Camping at Wombeyan Caves
Fig Tree Cave at Wombeyan Caves
I’ve just enjoyed 3 days of camping at Wombeyan Caves as part of a small road trip with:
- my 4 year old son, 6 year old daughter and my husband;
- our hatchback with limited ground clearance and a rooftop box; and
- our 4 person tent with space for 4 thermarests.
I thought that I would share some information here in case anyone is wondering about the amenities and status of the access roads as of October 2013:
Wombeyan Caves Reserve camping ground with green grass, soft ground, excellent amenities and abundant campsites
- We were not able to book a campsite and it being school holidays in NSW and ACT we were a bit nervous about campsite availability but we were assured in advanced that it wouldn’t be a problem and the NPWS staff were absolutely correct because there were spaces for at least another 10-15 tents after we set-up camp. I spoke to one camper who said it had been full on the weekend though;
- The campsite is situated on a wide stretch of grassy floodplain beside Wombeyan Creek and is broken into 4 sections by the access roads and creek. The soil was soft enough to allow us to easily push our tent pegs in;
There are water taps with potable water situated around the edges of the campsite and fireplaces abound so we were delighted to camp next to a tap, fireplace, table and stools with our car right next to our tent. It was quite chilly at night (4C) so it was lovely to have a fire near our tent and our children were delighted to toast marshmallows;
- The amenities blocks have gas hot water on demand in the showers and hand basins, flush toilets, toilet paper, mirrors and paper towel;
- The kitchen has electric lights, fridge/freezer to share, electric kettles, toaster, 2 coin-operated barbeques and sink with hot water for washing dishes;
- There is also a large well-lit hall with chairs and fire places that would be convenient to use on cold nights or rainy days or if camping with a large group;
- The creekbed was dry and had abundant rocks for children to play with (and there were always children in there making cairns and role playing);
- There is a kiosk open during business hours with coffee, hot food, ice creams, snacks, cold drinks and souvenirs and that is where one purchases tokens to enter the Wombeyan Caves themselves.
Attractions and Activities
- We did the self-guided tour of Fig Tree caves which has sensors that turn on commentaries and lights that showcase the cave features accompanying the commentary. The walk through the caves was fascinating and easy to do for a 4 year old. There are also at least 2 guided tours into other caves that we didn’t take because we thought that listening to the commentary may be too much to expect from our children and we wanted to choose our own timing and pace;
Rock orchids (Dendrobium speciosum) on the walk to Wombeyan Falls
Wildlife abounds including a large mob of kangaroos
Nature and Wildlife
- There is very little light pollution so the star gazing possibilities are amazing;
- Wildlife abounds in the area of the camping ground including rock wallabies, kangaroos, possums (that squabble at night), several different types of lizards, and abundant raucous birdlife. At 4:40am I lay awake listening to a Southern Boobook owl call outside our tent when I heard the dawn chorus of birds begin. Having seen the Dawn Chorus footage as part of the BBC documentary The Life of Birds I wonder how the early English settlers of Australia must have felt when they heard their first Australian dawn chorus. The mixture of sulphur-crested cockatoos, noisy friar birds, and red wattle birds is discordant to say the least and those gregarious birds sound demented!;
- There were 30-40 kangaroos with joeys feeding at dusk each evening on a large grassy picnic ground next to the camping area and by day the picnic area is a great place to play with children and balls etc; and
- I witnessed two different male kangaroos approach two different female kangaroos, in the same way, on what was presumably a mating ritual. The male approached (with erection) and stood near the head of the female and touched her on either side of the face with his front legs before moving to her rear end and sniffing and tapping her with his front legs. In both cases the female appeared to have a juvenile joey in her pouch and took a few small ‘steps’ forward and the rejected male eventually turned away with a now flaccid penis.
- Petrol is available in Taralga from a farm supplier and limited groceries, a pub, a cafe and a takeaway shop were visible from the road as we drove through;
- We took the Goulburn-Taralga-Oberon Road to the Wombeyan Caves turn off and accessed the campground that way on our way in. The road from Goulburn is sealed and in good condition. From the turn off (about 5 minutes drive outside of Taralga) it was about 40 minutes drive along a gravel road (Wombeyan Caves Road) with enough space to allow passing another vehicle. The road was in good condition and we did not have any trouble travelling at about 30-40km/h in our hatchback; and
- To exit the park we followed Wombeyan Caves Road to Mittagong and found that it was a very long journey, with nearly 2 hours of gripping the steering wheel tightly while passing beside cliffs, on a very narrow dirt track with no guard rails, insufficient space to pass another vehicle in many places and many blind corners. In sections the road was rutted and curved so much that our car ‘bottomed’ out and I had to place two wheels on the high side and two on the low side (even though this meant driving down the middle of the road) just to stop the car from scraping on the ground. After about 45 minutes of nail-biting driving I was excited to reach the lovely looking Wollondilly River but disappointed to find that the green riverside area that would have been a perfect place to take a break was only for use by campers at the campground there. It’s only after driving the road that I realised that we would have been better off driving back out the way we came and continuing via Goulburn or Oberon to our next campsite. By the time that I reached the sealed road I needed a short rest and was delighted to find a Wollondilly lookout over the gorgeous Nattai National Park (another trip needed to explore that one!).
Wollondilly Lookout over Nattai National Park