The "irreversible" damage done to one of the region's much-loved natural wonders has devastated locals as police hunt for those responsible.
On Saturday, officers from Riverina Police District commenced an investigation after reports of damage inside a cave within Kosciuszko National Park.
Investigators were told between October 17 and 23, Jillabenan Cave which forms a part of the Yarrangobilly Caves, was broken into, and the stalactites and speleothems (straws) were damaged.
A NSW Police statement said a padlock securing the doorway into the cave was removed, and the power distribution board was also damaged.
It also said the cave's stalactites and "straws" are naturally formed, meaning that the damage is irreversible.
Snowy Valleys mayor James Hayes said it was a disgraceful and heartless act.
"It's one of our premier tourist attractions, and we have lost the sugar pines already, and now some idiot has gone up and done this," he said.
"The stalactites will have to build back up again, and that would take hundreds of years.
"We won't be alive to see the damage improve."
The caves were formed in a belt of limestone that is reportedly 440 million years. Mr Hayes said it's one of the region's natural wonders, and he encourages people to add it to their bucket list.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"It is devastating that these thousands of years old caves were destroyed in what gave the criminals minutes of pleasure," she said.
"It's shocking that someone could get enjoyment out of damaging the caves and sad that they would ruin the enjoyment for everyone.
"It's such a tourist destination, and anyone who lives in the local vicinity goes to visit the caves."
Anyone with information or who may have seen anything suspicious in the area is urged to contact Tumut Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: