Visit the Stockyard Gully Cave with Jurien Bay Adventure Tours
Visiting Stockyard Gully Cave is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon with Kaas and Michael from Jurien Bay Adventure Tours. Jurien Bay is located 2 1/2 hours drive north of Perth, Western Australia.
The track to the cave is by 4WD only, so it was best to go with the experts. If you have your own 4WD, you can do a drive along with your own vehicle.
Long ago, stockman would use the gully as a holding pen for their cattle overnight on the way from Guildford, near Perth, to Geraldton. The deep and cool gully was an ideal stopping place as only one person was needed to watch the cattle at night.
Now, it is part of the Stockyard Gully Reserve, an area of 1,400 hectares. Many people come here to wander through the walk in cave. At 300 metres long, it follows the curves of past streams as they made their way through these limestone caves.
It is a good idea not to wear a red or yellow hat here as bees make their hives here.
They will think you are a flower and need to be pollinated.
We hiked in along a dry creek bed. The gums were shading us as we walked along.
As we entered the cave the temperate dropped noticeably. It is 21C (70F) in the cave almost year round.
The sand floor increases ½ metre (1.7 feet) a year. Currently it is about 4 metres (13 feet) from floor to ceiling. An estimate is that we are about 10 metres (32 feet) below the surface. Yet, there is no feeling of claustrophobia here. The cave is wide open. Small side tunnels cut through the limestone, but previous investigation has shown they only lead to dead ends.
Kass provided torches for those on the tour, and Michael had a special red lens that would not disturb the bats that live in the cave. I never saw any bats, but we did spot two owls nestled in the rocks. You can just make one out in the middle of the red glow in the photo below.
Swallows also nest in holes in the rocks. Looking up we could see calcified tree roots in the limestone roof.
Michael was a great guide and told stories of past floods here. The water disappears into the underground limestone not out to larger riverways or the sea.
Coming through the cave into the daylight at the other end is almost magical. The colours of the limestone change from almost a pinky brown to bright yellow the closer you get to the end.
Our tour was a 1.3km loop, which included the bushwalk back to the carpark.
You can enter and exit the cave at the same place if you wish. Once out the end, Kass had us scrambling over rocks and tree trunks to steps upwards, further down the track.
This was perfect as it gave us so many opportunities to admire the native flora here. If you stand still you may just hear one of the Carnaby’s cockatoos or fairy wrens that live here. Grey kangaroos also call this area home.
Breathing in the clear air, listening to nature and watching the native trees is bliss. It is peaceful and serene here. Some of the trees grow almost sideways in the gully. They are avoiding the salt laden winds that whip through here. Next to the river and manna gums are salt bushes. These green bushes take the salt out of the water, helping both themselves and the native trees.
Once out of the gully there are many smaller bushes including wattles, parrot bushes, native wisteria and coastal bush daisies. Macrozamias in the area can grow to more than 4 metres tall. Grass trees also dot the landscape. In wildflower season this area comes alive in colour. We were fortunate to see the start of a delicate orchid near the ground.
Kass provided us with water, snacks and torches to use on the tour. Park entry fee is also included. Wear enclosed shoes to the cave, as some of the limestone rocks are quite jagged. The cave walk is not suitable for wheelchairs as you do climb over rocks. The surrounding area is perfect for bush treks. There are public toilets and picnic areas at the reserve.
If you wish to do a similar 4 hour tour contact www.jurienbayadventuretours.com.au
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