CAPE-TO-CAPE, PART 2: EXPLORING JEWEL CAVE

Feb 19 – An Even Busier Day Between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste after Busy Dunsborough Area Sightseeing

If Feb 18 was a busy sightseeing day for us, and it was, the next day was even busier.  Because we traveled greater distances and saw some true wonders of the world. Screen Shot 2015-03-06 9.41.10 AMLike the clash of two giant oceans at Cape Leeuwin, or the majesty of the Jewel Cave, or the serenity of the giant Karri (tree) forest.

After all that, the Moses Rock, another famous surfing spot on the Indian Ocean side of Caves Road, seemed almost like an afterthought. 🙂 Here’s the part two about that wonderful experience.

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Feb 19, Part 2: Exploring Jewel Cave

What could top the exhilarating experience of standing at Cape Leeuwin between two huge oceans? Not many things in this world. But touring the largest cave in Western Australia which could fit that big Cape Leeuwin lighthouse in its cavern might come as a close second.

The Jewel Cave was the last of the major caves to be discovered (1957).  As a result, it has not been looted by prospectors. The local people saw immediately the cave’s potential to attract interest and visitors from all over Australia and the world. So they preserved and protected the cave environment while making it accessible to public.

Our first stop after our visit to Cape Leeuwin was the Jewel Cave. Jewel is the largest among some 200 caves between the two Capes. Here’s an excerpt from a story about how five ordinary people found this jewel in the middle of the thick Aussie bush.

FINDING THE JEWEL IN THE AUSSIE BUSH (an excerpt)

The year is 1957, and our group consists of five people – Jack and Mary Burrows (who ran a business in Perth), Harley Webster (the Principal of the primary school in Albany), Tony Tapper (an apprentice butcher from Augusta), and Cliff Spackman.

The story goes that our group were spread out in a formation approximately thirty yards across and walking through the scrub, when Harley saw a small group of Peppermint trees that were swaying backwards and forwards, and he called out to the others when he found a small hole in the ground that had a strong blast of air coming out of it.IMG_4485

Everyone knew what this meant – a cave – and they all gathered around it and then dropped a couple of rocks down the hole to see if they could hear how deep it might be. They could hear no sound. So what was the next logical decision? Lower someone down of course!

It was Cliff who went in, having a rope tied around him and then lowered down by the others. It took around 40 feet before he passed through the limestone ceiling and into a cavern below. When he passed through the ceiling, and was dangling at the top of the cavern, Cliff could see below him a huge pile of red soil that obviously had washed down the hole over the centuries. He called to the others to lower him down further, and he eventually reached the cavern floor. It was quite clear to Cliff that no person had ever entered the cave before.

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Cliff looked around for about half an hour, noting some of the fantastic groups of cave formations, and some water. Overall it was a very large cave system.

He was lifted back up out of the hole, and the group decided that they would come back later at a more convenient time and with better equipment, such as a caving ladder, and explore it properly. It was decided to keep the location of the cave a secret until then.

And now, here’s the tiny hole through which Cliff got down into the cave.

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But Cliff was not the first visitor to the cave. Some 10,000 years ago, a Tasmanian Devil fell into the cave through this hole.  And that’s the last we’ve heard of it until the humans discovered its remains half a century ago.  Elizabeth and I saw them, too.  They did not look nearly as menacing as this file photo (right).Tasmanian Devil

We spent over an hour inside the cave, guided by an expert paleontologist. It was a fascinating experience, especially coming on the heels of the amazing ocean energy of Cape Leeuwin.  Here are some of the scenes we recorded inside the cave.

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[TO BE CONTINUED… BORANUP KARRY FOREST, MOSES POINT, ANCIENT GREECE AT DRIFTWOOD WINERY NEXT]

 

 

 

 

 

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