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Hollow Mountain
Photograph: Visit Victoria

The best caves to explore in Victoria

The state is filled with magnificent underground haunts – here are our picks

By Phoebe Humphrey and Nicola Dowse
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Victoria is filled with natural wonders, including many that exist beneath our feet. Our state's cave systems are filled with everything from limestone stalactites to phosphorus glow worms while offering a quiet change of scenery from the hustle and bustle.

These cool, calm and cavernous spaces are a great way to adventure outside the city, either on a tour or with friends. Here's where to head underground and explore caves in Victoria.

Prefer to venture forth above ground? These are the best day trips from Melbourne.

The best caves in Victoria

Stalagmites and Stalactites at Buchan Caves Reserve
Stalagmites and Stalactites at Buchan Caves Reserve
Photograph: Parks Victoria

Buchan Caves

Attractions

Where is it: East Gippsland, a four-hour drive from Melbourne.

The cave: The Buchan Caves are a set of limestone caves that have to be seen to be believed. Researchers have dated the caves back to the Devonian period (300-400 million years ago) and were formed by underground rivers cutting through layers and layers of limestone rock. Visitors can get up close and personal with the calcite-rimmed pools of Royal Cave and the incredible stalactites and stalagmites of Fairy Cave, which make up the Buchan Caves Reserve. Guided tours are conducted daily, with all caves fitted with walkways and lighting for easy (wheelchair) access. 

While in the area: The Spring Creek Walk in the reserve is a great way to see limestone and volcanic rock without having to go underground, keep a lookout for echidnas, lyrebirds and wallabies on this trail.

Note: At the time of writing, there are partial closures at Buchan Caves Reserve. Check with Parks Victoria before heading out.

Hollow Mountain Grampians National Park
Hollow Mountain Grampians National Park
Photograph: Supplied

Hollow Mountain

Where is it: In the north part of Grampians National Park, a three-hour drive from Melbourne.

The cave: Hollow Mountain (Wudjub-guyan) is one of the most popular spots for hiking and rock climbing in Victoria. The walk to the summit is just over two kilometres return and is quite steep, but the view of Mount Stapylton is your reward for the trek. The scenic walk takes you through a number of caves and overhangs where you might see some adventurous boulderers. The mountain caves also feature Indigenous rock art – the Grampians are actually home to 86 per cent of all rock art in Victoria. 

While in the area: Head south for 40 minutes and grab some ice cream in Halls Gap

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Person taking a photo inside a cave filled with stalactites
Person taking a photo inside a cave filled with stalactites
Photograph: Visit Victoria

Princess Margaret Rose Cave

Where is it: Lower Glenelg National Park, four hours west of Melbourne.

The cave: The cave is often described as the “jewel in the crown” as it is the most decorated cave in Australia. The constant dripping of rainwater formed the underground cavern, and the different colours of the cave come from years of minerals washing down from above. The cave has everything from stalactites to helictites as well as a series of rimstone pools and cave coral. There are 65 steps down to the cave, with no accessibility for wheelchairs. 

While in the area: Head over the South Australian border to Mount Gambier and check out the creatively named Blue Lake. The lake inhabits a volcanic crater and goes from a steel grey in the winter, to cobalt blue in the summer months due to the temperature of the water.

Note: At the time of writing, the Princess Margaret Rose Cave is closed to the public. Check with the website for up-to-date information.

A tunnel
A tunnel
Photograph: Nicola Dowse

Karr's Reef Gold Mine

Where is it: Just outside of Yackandandah in Victoria's north-east. 

The cave: This part of Victoria is not wanting for old mining tunnels, but Yackandandah is special. It’s home to Karr's Reef Gold Mine, a 150 metre-long gold mining tunnel carved out meticulously by Cornish tin miners in the late 19th century. Led by Jasper Kerr, these miners used their knowledge of tin mining to trace Yackandandah’s alluvial gold back up to its source in the hills and then pinpoint the exact quartz reef it stemmed from. The only way to visit the mine is with the mine’s owner (and friendly tour operator) Greg Porter.

While in the area: Spend some time in Yackandandah. The small township is filled history, quirky shops and friendly locals. The Karr's Reef Mine Tour can be booked from the visitor's centre and while there it's well worth having a chat with Rod Millchamp (and maybe even going on his Yackandandah Guided Town Walk).

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Byaduk Caves

Where is it: Mount Napier National Park, four hours west of Melbourne.

The cave: Created by one of Australia’s youngest volcanos 10,000 years ago, the lava tunnel cave is an underground chamber 20 metres below the surface. From the top, it doesn’t look like much, but once you're inside you'll see it's filled with stalagmites (as well as bats). The bats don’t like a lot of noise so it's advised you stay quiet while exploring the subterranean space. Make sure you bring a torch, hiking shoes and some extra clothing as it can get chilly on the descent into the cave. 

While in the area: Visit Wannon and Nigretta Falls just north of Hamilton – the falls are at full flow after heavy rain.

Tarragal Caves

Where is it: Cape Bridgewater, five hours west of Melbourne. 

The cave: These limestone caves are a short drive west of Portland, just off the road. If you hike 50 metres up the hill you'll reach the caves that provide great views over the Cape Bridgewater Lakes. The caves aren’t very deep but were once an Indigenous campsite and you can even see some cave sketchings (don't touch). There are six caves to explore, so it’s a great place to hop out of the car and break up a road trip to South Australia.

While in the area: Head to the Petrified Forest to explore a Martian-like landscape on the edge of a cliff. The "forest" is actually a series of limestone tubes that have been hollowed by rainfall.

Brittania Creek Caves

Where is it: Yarra Junction, around 90 minutes east of Melbourne.

The cave: If you're not a fan of confined spaces, this cave definitely isn’t for you. The cave features tight squeezes and layered labyrinths that the creek has carved out over many, many years. The cave is about 15-metres long and has multiple exit points making it ideal for a beginner caving experience and it's essential to pack head torches and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. The glow worms in the caves are the highlight (literally) and will make you feel like you're in another world on your underground adventure. 

While in the area: If you’re up for more adventure, drive 40 minutes to Chum Creek Horse Riding and pick from their variety of trail rides to round out your day.

Labertouche

Where is it: Labertouche, 90 minutes east of Melbourne. 

The cave: Labertouche, like Brittania Creek, is also a confined cave system. Labertouche however, requires a greater level of commitment due to there only being one exit. At its deepest point, the granite boulder cave is 40 metres underground and you will be wading in subterranean waters. Tours do operate in this area and provide guidance and all required equipment for this three-hour endeavour. You'll have to work as a team if you want to conquer the underground labyrinth. 

While in the area: Once finished squeezing into small spaces, take a 30-minute drive down the road and fill up on meals made from local produce at Warragul’s Hogget Kitchen.

Then go chase some waterfalls

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