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Set in a peaceful valley, Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve is a spectacular place to visit and a unique opportunity to experience the hidden depths of NSW. Abercrombie Caves boasts the largest natural arch in the southern hemisphere, as well as a number of other grand, richly decorated caves. Take the kids on a cave tour and go on a magical underground journey.


While the cave system is small as a whole, the Abercrombie Archway is one of enormous dimensions surpassing the size of the Grand Arch at Jenolan by two and a half times.


The Reserve provides several half-day bushwalks. One-track winds to Grove Creek Falls.

The creek provides welcome relief to summer swimmers. Another walk takes you to the abandoned open-cut gold mine at Mount Gray where in 1854 gold was discovered. Miners from many of the surrounding communities would often visit the caves. In the early 1860s the miners constructed a dance floor in the archway, which is occasionally used today, ‘Carols in the Caves’ is always popular as this venue has exceptional acoustics.


The Reserve is a wildlife sanctuary. Visitors camping, staying in the comfortable guest cottage or comfortable on site units, share the peaceful surroundings with wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, and many different species of birds.


The camping area is enhanced with well-established trees. Hot showers and a laundry are provided. A kiosk offers a variety of snacks and drinks.


A severe flood hit the archway in April 1950. This flood was reported to be 7 metres up the walls and many of the tracks were washed away. The caves were closed for two years while the debris was removed. The caves were reopened for public inspection in 1952.


The caves are being constantly developed and maintained. In 1979 the new electrical installations were officially switched on and a time capsule was placed near the dance floor to be opened in 2079.


With so much to do and see, why not stay overnight? Enjoy a night by the campfire at Ambercrombie Caves campground, or cosy cabins and open fireplaces at Arch Cottage.



Destinations to explore near Abercrombie Caves

Photos Courtesy Scott Westlake Photography

Distance & direction from Sydney: 272 Klms W

Goulburn Road, Trunkey Creek

 Tel: (02) 6368 8603    Caves Website     National Parks Website     E-Mail

Abercrombie Caves

New South Wales

One of the Great well maintained picnic areas close to the Cave Guides Office

Entrance to the archway and the location of the many cave tours including the very popular self-guided tour

A swing bridge over the creek

The creek flows past huge limestone formations

The history of Abercrombie Caves


Gold Miners Dance Platform built 1880

Bushrangers

In 1830 armed settlers, mounted police and an army regiment fought it out with the Ribbon Gang near the caves. Ralph Entwistle, a convict servant, led a rebellion of convicts at Bathurst. Ralf, aged 25, was a builder and brickmaker from Bolton, England and was convicted in London for Larceny 1 (for stealing clothing). His gang became known as 'The Ribbon Gang' because many of its members were said to have worn white ribbons in their hats.

The gang terrorised the Bathurst district for some months until finally Entwistle and two others shot and killed the magistrate's property overseer. The gang headed south, away from Bathurst into unknown territory, finally stumbling on the caves, where they hid for a week. Convict leg irons found in Bushranger's cave are evidence of their stay.

A group of armed volunteers led by William Suttor tracked down the convicts and flushed them out of the caves. A gun battle took place at Bushrangers Hill (3km west of the caves). Ten captured members of the gang (including Entwistle) were hanged on 2 November 1830 in what is now Ribbon Gang Lane in Bathurst.

The Ribbon Gang had 143 members at one point. This means it was the largest convict uprising in the colony of New South Wales.

It has been suggested that other bushrangers like Ben Hall, Jack Piesley, Johnny Vane and Frank Gardiner also used the caves, but it appears unlikely. The "reformed bushranger who has since served his time acted as a Guide" recorded in the Mines Department reports of 1892 is probably Johnny Vane, a member of Ben Hall's gang.


Explorers

The first recorded tourist party visited Abercrombie in 1834. However, the caves were not officially 'discovered' until 1842 by Surveyor WR Davidson. In 1843 Surveyor Wells is credited with the discovery of Koh-i-noor, Bushranger, Long Tunnel, and Cathedral caves and the Hall of Terpsichore (The Dance Hall). In 1844 William Charles Wentworth and Governor Fitzroy visited Abercrombie Caves.


Gold

In 1854 gold was discovered in the area. Mount Gray, just above the caves, was established as a gold mining community covering some 20 hectares. Miners from many of the surrounding communities would often visit the caves.

In the early 1860s the miners constructed a small dancing platform. By now the caves, formerly known as Burragylong Caverns, were becoming known as Abercrombie.

Many pieces of white marble were carted away by the visitors as souvenirs and the miners damaged many of the formations by firing rifles at them and writing their names on the accessible stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone.

The dancing platform in the Archway today was built in January 1880 when the gold rush was at its peak. It is believed that nearby villages like Trunkey Creek enjoyed a population of around 2500 at the time.

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