Time seems to always fly by when you’re enjoying yourself so much. Before we knew it, we were halfway into our trip and halfway through our beautiful stay at Merribrook Retreat.
After a sumptuous breakfast as usual courtesy of Lorraine and Richard, we set off for our next destination – Jewel Cave! There are a number of caves in the region of Margaret River such as Lake Cave, Jewel Cave, Mammoth Cave…etc but we can’t possibly cover all of them.
We did a bit of research and found out that Jewel Cave was one of the more popular attractions among all the other caves! They all have their own “special features” and it is ultimately up to you how many you would want to visit.
For example, Jewel Cave is the biggest cave in Western Australia, and it houses the world’s longest stalactite (those tiny small hardened strips of water hanging down from the roof yah?)
Mammoth Cave is a little more unique in the sense that it contains fossils (from perhaps prehistoric animals lol). Apart from this, it doesn’t have any other special attractions that makes it stand out.
Lake Cave, as its name suggests, is one of the more “active” caves in the region. Unlike Jewel and Mammoth Caves, the Lake Cave, as to what we understand, has a larger body of water, forming beautiful reflections of the stalactites hanging from the roof. Unfortunately, global warming and changes in weather patterns have left the Lake Cave quite dry recently, and our tour guide over at Jewel did tell us there is now a water pump installed to pump water back into the cave so that the “infrastructure” and “foundation” of the cave doesn’t get damaged too badly.
We chose to head to Jewel Cave and decided on saving the money for the rest of the 2 other caves for other uses and enjoyment we can have for the rest of the trip! Each ticket would probably set you back by approximately AUD$25, so it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it!
Jewel Cave was just around 45 minutes drive from Merribrook (perhaps 30 from the town of Margaret River), and we opted to travel along the scenic Caves Road.
I can’t explain the various formations inside the caves, having forgotten most of them, so here’re some pictures for you to enjoy!
Jewel Cave also houses the fossil of a Tasmanian tiger which died thousands of years ago inside the depths of the caves when it supposedly slipped and fell through. There were plenty more such instances of animals falling through and not being able to get out – thus unfortunately shivered and died there, but their fossils were all excavated out. We could view the skeleton of the Tasmanian tiger from a high platform – though I didn’t manage to capture it with a camera.
Interestingly, Jewel Cave was named after a rock sculpture that a tourist remarked looked like a jewel box shortly after the cave was opened to public a long time ago. We got to see the “box” too, but our tour guide sarcastically remarked that it looked more like a stack of pancakes to him than a jewel box, to which we all agreed. -.-
Oxygen was limited inside the cave, and we occasionally found ourselves breathless due to the high level of carbon dioxide. So if you’re planning to visit such caves, we found out that the best time to head there is early in the morning when the oxygen levels are high enough and the carbon dioxide levels are low. Tours have been cancelled in the afternoon due to the high level of carbon dioxide inside the caves – which can cause you to think you’re super unfit and leave you panting after climbing just a few flights of steps.
We finished our viewing with Jewel Cave and headed down to the wineries! What’s a visit to Margaret River if you don’t visit a winery right?
We headed for Vasse Felix as recommended by our Merribrook hosts. Vasse Felix has the oldest vines in the Margaret River peel region. Established in 1967, it is oldest and presumably finest winery in the Peel Region area, and is better known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (which we tried later on).
Not knowing much about wines and spirits, we simply just walked in and approached the friendly staff at the counter for a brief “lesson” and wine tasting!
Thanks to the staff there, we had the chance to savour various types of wine – both red and white, ranging from their standard Classic Whites and Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, all the way to their premium Heytesbury going for AUD$90 a bottle! We concluded that we both loved their Sauvignon Blanc Semillon the most, being the “sweetest” and most “fruity” of all!
Did you know fact (info from Wikipedia):
Vasse Felix derived its name from a combination of two parts:
1) Vasse was named after French sailor Thomas Timothee Vasse, who was lost off at sea around the “Naturaliste” cape in the early 1800s.
2) Felix stands for “happy” or “fortunate” in Latin.
The days in Perth were pretty short – shops and outlets close at 5 pm and the sun will start making its way down around 6. We couldn’t really hang out much at night, especially in the area of Margaret River since there’s really nothing to do – so, we headed back to Merribrook to make full use of their kitchen and whip up a simple but yet heartwarming meal!
Coming up, the next post will document our journey back to Perth city (unfortunately) and our visit to the now-decommissioned Fremantle Prison!
Catch up on our Perth adventures here:
[Part 1] Our first day there
[Part 2] Exploring Fremantle and Perth city
[Part 3] Down south @ Seashells Resort Mandurah!
[Part 4] Merribrook Retreat @ Margaret River!
[Part 5] Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse & Chocolate Factory!