King Solomons Cave is a relatively small, dry cave located near Liena, 25 km west of Mole Creek, on the route to Cradle Mountain. King Solomons Cave is also home to the fascinating Tasmanian Cave spider.
The name of the cave was derived from the abundance of reflective calcite crystals, making it sparkle like the fabled treasures of King Solomon’s mines.
A separate cave, known as Queen of Sheba Cave, is adjacent to King Solomons Cave, separated only by a cave collapse which occurred prior to discovery.
King Solomons Cave currently has two entrances: a chimney opening in the ceiling of ‘Solomons Temple’ and a lower entrance, which was excavated in 1929.
King Solomons Cave is no longer an active cave in a hydrological sense. Due to a past lowering of the water table, the waters which created the cave have long since abandoned its passages for lower levels. Speleothem, or cave decoration, formation in the cave however is vigorous, relying on minor flows resulting from percolation of rainwater on the slopes above the cave.
A little background on the development of King Solomons Cave
King Solomons Cave was first discovered in 1906 by two local men, including a Mr Pochin, who promptly obtained a lease from the crown and began to operate the cave as a tourist attraction under the name Pochin’s Cave. In those early days, visitors had to negotiate a 40 ft drop from the surface via a series of stepladders, and thence through the cave on wooden planks. Two years later, Hobart man Mr Edward James heard of the discovery, obtained a 21 year lease of the land, improved access and installed acetylene gas lanterns to light the caves.
King Solomons Cave officially opened to the public on 31 October 1908, a highly organised and well attended occasion, by the then Premier of Tasmania. In the early days, the caves were generally only opened for organised expeditions. The high cost of recreational travel meant that tourists to this remote area were few and far between, and keeping the caves open was very expensive.
The present entrance was developed in 1927. Construction involved the widening of a secondary entrance and the clearing of rock and debris to open up a series of chambers to link the new entrance to the public area. At the same time, a generator and electric lighting system were also installed, the new lighting being switched on for the public for the first time in December 1928 – a time when the township of Mole Creek was not connected to the Hydro Electric grid.
Since then, improvements have continued, ancillary facilities have come and gone, and the caves are now under the care of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.
To learn more, come on out to King Solomons Cave – your tour guide is a font of knowledge!