Welcome to the next instalment of our new blog series, ‘Meet the Caves Crew’, where we have the privilege of interviewing the incredible team members at the Capricorn Caves.
Through these insightful interviews, we aim to provide you with a deeper understanding of the passionate and dedicated individuals who contribute to the magic of the Capricorn Caves experience.
Join us as we embark on a journey of discovery, unraveling the unique stories, passions, and expertise of each team member, and gain a newfound appreciation for the people behind the scenes at Capricorn Caves.
The next of our interviews is with Jill Neyland, our Outdoor and Environmental Education Centre Coordinator. Jill’s passion for outdoor education shines through as she crafts immersive experiences that connect individuals with the wonders of the natural world.
With Jill at the helm, our Outdoor and Environmental Education programs are designed to inspire curiosity and create lasting memories for students and enthusiasts alike.
My role at Capricorn Caves is Education Officer, but I am really a bit of an anomaly here, because I just end up doing random projects or events in between administrative tasks. I am a high school science and maths teacher by trade, and also have post graduate qualifications in Environmental Education. Initially I came on board mid 2021 to help navigate the growing school camp sector of our business here.
Post-covid we have really gone from strength to strength, and I am so excited to see all our grand plans for activities and facilities within the Capricorn Caves Outdoor and Environmental Education sector slowly coming to fruition.
More recently my jobs include applying for grants and co-managing those projects with collaborative organisations like CQU, or slowly upgrading curriculum documents or and camp and excursion resources. Honestly every day is different, and usually never what I expect.
I have always been a part time employee here and the flexibility I have been granted has been a real blessing. I get to hang out with all the interesting Capricorn Caves staff, going on mini-adventures or planning our next project or event. Then for the rest of the week I do bits of community work, some relief teaching, and run around after my four kids. I also really enjoy the drive to and from work.
Yeppoon is a busy picturesque little coastal town but less than an hour away are these empty long dirt county roads lined by massive eucalyptus, and I like looking out for all the native birds, wallabies and even snakes and lizards that hang out near the roads too. On the way home, watching the sun set across the cattle paddocks is just magic.
I love the Fossil Trail and Dig Pits tour we do with school groups. This is a citizen science experience where the students learn all about the ancient geological history of our caves, how they are a relic coral reef from an ancient ocean.
The students also get to visit the Colosseum Cave and see the excavation pit where some palaeontologists did research to determine the types of animals that used to be found in the caves in more recent geological time. Finally the students get to sift through ‘cave dirt’ (which we have transported to specially built dig pits to make it accessible).
This dirt is absolutely full of animal bones from the megafauna era, and anything discovered is sent to Queensland Museum palaeontologists for further research. Pretty cool!
Actually it was a project. We were able to secure some grant funding from the Fitzroy Basin Association for a rainforest rehabilitation project. My initial idea was that we would get student groups to help us remove the Coral Berry weeds that had moved into an area of rainforest damaged by successive cyclone and bushfire events.
The funding allowed us to buy gloves, goggles and fluro work vests for the kids, and pay for our staff time so the activity was free. However, this project rapidly became bigger than Ben Hur, and our Natural Resource team took over and made it amazing!
After a 12 month period working with dozens of schools and local community groups, about an acre of previously damaged Semi-Evergreen Vine Thicket rainforest had been weeded, replanted and permanent irrigation installed. Hopefully the legacy of this project is that in 70 years we will have a rainforest canopy again, once again protecting the northern entrance of the caves from wind and weather.
I think people might be surprised to hear that as well as hosting tourists every day, we also have a Lodge and Permanent Tents on the property, and can host school groups for their excursions and overnight camps. We can put together really awesome camp itineraries! There’s so much to do here, from climbing, caving, orienteering, cooking damper, hanging out by the campfire and star gazing just to name a few.
We are also really close to some other amazing attractions in the region like the southern Great Barrier Reef, a few different wildlife zoos, galleries, museums, beaches and National Parks. So visiting school groups can spend a whole week here enjoying the highlights of our Capricorn region.
Try to take a moment to really reflect on the age of this cave system, the geological and weathering processes that formed it, and how you as a person are a miniscule blip on Earth’s timescale.
It’s humbling to think that these caves will exist long after you have left. And you have to think, what are you going to do in your lifetime that leaves such a legacy? Don’t just make it a place to tick off your Instagram wish list. Let the caves impact you and inspire you.
Free time? I have 4 kids.
If I could choose any super power, it would be the ability to be in two places at once. Sometimes life gets pretty hectic juggling family and work life.
We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know more about the awesome Jill and we can’t wait to bring you more of these interviews to give you an inside look at the passionate team behind the scenes.
As you plan your next adventure, we invite you to remember the faces and stories of the Capricorn Caves team. Behind every awe-inspiring moment, there are these incredible individuals working tirelessly to make it happen.
Whether you’re seeking thrilling escapades or tranquil exploration, you can trust that the Capricorn Caves team will go above and beyond to create a memorable experience just for you.
Thank you for joining us on this journey of discovery, and we hope you’ll stay tuned for more exciting insights and stories from the world of Capricorn Caves. Until then, may your own adventures be filled with wonder, curiosity, and the spirit of exploration!
The cave was amazing, the tour was worth every cent. This tour is suitable for everyone who can walk, and it offers access for those with mobility issues. There is... read more
It was just an amazing experience to have a guided tour through the cave system and learn about the formation and history of the caves. The cathedral part of the... read more
Terrific tour. Excellent guide (Hudson) really informative and friendly. Explorer experience was easy to manage. Highly recommended. Must book ahead. We saw a lot of people arriving with no booking... read more
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