The Story Of Ngilgi
Ngilgi Cave is associated with a rich Aboriginal legend describing a battle between a good and an evil spirit. The local Wardandi people tell the story as: Ngilgi, a good warrior spirit, lived near the sea and Wolgine, an evil spirit, lived in the cave. Concerned for the welfare of his people, Ngilgi gathered together the spirits of the waves, lightning, rain, thunder and wind and they created a huge storm. Ngilgi attacked Wolgine and he gradually drove Wolgine back through the cave. So fierce was the battle that a tunnel collapsed, cutting the cave off from the sea.
The collapsed tunnel can still be seen today as a deep gully a short distance from the cave. Eventually Wolgine was driven up through the earth creating the present entrance. Wolgine was banished from the cave and Ngilgi claimed it as his own thus the cave became known as Ngilgis Nurilem (cave).
A solitary figure is lowered into the pitch black of a dank, mysterious underworld. For the first time light penetrates the dark of an environment formed over eons to reveal beautiful shapes and formations. We can only imagine how that lone figure must have felt and that experience in 1899 proved to be the catalyst for the beginning of formalised tourism in the South West of Western Australia.
So taken was he with his find that Edward Dawson began to set in motion plans to open the cave to the public. The caverns at Yallingup were opened for public inspection in 1900. There are a number of stories of how Yallingup Cave was found. The most common story tells of how Edward Dawson was out looking for stray horses and came upon the present entrance, curiosity got the better of him and the next day he returned with two friends, who assisted with the initial exploration on October 11, 1899.
Edward Dawson began conducting tours through the cave in 1900 and served as its head guide until 1937. The popularity of the tours conducted by Dawson resulted in the establishment of the Caves Hotel in 1905. In 1903, Yallingup Cave was the first cave in Western Australia to have electric lights installed. It has been the site of two world cave sitting records, numerous weddings and it is believed that Dame Nellie Melba gave a concert before she went on to become a world famous opera singer.