caves carved by the wind and surf out of the cliff face but if you prefer to see them at close range, then sea kayak is the only way to go.
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        • Tasman Peninsula Sea Caves (Tas)



          The caves around Deep Glen Bay and Waterfall Bay on the Tasman Peninsula comprise what is considered to be considered one of the best and easily accessible sea cave systems in Australia, being eight minutes from the Eaglehawk Neck jetty by sea. Tasmania s largest sea cave system, it hosts an incredible array of temperate water invertebrates that can only be found at depth or in caves. A guided dive here offers spectacular diving for a range of abilities. There is a massive entrance to Cathedral Cave, whose base is at 21 metres. This extends to smaller caverns with hundreds of metres of narrow tunnels and cross passageways. The walls are covered with invertebrates typical of temperate waters. Cathedral Cave offers spectacular dive and kayaking photography opportunities. With large reefs and amazing cave life, Waterfall Bay is also one of Tasmania s most popular dive sites for open water certified divers.
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          • Albatross Island Caves (Tas)



            Albatross Island is part of The Hunter Group of Islands which lie in Bass Strait off the north-west tip of Tasmania due south of Geelong, Victoria. The island has four caves, two are concealed by tunnels and easily missed. These caves extend up to 60 metres with ceilings of 15 metres, large enough to accommodate the hundreds of penguins that come ashore to rest there each night. The centre of the island is cut lengthways by a deep gulch which runs through the short axis; one of the caves runs through the long axis. The cave is usually occupied by a few Albatross that have become trapped. It was in this cave that early sealers slaughtered thousands of Albatross in the 1870s.
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            • Rocky Cape National Park Caves (Tas)



              Some of the rocks here are among the oldest in Tasmania, and that over the many billions of years, the coastline has been witness to great changes and still continues to be eroded by the action of water, wind and waves. The most spectacular erosion is that taken place around the caves. Known as sea caves because they were eroded by the sea when it was up to 20 m higher than today, the rocks around Rocky Cape had joints which eroded more rapidly than the surrounding rock, thereby creating caves. When sea levels dropped to where they are today, the caves were left above the shoreline, making them ideal for coastal rock shelters. North Cave is the most easilyaccessible example of the caves. It is about 20 m above sea level. It is amazing to think that caves similar to these are also found beneath the sea, created by wave action when sea levels were lower.
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              • Ravine Des Casoars (SA)



                The first two wilderness protection areas proclaimed in South Australia - Ravine Des Casoars and Cape Gantheaume - are both on Kangaroo Island. It was given its exotic sounding name by French explorer Nicolas Baudin. Whilst charting the Island in 1802, he noted a large number of 'cassowaries'. Literally translated, Ravine des Casoars means 'valley of the cassowaries'. What Baudin actually observed was a large number of the Kangaroo Island Dwarf Emu. Sadly, the Dwarf Emu became extinct between 1802 and official European settlement in 1836. Bushfires and hunting by sealers or whalers are possible explanations for the demise of this unique bird. The walking track to the sea caves is approximately four kilometres long (8 km return - allow 4 hours), and passes through low mallee vegetation before reaching a panoramic viewpoint. The trail then descends steeply to a small creek, before opening onto a narrow, sandy beach. The beach is flanked by low limestone cliffs which have been constantly exposed to wind and waves. Large caves have been formed, which are home to numerous little (fairy) penguins. Visitors to the caves can observe where early visitors wrote on the cave roof with candle soot.
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                • St Peters Island Cave (SA)



                  St Peters Island is located approximately 7 km from Thevenard, south of Ceduna on the Eyre Peninsula. The Island is off Denial Bay, located between the Fowlers Bay and Point Collinson Whaling stations and is one of the Islands called Nuyts Archipelago by British explorer Matthew Flinders. A hut and this cave at Bob Bay are believed to have been occupied by either sealers or whalers as evidence of human habitation has been found in it. Hobart-based whalers are believed to have operated a whale fishery at St Peters Island during 1843 and possibly preceding that date. A sealing colony is known to have culled local populations during the 1820s and 1830s. Two vessels, Camilla and Dundee Merchant are believed to have been involved in the whale fishery on the far west coast of South Australia, participating in one or more of the far west coast whaling stations at Fowlers Bay, St Peters Island and Streaky Bay.
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                  • Jacko's Sea Cave (Eden, NSW)


                    Photo: Matthew Skinner

                    Just a few metres off Leatherjacket Point there is a bombora that comes up from more than 20 metres to less than 4 metres. As such, this is a spot that can only be dived in very calm seas. If you are correctly anchored, as you descend you will see a vertical wall that drops from 6 metres down to 17 metres or so. On the way down there is what appears to be at first a large overhang. The overhang is, in fact, a cave that is quite amazing. On entering the cave, it opens up into a huge cavern that can easily accommodate a a couple of large boats. The cave is not all that high, but it is very wide. At the front of the cave there are some small overhangs on either side. Under these you will see cuttlefish and eastern blue devilfish (including a very small juvenile one - extremely cute). On the sand and on the rocks there are dozens of hermit crabs. The cave extends back some 20 metres before opening up to a larger cavern. The depth on this dive ranges from 4 metres on top of the reef, 10 to 15 along the tunnel part of the cave, 17 to 18 at the mouth and a maximum of 22 metres on the sand to the east of the cave.
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                    • Fish Rock Cave (NSW)



                      Fish Rock Cave is a popular dive site in the South West Rocks area of NSW. The surrounds of Fish Rock offer some spectacular dives and opportunities to view the abundant marine life that congregates around the Rock. The craggy island of Fish Rock gives no indication of the splendor that lies underneath. At 120 metres long, and well known as one of the largest ocean caverns in the southern hemisphere, Fish Rock Cave has attracted divers worldwide. At the right time of year, giant cuttlefish lay their eggs in the cave and the huge male is a spectacular sight with his colours flashing. Pop up into the bubble cave for a quick chat before emerging into the light zone.
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                      • Sea Cave (Lake Macquarie, NSW)



                        Caves Beach in the Lake Macquarie area of NSW derives its name from sea caves in the headland at the southern end of the beach. The beach runs for just 300m north to the sandy foreland and Swansea (Hams) Beach. The surf club, a park and parking are located at the southern end. A road runs the length of the beach with additional parking along much of the beach. Though the extensive caves faces the south-east, it is afforded a moderate degree of wave protection by reefs in the centre and north and Spoon Rocks to the south-east. The cave and surrounding rock overhangs can be explored at low tide.
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                        • Cleft Island (Vic)



                          The southernmost part of the Australian mainland, Wilsons Promontory, consists of rugged granite ranges, sloping headlands, coarse sandy coves and picturesque offshore islands. It is the northern-most exposed link in a chain of granite mountains that continues across Bass Strait and onto eastern Tasmania. These mountains rise above the sea in places as islands; they include Cleft, Kanowna, Anser and Wattle Islands. Cleft Island, also known as Skull Rock, gains its name from a huge cave on one side giving the impression of a human skull. Skull Rock is fascinating not only because of its appearance but also because it was proposed in 1853 as one of the sites for a lighthouse (another was Rodondo). Eventually common sense won and the lighthouse was built on the mainland at the less forbidding South East Point in 1859. A painting of the rock dating from the late 19th century, has a caption which declares that the west-facing cave has yet to be explored by man.

                          As foreboding as it appears on the surface, however, Skull Rock is a diver s paradise on the granite walls below. As part of the Anser and Glennie Island groups, Cleft Island is in the middle of Wilson s Promontory Marine National Park where colorful sponge gardens, groupers, and seadragons all thrive in the chilly depths.
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                          • Cape Bridgewater (Vic)



                            The peninsulas forming Cape Bridgewater, Cape Nelson and Cape Grant near Portland, Vic, display magnificent sections of lavas and pyroclastics. The three peninsulas and intervening bays are described as remnants of subsidence calderas that have been eroded by marine action. On the south-western coast is an area where columnar and branching calcrete structures over 1 m high have formed from enlargement and subsequent infilling of hollows and pipes in the dune limestone. These have the appearance of a petrified forest  although they are properly called rhizo-concretions and are not actually fossils. The sea caves in the basalt below the dune limestone contain calcareous accumulations. These result from the action of ground water, enriched in carbonate dissolved from the dune limestone, leaving evaporite deposits where it emerges onto the cliff face or the roof, walls and floor of the cave. One of Cape Bridgewater's most popular treasures is a colony of more than 650 the Australian Fur Seals which live in a large sea cave at Seal Point on Cape Bridgewater.
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                            • Port Campbell National Park (Vic)



                              The cliffs of Loch Ard Gorge in Pt Campbell National Park, Vic, and the entire coastline of this area are composed mainly of horizontally bedded limestone, deposited when the area was under sea millions of years ago. More recently the rock was gently uplifted and exposed to marine erosion. Two small caves are located in Loch Ard Gorge. It is named after the iron clipper Loch Ard which hit the cliffs just in front of the gorge in June 1878. The caves served as shelter for the two survivers Eva Carmichael and Tom Pearce and are named Carmichael Cave and Tom Pearce's Cave. Today there is a geological trail explaining the background of the cave, a blowhole and other interesting features. Another interesting geologic formation nearby is the Grotto, a sink hole alterated by the forces of the sea.
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                              • Angel Cave (Vic)



                                The Cape Schanck area from Fingal Beach to Bushrangers Bay is a relatively undisturbed area with many significant geological features. These include Angel Cave, which is of State significance, coastal cliffs, basalt shore platforms and the trace of Selwyn Fault. Angel Cave is a small sea cave near Cape Schanck on the southern coast of Victoria.
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                                • Steep Island (Vic)



                                  Steep Island is a massive lump of rock which rises steeply out of the waters of Doubtful Bay on Western Australia's Kimberley coast, hence its name. Known as 'Uluru of the Sea', Steep Island, like nearby Raft Point, has many caves along both its shoreline and high up on its rocky crags, which contain galleries of ancient Aboriginal rock art.

                                  Steep Island has great significance to the local Aboriginal peoples. In pre-colonial days, anyoner who broke tribal laws was thrown off Steep Island as punishment. Anyone who survived was deemed to be innocent. Today's members of the Worora tribe are guardians of the many ancient Aboriginal artworks to be found on nearby Steep Island. The collection of galleries, which visitors must trek deep into the bush on this fortress of natural treasures to see, depict supreme spirit ancestors of this tribe, the sacred Wandjina figures. It is believed that if the Wandjina paintings are left to fade, the wet season, which brings food and growth, won t come.

                                  The huge bluff nearby on the mainland nearby that is Raft Point is an example of the ancient, much-weathered sedimentary layering of the King Leopold Sandstone underlain by a massive intrusion of Carson volcanic basalt, all of which is between 1.83 and 1.78 billion years old. A 150m climb up a steep hill reveals a cave that overlooks the mass of Steep Island and more galleries of Wandjina figures.
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                                  • Raft Point sea cave

                                    Bigge Island (WA)



                                    A must-see destination when cruising the Kimberley coastline in the far north of Western Australia, Bigge Island is famous for its sea caves filled with amazing galleries of Aboriginal rock art. Both Gwion Gwion (also known as Bradshaw art) art and Wandjina art is in evidence in the coastal caves of the island. Potentially up to over 50,000 years ago, the Gwion Gwion images are possibly the oldest known to man. The Wandjina figures in the the cliffs and cave walls around Wary Bay, being close to the sea, are known as Kaiaira or Sea Wandjinas.

                                    Bigge Island is part of the Bonaparte Archipelago. The closest inhabited place is Kalumburu located about 100 kilometres to the east of the island group.
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                                    • Wadjina figure in a cave at Wary Bay

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