Boranup Forest

Along Caves Road on Wadandi Boodja just out of Wooditjup – Margret River, there are an abundance of large and wirunga (beautiful scenery) Karri trees in a place known as Boranup Forest. To the local Wadandi people the name Boranup means ‘place of the native bush chilli’.

Within Boranup Forest lays Ngarlum Mia – also known as Devil’s Lair – a cave that holds lots of important history. Devils Lair is a single-chamber cave that formed in limestone, is approximately 200m2 in size, and gets its name from a palaeontologist who noticed evidence of Tasmanian devils within the cave.

Words: Wadandi Pibulman writer Sharnae Watson.

Boranup Forest
The magnificent Boranup Forest holds deep cultural, historical and scientific significance. Photo: Dylan Dehaas

By Wadandi people it is called Ngarlum Mia, and like all cave systems it holds great significance, as we believe that caves form part of our dreaming, song lines. We traditionally believe that caves are the resting place for our ancestors, it is where they are buried so their spirits could go to where the sea meets the sky. We call this Kurranup, and this is our version of heaven.

After the many years that Wadandi custodians had spent petitioning and working alongside others for the return of some of our ancestors’ bones to country from being placed in a museum, I was fortunate enough to experience the return of some of my ancestors that my elders never gave up on. Some of these bones we returned to Devils’ Lair, along with other local caves throughout the South West region, so that their spirits could finally be at rest.

Devil's Lair
Some of the oldest artefacts found within Ngarlum Mia dated back as far as 40,000 years. Photo: Stuart Hicks

Over the years, there have been many scientific finds within Devil’s Lair, with some of the local Wadandi people having the pleasure of overseeing the archaeological digs and scientific studies completed at this location.

One study that stands out in local Wadandi custodian Zac Webb’s mind is one he had seen at the tender age of about eleven. This specific study involved Charles E. Dortch, an archaeologist in which during the study and the archaeological digs performed at that time, they found evidence of the manufacturing of bone beads dating back approximately 17,000 years.

Furthermore, they were able to radiocarbon date charcoal samples and emu eggshells found in the cave. It showed evidence of it being there for multiple periods of the nyitting – cold times – or more commonly referred to as the ice ages, and overall in their findings it was demonstrated that some of the oldest artifacts found within Ngarlum Mia dated back as far as 40,000 years.

As always, please remember to respect and care for Boodja (Country) and in return Country will care for you.

Boranup Forest
The Boranup Karri Forest is one of the most treasured sites in the Margaret River Region.

The evidence presented in the study show the presence of people living within the cave is older than that of European settlements, and some of the oldest evidence of living people outside of Africa. I believe this archaeological evidence is greatly important to not only Wadandi people of this region but to people all over the world as it is a part of our history.

Due to Ngarlum Mia’s deep cultural, historical and scientific significance, it is not open to the public. For a number of caves across the region that you are invited to explore, visit

As always, please remember to respect and care for Boodja (Country) and in return Country will care for you.

If you would like to learn more about Ngarlum Mia, the studies and Wadandi culture, please visit Undalup Association on YouTube and

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