A new $3.6 million attraction has opened at Western Australia's first tourist attraction, Ngilgi Cave.
The 'Ancient Lands Experience' welcomes locals and visitors to embark on a journey to discover the 600-million-year story associated with the Margaret River Region and its people.
Situated on the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge in Yallingup, a series of interactive installations woven throughout the natural bushland pay homage to the landscape's formation, the limestone caves, the 60,000-year custodianship of the Wadandi people, and the flora and fauna found in the region today.
The cave experience that has captivated people for generations remains at the heart of the experience, with universal access pathways ensuring those who are unable to venture underground are able to gain an insight into the fascinating world of Ngilgi Cave.
Visitors seeking a deeper cultural experience can explore Wadandi country through the eyes of traditional custodians with Koomal Dreaming at a new purpose-built Meeting Place, completed as part of the development.
Key supporters of the project came together with Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association (MRBTA) chair Stuart Hicks, Wadandi cultural custodian Josh Whiteland, Senator Louise Pratt, Member for Warren Blackwood Jane Kelsbie MLA and Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino MP, to celebrate the additions to the region's strong line-up of tourism attractions.
Local not-for-profit organisation, MRBTA, through its Capes Foundation, has been entrusted to care for Ngilgi Cave for over 70 years and has carefully crafted the new experience alongside a team of local contractors, artists, storytellers and Wadandi cultural custodians.
"This far South West corner of Australia has an immensely significant history, culture and natural environment," Capes Foundation Director, Steve Harrison explained.
"In geological terms, it is understood to be an island within an island, which offered a refuge for life to thrive during the ravages of the ice age.
"It is home to the Wadandi people, who have cared for this part of the world for over 60,000 years.
"We feel incredibly fortunate to call this place home, and through this project we wanted to pay homage to all that makes it special."
Ngilgi Cave has been open to the public since 1900, and the experience has changed dramatically over the years.
Today, conservation of the underground treasures is at the heart of the Capes Foundation's values, while equal emphasis is placed on advocacy and education.
"We were inspired by the idea of travel being the best modern-day form of adult education, and our aim is to create a serene natural setting where visitors can completely immerse themselves and soak up the fascinating stories that are shared," Mr Harrison said.
Wadandi Cultural Custodian and Koomal Dreaming owner, Josh Whiteland said the project had been an "incredible journey from humble beginnings" and said he had worked with inspiring people in the tourism sector.
"Great work from a dedicated positive team truly shines bright," Mr Whiteland said.
"The opportunity to create something this special is more than just another tour location.
"Incorporating local stories, art and history allowing visitors to connect with country and culture," he said.
"Such an amazing way to create awareness and respect for this beautiful place we call home."
The project was made possible by MRBTA's own funds together with loaned funds from the City of Busselton, matched by Building Better Region's funding of $1.35 million, Tourism WA funding of $365,000 and Regional Economic Development Scheme funding of $100,000.
Find out more
To book the Ancient Lands Experience visit capesfoundation.org.au.
To book a Koomal Dreaming cultural tour visit koomaldreaming.com.au.