Coast & Caves Precinct

Coast and Caves

Coast and Caves

Gannets with Lawrence Rocks off Cape Sir William Grant

Gannets with Lawrence Rocks off Cape Sir William Grant

The Island and Coastal formations in the vicinity of Portland are the main volcanic features of this precinct, Geosites are Lady Julia Percy Island, Cape Nelson, Cape Bridgewater and Cape Sir William Grant. Major towns include Portland, Dartmoor and Nelson.

Aerial view of Cape Nelson Coastline

Aerial view of Cape Nelson Coastline

Blowholes at Cape Bridgewater

Blowholes at Cape Bridgewater

Cape Bridgewater and Bridgewater Bay (19)
Situated 18 km from Portland and overlooking beautiful Bridgewater Bay was once a volcanic Island. About 8,000 years ago, rising sea levels built a bridge of sand dunes between Cape Bridgewater Volcanic Island and the mainland. Overtime rainfall and groundwater have hardened these into dunes of sandy limestone. Water percolating through the limestone has created a variety of formations including the Petrified Forest, Limestone caves, fresh water springs and flowstone. These are some of the natural features of the area which can be observed in volcanic walks. The coastal cliffs of Cape Bridgewater are among the highest on the Victorian Coast and display remnants of volcanic action including lava pipes and caves. An Australian Fur Seal Colony living in the caves can be viewed by boat tour or by completing a two hour return walk.

Petrified forest at Cape Bridgewater

Petrified forest at Cape Bridgewater

Petrified Forest (58)
A walk from The Blowholes leads past the ‘Petrified Forest’ which is thought to have developed when a Moonah forest was smothered by a large sand dune, creating unusual sandstone formations around the decaying tree trunks.

Petrified forest at Cape Bridgewater

Petrified forest at Cape Bridgewater

Mount Richmond (20)
A n extinct volcano surrounded by low, flat land. Mount Richmond consists not of basalt but of porous rock called tuff, which was formed when the volcanic ash gradually hardened over two million years ago. Apart from the occasional outcrops of basalt near the summit, the volcanic geology is almost entirely buried by dune limestone and sand blown inland long ago from Discovery Bay. Noted for its flora and fauna, the park is covered with forest, open heath and scattered swamps. Various walks and picnic areas are available.

Princess Margaret Rose Cave (17)
Of the many limestone caves in Lower Glenelg National Park, the Princess Margaret Rose Cave is the most attractive and the only cave suitable for public use. It contains excellent examples of actively growing stalactites, stalagmites, helictites and other spectacular limestone formations.
For current tour times and prices go to http://www.princessmargaretrosecave.com

Cave Tours
Guided tours lasting about half an hour are conducted on most days. An admission charge applies. The number of tours per day varies according to the season. Contact the Caves Information Centre for details on (08) 8738 4171
Tours are not conducted on Christmas Day or during maintenance of the cave.

School groups, provided they book in advance, will be admitted for the child rate (under 14). Bus tours should advise the cave ranger in advance.

Tours are limited to a maximum of 85 people.

A comprehensive display and audio-visual presentation in the Information Centre at the cave entrance tells the story of the cave. Souvenir booklets and other publications are available.

Commercial boat tours operate to the caves from Nelson. Small boats can be moored at the caves jetty.

Facilities
A large picnic area has been developed among the trees near the cave. Wood barbecues, picnic tables and toilets are provided.
A limited number of sites are available for overnight camping. Arrangements must be made with the ranger before 5:00 PM.
Three motor cabins are available for overnight accommodation. For booking details and fees contact

How to get there
The caves are two kilometres east of the South Australian border and can be reached by a sealed road from Mt Gambier or unsealed roads from Nelson and Dartmoor.

Glenelg River Gorge (18)
The Glenelg River rises in the Grampians and winds 400km to the sea, over the last 15 km the Glenelg River has carved a 50m deep spectacular gorge through limestone. The river offers excellent opportunities for flat water canoeing over the 75 km from Dartmoor to its mouth, near Nelson. For much of this distance the river flows through the Lower Glenelg National Park, enabling water enthusiasts to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. This area is great for single or multi-day canoe camping trips with excellent places to camp in one of the many riverside camp sites. Swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, power boating, walking, bird watching opportunities abound.

Coastline at Discovery Bay

Coastline at Discovery Bay

The Great South West Walk
The Great South West Walk constitutes more than 250 km of circular walking track which starts and finishes at Portland. Constructed by community groups it initially heads north through farmland, veering westwards through native forests and the Lower Glenelg National Park, following the southern bank of the Glenelg River to its mouth near Nelson, and then returning eastwards along the coastline through Discovery Bay National Park, with optional detours past Lake Monibeong and to Mt Richmond. It then leads to Descartes Bay and around Cape Bridgewater, past The Springs, the Petrified Forest, the seal colony, Bridgewater Bay, Cape Nelson, Point Danger and back to Portland. Sections are accessible by car to allow shorter day or weekend walks. The best times are from October to December or late March to early June. A detailed brochure is available from Parks Victoria offices. There are canoeing opportunities and numerous camping spots.

Southern Right Whale and calf in Bridgewater Bay - Photo: Bob McPherson 2009

Southern Right Whale and calf in Bridgewater Bay - Photo: Bob McPherson 2009


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