These school holidays, head up Tamborine Mountain to hang with some of the tiniest, but coolest, ‘stars’ of the insect world.

There was a chill to the air as we stood there, fascinated, transfixed even, peering up into the all-consuming darkness. Tiny specks of twinkling light filled our view that evening, like busy constellations. You would have laid down money to the fact that it was a brilliant starry night sky we were experiencing under the blanket of darkness, but our starry constellations were, in fact, more insect-like. Crawling, in fact. And with glowing butts!

The Glow Worm Caves on Tamborine Mountain have been purpose built to house thousands of the cutest and most amazing little glowworms you ever did see. The original colony was discovered locally in the Tamborine area. The caves were built, however, to ensure that colony’s survival and the expansion of their cute little glowing community through a long-term breeding program.

On the Friday night that my family and I visited, we lucked the most amazing and captivating tour guide. Harrison was that guy who eats, sleeps and breathes (not literally!) glowworms. We could imagine him even spruiking about glowworms over beers with his friends at the pub. His passion for these little creatures was infectious. My kids, and us big kids, quickly warmed to him and his ridiculously large amount of glowworm knowledge. For instance, did you know:

  • Glowworms are the larvae (immature stage) of a small fly. The larval stage is the only stage in their lifecycle when they can glow.
  • The adults are delicate flies that do not have working mouthparts, and as such, only live for a small number of days (females live for two days, males live for six days).
  • Glowworms glow to attract small insects. They construct ‘snares’ (like a spider’s web) made from silk threads and sticky droplets to capture and eat their insect prey.
  • There are many different animals that have bioluminescent properties including fireflies, arachnids, some deep sea fish and squid as well as certain varieties of bacteria and fungi.

It is a bit of a sad story when you think about the fact that these amazing little guys will grow up to be mouthless adult flies who are destined to die simply because Mother Nature forgot to give them that one very key body part! But it’s for that very reason that the glowworms must gain enough sustenance during their larval stage (which can last up to a year), emitting that amazing blue-green light to attract prey, to keep them alive as long as possible. It’s all swings and roundabouts, right?

The Glow Worm Caves on Tamborine Mountain offer the only opportunity in Queensland to see glowworms during the day, making it the perfect educational, wow-factor school holiday excursion. While the tour lasts 30 minutes, there are hours of exploration available onsite at Cedar Creek Estate. Frog Hollow, a complimentary exhibit featuring native frog species and some amazing local insects, will keep little eyes wide open with amazement. There’s also a café, souvenir shop and gardens to explore.

And remember that your admission helps support and ensure the survival of this ah-mazing species in South-East Queensland for our future generations. The perfect school holiday day out, really.

Belinda Glindemann

Belinda Glindemann  

Belinda knew she was destined for a career in communications and publishing from the age of 11 when her Year 6 teacher introduced her to poster projects and glitter pens. She completed her journalism cadetship in the Whitsundays and went on to hold various newspaper and magazine editor roles across Brisbane in a media career spanning more than a decade. When Belinda's not writing for haven, she runs her own PR agency, kid-wrangles two young daughters and drinks way too much sweet tea.