Another busy month in store for Naracoorte Caves

Booming: Record visitation numbers in July, particularly over the school holiday period, has the Naracoorte Caves ready for another busy period. Photo: File.
Booming: Record visitation numbers in July, particularly over the school holiday period, has the Naracoorte Caves ready for another busy period. Photo: File.

After a record breaking school holiday period in July, Naracoorte Caves are getting ready for another busy period.

With the Term 3 school holidays just around the corner, National Parks and Wildlife Manager for the Limestone Coast Nick McIntyre is confident that success can be replicated.

The caves saw an influx of visitors during the Term 2 holidays. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the caves had temporarily closed.

Travel restrictions had also been in place at the height of the pandemic in the state.

But a campaign aimed at encouraging South Australians to get out and see the regions, launched in May, put Naracoorte on the travel itinerary.

Ahead of the school holidays the Caves Cafe had been a popular destination for locals who were looking to dine-in again.

However guided tours of the caves took longer to pick up.

Mr McIntyre said that the numbers had taken them by surprise.

"We came into the school holiday time in July and we just didn't know what to expect," he said.

The caves had seen an average business growth of 3.5 percent per annum over the past three years and had been forecast to grow by six percent in 2020 before COVID-19 took hold.

Expectations were low for July.

But Mr McIntyre said the number of tours sold in July this year had outsold the same time last year.

"We were coming off a fairly good high in July 2019 but to exceed the total number of tours sold by about 1200 tours, and particularly over that school holiday period, that was just a phenomenal result," he said.

Usually a school holiday program is put on by the caves however that has been put on the shelf temporarily while the threat of coronavirus remained.

However guided tours were still in place, with extra tours scheduled to meet the demand.

New bat cameras had recently been installed for attendees to view bats in the maternity cave, as well as improvements to the megafauna animatronics would be highlights on a visit over the school holidays.

Measures and practices had also been put in place to make visitors feel safe and secure and to stop the transmission of COVID-19.

Reviews on Tripadvisor for July included a pair of five star reviews courtesy of visitors from Adelaide, with both labelling the caves as a must visit.

Mr McIntyre said the caves were a great asset for the region, with numerous flow on effects for the local economy.

He was optimistic that the August school holidays would be another busy period.