Buchan in East Gippsland is Victoria's most visited karst area. It was first visited by Edward Baylis, the early explorer of East Gippsland in the late 1830s. How the place got its name is unknown, some say it is derived from Aboriginal terms, either buchan buchan, meaning smoke signal expert, or bukkan munjie, meaning the place of the grass bag. The area was first settled around 1840. The first detailed survey was carried out much later in 1899 or 1900. Obviously the caves were noted and used by the explorers and settlers. But soon considerable vandalism took place and so the area of the caves was reserved by the State Government.
The hard Devonian limestone is over 100 meters thick and extends over an area of 15 km by 5 km in a shallow syncline. The main deposit is divided into three regions for the purposes of record keeping. These are
Faulting of the original rock mass has led to the existence of several outlying deposits of the limestone at Gillingal, W Tree, New Guinea Ridge, Jackson's Crossing, The Basin and Mooresford.
The Buchan region contains Victoria's longest cave, the three kilometre long B-4 (the show cave system). The New Guinea Ridge region contains Victoria's deepest cave, NG-1, at 120 meters deep (Matthews, 1985). Buchan Caves Reserve has three show caves, all three caves are parts of the B-4 system. Fairy and Royal caves are toured regularly. The reserve has 60,000 cave visitors per year .
Additional caves in the Buchan area outside the Caves Reserve are: