Viewing fossils in mammoth Cave Credit Rachel Claire

Hidden along Caves Road sits the majestic Mammoth Cave.

Once called The Dawn of Creation, the enormous grotto is well-known for its many stalactites and stalagmites that hang from the ceiling and stand tall from the floor. But it is also home of fascinating evidence of the extinct Megafauna that once roamed the region.

Mammoth Cave Child Friendly
Mammoth Cave is one of the most universally accessible caves in the region, making it great for the whole family. Photo credit Tim Campbell.

Mammoth Cave is in the history books as the first fully self-guided audio tour in the world.

After collecting a pair of headphones at the entrance and walking into the cave, the first thing you may notice (other than the sheer size of the cave) is the temperature. It’s usually a couple of degrees colder inside the cave compared to the outside air, making it a very welcome reprieve from the heat in the summer months.

Inside Mamoth Cave, Credit Tim Campbell
The sheer size and beauty of the natural geological formations are awe-inspiring. Photo credit Tim Campbell.

One natural feature that not everyone gets to see is the stream that flows through the cave in the winter and spring months.

“It’s beautiful when it’s flowing,” says Andrew Green, Site Manager of Mammoth and Lake Caves. “And once it’s going, it’s going until late October, early November.”

When the autumn and winter rains fill up the swamps of the Nindup Plains, the water begins to spill over to start Mammoth Stream flowing again.

The stream winds its way down along the forest floor and under the bridge that leads into the cave.

The filling of the stream, which can happen anytime between June and August, can be slow enough to witness says Andrew.

“The first 150-200 mm of autumn rainfall soaks the catchment area, and the next 100-150 mm starts the stream on its way; creeping towards the cave at a metre every ten minutes or so,” says Andrew, who loves his forest-based job of 14 years.

Fossils on display at Mammoth Cave
Learn about the amazing megafauna that once lived here via fun and engaging exhibits. Photo credit Tim Campbell.

The stream bed is wide and flows alongside and under the walkway that leads to the first platform. This first chamber of the cave is accessible by wheelchair, mobility scooter and prams, which means everyone can enjoy Mammoth. Another fantastic bonus is that you don’t necessarily have to go underground. This fact appeals to anyone who may be claustrophobic, new to cave adventures or those travelling with young children.

After the first chamber, there are steps leading to the top platform. In total, there are 540 stairs in the cave, so if you choose to visit it in its entirety, it can be a workout, which is often a good thing whilst on holiday.

“Visitors with limited mobility can choose to do just 40 steps up to the top platform, from where you can see the biggest and most spectacular parts of the cave. It includes the bones and fossils of the megafauna,” says Andrew.

Ascending Stairs at Mammoth Cave. Credit Elements Margaret River
The stairs to the top platform are a good holiday workout. Photo credit Elements Margaret River.

The first piece of megafauna evidence is the jawbone of a zygomatura trilobus, an ancient beast that is comparable to a giant wombat.

Heading further up, there’s a showcase that features bones from an array of species found while making the cave accessible to tourists. The remains include those from koalas and Tasmanian devils  – species that are no longer natural inhabitants of Western Australia.

Between the years of 1909 and 1915 two separate sites in the cave were excavated by WA Museum, and this work resulted in around 10,000 different fossil specimens being uncovered. It’s truly amazing to think about the different animals that used to inhabit the area, many of which are now extinct. It’s like a time capsule into another world.

And it has to be said, the view from this elevated stage is incredible.

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