Yarrangobilly Caves & Thermal Pool (January 2023)

Yarrangobilly is about forty minutes up the Snowy Mountains Highway from Talbingo. Alternatively, you can make the spectacular ninety-minute drive from Cooma (also on the SMH) through Adaminaby and via the now-abandoned but fascinating gold mining town of Kianda), though this road is often closed in winter due to snowfall.

The road off the Snowy Mountains Highway into Yarrangobilly is steep and dirt, and it’s one way, so you do a big loop and end up coming out on the highway near Long Plains Road, on the Cooma side.

The Caves precinct is probably more famous for the thermal pool that sits next to the Yarrangobilly River and is fed by a thermal spring about one kilometre belowground. No matter the time of year – whether it’s so cold there is snow on the ground or so hot that even the flies are looking for somewhere cooler – the Thermal Pool maintains a steady 27 degrees Celsius temperature.

Surrounded by mountains and with the river not far away, the Thermal Pool is a spectacular place to swim, and well worth the effort of what is a fairly strenuous walk from the car park. There are two options: one is to take the service road, which is very steep and zig-zags back and forth for a while, before descending to the pool, or you can walk towards the Yarrangobilly Caves and follow a trail that heads down through a crevice and along the bubbling river to the pool. The latter option is definitely the more pleasant, though both involve hills. We walked down the road and back along the river and up through the rocks to get the best of both worlds.

There are changing rooms and a picnic area at the pool, as well as a wading pool, which was a hit the day we were there. Be careful using the ladders getting in and out – they can be a little slimy thanks to the algae that grows in what is apparently very good conditions for it. Aside from that, and the fact that you can’t always touch the bottom, it’s a really lovely place to swim. I must admit 27 degrees didn’t feel as warm as I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t cold, either.

You’re best to visit Yarrangobilly outside of the winter season, especially if you’re coming from the Cooma side. The Snowy Mountains Highway is often closed due to snow on the other side of Cooma.

We visited the South Glory Hole Cave, which is self-guided. You buy a ticket at the park office – which we of course did – but when we entered the cave, there wasn’t anything like a gate or turnstile where you needed to show proof of purchase so I guess it’s theoretically possible to tour for free. A word of warning: we found that the lighting of the paths left a lot to be desired. Thank goodness for mobile phone lights, because it would have been a little sketchy otherwise, walking in the half-dark on paths that feature steps and ramps, and that are wet.

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