ENOLAN CAVES, BLUE MOUNTAINS – NSW, AUSTRALIA
The Jenolan Caves are located about 1h30m after Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, and are one of the world’s most spectacular cave formations that you will see! It is a big call, and whilst we have seen some beautiful Salt Caves in Austria and Germany, Ice Caves in Austria and Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand, Jenolan Caves no matter how many times you visit will always impress you. In fact i have been going since i was a kid!
There are 3 main ways to go see Jenolan Caves, jump in your car (or rental car) and drive there, join a tour group whether a smaller bus tour or a larger bus tour. It takes approx 2.5 hours to drive from Sydney city so i would suggest setting aside an entire day for Jenolan Caves, and don’t forget to pack something warm and some decent footwear. If you’re considering seeing other sites in the Blue Mountains on the same day, from experience and endless visits over the years we wouldn’t suggest you do so as Jenolan has plenty to see for an entire day and it is likely you will do 2 tours for the caves with some wandering about.
The Jenolan Cave System as Jenolan is approx 12 kms wide from what i remember and only 12 caves are open to the public with over 150 discovered so far, which makes me think what other amazing and beautiful caves you’re missing out on – but maybe that’s a good thing? Some times keeping things untouched from humans to prolong their beauty and safety is best.
Drive down through the winding roads, please take care and understand that unfortunately there are plenty of not so experienced drivers that may give you a little fright as they are not always entirely on their side due to the tight roads. Once you arrive you will see a very large archway entry as you can see below. Drive straight through carefully as there will be a few wanderers around, park your car in one of the car parks after the Jenolan House / Restaurant. Grab a jumper or jacket from the car, swap shoes if necessary as it can be a bit slippery from condensation, water and of course the dust from the stone and head down tot he ticketing box. Across from the information / ticketing box is a large wooden board with all the caves listed and tour times. The caves are all guided and you cannot go on a ‘self guided’ tours.
The tours available are for the; Lucas Cave, Imperial Cave, Chifley Cave, Orient Cave, Temple of Baal Cave, Diamond Cave, and finally these last caves which are normally not suggested for the elderly or children as they are a little more strenuous are the River Cave, Pool of Cerberus Cave, Ribbon Cave, Jubilee Cave, Extended Orient Cave, Extended Temple of Baal Cave Tour.
Once you have booked and are waiting for your guide remember a few important things such as. NO FOOD to be brought in, NO drinks other than water, no camera tripods and no stupid selfie sticks! My advise for photos are that you take photos on a high iso, or for smaller cameras use your nightmode and lean it on the railing to take a good photo. The most important thing to mention is do NOT under any circumstances touch anything, you have to understand and respect that nearly all of the formations growing weather small or large take thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions of years old – yes, really!
As soon as you walk into any cave you will quickly see beautiful formations such as Stalactites (which hang from the top), Stalagmites (on the ground) or Columns (when a stalagmite and stalactite meets and joins) right across to beautiful curtains of formations and glimmering crystals hanging on all angles (Shawls & Flowstones) in the most stunning natural earthy colours. Jenolan Caves in the recent years have added LED lighting but also some colour lighting which adds another perspective on the formations, however we are glad they haven’t put all the caves in disco colours otherwise you would never absorb and appreciate the natural beauty which again is over 100,000 years old!
We could elaborate and tell you a little more, but with all the amazing tour guides that offer so much information it would kind of ruin the whole experience i think. Our suggestion is to make a day of it, or even 2 and stay at Jenolan Caves and experience the cave system and the pristine Aussie bush, the Blue Lake, or if you’re there early in the morning or at dusk, you may even see some native wildlife including the beautiful birds, Kangaroo’s, Wallabies and Platypus’.
For more information including tour times and pricing please head to the Official Jenolan Caves Site here!
A little cave formation information for those who are interested below from the Jenolan Caves website;
- Straws are thin walled hollow formations that resemble drinking straws. As water drips slowly from the roof of the cave, it deposits a microscopic ring of calcite crystal. These rings continue to build and can form straws many centimetres long.
- Stalactites are also formations that grow downwards from the cave roof. Nearly all stalactites start their life as a straw. When the straw becomes blocked with calcite or impurities, a stalactite starts to develop and thicken over the years, from the solution which runs down its outer surface.
- Stalagmites are solid dripstones that grow upwards from the cave floor, from each drop of water from the roof or from stalactites overhead.
- Columns or Pillars are formations that develop from stalactites or stalagmites that extend from floor to roof.
- Shawls – Water reaching the roof of a cave does not always form drops. Sometimes it trickles down a rockface, depositing a narrow strip of calcite, that eventually results in a thin sheet, growing at an angle from the wall. Shawls often contain interesting folds, which occur because the initial trickle turned from side to side in its downward path along the rockface. The rich coloured banding that is often seen, is caused by other minerals in the solution, such as iron oxide.
- Flowstones: These attractive formations occur when flowing water leaves a film of calcite. They cover the original rock or mud floor, often to a considerable thickness. Sometimes the lower portions hang free, making a fringe or shawl of stalactites.
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