Abercrombie (Abers to its friends)

NUCC has been coming here more often lately to help MSS with their book.. It’s a wonderfull place for a nice relaxed weekend of caving. If the creek is running, there’s even a good swimming hole.

Getting there:

From Canberra, you can get to Abers via Yass, Gunning or Goulburn and a variety of back roads. From most of Canberra though, you’re probably best off going via Gunning. If you’re in north Canberra, drive to Mulligans Flat Road, and follow it through to Sutton Road, turning left. From south Canberra, follow the Federal Highway out of Canberra, and turn off the highway onto Sutton Road (northbound). Either way, you’ll get to Gundaroo, and follow the road through town. Eventually that will arrive you in Gunning. Turn right, drive through the main part of town, and follow the road out of town. The turn to Crookwell is about 1.5km outside of town, to the left.

This road goes through the small hamlet of Grabben Gullen, and eventually gets you Crookwell. You don’t have to drive into the main part of town, and a shortcut down Stephenson Street or Tait Street will save you a minute or two. If you follow the main road through to its T-intersection though, and turn left towards Abers theres a servo here that has seemingly commodious opening hours. The IGA in town is pretty decent, and is open until 7pm (6pm Sundays). The Mobil on the Goulburn side of town is open until 9:30pm weekdays, 9pm on the weekend. Anyway, Binda Road takes you on towards Abers, through Binda and Tuena. After Tuena, you drop down to the Abercrombie River, and then climb up the other side. Once you pass Bald Ridge Road, you’re nearly there- keep an eye out for the turnoff to your right. This is just an old route of the main road, so if you stay on it, you will just come back to the main road between Tuena and Trunkey Creek! The way down to the caves is a cunningly concealed sealed road that heads off down to the right at a sharp angle. This squiggles its way down to a flat on Grove Creek (watch out for wombats and roos!), which is the Caves Reserve. It’s a 2.5h drive from Canberra.

The main office and day use area is to your left, and the cabins are to your right past the toilet block. Straight ahead and across the causeway over the creek is where the camping area is. One section is up the bank to your left, and another section straight ahead along the track. There’s another toilet block with showers up here with showers. Take your pick of the camping areas! I like the area up the bank to the left, but up near the loos is probably better for large groups.

Facilities:

Abers is very well set up! The campground is full of nice shady trees, and has a creek running through the middle. The campgrounds are grassy and nice, but can get a bit dusty. There are three toilet blocks with flush toliets and showers, plenty of campfire spots (and a few coin-operated BBQs), and a bunch of taps the dispense potable water. There are tables and benches scattered around in the day use area, but none over in the camping area (so bring your camp chair). If it’s raining, there’s an big covered shelter. It’s also much more convenient for pubs than most caving area, as there’s pubs at Tuena (20min) and Trunkey Creek (15min) to the north. I’ve never been to the Tuena pub, but can vouch that Trunkey Creek pub does a mean chicken schnitty, and a very tasty steak.

Caves:

Abercrombie has two types of caves- on reserve and off reserve. The ones off reserve are all on private property, but some are quite excellent. Getting access is a bit of a hassle though; you’ll probably have to organise a joint trip with someone from a club that has both the contacts and familiarity with the caves. This may be hard to find, but try MSS.

The on reserve caves are organised through the Wombeyan permit office. There is quite a nice range of caves on the reserve, but many of them are quite small, narrow, shorty and dusty. Stable Cave is one of the bigger caves on the reserve, and is definitely worth a visit. If you just run straight through Stable Cave, it is only a half-hour trip, but you can spend much longer in there if you check out all the small lead you can. The Arch is the obvious attraction at Abers, and is one of the most impressive karst arches in the southern hemisphere- there’s even a dance floor and a swing bridge in it!