Naracoorte

Naracoorte

Naracoorte


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"Naracoorte (population 5000) is a medium-sized rural town in South Australia's Limestone Coast region, approximately 330 km South East of Adelaide, Australia, on the Riddoch Highway about half-way between Bordertown and Mount Gambier.

History

Naracoorte was formed from the merger of two towns,

  • Kincraig, founded in 1845 by explorer William Macintosh, a prosperous Scot who owned most of the land around the site of the present town.
  • Narracoorte, established as a government settlement in 1847.

It wasn’t until 1869 that Kincraig officially became Naracoorte. At the time it was recorded that ‘Kincraig, Narracoorte, Skyetown and Mosquito Plains … these several names refer to one township …’ had decided to adopt one name ‘Narracoorte’. Even that spelling would eventually change.

‘Naracoorte’ is believed to be derived from the Aboriginal words for place of running water or large waterhole. It grew during the 1850s as a service town for people going to and from the Victorian gold rush.

Local government was proclaimed 1870. First Newspaper 1875. Railway 1876. Municipality 1924.

Today


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The town historically has relied largely on sheep and cattle farming, however tourism now becomes the major industry in the area. With the promotion of the World Heritage-listed Naracoorte Caves National Park.

As well as the internationally-recognised wetland, Bool Lagoon. Narracoorte also receives a substantial number of visitors due to its proximity to the Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, and Padthaway wine regions."

Naracoorte Caves Conservation Park

On the eastern outskirts of town Caves Road heads south-east for 11km to Naracoorte Caves Park. It is one of only three fossil sites in the country to be given an official World Heritage Listing because fossils, dating back 170 000 years and ranging from tiny frogs to megafauna, have been found in the area. It is recognised as one of the richest collections of Pleistocene fossils in the world. Today the caves are an important breeding site for bent-wing bats.

There are 60 caves in a 25 km area. Because the land is relatively flat many of the caves are simply nothing more than holes in the ground. However there are now four caves which are open for inspection and which guided tours occur on a daily basis. There is also a single self-guided tour cave.

In recent times considerable funds have been spent upgrading the facilities. In December 1998 a $4 million Wonambi Fossil Centre was opened. It features robotic recreations of the animals which have been found as fossils in the caves which allows the visitor to get some idea of what the ancient marsupial lion and giant echidna actually looked like. There are 17 robotic animals.

Alexandra Cave

Located next to the park headquarters it is 210 metres long and was first discovered in 1908 by the forester, W. Reddan. It is recognised as containing the most beautiful limestone formations in the district. It has the full range of stalactites, stalagmites, helactites, straws, columns and flow stone. The cave’s major attractions include the ‘Mirror Pool’ (stalactites, straws, white flowstone), ‘Shower Pool ’ (superb display of straws), ‘Wedding Cake’ and the ‘Butcher’s Shop’.

Victoria Fossil Cave

In terms of fossils the Victoria Fossil Cave has been a rich source with bones and fossils revealing the presence of giant kangaroos, large marsupial lions and giant wombats which once roamed the area and presumably fell into the caves. Ninety-three different species of mammals, reptiles, birds and frogs have now been found in the cave. It was not discovered until 1969 when members of the Caves Exploration Group of South Australia squeezed through a 25 cm hole and found the fossils. Although, to be fair, the main part of the cave had been open to the public since 1897 having been found three years before. The fossil section of the cave was open to the public in 1971.

Blanche Cave

The first cave in the complex to be discovered. It was found by a group of local settlers who were trying to recover some sheep which had been stolen by local Aborigines. It is known that Benjamin Sanders, a local station manager, actually found some of his sheep in the cave. Around this time the body of an Aborigine was also found in the cave. The body had been there so long it had become calcified and consequently it became known as the ‘Petrified Native’. The body was stolen by a showman and put on display. He was caught. The body was returned but, according to folklore, the showman came and stole it again. It has never been recovered. It has been damaged because, as early as the 1860s, it was being used for parties. There are still old benches and stools at the entrance. It wasn’t until 1885 that the government showed any interest in preserving the cave. The cave’s main features include features known as ‘The Ram’, ‘The Post Office’ and ‘The Big Column’.

Bat Cave

Widely recognised as a significant nursery chamber for the bent-wing bat. The cave now has a unique Teleview Centre where visitors, via a closed circuit television, can watch the 300,000 bats which use the cave for their breeding. These remarkable creatures head off each night on eating forays (they can eat up to half their bodyweight every day) and during the Christmas holidays there are special evening tours to watch them leaving the cave.

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