|Location:||Mt. Widderin. 5 km south of Skipton, near Ballarat.|
Open day once a year.
yes, used for local projects.
|Address:||Widderin Caves, Mount Widderin Station, Geoff Notman, Tel: +61-3-5340-2018.|
|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.
|1839||locals told about the existence by Aboriginal people.|
|1866||a large bat population disappears and never returns.|
|1890s||famous location for parties and balls.|
|1903||Bella Notman, ancestor of the current owner leaves her name on the walls.|
Widderin Caves are located at the sloped of the (hopefully) extinct, namesake volcano Mt. Widderin. There are three linked chambers, said to be the largest set of volcanic lava caves in the southern hemisphere. We doubt that, but the largest chamber is 100 m long which is quite impressive.
The caves are listed as heritage site, but defenitely not because of aboriginal remains. The natives never entered the caves, although they knew of their existence and told the white settlers about them. But the caves were used by the settlers during the 19th century.
There are numerous names for this cave. All combinations of (Widderin|Skipton)[Lava](Cave|Caves|Cavern|Tube) seem to exist. Obviously the names are derived from the location, Mt. Widderin aka Anderson's Hill, south of Skipton. They are located on private ground, the Mount Widderin Station. The cave is open one day every year, the rest of the year visitors may call the owner and make an appointment. The nominal fee is used as a fundraiser for changing local projects.
The cave has three chambers, soon after the low entrance it opens into the huge First Chamber. The entrance is called the Alice in Wonderland crawl, as it seems like the visitors would crawl into a rabbit hole when entering the cave. On the walls of the First Chamber around the entrance numerous graffitties can be found. Most of them are more than 100 years old, from the days when the cave was popular.
Almost parallel to the First Chamber lies the biggest chamber, the Ballroom. It is called the Ballroom because of its size and fairly flat floor. And it was really used as a ballroom, for New Year's Eve parties and jazz concerts from the 1890s until after the turn of the century. The popularity shrank, but the cave was still used now and then, the current owner had his 21st birthday party here in 1970.
At the far end of the First Chamber starts a passage, which becomes smaller until it becomes a crawl. On the other side is the last Chamber called Lake Chamber. It contains a lake of crystal clear, pure water.
The cave had once a large bat population which produced a thick layer of bat guano. The bats disappeared in 1866 and never returned, the reason is not passed down. But the bat guano was mined in the mid 19th century and used as fertilizer. In the guano several rare phosphate minerals like Dittmarite, Hannayite, Newberyite, and Schertelite were discovered. It is type locale for those four minerals, which made the cave famous among mineralogists and geologists.
Visitors should wear appropriate clothes and probably bring fresh clothes to change afterwards. Sturdy shoes, gloves, helmet and the best torch you own are also a good idea.