- ”Hurry, the guided tour starts in 10 minutes!". We grab our tickets at the visitor center and run to the car. The only way to visit the limestone cave Crystal Cave is to accompany a guide down into the cave. A few minutes later we are at the cave. The parking lot is empty. We are all alone. Had we missed the guided tour? A woman comes by. She laughs and says we are lucky today. We are the only ones booked in for the first guided tour of the day, so we would get a private viewing.
Crystal Cave is a limestone cave, filled with stalagmites, limestone columns and an underground lake. In fact, it is through the crystal clear reflections in the underground lake that Crystal Cave once got its name.
We follow our guide down stairs, through a locked door and down even more stairs. We are down in the cave. The temperature is pleasant and the cave's limestone formations emerge before our eyes. The caves here were discovered (by Europeans) in 1838 and after this tourism to the caves started. We pass by most of the narrow little holes that were used for the tourists of the time. In those days there were no stairs, but people pulled themselves down with ropes and climbed into small tunnels between the cave's rooms. Preferably wearing white lace dresses, straw hats and suits. It's definitely a bit less of an adventure to discover Crystal Cave these days with stairs, gore-tex and lighting.
It slowly drips from the ceiling and new stalagtites are created slowly slowly. However, not enough water is dripping in the cave these days. The cave dries up. The once large lake that the cave is named after is now more of a puddle. Crystal Cave's crystal clear reflections are no longer what they once were. Definitely a problem for instagram tourists, but an even bigger problem for the cave's endangered inhabitants.
No big furry monsters live in the Crystal Cave. Nor any deadly snakes. On the other hand, small marl crayfish live here, which are found nowhere else on earth. And the little marl crayfish can't survive without Crystal Cave's underground water, as they live in the roots of the trees in the cave ceiling. Without water, no roots.
45 minutes goes by quickly in the company of our guide. We learn all about the large spruce plantations on the coast, which is one of the reasons why the water in the cave has decreased, and about how the limestone loses its transparency when we humans touch it with our fingers. We also get to learn about all the efforts being made to save the little crayfish by rewatering Crystal Cave. Although medullary cancer is endangered, there is still hope.
We leave the cave and head towards the wetland's hiking trails. An immense noise fills the sky. It screams, screeches and screeches. Sometimes it almost sounds like children screaming. The sky above us is filled with black cockatoos. Carnaby's black cockatoos are rare and only found here in Western Australia. Housing construction and human expansion have removed large parts of the black cockatoo's habitat, but here in Yanchep the cockatoos thrive and thrive in large flocks. It is a joy to watch them interact in treeskronorNah. Chat with each other, poke each other and tease each other.
In Yanchep there are five hiking trails, of which Wetlands Walk Trail takes you for a lap around Loch McNess. The hiking trail takes you through vegetation of sheoak, banksia and jarrah (large eucalyptus). Never heard of the trees? Neither did I before I came here. Hiking in Australia is like rediscovering the world. Everything is unknown and everything needs to be plugged in.
Spring has started to come to Yanchep. We are not overwhelmed by the color splendor of the spring flowers quite yet, but some flowers and trees have started to bloom. It glows a little yellow and a little pink in the bushes. A tree that looks like a giant heather blooms magnificently with its pink flowers at the side of the path. Who knows, maybe it's a deadly giant hornet? Everything is so much bigger and more dangerous here in Australia. At least on paper.
We walk around the lake, among overgrown trees and portals of hanging branches. We read about the wildlife in the national park's visitor center before we started hiking. There are nice animals in Yanchep, which we hoped to meet. Among these I count the large gray kangaroos that live here in the park. Kangaroos are not completely harmless, but if you keep your distance, you have nothing to worry about. Then there are slightly less pleasant animals in Yanchep - animals that we like to avoid meeting. These include the very poisonous snakes dougite (a kind of "brown snake") and tiger snake. There are also ticks in the area, which I strangely think are more troublesome than the snakes. Snakes have the sense to hide if they sense people coming. Ticks, on the other hand, cheer if they feel vibrations from humans.
I had thought we would go around the lake and see the lake's bird life on the way, but the forest grows so thick that we can't see the lake at all. Nor do we see any pleasant or unpleasant animals. Maybe just as well. Regardless, the Wetlands Walk Trail is a pleasant hike that takes no more than an hour.
Before we leave Yanchep, we also have time to visit the park's koalas. Koalas are not native to Western Australia, but here in the national park there has been a koala colony since the 1920s. Not entirely natural, but it's always nice to see koalas.
How do I get to Yanchep National Park?
Yanchep National Park is 45 minutes north of Perth. Like most national parks in Western Australia, an entry fee of $13 per car applies. We bought one though Holiday Pass, which means all National Parks in Western Australia can be visited for 4 weeks for $46. Read more about different options for national park passes here.
Yanchep National Park
Yanchep Beach Rd &, Indian Ocean Dr
Yanchep WA 6035
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Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.