Cutta Cutta Caves

Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park covers 1,499 hectares of limestone (Karst) landscape, which is limited to only a few locations in Northern Australia. Spectacular features such as Karst formations and complex cave networks are a feature of the Park. Tower-like masses of Tindal limestone with some supporting large boulders and various surface depressions are other features of this landscape.

The park is open daily all year, however during the Wet Season (December to April) the caves may be closed due to flooding. The most comfortable time to visit the park is between May and August.

The park concession conducts daily guided tours, generally conducted on the hour, of the cave system. A small kiosk sells tour tickets, refreshments and souvenirs. Toilets, picnic facilities and covered seating are provided.

The cave tours are guided, so please do not enter the caves unattended. While underground, do not touch or damage the calcite formation. Keep to the walking tracks and remember all cultural items and wildlife are protected.

A Tropical Woodland walk begins near the carpark and enables visitors to experience the open tropical woodland. Allow 10 to 20 minutes to complete the walk.

Plants and Animals

The cave environment is home to a variety of wildlife. The harmless brown tree snake, Boiga irregularisis, is often seen coiled upon cave ledges. Five species of cave-dwelling bat occur in the deeper areas of the main cave, although most are rarely seen. Two of the species recorded, the ghost bat, Macroderma gigas, and the orange horse-shoe bat, Rhinonicteris aurantius, are rare and highly specialised species.

Two species of blind shrimp, Parisia ungius and Parisia gracilis, which have no body pigment and are completely blind, inhabit the cave. The only other closely related species of shrimp is found in Madagascar, off the coast of Africa. Around 170 species of birds have been recorded in the Park, including the hooded parrot, Psephotus dissimilis, and the endangered Gouldian finch, Erythrura gouldiae.

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 the remains of rainforest which once covered the northern parts of Australia. The most striking feature of this habitat is the native fig, Fiscus virens var. dasycarpa. The caves provide an easy passageway for the figs long roots.


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Brief history

The Jawoyn people have a long association with the area. Evidence of past Aboriginal activity is found throughout the Park, however there is no evidence of Aboriginal use of the caves. Around 1900, a European stockman discovered the main cave entrance, and named the cave 'Smith's Cave'. During World War II, servicemen visited the area and referred to it as '16 Mile Cave'. The area was handed to the Northern Territory Reserves Board (now the Parks and Wildlife Service) in 1967, and a private tourist operator began cave tours shortly afterwards. In 1979 the area was renamed Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park.

Location

Access is via the Stuart Highway 30 km south of Katherine. The carpark and visitor centre are one km from the Highway along a sealed road.

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