There are plenty of options to choose from if you’re planning your next trip around NSW: pristine swimming spots, white sand beaches, gorgeous small towns and underrated natural wonders. Aside from all the beauty to discover on land, there is also plenty hidden beneath our feet in the form of ancient caves. These limestone labyrinths, intricate chambers, complex caverns and fascinating rock formations are some of the most beautiful destinations in our sprawling state and offer a step back in time. Ready to witness this underground spectacle for yourself? Here are some of the most magnificent caves in NSW that you can explore.
Let’s start with the most obvious one. Jenolan Caves’ claim to fame doesn’t stop with just being the oldest cave system in the world. The crown jewel of Australia’s most stunning cave systems is a thrilling natural wonder right on our doorstep. Lucky us! There are several caves in Jenolan but only 11 show caves are open to the public. These dramatic limestone caves feature stunning crystal formations, dazzling chambers, marine fossils and calcite formations. Some of the best caves that are open to the public include the Lucas Cave for stunning rock formations, the Orient Cave for giant decorated chambers and the River Cave for a lovely view of a dimly lit underground river. Read more about the marvellous Jenolan Caves.
2. Wombeyan Caves
Located about an hour from Goulburn, the Wombeyan Caves consist of a number of gorgeous limestone caves at the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve. The limestone in these caves is 430 million years old and comprises some of NSW’s most gorgeous show caves. It’s also home to the Figtree Cave, one of the largest chambers at Wombeyan Caves and one of the best caves to embark on a self-guided tour. In 1865, Wombeyan became the first area in the country to be reserved for the protection of caves. Read more about these magnificent caves here.
Please note that the Wombeyan Caves Visitor Precinct is currently closed due to damage caused by floods. Keep your eyes on updates about the area here.
3. Yarrangobilly Caves
The Yarrangobilly Caves are six stunning caves formed 440 million years ago at the Kosciuszko National Park. A world of stalagmites, stalactites, shawls and corals await you in this underground labyrinth around a 5.5-hour drive from Sydney. The South Glory Cave, the largest on-site is excellent to explore on a self-guided tour but if you prefer to let someone lead the way, there are plenty of guided tours available for the Jersey and Jillabenan caves. An added incentive to visit these caves is the Yarrangobilly Caves Thermal Pool, one of the most picturesque swimming spots in NSW flanked by the bush and local wildlife. It’s a short walk from the caves and you can read all about it here.
4. Queenscliffe Tunnel
Sydney has no shortage of bragging rights when it comes to beaches. But what if we told you that one popular Sydney beach was also home to a secret tunnel? In the heart of Manly is a hidden tunnel approximately 50 metres long. Said to have been constructed in 1908 by local fishermen, a walk through this tunnel will lead you straight into the ocean with a gorgeous view of the sea awaiting you on the other end. The Manly Wormhole as it is now commonly known connects Queenscliff and Freshwater beaches and is widely regarded as one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets. Find out how to get there here.
Don’t let this unassuming tunnel’s outward appearance fool you. A short walk into this tunnel at Wollemi National Park will lead you to a galaxy of glowworms. The 100-year-old Glow Worm Tunnel is not in use anymore but was originally constructed as part of the railway line to Newnes, an abandoned ghost town in NSW. The dazzling glow worm tunnel can be reached via a short walk that is easily accessible but keep in mind that construction is currently underway to give it a revamp. Keep your eyes on the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website if you’re already anticipating your trip to this magical spot. Read all about it here.
6. Caves Beach
You can’t have a roundup of the best places in NSW without a mention of the beach. This particular cave system, while not as sprawling as the others, is unique in its own right because it’s right on a gorgeous beach in NSW. Caves Beach in Lake Macquarie is a sight for sore eyes with sea caves, archways, chambers and little pools to splash around in. There are several picturesque caves to explore, but remember that you can only access the caves at low tide for safety reasons. The best things to do here include swimming, surfing and enjoying the views. Read more about the remarkable Caves Beach.