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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A speleological adventure at Wombeyan Caves

Recently we had two weeks off school, and since I am a teacher I had time off too.
The first week I stayed at home with DD, did lots of sewing and visited my favourite Op-shops in Queanbeyan.

The second week, hubby had some time off work after the strange public holiday those in the ACT have been granted.* 

We decided to take a trip to Sydney but  this time to do something we've never done before, stay overnight on the way. It is only 3.5 hours from Canberra to Sydney so it is not really necessary. Some folks make the trip there and back in a day for a medical appointment or to shop at Ikea.  Our idea was to visit the Wombeyan Caves and take DD on her first speleological expedition.

We packed the suitcases the night before and headed off on Monday morning. The first stop was Goulburn, where I needed to post this little number. It got there safe and sound, and its new owner has left me some very nice feedback, here

From Goulburn (Australia's first inland city and birthplace of my sister, Mary) we headed NorthWest for the little town of Taralga. Taralga is a sleepy place, famous for its fleece. We didn't stop but I would like to come back for a visit one day.

The countryside around Taralga was just beautiful, rolling green hills, shining blue dams and skinny looking white lambies everywhere.

We stopped to let an echidna cross the road.

This monotreme was camera shy, and wouldn't let us see its face once it got to the verge.

It is a windy road to the caves. We had to drive out of the farmland and into the bush, then up through some rocky ridges. We knew it was getting closer. The Wombeyan caves are in a lush green valley. We had lunch at the National Parks kiosk, paid for our tour tickets and set off up the hill to meet the guide. The tickets cost $50 a family, which I thought was good value since it was not too much more than a trip to the movies and was for a tour that went for 100 minutes!

Our guide was interesting and verbose. His name was John Mango. He counted all the people on the tour and came up with 15. There were only 14 humans but he counted the Pickle's little friend Reberto as well! Reberto comes everywhere with us these days.
The Pickle and Reberto ready to enter the cave. He is all rugged up

John Mango told us there were 230 caves that had been found so far and over five hundred different entries into the them. They are formed from a special type of rock called limestone karst. It basically dissolves in water over time. We would be going down five ladders.

 He unlocked a spooky looking door and let some adventurous kids go down first. The Pickle was not among them. She showed some trepidation but I said "be quiet and get down there" and off we went. It was cold in the caves, but the air was fresh and John Mango had a remote control to switch on and off lights and illuminate the spectacular scenes. The caves were breathtakingly beautiful. I won't try to describe them, but put in some photos for you to try and convey the majesty of God's handiwork.

This part of the tour was called"The lost cities". We walked through a channel that had been cut in the floor of the cave, so we didn't have to bend down too much (well, except for DH who is 6'3"!) The limestone had made shapes that looked eerily like famous things from history, like the Great Wall, the Sphinx, and the Terracotta Warriors. 

Here is a formation known as "Lot's Wife". Isn't she spooky?

Well, there was lots more. And time just flew by. Here's a pic of the part where we saw daylight. I was really sad that it was over! 

The road from Wombeyan Caves to Mittagong was even more windy than the road there. It was a cliff hanger! Hubby had to sound the horn on blind corners, and we drove with the windows down so we could hear if someone was coming our way. 
We saw some amazing mountains in the Nattai National Park and drove through this groovy tunnel bored through the sandstone.

Dinner at the RSL club in Mittagong and a stay in the RSLHotel finished off the adventurous day. I can highly recommend the Wombeyan Caves for anyone who wants to be amazed and inspired by natural beauty. It wasn't scary, it was dry and mostly clean and there were no bats. I have been before, as a little girl, but I have only hazy memories of being scared by a stalagmite that resembled a bear, and it was so good to experience it as a family.

Next blog post: Adventures in Sydney.

*In Victoria, folks get a public holiday for Melbourne Cup day, the first Tuesday in November. It is a horse race, the race that stops a nation. Across the country people skive off work, have long lunches and generally keep one ear to the radio to find out the winner.
Well, a couple of years ago the ACT Chief Minister decided Canberra needed a day off too, as well as Canberra Day in March, so we ended up with a public holiday called "Family and Community Services Day". The restaurant owners were not happy. They had to stay open for all the long lunches, but now they had to pay penalty rates. They complained so much that the holiday was moved to October, during the school holidays, so that families could visit Floriade together. Now the hospitality business owners can rake in the cash on Melbourne Cup day and the Public Service workers can all avoid work as they did before. And all of the school teachers miss out on a day off during term time, sigh.


  1. Wow...I am claustophobic....(sp)
    no way you get me in there, but wonderful for your family....

  2. It is great to have wonderful things in your own area to visit. Beautiful pictures...caves are so interesting!

  3. How fun! I love how you write and the pictures, too! Now I really want to visit!

  4. How cool is that! Yes, Lot's Wife is definitely spooky! Such beautiful spring pictures. I want to come visit -- it's getting colder here!

  5. What gorgeous scenery!

  6. What a great adventure!


  7. Are those naturally occurring rock formations? Sounds like a super family time:)

  8. This... post... was... amazing. My time on the computer is limited (due to my two little darlings needing my attention all the time) but when I DO get on, it is wonderful to catch a post like this. I have never been out of the USA but I've always wanted to visit Australia... keep on posting, and I'll keep reading. It sounds fantastic!

    God bless,

  9. We've camped at wombeyan caves in the past, it's a lovely spt and you're right about the road to Mittagong - it's notorious!
    glad you survived!