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.
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.
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.
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.
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.