The place wasn’t bad for being the results of a Google search. An enormous, imposing structure stood before us. Arch Cave. Reaching perhaps 20 metres or more above our heads a huge jagged mouth loomed, and the track we followed entered into its bowels. Definitely not bad at all Google.
My heart quickened along with my steps. What an awesome place! The track beneath our feet dwindled away, til it was no more. The path we took from this point on was our own.
Stalactites attempted to reach down at us from the ceiling as we drew beneath the overhang- their strange forms stretching towards the ground with earnest effort- clusters of moss clinging tenaciously to the columns. Ahead colossal boulders squatted like giant, stout toads, blocking what appeared to have previously been the most direct route through the cave a long time ago. Perhaps there had been a landslip here.
A creek-bed, mainly dry, ran through a ravine in the lower half of the cavern, the far end of it gradually withdrawing into the depths. It was simply begging for exploration. Almost immediately I was down there, rock-hopping, mud-dodging, trailing the course of the water like a hound hooked on a scent. Natural skylights illuminating patches along the way as I ducked beneath stone and scrambled across debris. Eventually I discovered the creek trickled out the other side of the rocky mountain. This was one possible exit from Arch Cave. But I had tasted the thrill of feeling like a pioneer, so back I went. There would definitely be more passageways to investigate. And indeed there was.
We shifted the torch around in our hands, fumbling for the switch. This doorway sized entrance beckoned into cold darkness, but a gentle breeze and faint light glowing from the other end of the cavern assured us that we were not merely to be swallowed up within the depths. Aha. The torch jumped to life. Fortunately we had spotted the sign recommending that the life-saving utility accompany us on our venture. We wouldn’t have been able to enter otherwise.
A maze of limestone structures appeared before the beam of our torch. They knew nothing about conformity. Some were thin, small, young. Others were wide pillars, formed by the merging of a stalactite and stalagmite, their arms met at last. We witnessed as others unhurriedly dripped particle-laden water droplets to their counterparts on the cave floor. A moment in time had been etched into existence.
Further, we inched deeper. Our enthusiasm was child-like. The thrill of plotting our own course through the cave unrivalled. Most of the time the cave roof was above our heads, however sometimes it hung lower. At one point I choose to commando crawl through a narrow passageway, hauling myself through with anticipation.
There is something about the uncharted, the wild. The feel of removing yourself from the mapped out cement paths and creating your own. The wonder of what you, as an individual, might discover. Arch Cave brought that back to us.
In total we spent approximately one and a half hours on what was meant to be only a 0.7km loop. But who couldn’t get carried away in a place like this?
When we finally exited we were elated, and I thanked the Architect of this extraordinary place.
Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve, only fifteen minutes out of the town of Orange, NSW, had proved to shelter a marvellous gem, hidden from the commercial scene.
Easily accessible, free to enter and one-hundred per cent awe-inspiring, Arch Cave should definitely be on the charts if you are heading through the area around Orange. It’s straight off the main road to Parkes (Escort Way), so it wouldn’t be a big deviation. Even if it was in an inconvenient spot (which it isn’t), it would still be worthy destination. So what are you waiting for?