Colong Caves – 21-22 September 2013

Martin Pfeil had organised a weekend to Colong Caves. This limestone cave system lies deep in the wilderness of the Southern Blue Mountains. The main cave at Colong has been reported as the longest and most complex single cave within NSW and the third longest in Australia (This was written in 1984). More recent exploration and surveying by Alan Pryke of Sydney University Speleos has shown the cave is much more extensive than previously thought.

Colong 2

To visit the caves you need a permit from the NPWS, and the unfortunate recent action of a rogue caver has made getting these permits much harder. Thanks to Martin for his persistence in this matter.

Colong 14

I had previously visited Colong Caves a number of times over the years. These began with some trips (see here and here) with Springwood Bushwalking Club back in the 1970’s and in more recent years trips with Alan Pryke and one in 2007 organised by Martin. On that trip I shot a video which can be viewed here (part 1 and part 2)

Colong 1 Colong 3

On the latest trip were Martin, Scott, Max, Su Li, Brent, Stu, Enmoore and myself. We drove out past Oberon and Black Springs on the Friday night to stay in the old house near Ruby Creek, now owned by the NPWS. Then up early the enxt morning for the drive to Batsh Camp where we parked and set off for the short walk to the caves. This takes about 90 minutes, and takes you down the steep Acetylene Spur to Lannigans Creek and then you head a short way up Caves Creek to the small campsite below the Arch Cave at Colong.

Colong 4 Colong 7 Colong 6 Colong 5

After setting up camp and an early lunch, we headed underground via the lower entrance. This takes you into the Piano Cave. The notes of the piano are some long giant shawls that can be hit lightly to produce musical notes. Then we entered the Onslow Cave and passed through a few narrow squeezes to enter the large Kings Cross Chamber. We next set off along the High Passage, but found a lot of fresh fungi growing on the guano, so headed back to the Cross and along the larger Terraces Cave to reach the Amber Cave and the route to Woofs Cavern. Up to this point the going is pretty easy.

Colong 8 Colong 10 Colong 9

On recent trips to Woofs Cavern, I had been in parties that had gone to Woofs via a lower route, that starts near the Pulsating River, crosses the Leap of Faith and then involves negotiating a sump. On those trips the sump was dry. We thought this time, that the sump would most likely be under water. So this visit we went via the “tourist route” to Woofs Cavern. This way is relatively easy to find but is still quite complex. It starts with an uphill crawl up a narrow passage, then you crawl over an old gate and through some tricky clefts and more narrow passageway. Slow going. But rewarding. The formation improves dramatically as you proceed.

Colong 11 Colong 13 Colong 12 Colong 16 Colong 15

We soon arrived in the large chamber of Woofs Cavern. There was a lot to see and it is worth looking in all the nooks and crannies of this part of the cave. This was a good place for some photographs. Colong 19 Colong 18 Colong 17 Colong 16

Then, we followed the path back, or approximately did – it is inevitable to blunder up some wrong passage once or twice and then have to backtrack.

Back at Kings Cross, we returned to the surface via the large King Solomons Cave. This took us out the top entrance, and we then had a short walk down the bluffs to the campsite.

Colong 20

We had a pleasant evening around the campfire.

Next morning, most of the party decided to walk out early and then visit Yerranderie, the nearby old mining ghost town. Martin and myself were keen for some more caving. I also had a bit more cave photography in mind.

Colong 21

So, the two of us headed back underground for about 3 hours. We had a good time checking out a few more places.

Colong 22 Colong 23

Then we packed up and headed back out up Acetylene Spur for Batsh Camp – arriving there for lunch and soon after meeting up with Scott and Max on their return from Yerranderie.

Colong 24

It had been a very good weekend at the Caves. More photographs can be found here.


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8 Responses to Colong Caves – 21-22 September 2013

  1. Alex Allchin says:

    Great photos there Dave! You didn’t happen to stumble upon Red Cave whilst you were there did you?

  2. Rod Yates says:

    I suspect that the reason why it had been called the Red Cave had been removed.
    Around 1967 there was a red bra around a stalagmite in a corner of Woofs cavern, and its not visible in the photos. Good thing its gone but it was curious at the time.

  3. lindsay-bell daniel says:

    hello, some friends and I are looking around to explore Colong caves. I was wondering if you could recommend a decent website with needed information or could tell me a few things about it. What we need to know is; 1. Do we have to pay to explore and if so how much?
    2. are they worth exploring, will it take up most of the day? 3. will we be able to do it without harnesses etc?

    • Dave Noble says:

      Note that you need a permit to visit this cave (from NPWS Oberon Office) – I think one costs about $40. To fully explore the cave would take several weeks at least – as there is a lot of passage. You are best advised to join a caving club if interested in serious caving. You can get maps of the cave – which do help. I don’t think any are available online though. It is a horizontal cave – so no need for a harness or ropes (for most of the cave). Some sections do require negotiating low passage and tricky clefts.

    • Cave dweller says:

      Just head on in. Stuff the damn npws permits. The stinking npws does nothing with raised funds to maintain or improve the CC area. I’ve been through several times myself, love the area. Just don’t touch any formations. Let’s preserve the system and dont hit the stags in piano cave as above mentioned. Don’t hit anything. Don’t leave any rubbish. Enjoy and conserve and stuff the permits.

  4. Bob Wiltshire says:

    Hi Dave,

    I was last in Colong late 2002 however have explored the system extensively (SUSS waterfall / beach and far chamber etc etc) prior on many occasions.

    How hard was the permit for a non-club group to access? the old process was fairly simple and involved a letter and a brief Oberon ranger phone call to assess you weren’t a lunatic.

    I’m considering a trip later this year and worried it might have evolved into a “upload 200 page cave management rescue ecology exploration procedure management plan”


    • Dave Noble says:

      Martin in our party handled getting the permit. I think it’s a bit more involved than it used to be and there is also a fee.

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