SOTA – Wyanbene Caves Mountain

VK2/ST-022 Wyanbene Caves Mountain 1055 metres ASL, Deua National Park VKFF-138

15 January 2015.  Today Al VK1RX and I plan to activate three VK2 SOTA peaks, the first Wyanbene Caves Mountain in the Southern Tablelands and the second and third peaks Bald Mountain and Big Badja Hill are in the Snowy Mountains region.  Possible summit to summit (S2S) opportunities may include Paul VK5PAS activating Mt Lofty VK5/SE-005 and Russ VK2BJP activating Mt Benambra VK3/VE-041.

The purpose of this post is to share our experience, trials and tribulations at Wyanbene Caves with potential SOTA activators or keen bushwalkers.   The climb to the summit is not trivial, the mountain has a commanding presence with very steep approaches, a formidable challenge to anyone who wants to take it on.  Will Al and I be back for a repeat activation in 2016?

How to get there?  From Canberra drive to Captains Flat and take Captains Flat-Braidwood Road to Cooma Road. Turn right into Cooma Road, continue along Cooma Road for 20 km.  Turn left into Wyanbene Road be careful not to miss the T intersection, the junction is on a rise adjacent to 15 roadside letter boxes. Sorry forgot to get the photos.   Continue along Wyanbene Road, cross the Shoalhaven River ford, stay on Wyanbene Road for a further 6 km to the campground.

Previous and first activators: Andrew VK2MWP and Mark VK1EM 1 January 2015.  Andrew and Mark took a different approach following a 4WD trail 4 km from the west.

After studying AUS Topo contour maps and Google Earth, Al and I knew we were in for a tough ascent.  At the car park the sign posted route to the Trig station (1 km) is misleading.  If you are planning this ascent, my recommendation is to avoid this route.  Al and I followed the route only to find ourselves at a dead-end near a cave entrance. (red GPS track log)  I recommend you plot a route similar to the blue GPS track log along a dry creek bed.

My assessment of any summit’s ‘degree of difficulty’ to climb, will be  judged by that of Mt Tennent VK1/AC-025 a 780 metre ascent over 6 km taking 2 hours designed to break human spirit.  The ascent to Wyanbene Caves Mountain Trig is 284 meters over 2 km yet the climb took 1 hour and 30 minutes.   I am happy to say the descent was 259 metres over 1.6 km, 400 metres shorter and no boulders/tors to navigate around or climb over.

Don’t take this route, unless you are keen to follow in our foot steps or you are interested in looking through the first cave.

Short 300 metre walk to a cave entrance.  Ignore the sign, don't take this track.

Short 300 metre walk to a cave entrance

Contour lines show a steep approach.  Our first target was the ridge line at 950 metres ASL. That choice proved to be a major challenge.  On the positive side the view from the ridge is spectacular and made for some awesome photos.

Wayanbene Caves Mt track log.

Wyanbene Caves Mountain track log.  Contour lines show a very steep ascent

Ascent 2 km, duration 1 hour 30 minutes, avg speed 1.4 km/h

VK2/ST-022 ascent profile

VK2/ST-022 ascent profile

VK2/ST-022 ascent data

VK2/ST-022 ascent data

Descent 400 metres shorter, duration: 45 minutes    🙂

VK2/ST-022 descent profile

VK2/ST-022 descent profile

VK2/ST-022 descent data

VK2/ST-022 descent data

Red track, note the changes in direction as we navigate around or in some cases over obstacles

track details

track details

Very steep ascent to the ridge line, avoid this area by following the blue track.


view where the red and blue tracks overlap on the map

dealing with obstacles and a narrow ridge line

Red track log, dealing with obstacles and a narrow ridge line.  Blue track log is the descent.

Seriously tough climb, now a very steep approach to the ridge line and easy to over balance when wearing a heavy backpackDSCN2802DSCN28001 hour later – on the ridge line with amazing views of Deua National Park.  Sent a SMS to Paul VK5PAS stating ‘400 metres to go, bloody hard!’  Paul is activating VK5/SE-005 Mt Lofty overlooking Adelaide.  🙂

view north along the ridge

view north-east along the ridge

view east

beautiful view east through Deua National Park to Mt Beroury

VK1RX on the ridge

VK1RX on the ridge, the narrow ridge was a big surprise!

After a short rest we continued climbing the ridge line for a further 100 meters where the terrain leveled off close to the 4WD fire trail used by Andrew and Mark.

narrow ridge line - steep drop each side

narrow ridge line – steep drop on each side

Head west along the ridge for 250 meters to the summit and Trig station

100 metres to the summit

250 metres to the summit

At the Trig for a well earned rest

view of the Trig and summit area

view of the Trig and summit area

VK1RX SOTA shack on Wanbyene Caves Moutain

VK1RX SOTA shack on Wyanbene Caves Mountain

On the summit at 10:05 local (23:05 UTC). I helped Al set up his inverted V dipole supported by a 7 metre squid pole.  Al fired up his ICOM IC-706 at 23:20 UTC to work the main chaser group.  For the planned S2S contacts we took turns working Paul VK5PAS/P on Mt Lofty VK5/SE-005 Mt, Andrew VK1MBE/2 on Livingston Hill VK2/SM-093 and Russ VK2BJP/3 on Mt Benambra VK3/VE-041.  Thanks fellas for the S2S contacts.  😉

My fourth and last contact to qualify the summit was Gerard VK2IO mobile with a 5-7 signal report.  Thanks Gerard, I definitely wanted to make the contact with you!

While taking photos I became the landing pad for a Stick Insect, or was it the orange T shirt?

VK1NAM with a curious Stick Insect - Didymura Violescens

VK1NAM with a harmless yet curious Stick Insect – Didymura Violescens

Aussie Stick Insect

large Aussie Stick Insect

With a new summit in the bag, it was time to tackle the steep descent.  We decided the best approach would be to descend the north face, this would avoid the ridge line and the associated obstacles – follow the blue GPS track log

Although the terrain is steep the ground underfoot is stable.  The steep face is covered by a native grass and the occasional small boulder.

descent profile steep

descent profile

Continue with the descent using a switch-back or zigzag approach across the face.

VK1RX on the narrow ridge

view of the descent heading north looking down the mountain face

Descent passing Bushrangers Cave.  On the ascent take a route to the left of the cave as shown in the picture.  On the descent stay to the right of the rock formation to avoid the cliff edge.


Bushrangers Cave

On my next visit I might check out the cave.


Bushrangers Cave

At the base of the mountain following a dry creek bed to the car park – visible on Google Earth

creek line very pleasant and easy to navigate along

follow the creek bed, a very pleasant walk through this section and easy to navigate

Take this creek line

From the campground, take this creek line to the base of the mountain (blue track log in reverse)

Back at the campground and car park.

Campground leading to the creek line

Campground leading to the creek line

Track overlay on Google Earth.  I will be back in 2016 for a second shot at this mountain.  Thanks Al for the cups of tea, good company and sense of humor, we did it!

Google Earth overlay

Wyanbene Caves Mountain – GPS track log overlay on Google Earth


4 thoughts on “SOTA – Wyanbene Caves Mountain

  1. Well done Andrew & Al. Nice to have got a Summit to Summit with you both.

    I just read an article about the Clarke Brothers, Thomas & John, who were bushrangers who frequented the area, before their capture in 1867.

    Again, well done on a great activation.

    Best 73,


    • Thanks Garry, I didn’t consider the ‘mountain goat’ line. I do recall Al making reference to being a SOTA mountain goat as we climbed the last couple of metres to the rocky ridge line. 🙂

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