This post is part of a blog series on the TGS trip to Kangaroo Island.
While visiting Kangaroo Island, TGS students had several opportunities to study the unique landscape, plants, and wildlife that call the island home. But in addition to the fantastic sights and experiences on the surface of the island, they had the opportunity to descend into its depths and visit the Kelly Hill Caves. It was there that they discovered some of the island’s hidden treasures: an amazing underground world of sinkholes and caverns, delicate formations, and stunning views nine kilometers underground.
The Kelly Hill Caves. Photography by Pema T.
The caves are located on the southern side of Kangaroo Island, and are composed mostly of limestone. Centuries of dripping water have created delicate stalactites, stalagmites and straws that cling to the ceilings and floors of the caves. Seeing the vast network of formations caused students to take pause, thinking of what it must have been like to be the person who first discovered the caves – without the benefit of electric lighting to guide the way. “The main event of the tour was when the tour guide turned off all the lights and told us to be quiet to see how terrifying the caves could be,” said Yada. The experience made her think about the way our brains process and interpret our surroundings. “You can’t really blame us humans for fearing the dark,” she said.
Stalactite formations. Photography by Pema T.
Cave formations such as the ones found in Kelly Hill Caves take eons to develop. Looking at something that took thousands upon thousands of years to create gave students a sense of the history of our world, and the slow passage of time – especially in a wold where access to information is instant, immediate, and always available via iPhones or other mobile devices. “I have been using the word ‘amazing’ a lot since I have been here,” said Pema.
The students were mostly struck by the stark contrast between the caves and the world they’re more accustomed to on the surface. “You can’t believe how much a few thousand meters can change, especially if those few meters are vertical. Down a steep flight of stairs, you hit a whole different world,” said Yada. “The air is so much cooler, and the sky and the familiar bush…nowhere to be seen.”