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Wombeyan Caves - Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve
Wombeyan Caves - cave formations. Photo Courtesy Destination NSW
Wombeyan Caves - shawl formation. Photo Courtesy Destination NSW
Flowstone in Wombeyan Caves - Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve. Photo Courtesy Destination NSW

Wombeyan Caves - Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve

Latitude -34.305125, Longitude 149.971431

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

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

Link to Detailed Map

The reserve was officially proclaimed in 1865, preceding the declaration of the world's first national park at Yellowstone in 1872. Set in very rugged and scenic country the caves are accessed from the reserve at the base of the valley. Kangaroos and other wildlife wander freely about the grassy area. Keep mindful of snakes, especially in summer.

The reserve's karst is surrounded by intrusive igneous rock, which was once covered by volcanic rock. The heat and pressure from these volcanic rocks metamorphosed the 420-million year old limestone into coarse crystalline marble.

The landscape and landforms (including caves) at the reserve have been shaped by geological events and weathering processes, which have taken place over the past 350 million years. These have produced one of the most cavernous karst areas in NSW with over 500 known caves in an area of less than 600 hectares.

The reserve has a wide range of surface karst features, including funnel or saucer-shaped sinkholes in the limestone (dolines), blind valleys, deposits of calcite around springs (tufa), surface solutional formations (karren) and a beautiful limestone canyon.

A number of the reserve's caves contain fossilised bone deposits that are thousands of years old and unusual sediments and volcanic rock fills that are millions of years old. These provide valuable insight into past climate and fauna communities, the evolution and development of the landscape and Earth's history generally.

Many of the reserve's caves are highly decorated with four of the largest and most decorative developed for visitors. Figtree Cave, containing large chambers and an active stream canyon, has been developed as a self-guide attraction.

The value of the reserve's marble for ornamental and building stone was first recognised in 1915 and from that point was continuously mined under different leases until 1997. Over time the mining of marble ceased, mainly because of decreasing demand and environmental concerns.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the caves or explore Figtree Cave on a self-guided tour (fully wheel chair accessible). Information regarding fees, times etc is available on the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve website

Getting There

Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve is located in the Capital Country Region, approximately 190 kilometres south-west of Sydney and 77km north of Goulburn. Access is by Wombeyan - Mittagong or Wombeyan - Goulburn roads, which are unsealed in sections. The road from Mittagong is particularly scenic, although it is extremely winding and narrow in parts. The nearest town is Taralga.

There is a large campground with wheel chair accessible amenities and a communal kitchen. Electric and gas BBQs are provided as well as wood fireplaces (bring your own wood). There is self-contained and dormitory style accommodation and plenty of room for caravans and motorhomes. Fees apply.

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