We recently visited the Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and it is an experience not to be missed. They are considered to be one of the world's oldest and most extensive cave formations so if you are planning a visit allow a fair amount of time. There is a lot to explore both underground and overground.
There are 10 show caves and various experiences available, from Aboriginal culture tours to Ghost and Legend tours, to ones that take you on off track itineraries. Some are guided and others self guided but if you want my advice choose to go with a guide. They are enthusiastic and knowledgeable and can make the experience so much more rewarding. If you are a little spooked about going underground there are a large number of walks that you can do overground in this area which is so rich with geological formations and water sources. These range from simple ones like the Blue Lake Loop, which takes 30 minutes, to the Shaping Waters Walk showing the limestone caves formed by the passage of water, or the Working Waters Walk showing how water can be an energy source and the Healing Waters walk where Aboriginal people brought their sick to heal in the healing waters of the caves.
The caves are situated approximately 1 & 1/4 hours away from Katoomba. This is a great place from which to explore the Blue Mountains and the caves are a day trip away. The road is fairly narrow and windy so be aware of that but it is well signposted and there is ample parking at the caves, though it can be popular with tourists and travellers throughout the year.
Aboriginal people knew of the caves for tens of thousands of years and thought of them as a sacred and healing site. The white settlers arrived some time in 1831 and began exploring the caves and the surrounding areas and they were officially gazetted as a reserve in 1867. There are over 300 caves documented and work continues on them to this day.
The caves are in rocks made of limestone, the main component of which is calcium carbononate, which suggests that the area was once a shallow sea. Fossils have been found in the limestone which have enabled the scientists to date the caves to some 430 million years.
Water finds its way underground and over the years it dissolves the limestone and creates the caves. At the same time slightly acidic water drips through the limestone and deposits are formed that grow downwards from the ceiling of the cave to form stalactites. Other formations grow up from the floor of the caves and these result in stalagmites. The two can sometimes grow towards one another and eventually form a column. There are hundreds of formations, some of which have names, animal shapes and representations which they have morphed into. Dinosaurs and Madonnas praying are some of the examples that you will see that have formed over many years.
Nearby you will be able to find the Caves House dating back to 1896, with some heritage rooms and accommodation on offer as well as the cafe and adjoining terrace. There are cottages you can stay in nearby if you want to explore the caves over several days and the ticket office and souvenir shop are also conveniently situated just beyond the natural arch you go through leading to the car park.
To book online or find out more details visit the site JENOLAN CAVES