The Marble-ous Wombeyan Caves, Australia

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.

Google Maps
Map courtesy of Google Maps

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.

Tap water and 240v power for the 21 foot Jayco “Hilton” Silverline. Guess which hose is ours.

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.

Maggie, Jamie, Belinda and Tom. Kane had not yet arrived.

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”.

Our guide about to open the entry door to the Wollondilly Cave

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)

“We Built This City” on … ?

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.

“Lot’s Wife”

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)

Marble with the presence of iron oxide colouring
A cascade in limestone
Shawls (or…potato chips)
“The Organ Pipes”
A combination of formations

Back above ground, Tom and Jamie wanted to show how they could be in two shires at the same time.

This sign (near our camp site) indicates the border, shared by the Wollondilly Shire (to left) and the Wingecarribee Shire (to right)

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.

Batman or Darth Vader in the foreground?
This could be Jabba the Hut (from Star Wars) taking a mud bath.
An amazing chasm, reminiscent of a Phantom “skull cave”
A thousand rusty, mud covered swords and daggers about to fall on you
The magnificent Victoria Arch at the exit of the Figtree Cave

The Victoria Arch is huge, being enlarged over hundreds of years as sections of the ceiling fall to the cave floor.

Various marble formations within the Victoria Arch, including an American Bison

Surely you can see the Bison? Look Harder. RIGHT IN THE CENTRE! eh See it now?

A beautifully “carved” small tunnel within the Victoria Arch
The end of the Victoria Arch and the path to the outside

In addition to cave tours there are several rewarding bush walks.

Kane and Tom (with Maggie, Belinda and Jamie ahead), on their way down to Mares Forest Creek
Unusual bowed trees and tree roots at Mares Forest Creek
Reflections in a pond at Mares Forest Creek
In the Tinted Cave – it’s entrance is on the path down to the creek

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).

Two stringybark trees holding a “friend” in a “headlock”, beside the path back to camp
Sheep paddocks near camp

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.

“What about this wood”, Kane’s asking on our way up to the Wombeyan Falls

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.

Belinda, Jamie and Tom, half way up the Wombeyan Falls

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?

Another view of “the falls”

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.

  • Janelle Baglin
    Posted at 22:34h, 03 June Reply

    Hi Alistair and Maggie, You were just down the road from us – ok 40 odd miles away.  We’re just off Wombeyan Caves on the Mittagong side.  If you’re going to be down again why not call in and reminisce! Cheers Brett and Janelle

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 06:25h, 04 June Reply

      Hi Janelle and Brett, Thanks for leaving this comment. We would be very happy to catch up with you both and regret we didn’t remember you lived near Wombeyan. Look forward to reminiscing in the near future.

      • Kevin @ Bev G.
        Posted at 17:06h, 04 June

        Great photography, Al. My maternal grandfather was a carpenter in the in Charters Tower gold mines the early 1900’s and recounted not infrequent shaft collapses, due generally to water leakage.

      • alistairstravel
        Posted at 06:44h, 05 June

        Thanks Kevin. The power of flowing or dripping water is quite amazing. We are reminded about this regularly as we view the sea cliffs around our area.

  • John
    Posted at 09:34h, 04 June Reply

    It’s a great place to visit. Took 28 school kids there in 1979 when it was a bit more primitive. One of the mums couldn’t get through a narrow passage underground as she was too fat. Kookaburras stole meat of the hot BBQ. Quite well trained I would say by the technique they used. Schools probably can’t visit there now because of too high risk assessment requirements by DoE.

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 15:00h, 04 June Reply

      John, you’re a brave man. Taking a large group of school kids there, even now, would be hard work. You are probably correct about the high risk assessment from DoE. Although there was a group of girls there for several days (probably Girl Guides or sililar) in a very well organised camp. Apparently they go there every year in the April school holidays. We had no thieving Kooka’s, however we used an electric fry pan under the edge of our caravan awning, making it difficult for robbery from the air.

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