Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 218. Orange to Wellington

Stepping back in time!

After falling asleep during a rain squall last night, we were surprised to wake to clear blue skies this morning. The temperature felt like it was nudging zero when we finally climbed out of our beds at 7am, but with the heater on all night in the van - it was bearable.

The local megafauna

It was an easy pack up as we left the van hooked up to the pajero, so we found ourselves on the road by 9am. First stop was the Orange Visitors Centre, where we collected a couple of pamphlets on towns we would be coming across during our travels through NSW. Bec found an interesting article on the Wellington Caves Holiday Complex - that had us rethinking where we were going to go today. The caves were only about 100km away from Orange, so it was only going to be a short drive today as we've decided to make this place our destination. As we have only just returned to living on the road, we thought this would be a good experience for Scarlett; as she (and we) re-adjust to living back in the van.

Thats not a wombat!
We arrived at Wellington Caves by late morning, and discovered that we practically had the caravan park to ourselves (bar 3 or 4 other vans). We soon had our camp all set up, and decided to do a little bit of exploring before lunch and our first Cave tour! Although the amenities here are very basic, its a great little spot as there are large powered campsites, bird aviaries, a kids playground, pool, and a well marked fossil discovery trail. Adjacent to the caravan park is a Japanese Garden, a house built from wine bottles, a golf course, and as Scarlett and I soon found out; a private residence that is swarming with chickens (and LOTS of roosters that I'm sure will wake us up tomorrow morning).

Our first tour for the day was a visit to the Cathedral Cave. The main cavern of this cave is an inspiring and majestic 'Cathedral' and is dominated by a large formation whose surface glitters with calcite crystals that have built up over thousands of years. Back in the 1800's this cavern was used for church services, and there is even a bible that has been left behind still sitting on the 'Dias' that is now covered in crystals and has become part of the formation itself. Scarlett loved the glittering crystals and the tour guide told her that it was all "fairy dust". She was hooked! In the lower chambers of the cave we found 'The Well', whose still waters give silent testimony to the power of water, the slow but ever working creator of this underground kingdom.

The bible on top of the 'Dias' formation
After the tour which lasted for about an hour, we went and had a look at the 'Caves Bottle House'. This place is a house that has literally been built out of just over 9000 wine bottles! I know Russell and Wendy have been up this way before, but Wendy never did tell us of her love for the area - so much so that she has been donating her used wine bottles for what seems like years! Great one Wendy!

It was then a walk across the road to the Japanese Gardens. Here we enjoyed the tranquility of this beautiful manicured garden. One of the main features is a man-made 'mountain' from which water cascades into a stream and several ponds before winding its way under a number of bridges to a reflection pond over which a pavilion sits. Scarlett enjoyed watching the Koi, as well as looking for frogs that we discovered are masters at hiding! Maybe next time...

The 'Reflection Pool'

Next we put on our hard hats and entered the 'Phosphate Mine' for our Fossil Tour. Here we discovered a completely restored underground mine from a bygone era. As soon as we entered the 'main drive', we felt like we were transported back in time! Here we walked through red earth deposits that contain easily visible bones that date back about 850,000 years old. We entered a chamber known as the 'Bones Cave', where paleontologists from around the world have come to excavate and study the mysteries of extinct megafauna (giant marsupials). Scarlett absolutely loved this place; as she got to see thousands of fossils and bone fragments embedded in the rock walls of creatures who roamed the earth long before man set foot on the planet.

'Hands on' experiences like this are few and far between. Scarlett loved being able to sort through 'real' fossils and bones

Today was a relaxing day spent exploring the underground wonders that the Wellington region of NSW has to offer.

Wendy's contribution to Australian tourism!

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