Mole Creek Karst National Park
The Mole Creek Karst National Park was declared in 1996 to provide protection for some of the finest and most visited cave systems in the State, including Marakoopa and King Solomons Cave. Both caves are open to the public, and provide the opportunity to take a deeper look into the fascinating world of 'karst' landscapes.
The Mole Creek area is renowned for its caves. Marakoopa and King Solomons Caves are but two caves in an area that contains over 300 known caves and sinkholes. Other typical karst features in this area include gorges and large underground streams and springs.
Both caves are home to a range of fascinating animals which have evolved features which allow them to adapt to their lightless environments. The glow-worm display in Marakoopa Cave is the largest you'll see in any public access cave anywhere in Australia. For the visitor, the Mole Creek Karst National Park offers a range of activities. Although guided tours of the caves will be high on your agenda, don't miss the opportunity to take a short walk through the beautiful forests in which these caves occur.
Mole Creek Karst National Park is situated in the central north of Tasmania, about 40 minutes drive west of Deloraine. It can reached via the B12 from Deloraine via Mole Creek. The first turnoff is well sign-posted and leads to Marakoopa Cave. The second turnoff is a further 7 km along the B12 and leads to King Solomons Cave. If you plan to visit both caves, remember that it will take about 15 minutes to travel the distance between the two.
When driving at night, please be aware that you are sharing the road with wildlife.
Public transport and tours
Visitors wishing to use public transport or tours to access the park should visit our web page on Access to Tasmania's National Parks, Reserves and Walking Tracks.
Accomodation and Services
There are no camping facilities in the park. Film, postcards and souvineers are available at the caves. Petrol, accomodation and other supplies are available nearby at Mole Creek and Sheffield.
Day visitor facilities
Both caves have toilets, water and picnic shelters. Wood and electric barbeques are available.
A public telephone is located at King Solomons Cave.
Guided Cave Tours
Marakoopa and King Solomons Cave are both open to the public. Both are spectacular and differ greatly in their features.
Marakoopa Cave features two underground streams, a large display of glow-worms, large caverns, rim pools, reflections and shawl and flowstone features. "Marakoopa" is a Tasmanian Aboriginal word meaning handsome. After taking a tour of the cave you will understand why it is so named.
Tours are approximately 45 minutes in duration. There are two unique tours in Marakoopa Cave:
Underground Rivers and Glow-worms
Visit the lower chamber to be dazzled by sparkling crystals and reflective pools of stalactites. Take time to listen to the music of underground creeks and soak up the silence of abandoned river passages. This easy tour caters for all age groups and levels of fitness.
Cathedral, Gardens and Glow-worms
The magnificent cavern known as the 'Great Cathedral' is a highlight not to be missed. The 'Gardens' feature delicate formations and beautiful colours. Medium fitness levels are required to ascend the stairway to the 'Great Cathedral'.
King Solomons Cave
King Solomons Cave is jam packed with features and lavishly decorated with shawls, stalactites and stalagmites. Tours are approximately 45 minutes in duration and cater for all age groups and levels of fitness.
The highlight of any visit to the Mole Creek Karst National Park is a guided tour of Marakoopa or King Solomons Cave, or preferably both!
These, however, are but two caves in an area that contains over 300 known caves and sinkholes, as well as gorges and large underground streams and springs. These features are characteristic of a "karst" landscape. "Karst" is a Slovene/German word which is used to describe landscapes that are developed principally by chemical processes rather than physical processes. Such chemical processes consist of the erosion of limestone rock by acidic water. (Water can become acidic as it moves through vegetation matter on the Earth's surface). While caves and caverns are characteristic features of karst areas, not all karst areas have caves.
Another feature of karst areas is the close relationship between the ground above and the below-ground environments. This means that above-ground activities such as vegetation clearing and the dumping of rubbish generally impact on the cave environment. Where soil is eroded it may be washed underground, clogging cave systems and even altering drainage from farmland paddocks.
How old are the caves?
The Mole Creek caves have a long and complex history. The limestone in which the caves have developed began forming in the Ordovician Period (400-500 million years ago). At that time, Tasmania, as part of Gondwana (a "supercontinent" comprising mainland Australia, South America, Antarctica, India and other southern landmasses) was closer to the equator and covered by a warm and mostly shallow sea. Limestone was deposited in this marine environment mainly as coral reefs, but also in a deeper sea where it formed as the result of the accumulation of microscopic marine organisms. Most of western Tasmania was covered by limestone during this time, but much of it was later covered by younger rock formations.
The processes that give rise to caves and karst features probably began relatively soon after the limestone was deposited. However, the caves we enjoy today started forming in more recent geological times - after streams had cut down through the rocks overlying the limestone at the ground surface.
Evolution of the caves in the Mole Creek area has possibly been influenced by the uplift of the Central Plateau to the south. As Australia began to break away from Antarctica and a circum-polar current was established, glaciers developed in Antarctica and the Tasmanian mountains. Glacial sediments were deposited in the Forth Valley around 30 million years ago and, particularly in the last two million years, there have been a succession of glaciations and intermittently episodes of less severe climate - such as that which we are now experiencing. Meltwaters from glaciers and snowfields probably actively formed some caves, but in other cases caves were blocked by the sediment swept into them. Remains of some of this sediment can be seen in the roof of Marakoopa Cave (above the Coral Gardens).
King Solomons Cave is regarded as a relatively dry cave as it has no stream running through it. A stream has previously flowed through the cave, which was important in the formation of the cave, but this has long since cut deeper into the limestone and abandoned King Solomons.
Life in the Caves
The streams that run into Marakoopa Cave carry many insects and large amounts of plant material which forms the basis of the food web for cave-dwelling animals. Many of these animals show fascinating adaptations for life in an environment where there is no light. Species which never leave their black homes are known as troglobites. As there is no light, troglobites have no need for eyes. Their long appendages, or feelers, help them find their way around.
The glow-worms in Marakoopa Cave are not worms at all, but rather the larval form of a mosquito-like fly. the light is produced by burning waste products in the larvae's excretory organs. Adult females also produce light to attract male flies. The glow-worm display in Marakoopa Cave is the largest you'll see in any public access cave anywhere in Australia.
Other species which occur in Marakoopa Cave include harvestmen, the Tasmanian cave spider and the ancient mountain shrimp (Anaspides).
Mole Creek Caves Office
Mole Creek Karst Office
c/o Post Office
Mole Creek TAS 7304
Phone:03 6363 5182
Fax: (03) 6363 5124
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania