Bates Cave

Mulkas Cave

Useful Information

Location: North of Hyden in hills called the Humps.
From Hyden Highway 40 east 1.7 km, turn left on Lovering road, after 17 km turn left on Bated Road and again left after 1.5 km to the parking lot. 150 m/5 minutes walk.
(-32.3154137, 118.9618247)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyTectonic cave
Light: none, bring torch
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Hyden Tourist Information Centre, Wave Rock Wildfower Shop, Hyden WA 6359, Tel: +61-8-9880-5182, Fax: +61-8-9880-5165.
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.



Bates Cave contains Aboriginal rock paintings and handprints. It is located in an arid area which is characterized by huge granite boulders. There are rocks of various forms, which are the topic of fantasy and legends. The cave is formed by a huge boulder which covers a sort of horizontal gap. It is a so-called tectonic cave, the bolder was formed by erosion and night frosts, but some time it collapsed, and the mechanical movement lead to the formation of the small cave. This cave, known to the Aboriginals for a very long time, was an important stop on the dreampaths. However, during the last centuries it was avoided. The cave was called Mulkas Cave, after an Aboriginal legend, but today it is known as Bates Cave. It is a very significant site in the Nyoongar Dreaming.

A charrnok, a giant evil spirit, called Mulkin-Jal-la (Mulka the Terrible) lived in the cave, which was named Mulkas Cave. Mulka's mother had been falling in love with a warrior from a forbidden tribe. Her child from this forbidden relation was a devil child who became known as Mulkin-Jal-la. Mulka became known throughout the area as a murderer and a cannibal. He lived in this cave and left the imprints of his hands on the walls. When his mother chided him for eating children, he killed her. Finally, he was hunted down and killed by the tribe near Dumbleyung. The whole area was then declared taboo, and the early settlers saw no evidence of recent inhabitation when they first arrived.

Aboriginal legend.

A couple of charrnoks was living in a cave. The woman went from kallep (camp fire) to kallep stealing koolongurs (children). She was very tall and had very long white hair, which she used as a kind of net to store the children in, so she had her hands free to gather more. She brought the children to her man to Mulka Cave, who eat them.

The spirit people turned themselves into Coolbardies, a totem of the magpie, flying at her in a flock. A great fight followed all over the Bibbulmun nation. Some of the children fell out of her hair and onto the ground. When they hit the ground they turned into bwia-ee-koolongur-nyinna (stones where the little babies fell). The woman finally vanished into the sky by using Wave Rock as a trampoline, and is now visible during the night as her hair makes up the Milky Way. The children, still caught in her hair, are the stars.

Her charrnok husband had fled to the south, but he was also attacked by the coolbardies. They fought around Lake Grace and Dumbleyung. When they reached Katanning, he was bleeding very badly. In a final battle, half of the people attacked him from above still in the magpie totem disguise. The other half ran with spears, axes and sticks on the ground and beat the terrible giant to death. They dismembered him and distributed his body parts far apart, in order to prevent him from putting himself together again.

Nyoongar Dreaming, Aboriginal legend.

Hyden, the next village from Bates Cave, is primarly famous for Wave Rock. We do not list this place, as it is not a cave and not underground, but we think it is one of the most impressive geologic sites on earth and definitely a don't miss if travelling to Western Australia. Wave rock is an erosional formation consisting of granite. By coincidence, it looks like an enormous petrified wave.