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Taking water samples at Lake Cave, Margaret River WA.

Conservation, preservation, restoration and research

Boardwalk at Lake Cave, Margaret River WA.

The Capes Foundation is committed to implementing sustainable tourism practices to balance the impact on the environment while meeting present and future needs.


Hydrology relates to the study of the properties, distribution, and effects of water on the earth’s surface, in the soil and underlying rocks and in the atmosphere. Water plays an important role in the formation and development of caves. The region’s caves are formed through the action of water dissolving through young (soft and porous) limestone.

Rainfall and land use dramatically affect the characteristics of our caves. Mammoth Cave has a seasonal stream dependant on winter rains and Jewel Cave unfortunately lost its underground lake 30 years ago. The iconic Lake Cave is fed by an underground spring, and has recently experienced fluctuating water levels. The Lake Cave Eco-Hydrology Recovery Project commenced in 2010.

The project aims to:
• Sustain the current water levels in Lake Cave
• Assess the condition of the stygofauna (threatened groundwater-dependent invertebrate species) community, and;
• Gain an understanding of the Lake Cave catchment system.

The Capes Foundation is committed to implementing sustainable tourism practices to balance the impact on the environment while meeting present and future needs. To ensure protection of the caves, it is important to protect the entire water catchment.


Palaeontologist Dr Gavin Prideaux has done extensive research on megafauna (giant prehistoric animals) in the caves of the Margaret River region. Dr Prideaux’s work was put in the international spotlight recently when he and his team discovered some of the world’s best examples of megafauna in three caves on the Nullarbor Plain. The remains of an array of now-extinct animals including giant wombats, short-faced kangaroos and thylacines were described as finds of the century.

Dr Prideaux seeks to solve the mystery of exactly when and why megafauna became extinct around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. He believes new technology and techniques are bringing him closer to an answer to these questions on which Charles Darwin pondered some 150 years ago.


Biology is the science of life and of living organisms; including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution and distribution. Biology is an interesting area of study in caves as it focuses on a wide range of life including insects, mammals, amphibians, crustaceans, etc. The caves contain unique communities of invertebrate species (mostly crustaceans) which are threatened by the declining water levels. Studies have been conducted on the distributions and ecological requirements of these communities to try and protect them.
Studies on climate focus on meteorological conditions including temperature, precipitation and wind, which characteristically prevail in a particular region. Cave formations are records of climate changes and are of great interest to the scientific community. Studying cave formations enables us to understand past rainfall patterns, soil types, vegetation, atmospheric conditions and more. At certain times of the year Jewel Cave has slightly elevated carbon dioxide levels. For further information please speak to our friendly cave guides.

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