03 Jun The Marble-ous Wombeyan Caves, Australia
“Let’s have a family holiday at Wombeyan Caves”, suggested Maggie’s eldest daughter, Belinda.
The Wombeyan Caves are 3 hours 55 minutes southwest of Sydney NSW or 2 hours 35 minutes northeast of Canberra ACT.
If approaching from Sydney, the route via Mittagong is slightly quicker, however from Mittagong it is unsealed, narrow, rough, winding and steep. If you are towing a van, this road is definitely not recommended. If you’re Belinda (aka the Fangio of four-wheel driving) you’ll probably insist on taking this road.
I suggest staying on the Hume Hwy until Goulburn if travelling from Sydney, as the road from Goulburn to Wombeyan is far more comfortable, mostly bitumen and less “nerve-racking”. And, although the last half hour or so is on a dirt road, it’s well graded and relatively wide.
17th to 22nd April, 2018: We visited “the caves” with our 21 foot caravan in tow and caught up with Kane, Belinda, Tom and Jamie when we got there. We pre-booked a powered caravan site, as they only have nine powered sites.
Belinda, Kane and kids were “tenting” and occupied a non-powered site. Non-powered sites (for tent or van) cannot be pre-booked, but there are plenty of them to choose from when you arrive. Plus there are cabins for the faint-hearted. Fees on the “caves” website.
There are five major caves at Wombeyan, however only three were open during our visit. Maggie and I chose to see the self guided Fig Tree Cave and the Wollondilly cave, which cost us $30 pp on a “Seniors Discovery Pass”.
According to the guide, Wombeyan caves have been formed in limestone and marble.
Following are some photos I made of the limestone and marble in the Wollondilly cave.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock, composed mainly of skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral, forams and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate. (Wikipedia)
Marble is a metamorphic rock (formed at high temperature and pressure) composed of recrystallised carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite. (Wikipedia)
In the Wollondilly Cave many sections of the floor were covered in this way. I didn’t hear an explanation of how these miniature “city like” structures were formed. Feel free to add a comment at the end of this blog if you know.
The lighting in the caves is provided by tungsten globes, which can create white “hot-spots” close to the globe and an orange cast across the remainder of the area each covers. These photos have been colour correct for tungsten light, so the orange colour you see is (mostly) created by the presence of iron in the rocks (in the form of iron oxide I believe)
Back above ground, Tom and Jamie wanted to show how they could be in two shires at the same time.
Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve is well cared for by the rangers and guides (mostly retired volunteers). It’s a very relaxing, picturesque place to be.
Another day, another cave – this time the self-guided Fig Tree Cave.
The Victoria Arch is huge, being enlarged over hundreds of years as sections of the ceiling fall to the cave floor.
Surely you can see the Bison? Look Harder. RIGHT IN THE CENTRE! eh See it now?
In addition to cave tours there are several rewarding bush walks.
This formation appears to be a Merino sheep looking up for some warn sunlight. There is no fee for entering this small cave (or for the crazy interpretations of the rock formations).
You can make a fire at the Wombeyan camp grounds, if
1. You light your fire in the fire places provided
2. You bring your own firewood from outside of Wombeyan
But ….. when you run out of the wood you brought with you, it is very tempting to take dead wood from the surrounding bush, even though that is not allowed.
Of course not! When we ran out of our wood, we didn’t take any wood from here……. That would be totally against the rules.
Obviously, there’s no water coming over “the falls” right now, so Tom gave it the “thumbs down”. Jamie obviously loved it up there and Belinda was totally undecided. But look at “The Hulk” breaking out of the rocks just below them. That might have changed Tom’s mind…..if he could have seen it?
Dry or not, it’s a beautiful view and an enjoyable walk, to and from, along the Wombeyan Creek.
If you haven’t been Wombeyan Caves, there’s no doubt…you should go! And in the cooler months, remember to take firewood. Lots of it!
Please join us for the next surprising episode from Shellharbour NSW, Australia.