25 November 2017
You might now know it, but NSW is filled with caves both well known and hidden. From the North Coast to the Blue Mountains and beyond, here are some great caves you can explore in NSW.
Perhaps the most famous caves in Australia, the Jenolan Caves sit roughly three hours west of Sydney. At around 340 million years old, the Jenolan caves are the oldest open caves discovered anywhere in the world. The entire system includes approximately 400 known caves, 10 of which are open to the public. With more than 40km of multi-level passages running through the Jenolan show caves, you could spend several days here and still not see it all. Discover spectacular stalactites and columns showcased in dramatic lighting, and take in the vast expanse of the Cathedral, a 54-metre-high chamber whose acoustics are so astounding that it often plays host to classical concerts.
When people think of caves, they often think of dark, cavernous spaces sheltered from the outside world. But Wind Cave, located near the highest point in the Blue Mountains, offers a strikingly different experience. Take the Anvil Rock Track to explore the cave. Sometimes referred to as ‘Wind Eroded Cave’, this cave was created by—you guessed it—wind carving the rock over thousands of years. As a result, the walls of this tall, shallow cave are marked by honeycomb-like patterns from the airborne particles which carved them. Standing on high at Wind Cave, you can enjoy incredible, expansive views of Mount Banks and the Grose Valley.
The Wombeyan area was Australia’s first region to enjoy protections for the sake of its caves. Today, Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve is home to some of NSW’s most impressive show caves, including Wollondilly Cave and Fig Tree Cave. The latter of these is said to offer one of the best self-guided cave experiences in the state, with automatic lighting and audio commentary showing off the cave’s best features as visitors move from chamber to chamber.
Found just outside Sydney within the Blue Mountains National Park, Red Hands Cave is one of NSW’s best examples of Aboriginal art. Inside this 12-metre-high cave you’ll find over 40 stencils of various hands created with red, white and orange ochre. These paintings are thought to be anywhere between 500 and 1600 years old, while experts believe the cave itself was a ceremonial site used to initiate young warriors.
Caves Beach is located where Lake Macquarie meets the ocean, near Swansea Heads. This 300-metre-long beach was named after the network of sea caves found at its southern end. Wait until low tide, when the retreating water level grants access to a number of connected caves. With their sandy floors and low ceilings, these caves make for an interesting stop on any North Coast trip.