Child playing in cave

University of Wollongong – Cave experience for kids

Artificial limestone cave to encourage exploration and learning

The Early Start Discovery Space at the University of Wollongong is a museum dedicated to children. It provides stimulating interactive experiences that promote learning through play. To support this aim, they wanted an artificial cave that would encourage children to explore. As they say on their website, “Experiencing the sensation of exploring a dark, realistic cave space will encourage children to face their fears.”

The cave‘ experience, created by Natureworks, is a replica of a dark, mysterious limestone cave. In the cave, stalactites hang from the ceiling and there are smooth internal crawl-through rock ledges for children to climb on. These ledges lead to a mezzanine level, with a rock slide back to ground level. This all adds to the fun!

Children can look for various creatures hiding in the cave, such as a masked owl, ghost bats and cave geckos. Although these are real enough to make you look twice, they are actually from Natureworks’ collection of fibreglass animal sculptures. Adding to the tactile experience, synthetic spider webs hang from the ceiling.

Photo gallery

Caves custom designed and built to suit the need

Natureworks designed, built and installed the artificial limestone cave to meet the needs of the University and suit the space available. This meant the structure had to be relatively compact and detailed, while being strong enough to cope with energetic young children!

For practical reasons, we built the cave in two bolt-together halves so it could be transported to the university more easily. Because of this, the seamed join was specially designed to resemble a natural fissure in the rock surface. We always try to turn a potentially negative structural issue into a positive design feature!

Design features

  • Artificial rock replica of limestone cave, with stalactites
  • Interior is designed for children to climb through/on
  • Built in two halves for easier transportation
  • Includes animal sculptures – owl, bats, geckos

Project details
Client:Early Start Discovery Space, University of Wollongong
Location:Building 21 Northfields Ave, Wollongong, NSW Australia
Date:2014
Related products:Artificial rockwork, Masked Owl, Ghost Bat, Gecko
Related catalogues:Natureworks overview brochure, Reptile catalogue
Similar projects:Gumbaya Critter Cave, Ipswich Environmental Centre, Limestone caves

Custom artificial rock caves and play spaces

The Natureworks team is highly experienced at designing artificial caves and rockwork for a range of purposes. As well as custom rockwork, we can draw from our amazing collection of artificial trees, artificial rocks and animal sculptures to enhance caves or other exhibits.

We are also passionate about encouraging children to learn through nature-based play. Please see more of our project case studies or contact Natureworks if you’d like us to help make your project happen.