Tantanoola Cave

Useful Information

Location: East of Tantanoola, off Princess Hwy. Between Millicent and Mt. Gambier, 21 km south east of Millicent, 30 km north west of Mt. Gambier.
Open: All year daily 10:15, 11:15, 12, 13:15, 14, 15, 16.
Extra Tours during busy periods.
Closed 25-DEC.
Fee: Adults AUD 8, Children AUD 5, Concession AUD 6, Family AUD 21, School Group AUD 4.50. [2004]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave Miocene bryozoan dolomite.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: V=20,000/a[2000]
Bibliography: Vivien J Lane-Byrne (2007): Tantanoola Caves / A Boy and a Ferret Find a Cave in Up-and-Down Rocks, Journal of the Sydney Speleological Society Vol 51 (10). pp 299-304 with 7 colour photos and a two page bibliography by Ross Ellis.

Address: Tantanoola Cave Conservation Park, C\- Tantanoola P.O., Tantanoola. SA. 5280, Tel: +61-8-8734-4154.
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.


28-MAR-1930 discovered by Boyce Lane from Tantanoola, while hunting rabbits.
1983 renovation made it Australia's first wheelchair access cave.


Tantanoola Cave, named after the nearby town, is more or less a single big chamber, about 30 m across and 8 m high. It is smaller than other show caves in South Australia, but it is famous for numerous beautiful speleothems. It contains numerous of the rare Speleothemhelictites.

This cave is located inside Up and Down Rock, an ancient marine cliff towering over the highway. The Miocene bryozoan dolomite which underlies the Gambier limestone of the area was once uplifted along the Tartwaup fault-line. During the Pleistocene the sea shore was located right at this dolomite. The sea worked on the rocks and formed a cliff by continually destroying the rocks at the bottom of the cliff with the energy of the waves. This work results in sea caves, overhangs and a cliff face which is always more or less vertical. But then the sea receded, either because the sea level lowered or because the land was uplifted.

Today the cliff is far from the sea, but shells, pebbles and seal bones left behind by the ocean can be found inside Tantanoola Cave, and witness the marine history. The pounding waves of the sea breached entrances to the cave, still it is a karst cave, not a sea cave! The marine sediments entered first through cracks and solution tubes until a larger breach occurred. The material formed a bar, which blocked the entrance off again. Later the speleothems appeared, covering some of the marine deposits and old entrances.

As Tantanoola Cave is rather small, and only a single chamber, there are no narrow passages. So in 1983 the entrance of the cave was lowered and the steps of the path removed. This made it Australia's first wheelchair access cave.