The Wombeyan Caves are limestone caves in the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve, created from over 400 million years, and continue their slow evolution today. Tours through the caves began many years ago, originally by candlelight. There are hundreds of caves in the area, but only a few are open to the public. The caves were first opened to the public in the 1800s, and people went through them in their Sunday best by candlelight. Today, the caves would not have been opened to the public, because in making them accessible the natural processes that make the caves have been altered.
You can visit the picnic areas, and walk to Victoria Arch, where the Fig Tree Cave comes out into, for free. However, you will want to go through the caves to appreciate them fully.
Fig Tree Cave is a self-guided tour and is included when you purchase a 1 (Discovery Pass) or 2 (Explorer Pass) guided tour package. It is best to go through a guided tour before Fig Tree Cave, as you will learn much about the caves and different types of structures in them from the tour guide, and you will then more easily recognise and appreciate the formations in Fig Tree Cave. We did the Wollondilly Cave guided tour, then the Fig Tree Cave.
Fig Tree Cave is the easiest cave to get through, taking about 1.5 hours, including the time to get to the entry from the kiosk. You access the caves through a token-operated door, and progress through a series of observation points with audio and lighting showing off the cave’s features.
Wollondilly Cave is the longest cave and has a wide variety of formations to showcase. The tour starts by first walking up a long climb to the meeting point. A brief rundown is provided by the tour guide, and some basic rules like don’t touch anything as the oils in our skin affect the limestone. We then entered the caves, immediately climbing down some steep stairs, the first lot of 500 steps.
As you progress through the caves, the guide describes the types of formations we’re looking at, and how they are formed. The display of colours and shapes are just amazing, but much of their appearance is based on the lighting that is used. This is demonstrated in a large cavernous section, with various lights turned on and off, showcasing views of striking differences, but are essentially the same formations with different lighting angles. At one point the lights were turned off completely to give a sense of how dark it is, and imagine what it would have been like trying to go through by candlelight.
Wollondilly Caves was once accessed as two separate cave areas. Between them was a shallow cave section with beautiful formations, far too shallow to fit through. A trough was cut through to allow enough height to walk through so that the two area can be done as a single walk through them. This is something that would never be allowed to be done today, because the formations, once submerged in water, are no longer being developed.
The caves are cold year round, so whether it is summer or winter, be prepared for the cold temperatures in the caves. If you like the cold like I do you may enjoy the cold caves without using a jumper or jacket, but it is best to be prepared just in case. A bottle of water is recommended too.
The caves and immediate area offer plenty to do, so you will want to allow a good full day, especially if you take the two guided tours option. To take a more relaxed approach, you can stay overnight or two.
Camping facilities are available for tents, camper trailers, and caravans. The campgrounds have an amenities block, barbecues, drinking water, showers and toilets. Bookings are essential for camper trailer and caravan sites, and there are 4 powered sites for which bookings are not taken.
If you prefer self-contained cabins, there are some on-site for up to 5-6 people. Or stay in the 3 bedroom cottage for up to 6 people. A dormitories option lets you take a dorm room for up to 8 people (4 x double bunks), with shared facilities for kitchen and dining room. Bookings are required.
To get there:
The easiest route is via Goulburn, even if you come from Sydney.
From Goulburn, turn into Union St from Sydney Road or Lagoon St, following the brown sign to Wombeyan Caves. The name of the road changes a few times, eventually becoming Taralga Rd. Continue through to Taralga. Around 9.3kms after Taralga, turn right into Wombeyan Caves Road. The road becomes a dirt road, for about 20kms when you arrive at the Wombeyan Caves campgrounds. Continue through passed the campgrounds to come to the kiosk.
The shortest distance route, if coming from Sydney, is to go via the Wombeyan Caves Road via Mittagong. Take the exit to Mittagong, and drive all the way through Mittagong on the Old Hume Highway. After crossing back over the Hume Motorway, turn right into Wombeyan Caves Road. The road will become a dirt road. Extreme care is needed on this road, as it becomes narrow and very windy, with some blind corners, and is very steep off the road. It requires low speeds to give time to react to oncoming traffic (some of which don’t go slow). This section makes this route take much longer, and going via Goulburn can be just as quick in time. You do however get to drive through a tunnel carved straight through the rock.
Fig Tree Cave: Adults $20.00, Child $13.00, Pensioner $13.00, Senior $17.00, Family (2 adults, children up to 16 years) $50.00
Fig Tree Cave plus 1 guided tour: Adults $33.00, Child $25.00, Pensioner $25.00, Senior $30.00, Family (2 adults, children up to 16 years) $83.00
Fig Tree Cave plus 2 guided tours: Adults $44.00, Child $33.00, Pensioner $33.00, Senior $39.00, Family (2 adults, children up to 16 years) $99.00
Dennings Labyrinth: $50.00 per person
Camping Powered: $35 per night for 2 people, $46 per night for family (2 adults, children up to 16 years)
Camping Unpowered: $15 per night for 2 people, $39 per night for family (2 adults, children up to 16 years)
Cabins, Cottage, Dormitories: See the National Parks website in the links below for pricing.
Hours: 9am-4pm, closed Christmas Day.
Seating: Yes, bench at tables
Water: Yes, bring a bottle for walks