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Cutta Cutta Caves National Park

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Cutta Cutta Caves National Park - Cities, Towns and Localities
Just 30 km south of Katherine, covering 1,499 hectares of limestone (Karst) landscape is the Cutta Cutta Caves National Park. Famous for the beautiful limestone caves with formations of stalactite and stalagmite, it is associated with the extensive Tindall limestone, a cavernous rock formed some 500 million years ago. Over time, erosion created spectacular features with tower-like masses of limestone, some supporting large boulders, and various surface depressions. The caves in the park consist of a series of limestone caverns connected by narrow passages. It is also home to the rare ghost and orange horseshoe bats, that roost in the main cave, 15 metres below the surface.

The Jawoyn people have a long association with the region, with evidence of past Aboriginal activity found through the park, although there has been no evidence of Aboriginal use of the caves.
 

The main cave entrance was first discovered around the 1900 by a European stockman, who named the cave “Smith’s Cave”. During World War II, servicemen who frequented the cave referred to it as “16 Mile Cave”, with remnants of their presence in the many 303 gunshot that were aimed at the stalactites.

The Jawoyn people have a long association with the region, with evidence of past Aboriginal activity found through the park, although there has been no evidence of Aboriginal use of the caves.

The main cave entrance was first discovered around the 1900 by a European stockman, who named the cave “Smith’s Cave”. During World War II, servicemen who frequented the cave referred to it as “16 Mile Cave”, with remnants of their presence in the many 303 gunshot that were aimed at the stalactites.

In 1967 the area was handed to the then Northern Territory Reserves Board (now the Parks and Wildlife Service), and tourist operators soon started conducting cave tours. In 1979 the area was renamed “Cutta Cutta Caves”.

The park is open all year round, with the period May to August being the most comfortable time to visit the park. During the ‘wet season’ (December to April), the caves may be closed due to flooding.

Access is via the Stuart Highway, 30 km south of Katherine, with the car park and visitor centre one kilometre from the Highway along a sealed road. Facilities in the park include picnic facilities, toilets, walking tracks, and the visitor centre kiosk. There are also guided tours.

Source: Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory

Information Centre Visitor Centre
Ph: 08 8972 1940 (BH)
Fax: 08 8972 3633 (AH)

Parks and Wildlife Commission of NT - Katherine Region

Katherine Region Tourist Association

Cutta Cutta Caves National Park Attractions

Flora and Fauna
Home to a variety of wildlife, the park is dominated by open woodland, however at the entrance to the cave systems and covering some areas of limestone are unique clusters of tropical rainforest/vine thicket. These scattered thickets are all that remains of the rainforest that once covered the northern parts of Australia.

The most striking feature of the habitat are the native fig (Fiscus virens var. dasycarpa), with the roots penetrating the cave system to reach the water table.

There are five species of cave-dwelling bats that are found in the deeper recesses of the main cave. Two of the species include the ghost bat (Macroderma gigas) and the orange horse-shoe bat (Rhinonicteris aurantius), both are rare and highly specialised species.

Another inhabitant of the cave are two species of blind shrimp (Parisia ungius and Parisia gracilis) which are blind and have no body pigment. It’s closes relative are the shrimp found in Madagascar, off the coast of Africa.

The harmless brown tree snake (Boiga irregularisis) can often been seen coiled on the cave ledges.

There have been 170 species of birds recorded in the park, that include the hooded parrot (Psephotus dissimilis) and the endangered Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae).


Walking Track
There are a number of tracks including the ‘Tropical Woodland’ walking track that enables visitors to experience the open tropical woodland that is indicative of the Katherine Region vegetation. The walk takes about 35 minutes. It is recommended that you wear sturdy footwear and take sunscreen and water on all walks.
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