This summer, I went on holiday to Western Australia and did many fun activities including spelunking! Spelunking is the exploration of caves, especially as a hobby. A speleologist is a person who studies caves or goes into caves. I toured a couple of caves and was amazed and learned lots of interesting facts!

One of the caves my family and I went into was called Jewel Cave. Jewel Cave is located in Augusta in Western Australia. The biggest show cave in Western Australia, Jewel Cave is dazzling and has many crystal sculptures such as a large stalagmite called “The Karri Forest” and quite a few examples of flowstone including “The Frozen Waterfall” and “The Organ- pipes.” There was a 5.4-meter long 55,000-year-old straw stalactite which is the longest of its kind in an Australian cave as well as a 20-tonne stalagmite! A 3,000-year-old Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger fossil was also discovered inside the cave.

Caves, like Jewel Cave, are formed by rainwater breaking down limestone under the surface of the Earth. An analysis of limestone within Jewel Cave places the cave at an age of approximately one million years old. Although that sounds like a long time, the cave is actually still considered a baby cave!

The tour lasted an hour. We started at ground level and made our way 42 meters below the surface. Our guide told us that it’s likely that many caves are hiding all along the It’s fun to think of all those hidden caves. As beautiful as crystal is, there’s not much money to be made from exploring caves since crystal is brittle and can not easily be made into jewelry.

Caves are amazing! Did you know there are caves, like Kartchner Caverns which has the world’s longest stalactite, in Arizona? Perhaps you could take up spelunking and check out a cave nearby. They rock!

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