- Naracoorte Caves
Not far from Mount Gambier, nature astounds at the famous Naracoorte Caves, South Australia’s only World Heritage–Listed site, which doubles as the Wonambi Fossil Centre. Stretch your optics back more than 200,000 years to a time when the caves were home to many species of now-extinct animals including Australian megafauna – giant mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles that often met their end in the deep pitfalls of the caves where their skeletons and fossils now remain. Scientists have been studying the remains at Naracoorte for more than 40 years and have identified more than 100 different species of animals. Today, life-sized models of extinct animals meet visitors who venture below ground, among them the Diprotodon optatum – the world’s largest marsupial, weighing up to 2800 kilograms.
2. Blue Lake at Mount Gambier
The famous Blue lake sits within the crater of a dormant volcano, and between December and March its waters turn a stunning, almost cartoonishly bright shade of blue. In winter, the waters revert back to the colour of an ordinary lake in a transformation that will have you wondering whether nature is playing a trick on you. Numerous viewing platforms surround the lake, where you can look down and wonder over this liquid gemstone, or go camping, hiking or picnicking in the rich parklands around the lake.
3. The Umpherston Sinkhole
In another reminder of the power of nature, the Limestone Coast is dotted with sinkholes – the result of caves collapsing in on themselves after thousands of years. The Umpherston Sinkhole Gardens in Mount Gambier is a popular destination, and summer is the best time to visit, when the gardens will be flowering and the green waterfalls of live plants that coat the limestone walls of the sinkhole give the garden an enchanting atmosphere. The Mount Gambier Cave Gardens are another popular spot to see an inside-out cave, while the Caroline Sinkhole in Penambol Conservation Park is an untouched sinkhole in the wild, and the infamous Hells Hole is a gigantic natural sinkhole accessible to divers and daredevils only.