If you would like to go tomb raiding, the Witchcliffe area is the place for you. Witchcliffe has the most extensive caving area in the south-west of the State. You will probably need a guide to find many of the caves and it is important to contact the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) before you begin to explore them, as many require permits to access.
Whilst visiting the caves, remember to stay clear of any cordoned off areas as they are probably dig areas of science or university groups.
Found above Boodjidup Brook at Devil’s Pool, is the old Witchcliffe tourist cave. It was believed that the cave was discovered and named by Alfred Bussell and his family. The nearby town was also believed to be named in its honour. The cave entrance can be found at the west end of Devil’s Pool, near an overhang. Stairs lead to the entrance above the overhang, but it is wise to take a guide to find it.
Located near the Boranup Camp Site, this is quite a large cave. There are several other interesting caves such as Dingo, Nannup, Strong’s, Crystal and Arumvale caves also within walking distance of the camp site.
The Boranup Camp site is found off Bussell Highway. Turn right off Bussell Highway at Witchcliffe, travel down Redgate Road and turn left onto Caves Road. Follow the road passing Calgardup, Mammoth and Giants Cave before, veering right to Boranup Drive. The campsite is only a short distance into the forest. There are signs to show the way.
Prepare to get wet! This cave is one of the finest stream caves in the area. It has a small doline (sinkhole) with a vertical shaft. The passage inside the cave is low and there are sections that must be carefully negotiated. The cave features the world’s longest straw in the terminal chamber, calcified bones in the cave walls and a large mass of crystalline formation of white calcite.
Found downstream from Strong’s Cave , Dingo Cave was originally part of the Strong’s Cave, but has been separated by collapses over the years. If you look around the cave closely you can find a bat partly entombed in flowstone (charming!).
Arumvale Pipe and Arumvale Cave
Grab your abseiling ropes for the Arumvale Pipe which is located about 3km from the Boranup camp site. The Arumvale Cave is a little further up the hill and be warned the entrance is very unstable. You will need several ladders to reach the 57m it takes to get to the bottom. The cave is muddy and wet in parts, so be prepared to get wet, very wet.
The Devil’s Lair cave is probably the most significant of the caves in the area. In 1972 a group of scientists excavated the cave and discovered bone fragments of five extinct animals, one of those being the Tasmanian Tiger.
In 1976, human remains were found and following intensive testing it was suggested that the bones could date back as far as 12,000 years. This suggesting that aboriginals were living in the area longer than first thought. Wall markings inside the cave are some of the earliest rock art discovered in Australia.
Bride Cave was named in honour of Grace Bussell’s daughter, Deborah, when she married Winthrop Hackett, in 1905. The ex -tourist cave can be found along Caves Road. The cave has a pitch of over 50m, with the cave found at the bottom.
Bride Cave is a popular abseiling cave and requires a permit . Some areas of the cave are cordoned off for restoration purposes, so stay well clesr.
Once a tourist cave, Milligan’s Cave now requires a guide, not only to find it, but to assist in descending into the entrance. Caving equipment is essential as it has a 6m entrance pitch. The cave has great examples of calcified tree roots.
Discovered by Grace Bussell in 1870, the Wallcliffe Cave was also once a tourist cave. The cave is located at the back of Wallcliffe House. Sadly, the cave has been badly vandalised by graffiti.
Blackboy Hollow Cave
Named after the grass trees (blackboys) in the area, the Blackboy Hollow Cave is located 2km from Boodjidup Brook. A cave permit is required before you can enter the cave, as the entrance is locked. The key is available at CALM Office in Margaret River. You will also need equipment to descend the 6m entrance shaft.
Discovered in 1975 the Beenup Cave can be found on the hill overlooking Prevelly Park Caravan Park. It is 300m long and requires no equipment. In the same area is the Rainbow and Foxhole Caves.
Tourist Caves of Margaret River
Now if you don’t know how to abseil, don’t have a permit and don’t want to get down and dirty in the Witchcliffe caves, there are several tourist caves along Caves Road that have safe walkways and lighting.
If you would like a guided tour of the caves with a professional Tomb Raider, book in with Margaret River Climbing Co.