Jenolan Caves is one of the great natural spectacles in Australia: the most ancient open caves in the world with arguably the most beautiful limestone formations. Tucked into a remote valley in the southern Blue Mountains National Park, this labyrinth of stalactite-lined chasms carved by pure underground rivers is a must-do extension for any visit to the Blue Mountains.
Guided tours of the show caves –Temple of Baal, Lucas, Chifley, Imperial & Diamond, Plughole and Orient – are available on weekends. Private tours can be arranged if you book ahead and give a minimum of two weeks' notice.
You must arrive in the car park at least 45 minutes before your first activity, to give yourself plenty of time to catch the shuttle bus.
Meanwhile, other features such as Carlotta Arch Walk, the McKeown’s Valley Track, the Devils Coach House and the Six Foot Track are free to experience. Spot wildlife such as wallabies and lyrebirds, and keep an eye out for the resident platypus who regularly make an appearance in the Blue Lake, accessed via the scenic Jenolan River Track, a gorgeous riverside amble through pristine wilderness.
However, to gain admission to the valley (even to the free bushwalks), you must have a pre-booked ticket for either a cave tour, dining or accommodation. For more information, visit the official website.
Make a weekend of it
The historic Jenolan Caves Houseis one of the icons of the Blue Mountains, built in 1897 in the spacious, gracious Federation style of the time. The historic ambience is heightened by period furniture, creaky floors – and some say a resident ghost or two! You can also book modern motel-style accommodation at the Mountain Lodge. Staying overnight? Enjoy lunch, dinner or high tea at the on-site Chisolm's Restaurant.
If you are thinking of lingering longer in the area, take a scenic drive to Bilpin, check out the sandstone buildings of Hartley Historic Village, walk among the pretty Mayfield Gardens in Oberon, meet the endangered native animals at Secret Creek Sanctuary and much more.
Jenolan Caves is a three-hour drive from Sydney along a winding road that passes through Katoomba. Tours to the caves are available from the Blue Mountains, or you can tackle the three-day walk to the caves via the Six Foot Track, utilising the services of the Megalong Valley Shuttle.
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