Bushrangers, fossickers, rangers and hikers – members from each group have trekked to the Abercrombie Caves to take refuge in the largest natural limestone bridge in the Southern Hemisphere since Europeans first became aware of it in the 1820s. Delve into its history further and you will discover that Aboriginals including the Wirradjuri and Gundungurra inhabited Abercrombie Caves and the surrounding areas much further back. Yes, they were there around 2,000 years ago.
The naming of the cave is open to discussion as nobody really knows how it came about, although it is most likely to be named after Abercrombie in Scotland. Prior to this it was called “Burrangylong” by the local aboriginals which seems to have something to do with wombats and the creek. We were to excited to hear that back in 1977, anthropologists discovered stone tools in a shelter a little north of the Great Arch which most probably belonged to the Burra Burra people.
Based in Bathurst for our trip, it took us just on an hour to find our way to Abercrombie Caves. There’s a lot of signage which helped us to locate the site when my phone went out of range. After turning off the main road to make our way down to the ticketing area you will find the road is narrow and steep. Drive slowly as it is actually a two way road and you may come across 4×4 towing caravans.
The road winds all the way down to a central valley. This is the camping area with amenities (showers and toilets) and the ranger HQ where you buy your tickets. It is a fantastic place to pull up and camp if you love that sort of thing. It is the perfect location for a little respite from the hustle and bustle of the modern world,.
To access Abercrombie Caves you can choose a self guided or guided tour. Both require a ticket purchase. The self guided tour will give you access to the main caverns and was the tour we chose. The guided tours on the day we attended took ticket holders into the Bush Ranger cavern where the Ribbon Gang was said to have hidden.
The Ribbon Gang? They were a notorious gang of bushranger back in 1830 who seemed to have started their spree as a result of Ralph Entwistle unjustifiably receiving 50 lashes of the whip for skinny dipping after a trip to Sydney. Escaping from his Master some time later, he persuaded more convicts to join his rebellion growing to a gang of 50. After an overseer was murdered the gang began to fracture and they dwindled down to 14, hiding in the Abercrombie Caves. They used Stable Arch to house their horses. The Ribbon Gang were eventually caught and 10 of them including Entwistle were hanged in Bathurst. You can walk down Ribbon Gang Lane today.
To enter the Abercrombie Caves you need to walk right around the hill to the opposite side. A short detour and you can visit the Stable Arch before you reach the caves. Using a token you receive with your tickets, you can open the metal gates and enter.
This was our very first family cave adventure and it was the perfect introduction for the kids. The entire walkway is lit via sensor motion lights and it is never dark. You can see the exit if you peer around the bend which is reassuring for those who have become a little anxious about the darkness.
Stalagmites and Stalactites can be viewed throughout the cave. Some are enormous, others very thin and delicate. We reminded the kids not to touch them before explaining what they were and providing them with “Stalagmites might grow up; Stalacties hold on tight” so they could remember the names (three weeks later and they still remember!).
Although the caves are open every day of the school holidays between 9.00 am to 4.30 pm, they are only open between Thursday to Monday during the school term. Make sure you visit when it is dry as the river can rise and prevent access to the caves.