Monday, June 22, 2015

Cathedral Cave, Newnes S F, NSW, Australia

2015 June: Day trip to explore Cathedral Cave in Newnes State Forest, NSW, Australia


This trip to Cathedral Cave in the Newnes State Forest is organized by Yuri Bolotin of Colong Foundation whose website is:

The Newnes State Forest, like its adjoining Gardens of Stone National Park, has some amazing pristine wilderness area with spectacular landscapes and much biodiversity. Yet, it is not a National Park. At any time, the land can be mined, grazed, and its trees chopped.

As the Colong Foundation's main objective is to protect wilderness areas, we all hope they can successfully lobby the politicians to turn the Newnes State Forest into a national park !

Our Group

There are 11 of us:
    - Brian Fox, leader
    - Geoff Fox, co-leader (no relationship to Brian)
    - Yuri Bolotin, of the Colong Foundation; and organizer of this trip
    - Alan S
    - Anne B
    - David F  (Brian's son)
    - Garbrielle
    - Joel P
    - Suzanne A
    - Tony B
    - and me


- 1:100,000 scaled 8931 Wallerawang
- 1:25,000 scaled 8931-3N Cullen Bullen

The below map is from the Cullen Bullen map:
- Small blue circle is where we park our cars.
- Small red circle is Cathedral Cave.

GPS tracklog files & Routes

- Driving in: The tracklog file (for car) from Zig Zag Railway Station at Clarence to where we park our cars in the Newnes State Forest can be downloaded from:

- The walk:
The tracklog file for the walk to Cathedral can be downloaded from:

In the below map, our walking route is in brown:

In summary:
•  Park cars at Birds Rock Trail No 1.
•  Off-trail walk towards the west until we come to the edge of the cliffs.
•  Locate a gap to climb down the cliff to Cathedral Cave.
•  After locating the cave, explore down-stream and up-stream of the Cave.
•  Return trip is by re-tracing the steps.

Timeline & Distance

09:38   0.0 km  Start walking
09:59   0.6 km  At a lookout (a minor detour)

10:05   0.6 km  Leave lookout
10:43   1.0 km  At Cathedral Cave

Explore down-stream of Cave, then lunch, then explore up-stream of Cave.

13:04   2.4 km  Leave Cathedral Cave
13:55   3.2 km  Finish


Total:  4 hrs 17 mins  at leisurely pace
           3.2 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           4.2 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS


1)  We've just parked the cars. There are 11 of us. The 7 in this photo are:
From left to right:
- Brian Fox - leader of the trip
- Alan
- Suzanne
- Yuri Bolotin of the Colong Foundation
- Geoff
- Anne
- Tony

By the way, Brian Fox and Michael Keats co-authored 6 books titled "The Gardens of Stone National Park and beyond. Book n" where n numbers 1 to 6. Book 7 will be out soon.

2)  Off-track towards Cathedral Cave ~~~
From right to left:
- Alan is leading
- followed by Anne
- then Tony

3)  Along the way, there are plenty of Acacia terminalis (Sunshine Wattle). They prefer to have some sun. Once we go down to the gully, we no longer see them.

4)  We are now at the edge of a cliff, looking across a gully at the cliff on the other side.
Cathedral Cave is down at the gully below ... we can't see it from here, but it is quite close to where we are standing.
By the way, the entire area is full of rock shelters / caves ... for example, the red arrow points to one of them.  Also, refer to "Post Script" Section at the end of this blog for other caves in this area.

5)  Still at the edge of a cliff, looking at a rock pagoda.

6)  This plant growing on a rock is Epacris reclinata (Fuchsia Heath) and is native to NSW.
It looks ragged, but on closer inspection ...

7)  ... Epacris reclinata (Fuchsia Heath) is quite pretty !

8)  We climb down this rock face ...

9)  ... then climb down this gap. It is actually quite steep even though it doesn't look like so from the pic ... but see next photograph ...

10)  We are climbing down the gap of the previous photo. In this pic, Alan is holding on to a rope to get down. Although if you are agile enough, you probably don't need it. (Geoff carried the rope and placed it there for our convenience. Thank you Geoff.)

Once we climb down the gap, turn right and almost straight away, we are at ...

11)  ... at Cathedral Cave.

12)  Cathedral Cave - the destination of this trip.

13)  Cathedral Cave from a slightly different angle.

14)  Yuri Bolotin and Joel at the back of the cave

15)  The Cathedral Cave is unique in that small ferns grow inside the cave.

16)  The ferns grow all the way to the back of the cave (upper photo). They also grow on the back wall (lower photo). They are able to thrive because there are water seeping through the walls into the cave.

17)  Looking out from the back of the cave.

18)  Looking out from the cave ~~~
Cathedral Cave is down in a gully. A small creek runs between the two cliffs that you see in this pic.

19)  Moss growing on the cliff face

Explore up-stream of Cathedral Cave

20)  Next, we explore around the cave. In this photo, we walk up stream, cross the creek, climb up a bit to look back at the cave (centre of the pic).
- Along the yellow arrow (right side of the photo) was where we climbed down between 2 cliffs earlier on in Photos #9 & #10.
- Note that at the top right hand corner, there is another cave system. It would be interesting to explore it one day.

21)  Zooming in to Cathedral Cave

22)  At where the previous 2 photos were taken, dense vegetation grow on a vertical rock face (centre of this pic).

23)  Zooming in on the vegetation on the vertical rock face

Explore down-stream of Cathedral Cave

24)  We also explore down stream of the cave. It is a gully covered in a wonderful carpet of brackens.

25)  Brian Fox looking for fungus in the carpet of brackens

26)  These are Cyathea australis (Rough Tree Fern).

27)  Cyathea australis (Rough Tree Fern)

28)  Moss covering tree trunks

Mushrooms & Fungi

In the damp gully down-stream of the cave, we find many mushrooms and fungi.

29)  Can you help to identify this orange mushroom ?

30)  Can you help to identify this mushroom ?

31)  Can you help to identify this yellow mushroom ?

32)  Can you help to identify this white mushroom ?

33)  Can you help to identify this mushroom ?

34)  A mushroom that looks like a brain. Can you help to identify it ?

35)  Can you help to identify this mushroom ?

36)  What is this orange sponge-like thingie? Seems to be some kind of fungus.

37)  What is this sponge-like thingie? Seems to be some kind of fungus.

38)  What is this? Seems to be some kind of fungus. The tiny tiny red bit in the lower photo looks like the fruiting part.

Post Script

The other interesting caves I've visited around this area are Michelangelo Cave et al. Photos and a write up on those caves are in my blog:


  1. i have used this blog entry to go and find Cathedral Cave, such an enjoyable adventure despite the relentless ferns you have to wade through. Thanks for sharing... i look forward to following another adventure....

    1. Hi Chris,
      Glad you found the cave and enjoyed your adventure.
      Anytime you wish to join me for a walk, just send over an email.
      Cheers, Paul

  2. Hey Paul. Are you able to send me your track log for this as it won't let me download it . Thanx in advance (Sam Dworry)


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