Campers at a popular New South Wales camping site have had to be evacuated as recent heavy rains continue to cause chaos for travellers.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) says flooding in the Bathurst region’s Abercrombie Caves site is the worst in decades, and the tourist attraction will be closed now for months.
The deluge in recent days led to a minor flood on the Macquarie River at Bathurst and the closure of the low-level bridge and a moderate flood on the Belubula River at Canowindra.
NPWS area manager Angela Lonergan told the Western Advocate that campers were stranded at Abercrombie by the rising creek and were helped by NPWS to evacuate when the water receded.
“The flooding at Abercrombie, which is in the state’s central-west, was particularly bad,” she said. “Judging by the water height, it is the worst flooding in 70 years.”
Ms Lonergan said NPWS staff were currently assessing the damage at each area. Currently Abercrombie Caves is closed until June 4, and Wombeyan Caves is closed until February 25 to allow flood recovery works to occur.
“The pedestrian bridge across the creek was damaged by the flood waters removing some of the decking, and electrical cables for automatic lighting systems inside the cave have been washed away at Abercrombie,” Ms Lonergan said. “At Wombeyan, several lightning strikes may have damaged power cables and there is a build-up of flood debris in the Victoria Arch.”
She said the Abercrombie site also has damaged sections of track and debris on walking tracks and viewing platforms.
The Abercrombie Caves are within the Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve, a series of limestone arch caves that are located in the Central West region of New South Wales.
The spacious camping area, which has hot showers and is a great base for birdwatching and bushwalking, is popular with grey nomads.
The Western Advocate reports that the problems at Abercrombie follow a run of bad luck at other caves in the greater Bathurst region, including Jenolan Caves, which have been affected by fires and floods in recent years.