The Majestic Jenolan Caves
The Jenolan Caves are one of Australia's most spectacular viewing cave systems. With 10 different show caves on offer, it is an experience you won't soon forget.
The access road to Jenolan Caves is steep and winding, leading deep down into the heart of the Blue Mountains World Heritage wilderness area.
One of the most significant and oldest cave systems in the world, the Jenolan Caves are true natural wonders, with pure and clear underground rivers and incredibly extensive limestone crystal formations throughout. With a cool constant temperature of between 15 and 17 degrees inside, the caves can be enjoyed all year round.
The Jenolan Valley is surrounded by varied wildlife and stunning bushland, and is an area steeped in human history, both aboriginal and colonial, and of course a natural history spanning millions of years.
Although the caves were discovered by Europeans in the 1830’s, the cave systems had been used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years before this, as they are in the land of the Burra Burra people.
Once discovered by European settlers, the caves were explored for many decades, and became a popular tourist destination. The caves have also played an important part in the lives of local people, for example, the aptly named ‘Cathedral’, a cave room reminiscent of a church, used for church services. It is difficult to imagine how people in this era accessed these caves in full colonial dresses, or explored them and made them accessible to others with no modern technology or tools, but come they did, some profiting from the natural riches on offer.
People came to this place to both enjoy and to pillage, and there is clear evidence of damage, with broken formations where crystals were taken and areas destroyed by overuse. It wasn’t until the 1860’s that the government took over control of the caves to protect the area from further damage, and today the Jenolan Caves are recognized for their significant importance, being protected and treated with the respect these magnificent caves deserve.
The natural history of this area spans millions of years. The majestic caves, deep within the mountains, have emerged and evolved with the changing weather and moving seas and seasons. At any time in history, these caves were different, and imagining what was there before what is left now – empty spaces that were once filled with water, or other rocks and soils that the earth’s changing seasons of time have withered away, is a fascinating thought.
The modern experience – seeing it today and the evidence of previous use, and the clear examples of how the earth itself changes and moves throughout time, will enlighten and excite.
Overall, this cave system is a striking example of how earth systems evolve over time, not just physically (over millions of years) but also socially and culturally in how it is used and understood by people, from being a source of income and excitement for individual adventurers, to being treasured and protected by a whole country.
The big question however, when you stand in awe of this incredible cave system, is "How many caves are out there still undiscovered?" This is unanswerable, but the potential for further delights hidden in the mountains certainly excites the mind!
The Jenolan Caves centre operate show cave tours every day of the year. Accommodation is also available on site in the historic and beautiful Caves House. For more information, or to plan your own visit, check out their website below: