Tumut - Yarrangobilly Caves - Kosciusko – Cooma
The Riverine Grazier (Hay)
19 February 1909
The personally conducted tours of the New South Wales Government Tourist Bureau for the 1909 season commenced early this year, and on 4th February a party of excursionists set out from Melbourne and Sydney to see the glories of the Yarrangobilly Caves: Mount Kosciusko, one of the natural wonders of the world; and the alpine trout streams, laden with the icy waters of the perennial snow springs.
The traverse of this tour can be arranged at any time during those seasons of the year best adapted for the journey.
Travellers leave the main line from Melbourne to Sydney at Cootamundra, and arrive in Tumut in time for lunch.
On the banks of the limpid Tumut River, shaded by groves of picturesque English trees, the township lies in a fertile valley, the fame of which has spread far and wide. After spending the day in these delightful surroundings, a drive is taken in the cool of the evening through the sylvan scenes of the Tumut Valley to Talbingo, where at the foot of the big Talbingo hill nestles a small but comfortable hostelry.
Two leaping, hurrying trout streams mingle their waters just at the rear of the hotel, and a short distance away the crystal waters of the Budgong, in one of the finest waterfalls in Australia, tumble down a rugged gorge in the wild Talbingo range.
Next morning the drive to the Yarrangobilly Caves, across the Talbingo and Cumberland ranges, is resumed, and the comfortable Government Accommodation House, on the picturesque banks of the fast-flowing Yarrangobilly River, is reached in time for lunch.
The afternoon and evening may be spent in the Caves, fishing, and bathing in the health-giving tepid waters of the thermal spring.
The Yarrangobllly Caves, which are undoubtedly equal in beauty to the far-famed Jenolan Caves, are probably more extensive.
They occur in a belt of limestone, from half a mile to a mile in width, and 6 or 7 miles long.
The frontage of this belt to the Yarrangobilly River is singularly impressive.
For miles precipices and battlemented outcrops dip their toes in the crystal waters of the rapid-running river.
They are weatherworn, carved here and there with grotesque shapes, scored and pitted with holes and crevices, many of which indicate the entrances to unexplored caverns with which the limestone is honeycombed.
Two miles up stream from the Caves House the river has cut its way through the limestone, and now flows under it. Situated on the side of a rugged hill, overlooking the river, the points of entrance to the Caves afford a magnificent view of the neighbouring valley, with its towering limestone bluffs.
The Caves themselves are full of scenes of magic loveliness. A noticeable feature is the predominance in many places of massive stalagmitic formations which recall the best types of Italian architecture.
Of these, the Temple of a Thousand Idols and the Indian Bower give excellent examples.
The Glory Hole has been known to residents of the locality for more than half a century, and in its many passages the wombats, by ancestral right, still find secluded homes.
This peculiar cave has been explored in two directions for over 1,200 feet, and in all probability there are other passages and chambers yet to be discovered. Some of the formations are gorgeous beyond the wildest dreams, and amongst them may be mentioned the Frozen Waterfall in the left Branch, and the Star Chamber in the right, where a dazzling star of sunlight shines in the roof 440 feet overhead.
The most important of the other caverns are the Jersey, the Castle, and the Harrie Wood.
The whole of the Jersey Cave is encrusted with formations of endless variely, the rich colours ranging from while, through gray to black, and from deep red, through apricot and flesh tints, to lemon yellow, and there are red and yellow pillars and tinted columns, clusters of crystal rising like pineapple plants, and ceilings hung with rich and many-coloured stalactites.
The Harrie Wood Cave, though smaller, has a character of its own.
The prevailing colour of its formations is a rich cream, deepening to a light brown, and the shawl formations are magnificent.
The Castle Cave is glorious in its wealth of colouring, its mounds and walls of crystal, its graceful draperies and oriental canopies.
After having spent an enjoyable two days at the Caves, the tourists may return over the same road traversed on the outward journey, but for the person who has a real holiday trip in mind, a start is next made by special coach for the grand drive to Kosciusko.
The first point of call is Kiandra, the highest settlement in Australia, and the scene of some memorable encounters on the snow at the annual winter carnivals.
Kiandra was at one time a famous alluvial goldfield, and many interesting stories are told of the experiences of the miners when snowed-up for three or four months in the winter. Even now this town is completely cut off from all communication during the months of June, July, and August, and the only means of entering or leaving it during this portion of the year is by ski-running some 8 or 9 miles.
In spite of this disadvantage, numbers of tourists' annually make the trip, for Kiandra has a famous ski-running course; but from now on it is probable that Kosciusko will prove more popular as a ski-running and tobogganing ground, by reason of the fact that visitors may proceed right to the snow- line by coach.
After lunch at Kiandra, the journey will be continued across spurs of the Dividing Range to Adaminaby, where the night will be spent, comfortable accommodation being provided in the several hotels in this township.
Next morning the visitors will have another enjoyable drive through the crisp mountain air and interesting scenery of the Monaro uplands.
The destination of this journey will be 'The Creel,' the famous Government Accommodation House for trout fishers and mountaineers, on the banks of the Thredbo River, and close to its confluence with the Snowy.
Lunch will be partaken of en route. The excursionists have now reached the last stage of their journey to Kosciusko.
'The Creel' nestles at the foot of the big hills, a magnificent trout stream roars past its doors, and here all the summer sports - shooting, swimming, and fishing - may be enjoyed.
This house is in the hands of one of the best-known Sydney caterers, Mr. H. D. Mcintosh, and visitors may be assured of spending an enjoyable time within its hospitable precincts.
The night will be spent at "The Creel," and after luncheon next day the ascent of the mountain by drag is begun.
An excursion to the summit of this mountain, which contains the oldest land surfaces known on the globe, forms one of the most enjoyable experiences that can fall to the lot of an Australian tourist. Some of the finest landscape views in the world are to be obtained from the summit of Kosciusko.
Looking out over the fertile Murray River Valley, the eye rests on a wonderful prospect of hills. Across the Victorian border the stepping ranges take you deep into Gippsland. East-ward lies the immense valley of the Snowy River, a valley, or rather plateau, stretching 70 miles wide to the soft blue rim of the coastal range, it appears from Kosciusko's summit an undulating yellow lake, with long shoals and islands of woody ridges.
Northward lies Twynam Peak, across the vast gorge of Agintoothbong, which takes away in the Khancoban River the chief mass of snow-water from the western watershed. Just below the top is a narrow razor-back dividing the waters of the Murray from the Snowy.
Here the rivers may be seen in their making, the highest snowfields retaining through the hottest summer some patches of the drifts which pour trickling streams into the first waters of the rivers.
The little streams can be traced winding away down through the valleys, gradually swelling as reinforcements join, until the silver ribbon spreads wide and deep and the river is a thing in being.
There are natural marvels and geological wonders in the shape of glacial markings, hanging valleys, moraines, magnificent alpine lakes, and sensational chasms, gorges, and ravines along the top of the main divide upon which Kosciusko is situated.
A striking feature of the mountain is its accessibility; a horse can be ridden or a motor driven without difficulty to the very summit.
The new road recently constructed by the Government makes the mountain accessible now in winter as well as in summer.
The Hotel Kosciusko, capable of holding 100 guests, and fitted with every modern convenience, has just been completed at the 6,000 feet level, well inside the winter snow-line, and here visitors in winter will be able to indulge in the famous Norwegian sport of ski-running, splendid courses having been specially prepared for the purpose, and also for tobogganing and ice-skating.
The scenery at this point is bold and rugged, and the weather in June, July, and August, while cold, is generally bright and enjoyable.
On the road, to the summit a stop may be made for the night at Betts' Camp, a cottage built by the Government about 8 miles from the top of the mountain, in the vicinity of the more striking of the alpine sights.
Refreshed by a night's sleep among the heights of the Alps, the visitors will next day proceed on a round of sight-seeing, covering the summit, the Blue Lake, Lake Alblua, Carruthers' Peak, Lake Cootapatamba, the Club Lake, and other points of interest.
After a picnic lunch at the Blue Lake, a return by coach is made to “The Creel.”
Visitors will now have the option of spending a few days or weeks at this beautiful mountain resort, as a regular line of couches leave daily for Cooma, passing through the picturesque little villages of Jindabyne and Berridale, in time to catch the evening train to Sydney, which connects with the main Southern Line at Goulburn.