Can’t face getting another year older? Go underground… Literally!
Last week it was my birthday, I like to say that I turned 29, but I’ve been turning 29 for a few years now. Truthfully, I don’t like birthdays very much, and with each passing year I realise more and more why my Grandmother lied about her age. By the time she passed away, Grandma was at least 20 years younger! Knowing how much I enjoy birthdays, and that I definitely would not want a present (no room in the backpack for more stuff!) Simon suggested we organise a trip to do something special to mark the day instead, and I think it may just have been my best birthday yet!
We decided to take a little road trip just over the border into Victoria, to the stunning East Gippsland. You can read more about our road trip here, really, go and read all about it, because we think it was the most AMAZING road trip we have ever taken. Hours and hours of spectacular scenery along a ‘heart in your mouth’ road, what’s not to love? On the second day of our road trip, my birthday, we organised to explore the Buchan Caves.
The caves at Buchan are ancient. It took thousands of years for an underground river to carve out the hundreds of caves in East Gippsland, where they are most prolific due to the limestone rock that was laid down in the area about 300 – 400 million years ago. What makes the Buchan Caves so spectacular though, is how well decorated they are with stalactites (from the ceiling) and stalagmites (on the ground) which have been caused by water dripping through the limestone over thousands of years and leaving deposits of calcite.
Guided tours through the two largest caves are offered by Parks Victoria 3 times a day for small groups. Visitors are not permitted in the caves without a tour, as their interior is just so precious. Each tour is about an hour long, and tickets are available for a single cave or a combination to both. We did both, and whilst the second was a little repetitive, we are very glad that we did. Hearing about the cave formation twice really helped our kids (and us!) learn lots of geology that we might have missed otherwise. Combination Family tickets to both caves is $85.
We stayed at the Buchan Caves Reserve, in the cave grounds, and we are really glad that we did. The campground is one of the loveliest that we have seen anywhere in Australia. Campsites are under tall shady trees, in green manicured grounds, with a gorgeous stream running nearby. The facilities were very good and for those without tents or caravans, cabins are available for hire as well as permanent ‘Wilderness Retreats’. These are like the luxury tents that we stayed in at Tanja Lagoon Camp. This time, we hired an ensuite cabin for around $85 for the night, it was very warm and comfortable. Those looking to book, should note that the website stated that we needed to bring our own bedding linen, but on arrival we found that the double bed was freshly made up and there was sheets and blankets available in the cupboard for at least 2 of the singles.
From the campground there are walking tracks to a nearby waterfall and beautifully forested areas. The Buchan Cave Reserve is a wonderfully peaceful spot. In the week that we stayed just before the September school holidays there were only a handful of campers, so the sounds of birdlife and running water prevailed. The visitor centre is also very informative and houses a gift store as well. The staff at the Buchan Caves Reserve were also really welcoming and helpful, we had really positive interactions with all of them. In fact, we were in a bit of a panic coming down from the mountains toward Buchan when we realised that we would not make the 5pm check-in time, and we didn’t have mobile phone coverage to call ahead and let the rangers know. But, alas, we arrived a 5.45pm to find the lights on in our cabin and the key in the door waiting for us!
If you are considering doing a road trip in East Gippsland, or just find yourself in the area, we would highly recommend a visit to the Buchan Caves. Our day there was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend my birthday, providing us with fabulous family memories we will recall for years to come.
Have you ever been inside a cave? It wasn’t at all scary, but really, really interesting!