Located near the sizeable town of Naracoorte, to the north of Coonawarra, Naracoorte Caves Park is one of only three fossil sites in the country to be given an official World Heritage Listing because fossils, dating back 170 000 years and ranging from tiny frogs to megafauna, have been found in the area. It is recognised as one of the richest collections of Pleistocene fossils in the world. Today the caves are an important breeding site for bent-wing bats. There are 60 caves in a 25 km area.
Naracoorte Caves National Park, South Australia's only World Heritage Site, is located in the Limestone Coast region in the southeast of South Australia. The importance of the fossil record at Naracoorte Caves was officially recognised in 1994, when the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Park preserves 600 hectares of remnant vegetation, with 26 caves contained within the 305 hectare World Heritage Area.
Because the land is relatively flat many of the caves are simply nothing more than holes in the ground. However there are now four caves which are open for inspection and which guided tours occur on a daily basis. There is also a single self-guided tour cave. The Wonambi Fossil Centre features 17 robotic recreations of the animals which have been found as fossils in the caves which allows the visitor to get some idea of what the ancient marsupial lion and giant echidna actually looked like.
There are 26 known caves within the National Park. Many of the caves contain extensive speleothem development (such as stalactites and stalagmites). They provide important habitats for bats and other cave-dwelling creatures. The Naracoorte Caves have acted as pitfall traps and predator dens for over 500,000 years, preserving a rich fossil record of Naracoorte's ancient fauna.
The Ossuary (fossil bed) in Victoria Fossil Cave covers several ice ages and the arrival of humans to the continent. Palaeontologists have excavated and dated many of these fossils. They have reconstructed the skeletons of a number of Australia's extinct megafauna, and have deduced their form and habits. The Wonambi Fossil Centre presents a wealth of information about the excavations, and includes life-sized animated reconstructions of the extinct animals in a vegetation setting appropriate to the period.
The caves can be visited in a number of different ways. Wet Cave can be explored without a guide, while regular guided tours of Alexandra Cave and Victoria Fossil Cave showcase beautiful limestone formations and the fossil site. There are also a number of specialty tours. There are adventure tours to several caves, and a torchlight tour of Cathedral Cave. A palaeontologist leads the World Heritage Tour, which provides a closeup view of the Fossil Chamber and Fossil Laboratory. The Bat Tour allows visitors to see the daily activities of the colony of Southern Bentwing Bats via infrared cameras. There are also a number of walking trails on the surface, some with interpretive signs.