Buchan Caves: Victoria's own fantasy land
Once you step inside and begin your gentle descent, it is easy to imagine that you are deep inside the Misty Mountains of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. But this is not the faraway Misty Mountains. This is Victoria’s own Buchan Caves, near the township of Buchan in eastern Victoria.
This destination is ideal for all those hankering after a truly magical experience outdoors. There is nothing like caves, and walking deep under the moist earth, to attain the sense that you are escaping from civilisation and entering an unknown and mystical world.
These spectacular limestone caves are open daily for guided tours. Fairy Cave is a wonderland, scattered with stalactites and stalagmites, the mineral formations that give caves their unique other-worldly appearance. Remember stalactites are the ones that hang down like icicles and stalagmites are the columns that rise from the ground. The Royal Cave is another key attraction, with its water pools that look like they are straight out of a movie set. Together these enchanting caves are a feast for the imagination and adults will suddenly feel like they are ten years old again!
Buchan Caves is the ideal site for families who are taking children into caves for the first time, but they are also spectacular enough to satisfy the appetite of even the keenest geologist. The informative guides will assist you with understanding how these fantastic natural features are made – without spoiling the magic of your cave experience.
No special equipment is required, as the pathways are safe and firm, with handy rails to guide you along. All you need is a sturdy pair of non-slip shoes.
If you are really keen, you can keep an eye out for the special tours that allow occasional access to the Federal Cave, which requires you to wear a protective helmet. Even more excitement! You do need to book in advance for these tours.
The Buchan Caves Reserve is situated inland from Victoria’s Lakes Entrance and makes an easy day trip for holiday-makers. It is also easily accessible for visitors to the Ninety Mile Beach coastline or the Gippsland Lakes.
For cave enthusiasts from Melbourne it is a four and a half hour drive each way, so an overnight stay is highly recommended. Camping sites and cabins are available on site or for those after something a bit more special, there are ‘Wilderness Retreats’ which comprise a luxurious camping experience with queen size bed, doona and fridge all included.
If you do decide to stay for a day or two, there are walking tracks galore to explore through forested areas teeming with wildlife, including kangaroos and hundreds of species of birds. For really hot days, there is even a swimming pool fed by the waters from an underground stream. Buchan Caves Reserve is a truly unique place in Victoria that really does have something for everyone - even for hobbits!