Nichols Gorge Cave Loop

6 h 30 min, 10 h 30 min to 2 days

21.7 km
circuit

↑ 675 m
↓ -675 m

Hard track
Starting from Long Plain Road, Bimberi, this circuit walk takes you to the Nichols Gorge and the nearby caves via the Blue Waterholes Fire Trail and loops back. The track passes by the Blue Waterholes(not accessible to the public), Cooleman, Right Cooleman and Murray Caves, so don’t forget to bring a light source, good boots and a jacket to truly enjoy the insides. You’ll also pass by the historic Coolamine Homestead midway through the hike. These sets of buildings exhibit different building styles from the late 1800s. The main residence’s walls are covered with old newspapers and informational signposts, so feel free to read them and see what made the headlines in the early 1900s. Wallabies and non-native brumbies(wild horses) can make an appearance as you walk on the generally dry riverbed of Cave Creek. Speaking of, please try not to damage the ancient fossilised shells of brachiopods and sea lilies found on the riverbed. There are 2 campsites(Magpie Flat and Blue Waterhole) before heading into the gorge so you can make this a multi-day journey if you’d like to. Let us begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we travel today, and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.
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Safer Bushwalks
Tips on staying safe on track
Before you start any bushwalk ensure you;
• Tell someone you trust where you are going and what to do if you are overdue
• Have adequate equipment, supplies, skills & knowledge for the whole journey
• Consider the impact of weather forecasts, park/track closures & fire dangers
• Can respond to emergencies & call for help at any point
• Are healthy and fit enough for this journey
If not, change plans and stay safe. It is okay to delay and ask people for help.
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Getting There
Transport options and directions
Start At the intersection of Blue Waterholes Fire Trail & Long Plain Road (-35.6001923,148.6148152)
Mode Car
DirectionsFrom Hume Highway, M31
  • Turn on to Snowy Mountains Highway Offramp, B72 then drive for 630 m
  • Continue onto Snowy Mountains Highway, B72 and drive for another 26.7 km
  • Turn left onto Snowy Mountains Highway, B72 and drive for another 93.5 km
  • Turn left onto Long Plain Road and drive for another 17.2 km
  • Turn right onto Blue Waterholes Fire Trail and drive for another 5 m
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Track Notes
Turn by turn instructions & maps
Getting started
From the intersection of Long Plain Road and Blue Water Holes Trail(15.4km northeast of intersection with Snowy Mountains Highway), head towards the Blue Water Holes Trail marked by the signpost with a “Blue Water Holes Trail” sign and a directional arrow. Move directly away from Long Plain Road and pass by the said signpost to your left, then follow the dirt trail as it veers right to continue along Nichols Gorge Cave Loop.....
Turn map Directions & comments
At the intersection of Blue Waterholes Fire Trail & Long Plain Road Start heading along Blue Waterholes Fire Trail (a vehicle track).
After 2.6 km come to the "Cooleman Mountain Camp Site" (30 m on your right).
This is a free campsite.
After another 1.1 km (at the intersection of Harris Hut Trail & Blue Waterholes Fire Trail) continue straight, to head along Blue Waterholes Fire Trail.
After another 1.1 km cross the ford.
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. Side trip to the historic Coolamine Homestead, where you can go back in time and see what life was like in the early 1900s. To start this optional side trip veer left here. On returning from this side trip turn left when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 620 m continue straight, to head along Blue Waterholes Fire Trail.
After another 2.2 km come to the "Magpie Flat campground".
Campsite managed byNSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. This is a free campsite.
After another 130 m pass the toilet (25 m on your right).
Continue straight, to head along Blue Waterholes Fire Trail.
After another 305 m come to the "Blue Waterholes campground".
Campsite managed byNSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. This is a free campsite.
After another 140 m head through/around the gate.
After another 70 m pass the toilet (25 m on your right).
Veer right.
After another 20 m come to the viewpoint (35 m on your left).
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. Optional side trip to a viewpoint loooking over the creek, located across the Blue Waterholes Cave which is not open to the public. To start this optional side trip continue straight here. On returning from this side trip turn left when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 30 m turn right.
After another 120 m turn left, to head along Blue Waterholes Trail.
After another 170 m (at the intersection of Nichols Gorge Walk & Blue Waterholes Trail) continue straight, to head along Nichols Gorge Walk (a walking track).
After another 30 m cross the ford.
After another 75 m pass the "Right Cooleman Cave" (50 m on your right).
After another 260 m pass the "Cooleman Cave" (45 m on your right).
After another 135 m cross the ford.
After another 135 m cross the ford.
After another 95 m cross the ford.
After another 35 m cross the ford.
After another 210 m cross the ford.
After another 255 m cross the ford.
After another 630 m cross the ford.
After another 145 m pass the "Murray Cave" (35 m on your right).
After another 2 km pass the "North Branch Sink" (60 m on your right).
Then cross the ford.
After another 145 m pass the "Northeast Branch Sink" (40 m on your right).
After another 15 m cross the ford.
After another 320 m continue straight.
After another 1000 m come to the "Magpie Flat campground".
Campsite managed byNSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. This is a free campsite.
After another 80 m turn sharp left, to head along Blue Waterholes Fire Trail.
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. Side trip to the historic Coolamine Homestead, where you can go back in time and see what life was like in the early 1900s. To start this optional side trip turn right here. On returning from this side trip veer right when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 2.3 km continue straight, to head along Blue Waterholes Fire Trail.
After another 1.7 km (at the intersection of Blue Waterholes Fire Trail & Harris Hut Trail) continue straight, to head along Blue Waterholes Fire Trail.
After another 3.7 km come to the end.

Side trip to the historic Coolamine Homestead, where you can go back in time and see what life was like in the early 1900s.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
After 20 m pass the "Coolamine Homestead".
About 55 m past the end is a toilet.
Veer right.
After another 55 m head through/around the gate.
After another 2 m come to the end.
About 40 m past the end is "Stockyards".
About 85 m past the end is "The Cheese Hut".
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 120 m to the main route.

Optional side trip to a viewpoint loooking over the creek, located across the Blue Waterholes Cave which is not open to the public.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
There is a viewpoint (about 60 m back from the start).
After another 75 m continue straight.
After another 15 m come to the end.
A viewpoint.
About 20 m past the end is "Blue Waterholes Cave".
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 45 m to the main route.
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Terrain
Know the Hills, grading & facilities

Nichols Gorge Cave Loop


Grading
Class 4/6
Hard track
Length 21.7 km
Time 6 h 30 min, 10 h 30 min to 2 days
Quality of track Rough track, where fallen trees and other obstacles are likely (4/6)
Gradient Short steep hills (3/6)
Signage Directional signs along the way (3/6)
Infrastructure Generally useful facilities (such as fenced cliffs and seats) (2/6)
Experience Required Moderate level of bushwalking experience recommended (4/6)
Weather Storms may impact on navigation and safety (3/6)

Some facilities on route
Camp site: There are 3 on route, on average they are 5.4 km apart with the largest gap of 13.7 km.

Shelter: There is one 5.4 km (plus an extra 165 m along side route) from the start.

Toilet: There are 3 on route, on average they are 5.5 km apart with the largest gap of 13.5 km.


Order of key facilities on route
ItemFrom StartName & link to notes
Camp site
2.6 kmCooleman Mountain Camp Site
Toilet
5.4 km[toilet]
Shelter
5.4 kmThe Cheese Hut
Camp site
7.6 kmMagpie Flat campground
Toilet
7.8 km[toilet]
Camp site
8 kmBlue Waterholes campground
Toilet
8.2 km[toilet]
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