Time:4 hrs
Distance:10km
Fitness:E
Skill:E
Ascent:220m
Maps: LPI Kain 8826-4S 1:25000
Notes:Print-friendly notes (opens in new window)
Please note that while the maps on this web site are useful and generally contain more, and more accurate, information on trails, the relevant topographic maps should be carried on most walks. These are available from the Lands Information Centre, map shops, and most outdoor stores.

Introduction

The Big Hole

Much of the northern part of Deua NP is underlain by a band of limestone, forming caves and sinkholes. This walk visits two of the most impressive and easily accessed features - the enormous sinkhole known as the Big Hole, and the tunnel and slot canyon formations of Marble Arch.

Access

From the main intersection in Braidwood, follow signs to Cooma. Head south on Wallace St, and take the first right on to Coghill St. Turn left on to Araluen Rd, and after 1.7km, veer right on to Cooma Road. Follow this for about 40km, and turn left at the sign to Berlang/The Big Hole. The Berlang Camping Area is about 700m along a dirt road.

Track notes

From 20 Jul 2013, last checked 20 Jul 2013

Walking in the Marble Arch slot canyon

From the Berlang Camping Area, follow the track that leaves to the east, down to the upper reaches of the Shoalhaven River. Depending on the level of the river, you may be able to cross on stones, but otherwise a wade is required. This can be quite pleasant in summer, but very cold and somewhat painful to the feet in winter.

Follow the track as it climbs up the gully, on to the ridge, and then around the back of the hill to a large wooden platform. The platform looks down into the impressive and aptly named Big Hole, a massive limestone sinkhole over 100m deep.

Continue on the track as it descends steeply to the valley to the south-east, crossing over the Bettowynd Fire Trail, and continuing through pleasant open forest. The track is infrequently marked, and while it is mostly fairly obvious where it goes, some care must be taken.

The cavern of Marble Arch

At the edge of the Reedy Creek Valley there is a sign. The track descends more steeply, eventually ending up in Reedy Creek just upstream from Marble Arch. There is no track to Marble Arch itself, a large tunnel through which the mostly dry Reedy Creek runs. Turn right (downstream), and a bit of easy scrambling is required to get to the start of the arch. Torches are advisable, as the middle of the arch is quite dark.

Downstream from Marble Arch is an impressive slot canyon. When wet, the marble rock becomes very slippery, and it is tricky to negotiate the pools without getting wet feet. Though in summer this may be a good thing! A large pool requiring wading or a possible swim ends the fun for most parties, though the adventurous may like to press on.

Taking care, retrace your steps back to the track, and follow this back to the river crossing.

Personal reports

20/07/2013 - The Big Hole and Marble Arch: Berlang Camping Area - The Big Hole - Marble Arch and canyon - return (photos)