Motorcyclists Ride To Mountains & Visit Yarrangobilly Caves

16 September 1949 The Murrumbidgee Irrigator (Leeton)

Last Friday night a party of eight Leeton motor cyclists set off for a week-end tour of the mountain country near Yarrangobilly Caves and Mt. Talbingo.

The party comprised of Kevin Ashton, Roy Butcher, Sid Davis, Charlie and Jim Hockey, Alf Johnson, Jack and Bill Washington.

The trip from Leeton to Tumut was uneventful and the party camped for the night at the foot of Mt. Talbingo.

On the Saturday morning the party rode to the Yarrangobilly Caves where they spent the day inspecting the world-famed caves and swimming in the luke-warm thermal pool.

The Saturday night was spent at the foot of Talbingo and on Sunday the party travelled home to Leeton. 

The Talbingo climb, recognised as one of the stiffest in Australia, embraces two mountains.

The road winds around the first mountain until a panoramic view of the Tumut river valley is spread out, Talbingo village nestling immediately below the road and the slopes of the mountains on either side of the valley dotted with small farm houses.

The road then winds onto the other side of the mountain and crosses a ridge onto the second mountain.

From here the Buddong Falls can be seen on the right, a silver strip of water, falling over a sheer rock face on the opposite mountain, while on the left, ranges of mountains stretch as far as the eye can see.

The road continues to climb until the Cumberland Ridge is reached, 3900 feet, and from here on follows the ridge for a few miles, through typical snow country, clad in gnarled and twisted snow gums, with small brown bushes growing in profusion on the ground.

The mountainous terrain soon flattens out somewhat and Yarrangobilly village is reached, a small hamlet scattered along the banks of a snowfed creek. 

The road continues to drop rapidly from here, on into the caves valley. 

As it rounds a bend on the last peak before the caves, the Caves House can be seen through a clearing in the trees, set against a rugged background of bare rock cliffs.

Behind the Caves House, the road to Kiandra and onto the coast, leads through a cutting in what appeared to have been a wall of rock.

On either side   of the road, rocky crags jut out, rising to a height of nearly a hundred feet.

It is through this natural gate way and around on the other side of the mountain, that the caves entrances are located, while the caves themselves run through the mountain facing the caves house.

The party visited the Jillebenan Cave, the smallest and oldest of the four caves.

On account of its great age, it is infinitely more beautiful than the other three caves, each winding in its pas- sages revealing a scene of breath taking beauty.

A feature of this cave is the coral-like formation on the stalactites, which shows that the cave was submerged in water, many thousands of years after it was originally formed.

Another feature of the cave is the great amount of a stalactite formation known as mysteries, which have baffled scientists since their discovery.

These small stalactites have defied the laws of gravity and instead of growing down wards, with the steady accumulation of limestone, they branch off horizon tally, and even grow upwards again. 

This cave was only discovered in 1910 and for this reason has retained its natural colour to a greater extent than the other caves at Yarrangobilly or the Jenolan Caves.

A theory has been put forward regarding the formation of these caves, that at one time a river, probably the Murrumbidgee, flowed through the valley until a volcanic eruption threw a wall of rock across the mouth of the valley.

With its natural path blocked, the river seeped through the mountain side, washing away the soft stone and forming large caverns. 

The course of the river was later changed and the gap in the rock wall formed by another volcanic eruption and during the years the limestone formations have formed in the caverns, excavated by the water.   

On the return trip the party rode along the Kiandra road as far as Bullock's Hill, where a few small patches of snow still remained.

When the same party had made a trip to this country a few weeks previously, the snow had been lying feet deep on the ground from the Cumberland ridge to the Caves House.

However the recent heavy rains had melted most of the snow, leaving only a few patches on the higher and more sheltered peaks.

A short way from Bullock's Hill on the return trip is Rules Point, on Kelly's Plains, where the Yarrangobilly ski run is situated.

It is on these plains that the Murrumbidgee river rises, a crystal clear creek, a few feet wide, fed by countless trickling streams from the mountains on either side of Kelly's plains.