The Jenolan Caves are an example of remarkable caverns in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia.
The Blue Mountains
Scientists had determined the age of the clay in the cave to be approximately 340 million years old, thereby making this cave complex the world's oldest known and dated open cave system. Within them, they preserved numerous marine fossils and the calcite formations, of which are extraordinary beauty. Major portions of the caves have been rendered easily accessible to paying visitors and are well lit.
The Caves House
In 1884 the name Jenolan Caves was adopted, an Aboriginal name meaning 'high place' as it is named after Mount Jenolan nearby. Large portions of this extensive cave system are accessible only to cavers, especially those areas along the underground river system; but, there are ten caves at Jenolan that have been developed for regular tourism. They are Lucas, River, Chifley, Imperial, Orient, Ribbon, Pool of Cerberus, Jubilee, Temple of Baal and Nettle Cave.
Road heading into the caves from the Caves House
The road from Sydney passes through the Arch and six of the cave tours leave from assembly points within it.
The Assembly Point
Adjacent to the Grand Arch is the Devil's Coach House, a vast open-ended chamber that forms part of the many nature walks in the area. High above both of these is Carlotta Arch, a free-standing arch that is all that remains of a higher cavern system long since eroded and collapsed.
Looking out from inside the Arch
The other side of the tunnel
During our visit, we had a one hour guided tour inside the Chifley Cave.
Discovered in 1880 and with electric lighting installed almost immediately, the Chifley Cave was known as the Left Imperial Cave until 1952, when it was renamed in honour of the then recently-deceased former Prime Minister Ben Chifley, who grew up in nearby Bathurst. The Chifley Cave was the first cave in the world to be lit by electric light, having been illuminated this way in 1880.
Two of the cave's chambers are also decorated with coloured lights.
The Chifley cave features large chambers, many richly decorated and displays all the stunning limestone formations that Jenolan is famous for.
The total walking length of the tour was about 690 metres and without realising it, we had actually walked up and down 421 stair steps.
For those who wonders about toilet facilities after the long guided tour, its quite obvious that the toilets at the Jenolan Caves are also within the caves (but without a roof).
Toilets in a very natural setting
And interestingly, we have a Blue Lake to complement the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Lake at Jenolan