Approximately 20 minutes out of Wee Jasper driving towards Yass, the road crosses the Murumbidgee River.
Again, according to maps, the river flows wide and deep - indicative of the heavy-duty bridge. But drought has made it little more than a shallow trickle. Great for messing about in water (too shallow for swimming), especially in the intense heat - and pretty safe too.
There's a small parking area next to the bridge on the Yass side.
Approximately 5kms out of Wee Jasper is 'the gem of Wee Jasper' - Carey's Cave. It's a funny little place, owned by the NSW Parks but run by a family who have been doing it for years. There are guided tours only, and whilst it may not be the most spectacular cave system, it's still an interesting descent into the limestone crags of the area.
There are a total of 7 Chambers, and, as with any cavern, there are many stalagmite/stalactite formations given names according to their resemblance to objects of people (the shark/the witch etc...). The guide himself is interesting and humorous - he certainly knows these caves.
It's a 'horizontal' cave with the exception of the initial descent of 30 steps - after this its fairly level, but the 30 steps are pretty steep.
There are 3 tours a day at weekends (plus Bank Holidays) - 12 noon, 1.30pm. 3.30pm, with two on Mondays and Fridays (12 noon and 1.30pm). NSW school holidays - extra tours on Wednesdays (12 noon & 1.30pm). Tours are approximately 1 hour, although this is dependent on the guide and timings (we caught the last one of the day and were underground for 90 minutes).
$A14.30 (adult); $A9.90 (kids 5-15); $A38.50 (family)
Approximately 10 kms out of Wee Jasper 'centre' on the road to Tumut is Micalong Creek Reserve. The waters of the creek start high up in the Brindabella Ranges and force there way through the landscape, joining the Goodradgibee River approximately 1km from the road and campsite. It's a small campsite with limited facilities and Nottingham Road is a rutted dirt track for about 5kms of the 10kms from Wee Jasper.
Walk upstream from the car park to the rock pool, which provides opportunities for a deep water swim among small waterfalls. Key here is to watch out for snakes, who happily bask on the rocks, taking the sun's warmth (although less dangerous creatures such as lizards are also to be found). It's a relatively easy walk, although can be quite a narrow experience at times the closer you get to the rock pool.
In 1824, explorers Hamilton Hume and William Lovell passed through the Yass Plains (on their way to what is now Melbourne) and crossed what is now the Goodradigbee River, opening up the land for (limited) settlement, with vast tracts of land being snapped up for farm stations. When gold was discovered in 1859 in Kiandra, the track between Yass and Wee Jasper was the quickest route, a track that became the bitumen road.
But the Hume & Lovell track crosses the Burrinjuck Dam at Wee Jasper and follows Cave Rd before heading off west towards Tumut. These days you can walk to Albury, some 15 days away, but even the Yass to Wee Jasper is a 3 day hike. But the walking track through Wee Jasper is delightful and, at this juncture, an easy, relatively flat amble :) (In 40+ degree heat, that's all you want :))
It also passes by the entrance to Carey's Cave.
Yellowed grasses, parched earth, soaring temperatures. All signs of an extended period of drought. But nothing makes drought more apparent than Burrinjuck Dam from the Wee Jasper shoreline.
Referring back to the tourist map, the dam waters lap the road that crosses the floodplain, with the indication that water has been known to cross the road and flood the plain beyond.
The first image is from the road looking towards the dam - not a sign of water. The images from further back show just how far the waters have receded - the horses in the second image stand on where the waters, or at least muddy soils, would be expected. The distant shoreline is more than a kilometre, and probably more, away from the norm.
The road from the village pub to the Carey's Cave runs for approximately 5 kms along the valley floor. We stayed out here (3.5kms out - next the vineyards mentioned in previous tip) and so walked a little in the immediate vicinity (the week we were here, the daytime temperature hardly moved from 42 degrees centigrade, so we didn't do that much walking!). The valley is extraordinary - and so varied, as you can see from these photos. All photos were taken within a kilometre or so of each other!
A 54 km trip each time you wanted to leave Wee Jasper was quite a schlepp, the saving grace being that the countryside was quite stunning (even if somewhat affected by the drought). As the road curled and snaked up, down, across, through, up, round, hairpin bends, long flats etc, at least the saving grace was looking out the window! Frustrating if you're the driver, but also there are stretches of tight corners where the views are wonderful, but there's just no-where to stop.
You need to be alert on the road - two main reasons - animals (kangaroos but also sheep and cattle) and, because there's little traffic, drivers can lose concentration - lane drifting was not unusual, and at times on bends in the road not the best time to meet an oncoming vehicle drifting to the wrong side of the road!
The river meanders through some beautiful countryside - the valley floor being relatively wide to facilitate reasonably good farming (including Wee Jasper vineyards about 3 kms along the Carey's Caves road). It isn't what it was however - the building of the Burrinjuck dam at the valley head has depleted the water course considerably - again on the tourist map, there's an indication of Carey's Reserve providing water side camping and a boat ramp. Wrong - the river on the wide banks here is bone dry.
The nicest spot for swimming was the spot where the Micalong Creek and Goodradigbee River meet - part of the Brindabella Ranges State Park. It's a very easy walk from the car park along the banks of the Creek to the confluence of the two rivers. The path then follows the river through towards Wee Jasper and past the Swinging Bridge and Billy Grace Reserve campsites.
The Goodradigbee is a fairly fast flowing river and can fairly deep in parts, but it's currents do get broken up by the occasional sand banks, there are places where its only a few inches deep and there's plenty of overhanging branches to help any unexpected mishaps. But we felt perfectly secure (but with a watchful eye) with the kids in the river. And in spite of the (admittedly small) local campsite being fairly busy, we had the banks to ourselves after only a few minutes walk.
Many years ago i spent some wonderful weekends down at Wee Jasper, camping, abseiling, caving and enjoy what mother nature had to offer. Close enough for a drive from Sydney or Canberra, a wonderful place few have visited.