20-year cave record smashed

RECORD SMASHED: Visitation numbers at the Naracoorte and Tantanoola caves have soared the past financial year, with the World Heritage Listed site recording 82,000 tickets - smashing its 20-year record of 79,000.

INCREASED demand for regional travel and holidaying at home has resulted in a record-breaking number of people visiting Naracoorte Caves National Park.

The past financial year, Naracoorte Caves set a new benchmark for visitors touring its World Heritage Listed ancient fossil experiences, recording 82,700 tour tickets sold, smashing its 20-year old record of 79,000.

Tantanoola Caves also recorded a significant increase in the number of visitors with 26,000 tour participants, the highest number in many years.

Environment and Water Minister David Speirs said regional tourist destinations across South Australia have been experiencing record levels of popularity.

“This is the most people we’ve seen come through the doors at the Naracoorte and Tantanoola Caves since the Wonambi Fossil Centre opened in 1998,” he said.

“This is an amazing result for tourism in the Limestone Coast and follows a trend across the state with regional South Australia as popular as ever with visitor numbers going through the roof in the past couple of years.

“It continues to provide a significant economic boost to our regions and support local jobs at a time when it is needed most as we continue to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mr Speirs said the site had introduced additional tours to keep up with demand.

“The rise in visitor numbers at the caves also come following recent upgrades to improve site amenities, including the installation of a new playground and added accessible tourism experiences,” he said.

“This is another example of the Marshall Liberal Government investing record amounts in our national parks to boost conservation and improve the visitor experience.”

A new audio-visual tour experience for Victoria Fossil Cave is also due for completion later this year. It will feature animated videos of what extinct animals would have looked like, how they moved, and the environments that they lived in at the time, based on discoveries in the cave’s fossil deposits.

“It’s important that we keep improving the experiences we offer, so we’re also undertaking further research on the scientific aspects of the sites’ outstanding fossil records and working closely with local business and tourism operators,” Minister Speirs said.

Member for MacKillop Nick McBride said the record-breaking year at the Naracoorte and Tantanoola Caves was a welcome boost for the region.

“The caves are a major tourism drawcard for the Limestone Coast region, playing an important role in boosting the regional economy,” he said.

“The surge in tourists have definitely had significant flow-on benefits, with more people staying the night, spending money and supporting local businesses.”

Visit naracoortecaves.sa.gov.au to book tour tickets.