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Road trip from Canberra: Yarrangobilly Caves

By Lisa Martin 24 March 2015 19

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My last RiotACT article talked about some of the day trips you can take around Canberra to explore the great outdoors. Yarrangobilly Caves was one of the day trips on my to do list and last weekend, I got in the car and ventured out into the Snowy Mountains to explore the caves.

The route I took was a circuit starting along the Monaro Highway to Cooma. I ended up doing a circuit which took me down the Snowy Mountains Highway, and I drove back to Canberra via Tumut, Gundagai and the Hume Highway past Yass and Murrumbateman. I had hoped to visit the Wee Jasper caves the same day but turns out Wee Jasper Road from Tumut is unsealed for 64km so ended up taking the highway route back to Canberra. Of course, you can also choose to return the way you came for a shorter journey. All up, my drive covered about 500 kilometres but it was a very easy drive.

Yarrangobilly Caves is a bit under three hours in total from Canberra. Once you reach Cooma, it’s about 90 minutes along the Snowy Mountains Highway to reach the caves. The drive along the Snowy Mountains Highway is spectacular. I would love to see this area covered in snow one day too. It’s an easy drive with the road in very good condition and not a pothole in sight.

At the turnoff to Yarrangobilly Caves, it’s another 6km on a gravel road to get the caves. But don’t worry, the gravel road is also in great condition – you just have to take it slow if you’re not in a 4WD.

The site is well set up with clear signage and a visitor information centre. Entry into the site is $3 per car and then you can choose to take a guided tour of Jillabenan or Jersey caves, or choose to walk through South Glory Cave on your own.

The guided tours are $22 per person or $55 for a family. To go through South Glory Cave, it’s $18 per person or $45 for a family.

My friend and I chose to go through the South Glory Cave. It’s quite an interesting walk through the cave. There’s a concrete path throughout, but there’s quite a few steps so moderate fitness is required. It was pretty wet in there to so enclosed shoes might be a good idea, plus at least a jumper as it got quite cool in there.

Depending on how long you want to spend in the cave, you can walk through the cave in about 20 minutes.

Next up we drove over to the Thermal Pool, which is only a minute or so by car from the caves. From the car park, it’s about a 15-minute walk downhill to the Thermal Pool. It’s set among trees and by a river, so it’s an ideal spot for a picnic and to spend a few hours relaxing in the pool or under the trees. This place seems to be a bit of a hidden gem. There were only a handful of people around, so if you’re lucky, you might get the place to yourself.

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There’s a deep pool and then I guess what must be a wading pool that is perfect for kids. There’s mats on the bottom of the smaller pool so it’s not slippery.

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The pool stays at a steady 27 degrees year round. According the signs in the area, this is due to rainwater seeping hundreds of metres below the ground surface where it is heated and then forced back through porous rock to the surface.

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The current pool was built in 1969 by prisoners, but a small wooden pool existed before then dating back to 1896.

There’s a couple of picnic tables in the area, change rooms (no showers) and toilets. There are also a couple of makeshift barbecues. From the Thermal Pool area, there are a few walks you can take to the caves or along the river.

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This is the perfect spot for a day trip from Canberra and well worth the drive. We left at 8am and were back in Canberra by around 5.30pm and there’s plenty of places along the way to stop for a leg stretch and check out the views.

What’s Your opinion?


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Road trip from Canberra: Yarrangobilly Caves
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Gismondo 5:25 pm 18 May 15

Gismondo said :

Jmb86 said :

Hi, my wife and I will be heading to Yarrangobilly over the June long weekend. Am trying to decide which way is better to go (departing from Gungahlin area) – do we head north via Gundagai or go south via Cooma? In a Hyundai i30, so not really an off-roader. Any suggestions on whether one is better than the other? Main concerns for both ways are: Via Gundagai – is it all sealed?/Will the i30 make it?. Via Cooma – all the crazies on the road heaing to Thredbo/Perisher/Jindy etc… Suggestions appreciated 🙂 (Also any “must see’s” aside from the caves themselves. Thinking perhaps a day trip out to Junee for the Chocolate Factory, maybe Monte Cristo too???)

From Northside go via the Hume. The road is highway all the way around the loop, so car type isn’t an issue. Stop at Jugiong for the long track pantry and pick up the salad dressing of the same name 🙂

Road between Gundagai and Tumut (Gocup Rd) is not highway but is reasonable despite no overtaking lanes. You will meet up with Snowy Mtns highway as you enter Tumut.

Gismondo 5:04 pm 18 May 15

Jmb86 said :

Hi, my wife and I will be heading to Yarrangobilly over the June long weekend. Am trying to decide which way is better to go (departing from Gungahlin area) – do we head north via Gundagai or go south via Cooma? In a Hyundai i30, so not really an off-roader. Any suggestions on whether one is better than the other? Main concerns for both ways are: Via Gundagai – is it all sealed?/Will the i30 make it?. Via Cooma – all the crazies on the road heaing to Thredbo/Perisher/Jindy etc… Suggestions appreciated 🙂 (Also any “must see’s” aside from the caves themselves. Thinking perhaps a day trip out to Junee for the Chocolate Factory, maybe Monte Cristo too???)

From Northside go via the Hume. The road is highway all the way around the loop, so car type isn’t an issue. Stop at Jugiong for the long track pantry and pick up the salad dressing of the same name 🙂

Jmb86 4:07 pm 18 May 15

Hi, my wife and I will be heading to Yarrangobilly over the June long weekend. Am trying to decide which way is better to go (departing from Gungahlin area) – do we head north via Gundagai or go south via Cooma? In a Hyundai i30, so not really an off-roader. Any suggestions on whether one is better than the other? Main concerns for both ways are: Via Gundagai – is it all sealed?/Will the i30 make it?. Via Cooma – all the crazies on the road heaing to Thredbo/Perisher/Jindy etc… Suggestions appreciated 🙂 (Also any “must see’s” aside from the caves themselves. Thinking perhaps a day trip out to Junee for the Chocolate Factory, maybe Monte Cristo too???)

rigseismic67 10:38 am 27 Mar 15

I dont want to bore fellow Riotacters to tears but I head into that area of KNP regularly to fish and camp with my family. Some track notes for a great weekend below (they are part of an extended trip but I have only included up to Yarrangobilly);
Canberra- Adaminaby- Yarrangobilly
The track notes start at Tharwa- Zero tripmeter at Tharwa- Continue heading S towards Namadgi NP along Naas Rd/Bobeyan Rd- Rd eventually turns dirt.
66km on the LHS is a nice stop on the banks of the Murrumbidgee
78km you intersect the Snowy Mtns Highway (SMH)
80km the town of Adaminaby. Fuel, IGA and a bakery (not bad coffee)

Zero tripmeter at bakery and head onto SMH and towards Tumut
17km Providence Portal Lake Eucumbene on LHS
21km access on LHS to Eucumbene River via dirt rd
26.8km Delaneys Hut is on the RHS in a hidden bend of the rd- nice spot to stop.
29km Sawyers Hill hut on LHS
35km Eucumbene River access on L and R
36km Kiandra Cemetery on LHS 35 52.972 148 30.016
Short walk to cemetery
38km intesection with Khancoban Rd (Selwyn) keep going straight ahead along SMH
59km ‘In’ way to Yarrangobilly Caves on LHS 35 42.359 148 30.402
Zero tripmeter
4.5km Ranger Station- day use tickets bought here- icecreams for the kids.
500m past the Ranger Station on RHS is the carpark for the Glory Hole Cave
It’s a 500m walk to the cave mouth
500m back in the car and 500m on RHS is the Thermal Pools carpark
Park here and walk down the steep hill. Changerooms & toilets at bottom
Bubbler water at bottom to drink. Hellish walk back up with small kids.
6.2km from Thermal Pools carpark to SMH intersection (access roads to Yarrangobilly are both one way)

Not a bad campsite is at Bullocks Hill but its close to the SMH. To get here turn R at SMH and its on the LHS a few km back towards Kiandra the coords are 35 46.536 148 30.855.

Sandman 10:50 pm 26 Mar 15

The road through NaasValley is a good one despite the dirt. We do it regularly on road bikes and in the truck. Can’t remember the last time I took the Monaro Highway.

Burgers are pretty good at the Adaminaby Bakery too if your looking for a nice quick meal or something to take down to the park.

Southmouth 8:50 pm 26 Mar 15

Alpine is good. The wood fired pizza place at Bredbo is excellent also despite it’s humble setting. Great country owners as well.

KB1971 6:15 pm 26 Mar 15

switch said :

Southmouth said :

Any road trip that requires travel through Cooma at dinner time is worth while as it gives one the opportunity to eat at Roses Lebanese restaurant. This place is orders of magnitude better than anything in Canberra (rather bizarrely). Great on the way back from KNP or Tarthra.

Yes, why is that? The food is excellent and reasonably priced.

We like the Alpine Hotel, awesome counter meals.

KB1971 6:03 pm 26 Mar 15

smilesr said :

Heavs, how long did it take you to drive via Adaminaby/Naas? Was it sealed or dirt?

I am wondering how to get there a more adventurous but more direct way. Thinking after camping at Woods Reserve to go via Smokers Trail, Cotter Hut Rd, Blue Waterholes Firetrail and then Long Plain Road. Anyone tried this? I have it marked on the New South Wales Road Directory but these trails aren’t marked in Google maps.

Fatal flaw with that plan is that Smokers Trail has been closed for more than 20 years along with Cotter Hut trail. Blue Water Holes trail via Leura Gap has been closed for far longer. Up until about 15 years ago you could still did from Blue Waterholes around to Currango but the fun police closed that one to.

Conder to Adaminaby takes between 1:15 – 1:30.

smilesr 12:01 pm 26 Mar 15

Looks like it will have to be via Adaminaby. We have an AWD not a 4WD and it has handled a lot of the rough roads around here fine but nothing too rough.

Grimm 11:16 am 26 Mar 15

smilesr said :

Heavs, how long did it take you to drive via Adaminaby/Naas? Was it sealed or dirt?

I am wondering how to get there a more adventurous but more direct way. Thinking after camping at Woods Reserve to go via Smokers Trail, Cotter Hut Rd, Blue Waterholes Firetrail and then Long Plain Road. Anyone tried this? I have it marked on the New South Wales Road Directory but these trails aren’t marked in Google maps.

It will really depend on what you are driving. I haven’t been up that way in a while, but last time I was, the Blue Waterholes firetrail was in terrible shape. Definitely not 2WD accessible, and I honestly wouldn’t have attempted it in anything but a real 4WD. Really nice spot if you can get into it. Check out Coolamine if you are going that way. Just watch where you walk, because the place is full of old, dodgily covered up mine shafts. haha.

I use the Boboyan Rd to get to Adaminaby every few weeks. It is pretty well trafficked and maintained. No surprises that the least looked after and worst bit of it is the section through Namadgi NP. It has started to get a little chopped up and corrugated recently, but is still very 2wd accessible. Travel time from Lanyon shops to Adaminaby is right on 50 minutes usually.

As for travel through KNP and locked gates, yeah, there are quite a lot. At least the road closures there are pretty well advertised. Just check the NSW Nat Parks website for closed areas. Google maps even has the seasonally closed roads marked. Or you could always take a universal key….. hahah

switch 8:38 am 26 Mar 15

Southmouth said :

Any road trip that requires travel through Cooma at dinner time is worth while as it gives one the opportunity to eat at Roses Lebanese restaurant. This place is orders of magnitude better than anything in Canberra (rather bizarrely). Great on the way back from KNP or Tarthra.

Yes, why is that? The food is excellent and reasonably priced.

Southmouth 7:43 am 26 Mar 15

Beware the locked gates in KNP. Your short cuts may be long when you have to turn around. Any road trip that requires travel through Cooma at dinner time is worth while as it gives one the opportunity to eat at Roses Lebanese restaurant. This place is orders of magnitude better than anything in Canberra (rather bizarrely). Great on the way back from KNP or Tarthra.

wildturkeycanoe 5:56 pm 25 Mar 15

smilesr said :

Heavs, how long did it take you to drive via Adaminaby/Naas? Was it sealed or dirt?

I am wondering how to get there a more adventurous but more direct way. Thinking after camping at Woods Reserve to go via Smokers Trail, Cotter Hut Rd, Blue Waterholes Firetrail and then Long Plain Road. Anyone tried this? I have it marked on the New South Wales Road Directory but these trails aren’t marked in Google maps.

I’m pretty sure Long Plain road is closed between June and October, no doubt because it snows and they are sick of towing out dumb people trying to get through in 2WDs. Sounds like a good drive though. If you zoom in on the Google Maps, they do come up. I didn’t even see them when zoomed out. Try a search for the road names on the PC, didn’t try mobile maps.

Boboyan Road [Adaminaby/Naas Valley] is about 45min-1hour from South Canberra to Adaminaby, depending how fast you like to go through corners. Half tar, half gravel and pretty winding though, so not great if you have car-sick prone kids. The gravel part isn’t too bad, have driven it heaps in 2WD cars, just gets a bit hairy on corners and in summer the dust is terrible, especially when stuck behind a person too selfish to let you go around.

smilesr 3:32 pm 25 Mar 15

Heavs, how long did it take you to drive via Adaminaby/Naas? Was it sealed or dirt?

I am wondering how to get there a more adventurous but more direct way. Thinking after camping at Woods Reserve to go via Smokers Trail, Cotter Hut Rd, Blue Waterholes Firetrail and then Long Plain Road. Anyone tried this? I have it marked on the New South Wales Road Directory but these trails aren’t marked in Google maps.

dungfungus 8:45 am 25 Mar 15

rubaiyat said :

btw What happened with the ACT proposing our local Canberra deep hot rocks for thermal heating?

They were talking about a lake swimming pool but seems to me it would be a good energy source, rather than using gas or electricity. The government could be a customer for its own many buildings for a start.

“btw What happened with the ACT proposing our local Canberra deep hot rocks for thermal heating?”
They must have put it on the backburner.

rubaiyat 5:21 pm 24 Mar 15

btw What happened with the ACT proposing our local Canberra deep hot rocks for thermal heating?

They were talking about a lake swimming pool but seems to me it would be a good energy source, rather than using gas or electricity. The government could be a customer for its own many buildings for a start.

rubaiyat 5:17 pm 24 Mar 15

The Wee Jasper caves are brilliant, scattered everywhere, many just literally tiny holes in the ground.

Be adequately prepared and see if you can get someone who knows them to take you into and around them. Some have some great little squeezes that even the non-expert can do.

Get your kids in Scouts and pester the leaders to do it.

Madam Cholet 4:10 pm 24 Mar 15

I’ve long wanted to visit Yarrangobilly, but always discounted a day trip as would have small child in tow who probably wouldn’t want to do a three hour there and back trip in one day. I have read about accommodationout there which I think is owned by NSW government. It’s a bring your own sheets type place, but looks enormous and old and could be great fun for kids.

WE did Wee Jasper caves a few years ago on a stinking hot day. The caves experience is interesting to say the least – as in the chap who runs the tours is a bit out there, his yard is littered with a few broken down cars and he can talk for Australia. He talked fro about 40 minutes before we got in the caves. Nice and cool on a hot day, but by the end of it we really wanted to get out.

The unsealed road is actually ok if you are brave enough to do the actual tour!

Heavs 2:18 pm 24 Mar 15

Did it a few weeks back. Cleverly forgot it was a National Park. No dogs allowed! So, tail between our legs we headed on home without even seeing the caves. Still, fantastic drive. Went the dirt route (Wee Jasper thru to Tumut then home via Adaminaby and Naas Valley) which meant a lot less km on the car as well.

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