Exploring Jenolan Caves
Jenolan Caves are located on the fringe of the Blue Mountains. These caves have been open to the public since 1867, internationally known limestone formations.
Journeying into the Jenolan caves area is an adventure both before and after arriving. The trip into the rugged valley where the caves are situated is a trip into times past. Driving through the immense limestone tunnel known as the Natural Arch is almost a mystical experience. Visitors here will experience underground rivers, narrow passages, magnificent rock formations and atmosphere that lend flight to the imagination and senses.
These caves were accidentally discovered in 1838 by a convict bushranger. Open to the public since 1867, they remain the most impressive system of limestone caves in Australia. There are nine caves in the system that extend for miles underground. Many aboriginal legends got their origin from the eerie and impressive subterranean wonders of the caves.
Guided tours are available daily. The accessibility of certain caves may vary from day to day. Some caves are more difficult to navigate than others. Visitors can determine which caves meet their particular activity level. Information on difficulty, number of steps and other factors are posted at the ticket office. If unsure, talk to the guides or ticket personnel, they are always helpful. Tours last approximately 1½ to 2 hours.
Much of the underground network is still unexplored. Most of this cave system was explored by men who crawled through tiny openings, mud and water using only a candle to light the way. If mud and dark narrow spaces are your idea of fun, then specialty caving tours and night tours can be booked. Be ready to get dirty and explore areas not many see.
There is a great deal to see above ground for those who aren’t thrilled with underground worlds. The area is full of lovely walking trails, The Blue Lake, unique natural flora, crimson rosella and the historic Jenolan Cave House. A restaurant and snack café are available on the premiss, as well as a lovely souvenir shop.
The Jenolan Caves House retains a sense of style dating back to the 1920's. It was fully renovated in 1995. Visitors will find this a lovely retreat summer or winter. Accommodations are welcoming and in the winter log fires roar and hot chocolate awaits those who care to partake. This is the perfect base to explore the caves and nearby attractions. Experiencing Christmas at Cave House is a memorable experience. Candle lit caroling under the limestone great arch is hauntingly beautiful. This historic retreat is a popular site and advance bookings are a must year long.
The caves are unique and diverse. Each offers its own charm and attractions. Tour guides are well informed on the history of the area and the caves themselves. Questions are answered with enthusiasm and guides show a genuine love and respect of the natural wonders that the caves hold deep in their bowels. The Indian Canopy, one of the more famous rock formations here, inspired so much awe in the man who first discovered it that he stated the beauty of it was beyond his power to describe.
Water is an essential force throughout the cave system. The Giant Shawl formation was formed over thousands of years as water trickled gently depositing calcite deposits that formed a paper-thin creation. The intense colors of many of the formations are due to other chemicals found in the water supplies in the caverns.
The Minaret is another formidable structure that has been stretching from a cavern floor upwards for many, many years. It’s milk-white magnificence is breathtaking. This stalagmite has been formed by calcite intense water drops that have built upwards to the cavernous roof.
In another cave, the Pool of Cerberus forms part of the Styx River that flows through the system, It then empties into the above ground pool known as the Blue Lake. Tours can be designed to meet anyone’s needs or curiosities. There is a wonderful world of underground magic waiting at the Jenolan Caves.