Voices from the profession: principles of successful guided cave interpretation.

Penelope Davidson, Rosemary Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cave tourism is a significant sector of natural area tourism in many parts of the world, and in most situations cave guides play an integral role in the visitor experience, providing interpretation and information. the field of heritage interpretation has a significant body of professional literature and practice, yet little relates to subterranean landscapes. This research explores the guided interpretive methods used and experiences created to interpret Australian tourist cave sites. It taps the voices of experienced Australian cave guides to idetnify the current personal interpretive practices and identifies some key principles for successful guided cave interpretation. This study is qualitative in nature and utilized a participatory workshop with experienced cave guides, followed by a formal peer feedback process. Nine principles were articulated through the research process. Ham's (1992) four qualities of successful interpretation were affirmed and a further five principles emerged from the workshop discussions: group management, protection, two-way communication, holistic approach and emotion. The first four principles are variously presented in the existing literature but the fifth, emotion is less well articulated in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-44
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Interpretation Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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