Each year, Mole Creek Karst National Park welcomes around 55,000 visitors keen to explore the marvels of Marakoopa and King Solomons Caves. But have you ever stopped to wonder what it takes to maintain these geological wonders?
You'd be amazed at what gets left behind and we're not talking rubbish, the biggest culprit is lint. Many of the warm clothes we wear are made from synthetic fibres that shed as we move. These tiny fibres can catch on the smallest of air currents and stick to the cave formations. If left behind, these plastics could be calcified into the formations for millennia.
Each winter, the caves close for two weeks to make way for an intensive cleaning process. The team dons kneepad and grab scrubbing brushes to physically scrub the caves to remove these pesky lint particles. They also take care of the lights, as calcium buildup can occur, affecting the cave's natural beauty. And speaking of lights, they clean the lampenflora – a greenish discoloration caused by moss and algae growing under artificial light, disrupting the natural cave environment. This is an unseen side of environmental management.
This team of 12 is not your average cleaning crew, they are "a collective of beautiful humans who are inclusive and resilient", says Rebecca Kearns, PWS Mole Creek Caves Business Enterprise Manager.
This annual clean-up serves as a bonding time for the Mole Creek team, which is as diverse as the caves they protect. Their annual social event occurs around this time, a welcome break given the demands of the peak season.
The team loves to ease visitors into 'cave time,' offering a space where guests can relax and learn. "We get to chat with people from all around the world and share something we're passionate about," says Rebecca.
Through their efforts, this team ensures that the caves remain a source of natural beauty and educational enrichment, maintaining the park's unique Tasmanian identity. So next time you visit, remember that beneath the surface of Mole Creek Caves lies a dedicated team of cave caretakers preserving the natural beauty and wonder for generations come