The fascinating glow worms can only be found in Australia and New Zealand. And we’re lucky to have them near Brisbane. But where’s the best place to see them? For a long time, I thought the Mount Tamborine Glow Worm Cave was only for kids.
Their target is evident when you look at the cute glow worm featured on their logo and all their marketing materials. Plus, why would I visit a human-made cave if I can see glow worms in their natural habitat in Springbrook National Park?
I spent years exploring the Mount Tamborine region, from the wineries to the Skywalk, from the romantic getaways to the hiking adventures… But had always skipped the Glow Worm Cave. And I shouldn’t have, so don’t make the same mistake. I’m glad I received visitors from overseas who led me to check it out.
I was very wrong to suppose the Mount Tamborine Glow Worm Cave wouldn’t be interesting for adults.
Why the Mount Tamborine Glow Worm Cave is better than Springbrook National Park
If you are a loyal reader, this statement may come as a surprise. The Mount Tamborine Worm Cave is a man-made cave. Springbrook National Park is my favourite national park near Brisbane. And I always preach that it is better to see wild animals in their natural habitat. So what’s happening?!
I actually want to preach the best for the animals (or the environment in general). And the Mount Tamborine Glow Worm Cave experience is a lot better than Springbrook National Park for glow worms.
An educative and supervised guided tour
The Mount Tamborine Glow Worm Cave visit is managed by a highly knowledgeable guide. The number of participants is limited to 20, and the strict rules are repeated and written multiple times. It ensures a safe environment for the glow worms while still providing a fascinating experience for the visitors. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn a lot about the animals if you don’t like reading signs.
At Springbrook National Park, visitors often skip the informative signs about how to behave and what the animals are. Those who come to see the glow worms visit the place by night, so it’s not the best time for reading. And with no supervision and independent groups, there are always people who don’t follow the rules. It’s challenging to ensure the impact of tourism remains low in an open place like that.
Responsible Tourism Tip: It’s always a good idea to do some research before visiting a natural place. Unfortunately, destinations don’t always put information on the best behaviours to adopt to preserve the environment and wildlife and minimise the impact of tourism. Don’t be satisfied by comparing yourself to the worse behaviours and aim for the best practice instead!
Before entering the cave, you listen to a talk and watch a video about the rainforest and the glow worms. It really helps understand what we later see in the cave, and gives another dimension to the visit. You get to learn new things and exit the place feeling like a glow worm expert.
The Mount Tamborine Glow Worm Cave was created with eco-tourism in mind
Not only do they use the visit to communicate about environmental challenges to visitors, but they also use the cave as a sanctuary.
The colony installed in the man-made cave has been growing, protected from the risks of parasites, pollution, human lights and loss of habitat.
Since the cave was created, the number of glow worms in the wild has been increasing. They suppose that the easy and safe alternative they created for visitors has diverted them from the wild colonies and reduced the negative impacts tourists have in an uncontrolled environment.
Responsible Travel Tip: Choosing an eco-certified activity is the easiest way to make the right choice with minimum efforts. These tours minimise the negative impacts of your visit while maximising the positive ones for both the environment and the local communities. The certification brings credibility to what the business says (and avoids greenwashing): a third party audited the activity to check they were acting on an important list of criteria.
A better view of the glow worms
Glow worms hate light that they don’t produce. They shine only in the dark, and even more when it’s hot and humid.
As the purpose-built cave is entirely closed, there’s no need to wait for the night to see the glow worms at Mount Tamborine. Visits are actually only during the day from 10 am to 4 pm and until 7 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Your eyes get time to adjust to the darkness to optimise the experience.
In the cave, they manage to maintain an environment that the glow worms love, which ensures they will shine during your visit, even if you go on a cold winter day. Lights are totally forbidden in the cave. No torch, no phone, no camera. So the glow worms aren’t disturbed and can glow happily as much as they want.
Remember when I mention the visitors not following the rules in Springbrook National Park? Even if it’s by mistake, there’s always someone who turns on a light. So some glow worms stop shining, and the experience is spoilt for everybody.
The best part of Mount Tamborine Glow Worm Cave is that there are thousands of glow worms around you in the cave. They are everywhere you look. It’s magical. With his or her special light, the guide takes time to show every visitor a glow worm from very close. An experience you would not get in the wild.
As photos of glow worms aren’t allowed, these are promotional photos given to me by the Glow Worm Cave:
How to plan your visit to the Mount Tamborine Glow Worm Cave
There’s a limit of 20 people per group, and there’s no booking available (unless you’re a big group). It’s organised on a first-in first-served basis. You go to the reception to buy your tickets, and you get on the next available tour. There are tours every 30 minutes. We had to wait for 45 minutes when we visited, which was enough to do a wine tasting in one of the nearby wineries.
The tour costs $14 per adult (and $9 for children), but there are family passes that make it more affordable. You can check the fees here.
The tour only lasts for 30 minutes, and it includes a short walk in the rainforest and watching a video. So the time you spend in the cave is actually shorter. Although I could have watched the enchanted caves for hours, I didn’t feel rushed when we had to leave.
Also, they keep a few frogs nearby that you can check out for free after or before your visit.
Where is the Mount Tamborine Glow Worm Cave?
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