Abandoned tunnel in Helensburgh is an otherworldly attraction for tourists

(ORDO NEWS) — In the small Australian town of Helensburg, one of the most amazing places on the planet is located – an abandoned railway tunnel that glows with a mysterious blue light at night.

The Helensburgh Firefly Tunnel is an abandoned rail tunnel in Helensburgh, New South Wales that has become known for both ghost stories and a colony of fireflies that give it its iconic bioluminescent blue glow.

Originally a 624 meter long underpass was opened at the end of the 19th century and was used to transport coal from the local mine to the suburbs.

However, a couple of decades later it closed and remained abandoned until the mid-90s. That was long enough for the firefly colony to take over.

Opened on January 1, 1889, the Helensburgh Metropolitan Tunnel operated until 1915.

Years of exposure to smoke and soot from coal made the tunnel unsafe for train crews and passengers to pass through, so the rail line was duplicated and the tunnel abandoned.

One end of it was sealed off and the whole place was turned into a reservoir for mining.

Over the years, the tunnel has been littered with debris and overgrown with grass, and most people have forgotten that it ever existed.

It wasn’t until 1995 that the Capital Mine decided to drain the flooded tunnel, clear the rubble in and around it, and turn the site into a historic landmark.

However, they had no idea that their efforts would eventually lead to a unique natural spectacle.

After initial restoration, the old railway tunnel became home to a firefly colony that has since become one of the largest in all of New South Wales.

They covered the ceiling of the tunnel, emitting a distinctive blue light to attract prey – invertebrates such as mosquitoes.

While this bioluminescence serves a different purpose, it creates a fantastic natural light show for us humans.

Over time, the tunnel became known as the Helensburgh Firefly Tunnel, and people from all over Australia came here to see the natural light show with their own eyes.

As photos and videos taken here have gone viral on the web, the tunnel has become an international tourist attraction.

However, with the arrival of tourists here, the number of fireflies in the tunnel began to decline. The fact is that visitors ignored warnings not to shine light on the ceiling of the tunnel and not to use flashes to make the photos brighter.

Fearing the disappearance of their extraordinary appeal, the Helensburgh Landcare group temporarily restricted access to the Helensburgh Firefly Tunnel in January 2019 to allow fireflies to breed undisturbed.


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