Pack the car, grab your camera and head to one of these amazing underworlds. Each of these otherworldly spots are perfect for a day trip or a long weekend getaway. From adventure tours and convenient campgrounds to majestic limestone formations, these caves really have something for everyone to explore.
Jenolan Caves - Three hours from Sydney
Jenolan Caves, located within the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, were the first caves in the world to be lit by electric light and dedicated for visitors to explore. To get here by car takes about three and a half hours from Sydney, so make it a day trip or weekend getaway.
Did You Know: The time and energy involved in discovering these caves back in 1903 cannot be overstated – all exploration was done by candlelight.
Setting foot in Jenolan Caves is an indescribable experience that will make you feel like you’re on another planet, or in Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders. The stalactites (which have formed over millions of years) hang from the roofs everywhere, and the water is insanely clear – it looks like an optical illusion. Jareth the Goblin King could easily live somewhere in here (for the ‘Labyrinth’ lovers).
With something for everyone from bush walks, cave tours (for all ages) adventure caving and night tours check the tour schedule and book ahead for the best experience.
Did you know: The indigenous Gundungurrra people used the Caves, calling them the Nadyung, or healing waters, and travelled great distances to bathe in the underground pools. Check out the Aboriginal Culture Self Guided tours.
Wombeyan Caves - Four hours from Sydney
Wombeyan Caves takes on massive caverns, stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, cave coral and adds one extra thing: swimming. Just two and a half hours drive south of Sydney, the reserve boasts a bunch of caves including Fig Tree cave, Wollondilly Cave, Junction Cave, and Dennings Labyrinth, among others. Book ahead for guided tours.
The 580 hectare Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve also has stunning bushwalks and a limestone canyon swimming hole near the campground. So a night or two is the best way to squeeze all the juice out of this sweet, sweet orange. Remember to stay safe around water if you decide to swim.
Abercrombie Caves - Three and a half hours from Sydney
Who knew a three and a half hour drive from Sydney could transport you to another realm? Archway Cave is one of the most magical parts of the world. Everyone will love it, including the kids.
Situated in the Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve, Archway Cave boasts the largest natural limestone bridge in the southern hemisphere – no wonder this archway is the reserve’s most famous feature!
There are great camping facilities at the Abercrombie Caves Campground, and cabins are also available. With other caves to explore, magnificent waterfalls and bushwalking tracks, you are guaranteed to have an incredible adventure.
Yarrangobilly Caves - five hours from Sydney
We’ve possibly saved the best for last; formed in a belt of limestone, the Yarrangobilly Caves date back 440 million years. It will take you around five hours to get to the Yarrangobilly area in northern Kosciuszko National Park from Sydney, but with so much to explore – incredible caves (more than one), walking tracks, a natural spring thermal pool, and historic or eco-accommodation stays – it’s well worth the trip.
There are over 400 cave entrances in the area which lead to caves of various sizes. Six of the larger and more accessible caves are open to the general public.
Jillabenan Cave is one of the oldest, smallest and most accessible of the Yarrangobilly caves. Get up close to the intensely beautiful flowstone shawls, cave coral, helictites, soda straw stalactites and impressive stalagmites on a guided tour.
Rare black and grey flowstones and the famous Cleopatra’s Needle stalagmite – a 4m column that reaches the ceiling – are just two of the many highlights of the popular guided tour of the Jersey Cave.
Marvel at the spiral dry streamway above Smugglers Passage and check out the remarkable Queens, Helictite and Devils Kitchen chambers of the Yarrangobilly North Glory Cave. This cave tour is only open to the public at certain times so bookings are essential.
The easiest of the lot and perhaps the most impressive due to its sheer size is the South Glory Cave, a self-guided experience. Do it at your own pace, take the time to read the signage and inspect the incredible formations of the Ice Age Chamber, like Lamb’s Fleece and Judges Wig.
Having been closed for the last 11 years for cave research, now is the time to do the Yarrangobilly Harrie Wood Cave tour and learn about the growth rings of stalagmites. Armed with a torch, your guide will point out this 80m cave’s specialties like the Temple of the Thousand Idols and the Heritage crystal bucket.
Too isolated for electricity, the dark underground 2.5-3.5hr guided Yarrangobilly Castle Cave tour lit up only with head torches is every ‘spelunkers’ (aka cavers) dream come true, but without the need to crawl. King Solomons Temple, delicate straws and helictites are just some of the crystal formations that you’ll discover.
Does crawling and squeezing your way into water-filled passages sound fun? Pique your interest on the 4km, no experience necessary, River Odyssey adventure caving tour – a great intro into wild caving.
Remember: to wear sturdy, enclosed shoes and bring a jacket as even in the warmest the caves are cool.