Cathedral Cave

Useful Information

Location: 12 km south-east of Naracoorte.
(-37.037314, 140.798077)
Open: Visitor Center: All year daily 9-17.
Cave Tour: All year daily after appointment.
Fee: closed.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: none, electric hand-held torches provided
Guided tours: max. 10 pers.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: S.P. Brown and Rod T. Wells (2000): A Middle Pleistocene Vertebrate Fossil Assemblage from Cathedral Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia. Trans. Roy. Soc. S.A.
Elizabeth H. Reed (2017): Once More Unto The Deep: Early History of Cathedral Cave, Naracoorte, ACKMA Journal No. 106 March 2017, Project: Naracoorte Caves history and heritage.
Steven Bourne (2001): The development of Cathedral Cave, Naracoorte, as a show cave, In. K. Henderson (ed.) Cave Management in Australasia 14: Proceedings of the fourteenth Australasian conference on cave and karst management, pp 128-133. online
Address: Naracoorte Caves National Park, P.O.Box 134, 89 Wonambi Road, Naracoorte SA 5271, Tel: +61-8760-1210. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1845 presumably discovered shortly after Blanche Cave.
1863 visit by Governor Sir Dominic Daly and other dignitaries.
190? wooden tower constructed which allowed access for all visitors.
~1980 top section of the tower collapsed.
1990s the National Parks and Wildlife Service ran adventure tours at Cathedral Cave.
28-DEC-2000 reopened as a show cave.


Cathedral Cave features an enormous entrance chamber called Cathedral Chamber, which gave the cave its name. It was reached by abseiling one of the two 11 m deep entrance shafts, and so it was only visited by rather few people. But local guides were employing some interesting techniques for getting their visitors into the cave. Normally they were lowered to the floor by rope. A visit by Governor Sir Dominic Daly and other dignitaries in 1863 almost ended in disaster. The idea was to lower the Governor sitting on a chair tied to a rope. The top rail of the chair was too weak to sustain the Governor’s weight. An onlooker noticed this in the last moment and modifications were made, the party completed their visit safely. This story was notable enough, so it was published in a newspaper article.

Around 1900 a wooden tower was constructed, which allowed open access for all visitors. The cave was open for self-guided tours without restrictions, and there were also guided tours. But during the self-guided tours the cave was subject to vandalism, speleothems were broken and souvenired, walls were covered with graffiti using candle smoke or engraving them. Visitors were curious to hear how deep the cave was and threw stones, rubbish and glass down the shaft, which littered the floor of the Cathedral Chamber. But in the first half of the 20th century the interest in some caves waned. The cave was closed and around 1980 the top section of the wooden tower collapsed making it inaccessible again.

The cave was used by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to run adventure tours in the 1990s, which included abseiling down the shaft. This lasted only a short time, the tours were cancelled in 1995 due to safety regulations regarding rope skills. It was quite difficult to decide if users were actually able to abseil the drop when the tickets were sold. This was the time of cave development with the goal of protecting as much of the cave as possible. The aim was, to present the cave as a natural cave, to keep the infrastructure to a minimum, and to offer an experience different to other tours at Naracoorte. Remnants of the old wooden tower were removed and a concrete platform and ladders installed. Debris was removed, also rubbish and graffiti from some sections of the cave. Especially the garbage and the glass which was thrown down was removed, but as it was impossible to remove tons of material from the cave, it was deposited at one place. Speleothems were cleaned from clay, which was a result of cave trekking tours. No light was installed though, to keep the experience as natural as possible, and to not disturb the special atmosphere the natural openings create. In December 2000, the cave was finally reopened.

Cathedral Cave was a rather difficult tour, as it required climbing a ladders 11 m deep to the floor. Thus, the minimum age for the tour was set to 12. It was quite popular in the first weeks, but soon the interest ebbed down and most tours had less than four participants. But the cave was not suitable for tourists, which were not fit enough or had problems with heights. They reduced the tour duration and price, they restricted the tours to weekends, and finally the cave was closed. Today it is not among the official tours at Naracoorte anymore, but as far as we know it is still possible to get a tour by reservation. The cave is not closed, the tours were just discontinued due to lack of interest. However, instead of buying a ticket you have to obtain a permit.