Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park is an extraordinary display of cave decorations (speleothems - stalactite or stalagmite) in beautiful shades of pink and brown, coloured by its dolomite base rock and is supposed to be the most impressive such cave in South Australia. The caves are named after the neighbouring town of Tantanoola known for its scenic beauty.
The staff is really helpful and knowledgeable as they give useful comprehensive information about the caves at the entrance where you pay a very small entrance fee. Can’t believe the little doorway leads into this beautiful cavern. It is a wet cave so you can see the stalactites, stalagmites and shawls growing. Also you can spend as long as you like!
The cave is a part of a cliff adjacent to seashore which is a formation aged about 2.6 million to 11,700 years. However, due to the effect of sea water on the rocks, the cliff has been formed by repeated destruction of the rocks due to the force of the waves. This has resulted sea caves, cliffs and overhangs inside the Tantanoola Cave. Presently the coast is far away from the cave as the sea retreated due to either the lowering of the sea level or the uplifting of the land.
Visitors are guided by an official of the Department for Environment and Heritage of the Government of South Australia who will illustrate the history and geology of the cave. You are thereafter free to photograph the whole location without any interference. This is a fully enclosed cave and is illuminated properly thus taking photographs is not difficult at all. There is no extra charge for photography.
I used a Sony 7R-II mirrorless digital camera to photograph the caves using high ISO such as ISO 2000 ~ 6400 effectively. Lens: Sony / Zeiss 24-70 mm, f/4. I did not carry a tripod at the time of visit and that’s why I was compelled to use high ISO ratings which I normally do not. However, I was confident about high ISO optimum performance in Sony 7R mirrorless digital series and used it without any hesitation. If you are armed with your tripod you can use low ISOs and shoot using slower shutter speeds thus you will achieve even better results.
Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park is located in between Millicent and Gambier, 29km northwest of Mount Gambier and the access is via Princes Highway (B1). This location is 418 km from Adelaide (4h 25min.) and from Melbourne it is 452 km (5h 24 min.) away. I took the route from Adelaide and is along the coastal edge which is scenic. There is no proper lodging available closer to the caves but one can find ample hotels in Mount Gambier where you will find lots of places of visit.