Mount Etna Caves National Park
Limestone outcrops, decorated caves, rare bats and dry rainforest patches are now protected in a national park that once was the site of Australia’s longest running conservation battle.
Getting there and getting around
Mount Etna Caves National Park is 26km north of Rockhampton and about three hours south of Mackay. Turn off the Bruce Highway 24km north of Rockhampton, or 11km south of Yaamba, to The Caves township. The park entrance and information is a further 2km along the Barmoya Road then Cammoo Caves Road.
Mount Etna's Bat Cleft track, open seasonally, is accessed via Rossmoya Road. Limited parking is offered in this section of the park.
Access to the national park is suitable for conventional vehicles.
Mount Etna Caves National Park protects important roosting caves for some of our significant bats which are easily disturbed by humans. Access to the caves is restricted, and in some caves prohibited, to protect these special bats particularly during their breeding season.
Guided night tours of Mount Etna's Bat Cleft operate every summer, from December to February, when you can see the spectacular nightly emergence of thousands of little bent-wing bats in their search for food.
Limestone outcrops and dense, decorated caves are protected in Mount Etna Caves National Park. Mount Etna is the roosting site for more than 80 percent of Australia's breeding population of little bent-wing bats. It is also one of the few places in Australia supporting a colony of the endangered ghost bat.
The Archer Brothers, who settled in the Rockhampton area in the 1850s, named Mount Etna after the volcano in Sicily. From 1914 to 1939, the caves were mined for guano, a natural fertiliser, and from 1925 for limestone. During World War II, commandos trained here. The park was established in 1975 to protect the caves, and a subsequent campaign to save other caves included the protection of Mount Etna.
The park was once submerged by a shallow sea and has been alternately shaped by, and then starved of, water. Limestone from ancient coral reefs formed the rocky karst seen today. As Mount Etna's landscape has evolved, so too have people's attitudes towards the mountain. Once the focus of Australia's longest conservation dispute, Mount Etna Caves National Park now protects the mountain for future generations.
Things to do
>>Guided tours and talks
>>Picnic and day use areas
>>Never go caving alone. Always go in groups of three or more, with at least one experienced caver, and ensure each member of your group has a reliable torch.
>>Take care at the Bat Cleft cave entrance. The track is steep and can be slippery when wet. The tour group congregates at the entrance and each person in turn is safely harnessed to view the emerging bats more closely. Your cooperation and care is important.
>>Avoid exploring old mine workings. These sites can have hidden dangers.
>>Stay on the track, you may get lost otherwise. Take a map if possible and follow markers and signs carefully. Let someone responsible know your plans in case you do get lost.
>>Be sun-smart. Wear a hat, shirt and sunscreen, even on overcast days, to avoid sunburn. Drink frequently to avoid dehydration.
Looking after the park
Mount Etna Caves National Park helps protect Queensland's wonderful natural diversity and scenery. Please help keep it special by following the guidelines below.
>>Refrain from touching the limestone. These ancient caves took eons to form and are easily damaged.
>>Protect the wildlife. Remember, plants and animals (dead or alive) are protected.
>>Leave no rubbish. Rubbish bins are not provided so take it with you when you leave.
>>Leave pets at home. Pets can kill or frighten wildlife, and could become lost or injured. They are not permitted in national parks.
>>Be considerate. People visit parks and forests to enjoy nature, not noisy visitors or radios.
61 Yeppoon Road, Parkhurst
PO Box 3130, Rockhampton Shopping Fair, North Rockhampton QLD 4701
ph (07) 4936 0511
fax (07) 4936 2212
EPA Customer Service Centre
160 Ann Street, Brisbane
PO Box 15155, City East QLD 4002
ph (07) 3227 8186
fax (07) 3227 8749
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service