Limestone caves in Apsley

Wellington Caves

11,370 people have been here
6.7/10

The Wellington Caves are a group of limestone caves located 8 kilometres south of Wellington, New South Wales, Australia.

History

The Wellington region was long inhabited by the 'Binjang mob' of the Wiradjuri people. While there is no direct evidence that they entered any of the caves at Wellington, there is indirect evidence that they were well aware of them. A picture painted by Augustus Earle around 1826 clearly shows Aboriginal people in front of a fire at the entrance to Cathedral Cave. This painting (nla.pic-an2818409-v)is labelled 'Mosman's Cave'but is clearly the entrance to Cathedral Cave and is the first written record of the caves. The first Europeans to explore the caves were probably associated with Lieutenant Percy Simpson's settlement (1823-1831), but the first written account was provided by explorer Hamilton Hume in 1828. Two years later George Rankin, a local magistrate, found fossil bones of both a diprotodon and a giant kangaroo in the caves. The diprotodon, which has been dated to the Pleistocene period was herbivorous and its teeth were well adapted to grazing.

Rankin returned later that year with Sir Thomas Mitchell and collected a huge variety of bones from the caves which appear to have acted as a natural trap for fauna. These remains became the subject of an address by Mitchell to the Geological Society of London in 1831. Since that time the cave has been a steady source of information about ancient geology and fauna, although collapses and other geological phenomena have splintered and scattered skeletons.

The caves were frequently vandalised during the nineteenth century until 1884, when they were declared a natural reserve. Organised tours of Cathedral Cave began about 1885 with the appointment of the first caretaker, James Sibbald. Gaden Cave was discovered in 1902 and developed in 1909. The Phosphate Mine was in production from 1914 to 1918 however only 6000 tons of rock with limited amounts of phosphate were removed. The mine passages, mostly backfilled and collapsed, lay dormant for almost 80 years until they were reconstructed and reopened for tours in 1996. Cathedral Cave, Garden Cave and the Phosphate Mine are shown as guided tours.

In recent times, members of the Sydney University Speleology Club have discovered other caverns in the area. There are now 26 in the reserve. The most important discoveries have been River Cave and Water Cave (both submerged) which contain valuable fossils.

Geology

The caves at Wellington are located in an outcrop of Early Devonian limestone, which is about 400 million years old. That limestone is part of the Garra Formation.

Tourism

By 1888 over 1,500 people a year were visiting them. As of 2005, over 50,000 people visit the caves annually.

Caves

Cathedral Cave - opened for guided tours since 1885. Cathedral Cave is famous for its huge stalagmite known as Altar Rock which is 32 metres in circumference at its base and over 15 metres high. Gaden Cave - opened for guided tours since 1909. Gaden Cave is noted for its unusual and beautiful cave coral. It is named after the shire president at the time that the cave was discovered. Phosphate Mine - opened for guided tours since 1996. Apart from viewing the old workings, visitors can see 800,000 year-old deposits containing fossil bones. Other Caves (not open for tourism)- Lime Kiln Cave and McCavity - Lime Kiln Cave is the name given to the dry part of a large cave system, most of which is completely water-filled. McCavity is the under-water section of the cave which was discovered by members of the Sydney University Speleological Society. Water Cave (Anticline Cave) - this is a small doline cave leading to water. It is in the process of being re-opened. Big Sink - this is an old collapsed doline. It appears to be the route through which fossil-bearing sediments washed into the chambers below. Mitchell's Cave - this is the site from which the first Australian fossils for scientific study were collected by George Rankin

References

  • Mike Augee, Chris George and Bruce Welch, Wellington Caves, Wellington Caves Fossil Studies Centre 2008 ISBN 978-0-9805289-0-9.
  • Joan Starr and Doug McMillan, The Wellington Caves. Treasure Trove of Fossils, Dubbo, Macquarie Publications, 1985.
  • Kent Henderson, The Wellington Caves and Abercrombie

External links

Post a comment
Tips & Hints
Arrange By:
Ellie Fraser
10 June 2011
Keep an eye out for the caterpillars-they're everywhere, including between your sheets!
Load more comments
foursquare.com
Location
Map
Address

97 Caves Rd, Apsley NSW 2820, Australia

Get directions
Open hours
Mon-Sun 9:00 AM–4:30 PM
References

Wellington Caves on Foursquare

Wellington Caves on Facebook

Hotels nearby

See all hotels See all
Bandalong Cottages

starting $153

Orana Motel

starting $99

Canguri Boutique Farmstay Cottage

starting $262

Macquarie Inn Motel

starting $96

Best Western Bluegum Motel (Adults 16+ only)

starting $145

Homestead Motel

starting $67

Recommended sights nearby

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Burrendong Dam

Burrendong Dam is a Rock-fill dam with a clay core across the

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Burrendong Botanic Garden and Arboretum

The Burrendong Botanic Garden and Arboretum is located near Mumbil,

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Abercrombie Caves

Abercrombie Caves lie between Bathurst and Crookwell in New South

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Jenolan Caves

The Jenolan Caves are remarkable caverns in the Blue Mountains, New

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Blue Mountains (Australia)

The Blue Mountains is a mountainous region in New South Wales,

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Katoomba Scenic World

Katoomba Scenic World is a popular privately-owned tourist attraction

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Echo Point (lookout)

Echo Point is a lookout about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) south of

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Three Sisters (Australia)

The Three Sisters are a famous rock formation in the Blue Mountains of

Similar tourist attractions

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Cave of the Winds (Colorado)

Cave of the Winds is a cave in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. It

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns, originally called Luray Cave, is a large, celebrated

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Cave of the Mounds

Cave of the Mounds, a natural limestone cave located near Blue Mounds,

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Marble Arch Caves

The Marble Arch Caves (Irish: Uaimheanna na hÁirse Marmair) are a

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
St. Michael's Cave

St Michael's Cave is the name given to a network of limestone caves

See all similar places