iD magazine

GLOWWORM TUNNEL

IS THERE A HAUNTED RAILWAY TUNNEL?

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It’s an entrance to a strange and different world: First you have to follow the rusted rails as you walk along an overgrown wall. Then you enter the tunnel’s profound darkness—broken only by a faint, almost magical blue-green glow coming from within. It’s produced by the Arachnocam­pa richardsae larvae that live in the tunnel. These biolumines­cent gnats (glowworms) are endemic to Australia and New Zealand. Their light attracts small flying insects such as mosquitoes and midges, which get caught in the sticky threads the larvae spin. But the light attracts tourists too, in part because of the legend that a miner,

Robert Hails, was killed in the tunnel by a train in 1895 and his footsteps still echo there. The strange light is produced by way of a biochemica­l reaction between oxygen in the air and an enzyme and a pigment in the body of the larvae. It is at its most spectacula­r in the warm wet months of summer from December to March.

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