Underneath the tiny East Gippsland town of Buchan lies a honeycomb network of caves full of spectacular limestone formations.
The famous Buchan Caves were formed by underground rivers and rainwater dripping through limestone rock. Over centuries, stalactites are formed on the roof of the cave, and stalagmites build up from droplets which fall to the floor.
Parks Victoria operates guided tours within two of the cave networks – Royal Cave and Fairy Cave. Tours are conducted daily at various times and last for approximately one hour.
We are invited to visit Royal Cave as it just happens that Royal Cave is the cave touring at the time of our visit. From what I can tell the visual experience between both caves is very similar so there’s no need to time your visit particularly for one cave or another if you’re new to Buchan Caves. Double tours of both caves are available but I don’t think necessary.
Both caves are lit and have concrete pathways. However, it is not a suitable experience for young children or prams as there are a lot of steps (150 steps at Royal Cave, 200 steps at Fairy Cave), the pathways are narrow and the tour may be quite long for little legs so you may be forced to carry your child.
Certainly, by the end of the hour Lady AB and Baby 2.0 have had enough of the darkness. Fortunately it is not as cold as I expect and you can get away with a light jumper/cardigan.
Prebooked special cave tours (some of which involve using a helmet and light) are available for small groups during the school holidays. I think this would only be of interest for true cave enthusiasts.
If you have accessibility issues an electric Stairclimber enables access to one section of Fairy Cave for children and light adults weighing up to 60 kgs. Note that there is an extra fee for the use of the Stairclimber.
Due to the popularity of Buchan Caves a reserve was established with a Visitor Information and Interpretation Centre, toilets, playground, campsites and free parking. In the summer there is a free pool fed by a natural spring. There are also several walking tracks within the reserve.
Buchan Caves is one of the must-do attractions within East Gippsland and is easily accessible from the major towns of Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance. Bring your camera and learn about the geography of the area as well as the formation of these spectacular caves.
- Caves are only accessible with a tour;
- Guided cave tours operate regularly every day except Christmas Day;
- Both caves are lit and have concrete pathways;
- There are 150 steps during the tour of Royal Cave, 200 steps in Fairy Cave, so not suitable for prams;
- No eating or drinking inside the caves or touching of the walls;
- You can book tickets online up to midnight for the next day. However, if your schedule is flexible then you can buy tickets at the Visitor Information and Interpretation Centre on arrival;
- Limited number of places available per tour. Pre-book online to avoid disappointment particularly during weekends, school and public holidays.
- Temperature in the cave is a constant 17 degrees, just a light jumper is enough;
- The Reserve has a swimming pool, playground, walking tracks, picnic ground, toilets, and Visitor Information and Interpretation Centre.
- BBQ facilities or picnic tables;
- Light snacks and refreshments are available at the Visitor Centre.
- Dogs and other pets are not permitted in the park.
- There are 49 powered and many more unpowered campsites. Advance booking is required and Christmas and Easter school holiday periods are particularly busy.
- Fully self-contained units are also available and bookings are required all year round.
- Motel and cabin accommodation is available in Buchan; we stay in Bairnsdale.