A trip back in time

Take “A trip back in time” with fossil and cave exploring legends Professor Rod Wells and Grant Gartrell and former Naracoorte Caves District Ranger, Brian Clark, in the Blanche Cave at the Naracoorte World Heritage Festival, 1.45pm on 24 November.

Professor Rod Wells and Grant Gartrell are the men responsible for finding the immense amount of megafauna remains in the Victoria Fossil Cave 50 years ago.  Rod and Grant, two blokes with a passion for the unknown and a spirit of exploration, will retrace their fateful steps that led to the World Heritage listing of the Naracoorte Caves and the discovery of a lifetime.

The discovery in the Victoria Fossil Cave, in 1969, is one of the world’s 10 greatest fossil sites.  The significance of the fossils was recognised on the World stage in 1994 when the Naracoorte Caves were inscribed on the World Heritage list.

Grant Gartrell is testament to the role of cavers in the exploration and scientific investigation of the Naracoorte Caves, without which World Heritage listing would not have been possible.  Professor Rod Wells has had an amazing career as a university educator, palaeontologist and explorer.  He was responsible for establishing a scientific research program at Naracoorte Caves and played a major role in obtaining World Heritage listing in 1994.  For decades Rod excavated caves at Naracoorte with students and volunteers, his vision not only for the scientific benefit of the caves but also for their role in tourism and education.  Brian Clark was District Ranger at Naracoorte Caves for around 15 years and was instrumental in developing the Naracoorte Caves for visitors.  Brian is widely regarded throughout Australasia as an expert in cave and karst management and World Heritage.

The World Heritage listing recognises the diversity and the quality of preservation of the fossils in the Naracoorte Caves and the scientific value of the fossil deposits.  The fossils found at the Naracoorte Caves allow you to step back in time, giving an insight into 500,000 years of history and a fascinating insight into Australia’s prehistoric past. 

Discover more on the Picnic Ground to World Heritage special guided tour of the majestic Blanche Cave led by local vertebrate palaeontologist Dr Liz Reed at 3.15pm.  The Naracoorte Caves World Heritage Area is the major research site for the University of Adelaide’s paleontological research team, where Dr Reed is a Research Fellow in Palaeontology.  Blanche Cave was the first cave discovered at the Naracoorte Caves National Park in the 1840’s and is the perfect spot to learn more about the rich history of the Naracoorte Caves.  From the original discovery, past and current research, the World Heritage listing of the Caves and everything in between, this tour will provide a unique look at several aspects of the development of the Naracoorte Caves National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia.  Book your tickets at the Wonambi Fossil Centre on 08 8760 1210. 

The Naracoorte World Heritage Festival and Run is celebrating two unique anniversaries.  Fifty years since the discovery of one of the world’s 10 greatest fossil sites and twenty five years since the significance of the fossils was recognised on the World stage when the Naracoorte Caves were inscribed on the World Heritage list.

Come for the run at 7.30am and stay for the fun and hospitality of the Naracoorte World Heritage Festival, commencing at 10.00am.  The big fun of the Festival includes talks, tours and performances in the Blanche Cave, entertainment, food and wine at the Mega Stage, University of Adelaide Palaeontologists’ fossil displays and demonstrations at the Fossil Lab and fossil dig sand pit, Fossil Hunters Discovery Trail and special Naracoorte Caves tours. 

A free bus will run between the Naracoorte Town Square and the Naracoorte Caves – so leave the car in Naracoorte and enjoy the fun.  Keep up to date at www.megafest.com.au

The Festival and Run has received $20,000 funding from the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund.  The Naracoorte Lucindale Council and the Naracoorte Lucindale Business and Tourism Association are also contributing $15,400 and $5,000 respectively.  The University of Adelaide and the Naracoorte Caves are supporting the Festival and Run with in kind contributions.  Note in the instance of a total fire ban the event will not be held at the Naracoorte Caves National Park as the park will be closed.