The Yarrangobilly Caves are a set of caves smack bang in the middle of Kosciuszko National Park, in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales. The region has some caves that have been forming for around from a few hundred thousand years old all the way back to several million years.
The first European to visit the caves was when a stockman John Bowman came across the complex in 1834. However, in 1904–50, Leo James Hoad was associated with the caves, serving as the official caretaker of the caves from 1919 to 1946. He also discovered Jillabenan Cave in 1910.
Since then, various other caves have been discovered – the mountainous terrain allows the entrance to some caves easy to find, but there are still new underwater caves being discovered, including a recent discovery in the early 2020s.
Geologically, these caves are diverse. Though not as old as the rivalled Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains, these caves were formed in 440-million-year-old limestone, though not all were formed at the same time. The two main caves on show, Jersey and Jillabenan Caves, were formed over 500,000 years apart (Jersey formed a few years before).
For cave enthusists, Jersey Cave features a 4-metre stalegmite that touches the ceiling that's named Cleopatra's Needle.
Flora and fauna
Visitor information centre
- 1 Yarrangobilly Caves Visitor Centre, 50 Yarrangobilly Caves Rd, Yarrangobilly, ☏ +61 2 6454 9597, email@example.com. 9AM-5PM. More specialised in cave tours, walks, but can help you with hiking in nearby areas as well (ideally, you'd have to go to the Tumut Visitor Centre to do that, but Yarrangobilly can help too).
Apart from this visitor information centre in Yarrangobilly, the nearest ones are in Tumut or Jindabyne. See the Kosciuszko National Park for more about this.
Yarrangobilly is quite far isolated, with car being the only option to get in, via the long and windy Snowy Mountains Highway.
From Tumut, head southeast and up the Great Diving Range on the Snowy Mountains Highway (B72) for about an hour. After an hour / 86 km, turn right onto Yarrangobilly Caves Road. Getting here is well signposted though, so the chances of getting lost is very rare. From Cooma, also head west for 1.5 hours, and head up the winding Snowy Mountains Highway and turn onto Yarrangobilly Caves Road. From the turnoff, Yarrangobilly Caves Road is just a single one-lane road (one way), winding through down to the town for about 5km, until you're there at Yarrangobilly.
Fees and permits
The fees and permits for Yarrangobilly is $4 per day, which can be paid at the visitor centre. The only exceptions are if:
- You've paid the fee when going to Thredbo/Perisher, as well as Khancoban and Mount Selwyn. Those fees cover the entire Kosciuszko National Park
- You have an all parks pass which covers all NSW National Parks, including Kosciuszko National Park. Multi Parks Passes aren't valid in Yarrangobilly.
You only have two ways to get around: by car or on foot. If you're camping at Yarrangobilly Village campground, you'll definitely need a car. There is no way for a pedestrian to access the caves, and especially given how the road is unsealed, narrow, and has steep elevation drops, this poses a safety issue for both you and an oncoming car.
Yarrangobilly's road network is mostly narrow and centred on two one-way loops. The first loop is the loop that connects Yarrangobilly with the Snowy Mountains, and the other loop connects the visitor centre and accommodation/facilities with most of the show caves. Make sure to slow down – do not try and drive more than 30 km/h (19 mph) at max because that's a perfect recipe for disaster.
Walking between the caves would be somewhat exhausting on a summer's day, but try and minimise using a car. For example, there is little reason to take your car from the visitor centre, only to drive it for a few metres to the South Glory Cave because if you had to go back, you'd have to travel via one of the two loops. At the same time, do take your car from the visitor centre to Jersey or Jilla because it would be tedious to walk uphill (and there are parking slots in front of the caves).
- 1 North Glory Cave, Castle Walk, ☏ +61 2 6454 9597. This tour takes about 1.5 hours to do, and both start and end at North Glory Cave entrance. Just like the other caves, this cave is also about 10° all year around, so being some jackets with you. At times, this cave is described as being "the underworld of Kosciuszko National Park" including places like Smugglers Passage, or Helictite Chamber which has some jaw dropping crystal formations, and Devils Kitchen, with its trove of stunning calcite crystals. $26 per adult, $20 per concession (includes school children), and $78 per family (2 adults and 2 children).
- 2 South Glory Cave, Castle Walk, ☏ 1300 072 757 (domestic). 9:30AM–4PM. The South Glory Cave was first explored by Europeans in 1834, and anyone who does this walk will just be lost for words when you notice the large amount of limestone chambers, decorations and rock piles. This cave can be explored via a self guided tour, and takes around 45 minutes to do, which include information signs along the way, and sensor lights. Before you do this walk, be prepared for the cold temperatures, as it's about 10°C all year around, and bring a jacket or two if you're doing this walk.
- 3 Jersey Cave, ☏ +61 2 6454 9597, firstname.lastname@example.org. This cave is one of the most colourful caves in Australia, having formed over a long long period of 1.5 million years. Similar precautions apply to this cave as the other caves in Yarrangobilly. $26 per adult, $22 per concession (inc. school age children), $82 per family (2 adults and 2 children), Children under 5 free.
- 4 Jillabenan Cave. It's somewhat like Jersey Cave, but there's more in that cave compressed into a smaller space. It was Australia's first wheelchair accessible cave, but many of its railings are designed for wheelchairs of the 1980s, not a wheelchair made in 2023. $26 per adult, $22 per concession (inc. school age children), $82 per family (2 adults and 2 children), Children under 5 free.
- Yarrangobilly River walk. A 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) stroll along the Yarrangobilly River. The walk takes between 45 to 75 minutes, but links back up with the thermal pool – what's better than going for a dip after a bushwalk?
- Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool.
- Castle Cave walk.
- Bluff lookout walk. A 2-kilometre trail that is rated as a Grade 4 trail and takes approximately 45 minutes to 1.25 hours to do taking you to Bluff lookout, one of the most spectacular lookouts overlooking the valleys of the Snowy Mountains. Many people do this trail before or after touring the Jillabenan Cave.
- Glory Farm walk.
The visitor centre has a large range of souvenirs ranging from fridge magnets to boomerangs to 4WD tracks, or what you'd find at any gift shop at any national park.
Eat and drink
The visitor centre sells some small snacks and some soft drinks but apart from that, there are no restaurants, bars, or pubs et cetera in Yarrangobilly. The nearest are in Adaminaby, but for more variety, Cooma or Tumut will be your best bet (both are an hour's drive from Yarrangobilly).
Accommodation in Yarrangobilly does tend to be a bit limited, but it shouldn't come out as a huge surprise as the area doesn't receive that many tourists. Unless you want to go camping, the three lodges do get booked out quickly; if that does happen, the nearest accommodation can be found in Adaminaby, Talbingo, Tumut, or if you're okay with a one-hour drive, Cooma.
- 1 Lyrebird Cottage, 23 Lyrebird Trail, ☏ 1300 072 757 (domestic). Check-in: 3–5PM, check-out: 10AM. Built in 2011, this eco-friendly cottage comes with two bedrooms and can handle up to four guests, this cottage is quite surrounded in wildlife after dark – an experience not quite like any other. And it's not too far from Yarrangobilly either.
- 2 Yarrangobilly Caves House: East and West wings, 51 Yarrangobilly Caves Rd. Check-in: 3–5PM, check-out: 10AM. A large guesthouse, with 9 rooms, can cater to up to 14 guests. This house also won commendations for the Unique Accommodation category in the Canberra Region Tourism Awards in 2015 and 2016.
- 3 Yarrangobilly Caves House: Guest rooms, 51 Yarrangobilly Caves Rd. Check-in: 3–5PM, check-out: 10AM. If you're up for more extensive accommodation, consider the guest rooms. These rooms make up a part of the original 1917 section of the house and can cater to up to 24 people and the only thing you will need to bring is food. You'll see some good views from the porch – something ideal if you're a limestone buff.
- 4 Yarrangobilly Village campground, Snowy Mountains Hwy, ☏ +61 1300 072 757. A quiet camping spot close to the Snowy Mountains Highway by the Yarrangobilly River. Keep in mind that there are no marked sites in the campground. As the campground is by the river, you can try and go fishing in the otherwise-narrow river. $6 booking fees apply.
Yarrangobilly's unwieldy terrain makes the area unsuitable for backcountry camping – only camp within the campground.
Your only option is to get out of Yarrangobilly through other parts of Kosciuszko National Park. The next closest POI in the park is Mt. Selwyn, while the nearest towns and cities are Tumut and Cooma.
Otherwise, if you're looking to go to some ski resorts, Thredbo and Perisher are the most established ones in the park.