Bendethera Valley is in the Deua National Park, approximately 320km southwest of Sydney and 100km southeast of Canberra. There's a number of popular camp grounds within the region - some with picnic tables, fireplaces, and even long-drop toilets. Popular spots include Bendethera Valley campground, Wyanbene Cave and Berlang campgrounds to the north, and Dry Creek campground to the east.
Hiking, nature spotting, cave exploring, and simply enjoying the spectacular views from the highlands are some of the popular activities within Bendethera and Deua NP - so pack your hiking boots. Highlights include The Big Hole (just north of Gundillion), Marble Arch, Bendethera and Wyanbene Caves, Dampier Trig and Bendethera Mountain. The region is rich in culture and history. The remains of the old Bendethera homestead and the surrounding area provide a variety of artefacts, structures and features relating to gold and silver mining, grazing and tourism.
Due to the nature of most of the park’s roads and tracks, touring in a conventional car is limited to only a few attractions such as The Big Hole and Wyanbene Cave. Therefore, to make the most of the sights, a 4WD with low range and dedicated ‘off road’ tyres are ideal. There are some challenging 4WD sections throughout the park, including river crossings and considerably steep and rocky sections. The tracks into Bendethera are quite established and reasonably well formed, but being clay based - they do get slippery during wet conditions. As rugged as this region is, being well prepared, having competent 4WDriving skills, and going in with at least one other vehicle - will help pave way for an enjoyable and safe trip.
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Geology - Deua National Park
lies over a basement of granite that rises from the coastal plain westwards to the Monaro Tablelands. Metamorphic rocks lie over the granite where the topography dips to the northeast. The fast flowing Deua River has cut deep V-shaped valleys through the park.
Both underground and surface features are associated with the limestone (karst) areas within Deua National Park
. Each of the areas includes a number of cave
systems and sinkholes Bendethera
and Wyanbene caves were discovered late last century and have since had continual use, however Deua cave
was only discovered in 1980 and is in relatively pristine condition. All the karst areas contain features of high conservation or scientific importance, which are sensitive to any human activity. The karst environments in the park provide a significant geomorphological resource, in addition to providing habitats for a diversity of fauna, including important roosting sites for bats.
There are around 90 species of birds, which have been recorded in the park together with swamp wallabies, red-necked wallabies, grey
kangaroos, echidnas, possums and bandicoots as well as the rare tiger quoll.
Vegetation in the park changes markedly with altitude. A complex system of swamps, bogs and fens is associated with the watersheds of the Deua and Shoalhaven rivers providing clean and reliable water during times of drought. The well drained slopes surrounding areas of rainforest support ironbark (Eucalyptus paniculata), with yellow and white stringybarks (E. muellerana and E. globoidea). On the ridge tops the vegetation changes to stands of silvertop ash (E. sieberi) in open forests, and snow gums (E. pauciflora) at higher altitudes.
was once a pastoral lease, dating back to about 1861, and remnants of the homestead
and farm are visible. A lot of the ‘historical sights’ have well-presented signage explaining the history and operations of the area. In the last part of the 19th Century, the Bendethera Valley
was cleared to provide a resting-place for cattle driven from the Monaro Plains near Canberra
, from where they'd be shipped to either Sydney
. Settlement of the valley was especially difficult given its remoteness from both the coast and the tablelands. The area however was a favourite destination for early tourists, and in 1896 a portion was reserved for public recreation
. The main Bendethera Cave
has signatures dating from the 1890s including many old names in the district.
The idea for a national park for the Deua River was probably first discussed in 1920 when Myles Dunphy and Roy Davies walked through the region. But it was not until the 1960s that the National Parks Association's 'Deua–Tuross National Park Proposal' was put together. The momentum for a national park was developed during the 1970s, culminating in its dedication in 1979. In 1994, two sections of Deua National Park
were declared wilderness - the Burra
–Oulla and Woila–Deua wilderness areas. Take the time to read the NPWS advisory signs at the entry to the park, explaining the Flora, Fauna, Environment and History of the area.