19 September 2006 The Big Hole and Marble Arch Photos
Map: Kain 8826-4S 1:25000
Getting There
This walk was organised and led by me as a recce for an all-age church group trip.  My usual Tuesday walking companion humoured me.

Drive Queanbeyan to Braidwood (73km).  From Braidwood, take the Krawarree/Cooma Road (Captains Flat Road) for 42km to the Gundillion Cemetery on the left.  The turnoff to the Deua National Park and Berlang Camping Area is immediately after the cemetery (total 140km and 2hrs drive, all on blacktop).  We returned via Captains Flat - 15 minutes quicker and 30km shorter, but 23km of (good) dirt road.  Unfortunately the cafes were all closed.  We arrived at 2.45pm and the pub (vague memories from ANU days in the late 1960s) didn't open till 3pm.  A dry trip home.

Some further details at http://www.braidwood-tourism.com.au/index.html, Out & About, Bushwalking, Big Hole and Marble Arch.


I'm sure it was Stan L who organised a church trip to The Big Hole, maybe in the late 1980s.  The aim of today's little wander was to check it out for another Parkway (formerly known as New Creation Church) trip.  A long drive, but worth it.  The options of just The Big Hole for those who want that and the longer Marble Arch.  But we'd best do it soon, as it's getting warm.

Max and I hit the track at 8.50am and wandered the 200m to the Shoalhaven River.  I was wearing joggers and carrying boots and thongs and towel - every option.  In the end, the stepping stones on the ford were fine (see pic 1) and, in a few weeks, no doubt the water level will be down.  Good benched track through open, dry sclerophyll forest.  Shade appreciated.  Open heathland on the right as the track runs up a hill for 120m climb.  'Big Hole 100m Approach with caution' sign appears and after 1.7km we reached The Big Hole and its viewing platform (the walk is advertised as 3.5km round trip).  For us, 1.7km and 33mins to here, but with a larger, diverse ability group, allow, say, 1hr.

A spectacular site (see pic 2).  Great signage.  We wandered up the hill behind The Big Hole (caution - no fencing) to admire the view to the E.  Back down to the hole, disturbing maybe some sort of raptor from the side of the hole.

We left at 9.45am and covered the next 3.1km to the Marble Arch signage in 45mins.  Easy (apart from the first sign post which indicates go both left and right; head left is the drill) and contoured walking, again through open, dry eucalypts.  The track crosses, then parallels, the Bettowynd Fire Trail.  Several areas with lots of blown over trees.  Would need to allow, say, 1hr 30mins for the hardy souls doing this leg, as they'd be toting lots of water and lunch.

From the signage (which includes 'From here the track to Marble Arch drops down steeply into the Reedy Creek valley ...'), the track drops 100m over 250m.  That's steep, but very manageable down a spur which has steps built at the steepest places.  Only trouble is, a 100m drop going down equates to a 100m climb over 250m - that's steep!!  10 mins to skip down here.

Through the vegetation in the creek line, we reached the most amazing area.  Tree ferns, a narrowing cut, damp limestone walls, a huge cavern - nearly reaching for torches (see pic 3), bending one's back to crawl under the lowest point, cool and shapely marble, finally out into a bit of sunlight, water running to a pool.  My companion changed from longs and boots to shorts and runners and we waded thigh-deep through a 10m pool.  A little further on we reached a slippery waterfall and had to head up the near-vertical bank to a little knoll, then around and down.  Stinging nettles and lawyer vines.  We spent about an hour in the area and travelled around 500m.  Stopped for lunch at 11.45am, near the confluence of the Mulwely and Moodong Creeks.  Looked up and saw an eagle gliding and disturbed an owl in the creek bed.

Started up a heart-stopping spur (150m up in 1km) out of the creek at 12.15pm, heading cross country to the W.  Easy walking in open eucalypt woodland.  Was tricked by an old fire trail for a few tens of metres, until Max realised we weren't heading where we wanted to go.  Adjusted direction, up and over a heath covered hill, across the Bettowynd Fire Trail, onto the Marble Arch track and up the hill to The Big Hole (3.3km in 1hr 15mins).

Back down the hill, across the river and to the car.

Something a little different to Namadgi granite.  A good recce with a couple of options for a diverse group.

Distance: 11.5km  Climb: 500m.  Time: 8.50am - 1.50pm (5hrs), including 30 mins for lunch.

Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
1 Crossing the Shoalhaven River
2 The Big Hole - 98m deep
3 Marble Arch cave