The Welington Caves are a series of limestone caves located just outside Wellington, in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. There are four caves in the series, but only two are open to the public for tours.
The first of these is Gaden Cave, which is the one to visit if you're interested in rock formations like stalactites, stalagmites, shawls and straws. This cave has everything and though the formations are small, they are pretty plentiful.
The roof of one chamber in Gaden Cave
I thought Gaden Cave was quite beautiful, but Cathedral Cave is actually the more popular cave. It's much bigger, with three distinct levels, and the major attraction is the 'Alter Rock', which is a 15-metre tall combination of boulders, flowstone and stalagmites that really was once used for religious services.
The atmosphere is completely different in Cathedral Cave, with its grand chambers, one of which is still used for carols and weddings
Tours of the the Gaden Cave and the Cathedral Cave take around an hour each, and while you're here you may as well take a tour of the Phosphate Mine as well, which is also on found on the site. It was used during WWI and is also significant for all the bone fragments and fossils that have been discovered, which can date back 300,000 years. Some bone fragments are still in the walls, while at one stage of the tour you get to handle some real fossils.
Bone fragments ready to handle
In fact, the entire Wellington Caves complex is a good place to learn about Australia's megafauna. Bones of both the diprotodon and giant kangaroos have been found here.
You can find this guy on the way to the Gaden Cave
Other than the caves, there isn't another big attraction to draw you to Wellington, which is otherwise a small town of only a few thousand residents. However, it is a good place to stop if you're heading to the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, which is only about 40 minutes away. In fact, I used Wellington as a base when I was in the area to visit the zoo.
On my trip, I stayed at the Wellington Caves Caravan Park itself, which made seeing the caves particularly easy. It even meant my companion and I got a private tour of Gaden Cave because we were the only ones who showed up for the first session (pretty easy when you just have to roll out of bed, head out the door and walk a few metres over to the kiosk).
The Wellington Osawano Japanese Gardens are also located on the site, as is the Bottle House, while the Wellington Gateway Sculpture is located at the turnoff from Mitchell Highway.
The Japanese Gardens
Where: On the Mitchell Highway, a few kilometres south of Wellington
When: There are tours every day except Christmas Day
Cost: The Cathedral Cave and Phosphate Mine tours cost $19.00, while the Gaden Cave tour costs $17.00 (these are Adult prices)