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Abercrombie Karst re-crystallisation of the limestone. Photo Courtesy Destination NSW
Abercrombie Karst close up of cave formations
Abercrombie Karst suspension bridge
Dance floor at Abercrombie Caves. Photo Courtesy Destination NSW

Abercrombie Caves - Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve

Latitude -33.913181, Longitude 149.352016

Located in the Capital Country Region of NSW, nearest town Tuena

Source: Office of Environment & Heritage, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Guide to New South Wales Karst and Caves.

Link to Detailed Map

The Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve lies in a beautiful bush environment. Local wild life can include venomous snakes, so be sure to wear appropriate footware when visiting the area. If you see a snake, stay well out of its pathway and don't agitate or annoy it. As a general rule, snakes are more active in hot weather.

The Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve's caves are well worth a visit. Self-guided tours are available; the cave lighting will automatically switch on as you approach. To enter the caves cross the suspension bridge, follow the path over the arch and go in from the far side.

Archaeological evidence suggests that Aboriginal people (including the Wirradjuri and Gundungurra groups) inhabited Abercrombie Caves and its surrounding areas some 2,000 years ago. The caves were also used as a hideout by the Ribbon Gang, a group of escaped convicts led by Ralph Entwistle, who terrorised and robbed the locals in 1830.

Gold was discovered in the region in 1851, leading to an influx of miners. In 1860, these miners constructed a small dance platform under the Grand Arch. In 1880, an even bigger dance floor was built and this still stands in the Archway today.

Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve's caves developed over millions of years in the regionally metamorphosed limestone (marble) that forms part of the local Upper Silurian Kildrummie Formation and, on a broader scale, the Hill End Synclinorial Zone. Metamorphism in the caves has been considerably more intense than in other major NSW karst areas, resulting in extensive re-crystallisation of the limestone.

Abercrombie Caves contain an abundance of speleogens (features formed by erosion and weathering), as well as an excellent example of a cut-off subterranean river meander. The caves also feature significant fossil vertebrate deposits, including the skeletal remains of marsupial mega fauna.

Limestone at the reserve is underlain by layers of basic volcanic rocks and shales and is overlain by a series of sandstones, shales and greywackes. Following the deposit of these sediments, the region surrounding the reserve was intensely folded and eroded.

The reserve's karst is impounded, with its body of limestone entirely surrounded by impervious (water-resistant) rocks. Despite this, it contains a well-developed karst system in a relatively restricted area of limestone. The main feature is the Grand Arch, a through-cave approximately 200 metres long, averaging 40m wide and with a maximum height of 32m.

A short drive (or walk) south of the caves are the spectacular Grove Creek Falls that tumble 70m over a sheer cliff. An overhead parking area and fenced lookout provide an excellent view of the falls below.

Getting There

Located in the Central Tablelands of NSW, Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve is situated approximately 80 kilometres south-west of Bathurst and 129 km north-west of Goulburn. Access is via the very scenic Trunkey Creek-Goulburn Road, which is unsealed in sections from Crookwell. If you are travelling from Crookwell, you will pass through the historic gold mining town of Tuena, home of The Goldfields Inn Hotel, est. in 1866, the oldest wattle and daub pub in NSW. There is also a wattle and daub hut, known as the Book-keeper's cottage. If you fancy some gold fossicking, gold pans are available for hire at the local store where there is also a fantastic display of pioneer artefacts.

The Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve provides opportunities for guided and self-guided cave inspections, bushwalking and fossicking for zircons, sapphires and garnets. A kiosk, camping area and accommodation are available on site. For further information National Parks- Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve

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