Virus threat sees tours halted at lighthouses, caves

Cave tours have been cancelled, with the exception of Mammoth Cave, which remains open to self-guided tours. Photo: margaretriver.com
Cave tours have been cancelled, with the exception of Mammoth Cave, which remains open to self-guided tours. Photo: margaretriver.com

Tours of the Margaret River region's iconic caves and lighthouses have been halted by the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association (MRBTA) in light of Friday's increased restrictions on public gatherings.

The visitor centres at Margaret River, Busselton and Dunsborough have also been closed.

The MRBTA released a statement following Prime Minister Scott Morrison's advice to Australians to allow a space of 4 square metres per person, aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 illness.

"MRBTA has assessed the implications of this advice and unfortunately we will need to close some of our sites," the statement read.

Tower tours at Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste lighthouses were stopped on Friday, but the association said some heritage tours through lighthouse grounds would continue at this stage.

While tours into Lake, Ngilgi and Jewel caves have also ceased, people are still able to visit the self-guided Mammoth Cave.

Margaret River's Visitor Centre has been closed along with Busselton and Dunsborough centres, but the MRBTA says they are still providing visitor information via their website, social media and phone. Photo: margaretriver.com

Margaret River's Visitor Centre has been closed along with Busselton and Dunsborough centres, but the MRBTA says they are still providing visitor information via their website, social media and phone. Photo: margaretriver.com

"Mammoth Cave will remain open to visitors, as visitors are at the safe, required separation whilst visiting the cave, unless they are closer to members of their own families by choice."

The association is reviewing the operation of the Forest Adventures attraction, located in Busselton.

"MRBTA will continue its Airport Ground Handling services at Busselton Margaret River Airport for Rio Tinto unless we are informed otherwise.

"MRBTA staff have been notified of these changes and of the efforts being made to continue to pay all staff for as long as possible, even if they are not working."

While operations have slowed, the association said it would remain open and available for their members requiring assistance in handling the coronavirus threat and subsequent drop in trade.

"We understand that the ongoing escalation of the pandemic is very distressing for MRBTA member businesses.

"While we have all been following the news closely, it is still a shock when the impacts begin to be felt so close to home."

MRBTA members requiring assistance can request a one-on-one phone or virtual meeting to address their concerns over loss of bookings and income.