We were at Bathurst, NSW, and undecided on which route to take to the north. Denyse and I had no set plans and, as I was born and spent 23 years of my life in Wellington, NZ, we decided on a whim to head for Wellington, NSW, which was just a couple of hours’ drive from where we were.
The complex consists of the Wellington Caves and phosphate mine, a kiosk that also serves meals, the Japanese Gardens, a bird aviary, a bottle house (built out of wine bottles), fossil trail, golf course and a van park.
THINGS TO DO
Tours are run of the two larger caves and we decided to start with the Gaden Cave, the smaller of the two and, some say, the prettier. Denyse and I arrived in time for the 1.30pm tour, which consisted of only four people. Our informative guide Jeannie showed us translucent calcite rocks and other points of interest on the way to the cave entrance. We found the ‘pool crystals’ very interesting: they were formed on the walls when the cave was under water, unlike stalactites and stalagmites, which are formed by water soaking and dripping through the limestone.
Next on our list was the phosphate mine, which we were keen to explore. Like the caves, the way to see the mine is on a tour and our very informative guide Christine fitted us with hard hats before we descended down the steps into the mine. The tours run for a minimum of two people and, again, there were only four of us. There are several fossilised bones on view that can be picked up and examined, and casts of animal fossils that were found here, including Thylacoleo, the marsupial lion.
For our final tour, we headed off into the Cathedral Cave and I think we left the best until last. There are 150 steps down into this cave, which has three levels. There were only three of us on the tour, which lasts an hour. Throughout the cave you will see a large variety of formations, some interestingly shaped like animals.
As well as exploring the caves, you can also do a short walk within the complex (no charge) where you can see various types of marine fossils, dating from when the area was under the Devonian sea. You can amble along at your own time and pace. Just grab a brochure from the kiosk to identify each of the fossils along the way.
WELLINGTON CAVES HOLIDAY COMPLEX VAN PARK
The sites in the van park are randomly spaced, rather than laid out in tight rows, and are spread over a large acreage. You have a choice of slab or grass sites. All are drive-through unless the park is full, when you may have to reverse into a few. Shady trees are dotted through the park and several timber tables and seats are near fire places.
The park is 1km from the highway, so there is very little road noise. In fact, we had very quiet, peaceful nights with the only sounds being from birds: this is a country area and plenty of wildlife visits the park.
The two amenities blocks are stylish and modern, with a disabled-access bathroom and the usual laundry and a dump point. A swimming pool, electric barbecues and wood burning fire places are also provided. TV and Telstra 4G Wi-Fi reception is excellent. The kids have an adventure playground and the large camp kitchen is very well-equipped. There is a recreation room with table tennis, TV and a vending machine adjacent to the camp kitchen.
Since our visit last winter, we hear there have been significant upgrades at the park. New, two-bedroom cabins have been installed and seven existing cabins have been renovated and have new decks overlooking the golf course. There is also an impressive entry to the complex and night managers employed to support travellers.
Wellington is situated on the Mitchell Highway, 360km north-west of Sydney.
- Cave tours including Gaden and Cathedral caves
- Tours of the phosphate mine
- Visit the Japanese Garden (free entry)
- Golf course
- Walking trails, including the fossil walk and other nature walks
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #537, May 2015.