Let’s take a detour from the US trips and head back to Australia for a visit to Sydney’s Jenolan Caves. Mr M and I have just returned from a stiflingly humid fortnight in the motherland (yes, that’s what I’m calling Australia now) and I’m full of homesickness and memories.

Jenolan Caves are quite a drive away from Sydney proper (about three hours) but are worth the car or bus trip. The limestone caves are the oldest discovered open caves in the world and feature 40 kilometres (25 miles) of passageways across a multitude of levels. They can be accessed from over 300 entrances, so it stands to reason that Jenolan Caves are still be explored today.

Even though there is such an expanse of caves and tunnels, 11 caves are open to the public with a tour guide. Over the years I’ve visited the caves a few times – for a tour of the Lucas Cave most recently, and for “Adventure Caving” on the Plughole tour into the Elder Cave.

Estimated to be around 340 million years old, the cave complex contain fossils, bones of wombats and Tasmanian Devils, and spectacular crystal deposits and shawls.

Adventure Caving

Did I mention that I’m both claustrophobic and not a fan of heights? To celebrate this, I decided on a trip to Jenolan Caves for a few hours of squeezing through tight spaces with a bit of abseiling thrown in for good measure.
And I loved it.
Keep in mind that Plughole is the introduction to adventure caving so it’s pretty laid back but you still get overalls, a helmet and a headlamp so that you look like a proper miner. Or caver.

Plughole begins with a short (nine metre) abseil down to the mouth of the cave. This probably freaked me out the most since  not only am I high up, but I’m also standing with my back to the height. It all went smoothly despite my severe lack of coordination meaning that I ended up more horizontal than vertical at some points.

The Elder Cave is great because you’re always working with gravity to get through tight spaces and there are enough open caves for breathing space. Although some of the squeezes mean going feet first and not being able to see where you’re going to land. Having said that, the two tour guides were great with explanations and guiding you through.


See, it’s true! That’s one tight squeeze.

Two hours well spent. And I didn’t cry or whimper once.

Important Details: You need to book an Adventure Cave tour online or by phone at least 48 hours before you visit Jenolan Caves. It costs $100 and lasts for 2 hours. Be sure to wear comfortable enclosed shoes with a non-slip sole.

Regular Cave Tour

My most recent visit to Jenolan Caves a few weeks ago was to see Lucas Cave, which is the most-toured cave in the complex. It’s easy to work out why: this cave has a bit of everything, including stairs.

To be precise there are 910 steps throughout the cave so make sure you can handle the incline before buying tickets. Caves are classified by their level of difficulty so be sure to take that into consideration before booking your tickets.
The Cathedral Chamber is one of the highlights of this cave (and there are many), with great acoustics and a natural “alter” of sorts, this chamber has been used for church services, concerts and is still used for weddings.

We didn’t see any microbats on our tour, but I have seen them on previous tours so keep your eyes peeled for them.

There are, however, many crystal formations: from the broken column, to the emu, the bride with her cascading wedding gown, the mushroom and a bunch more sparkling examples of millions of years of water dripping.

But the icing on the cake was the underground river, that is perfectly clear and blue on days when it hasn’t rained.

Important Details:
Check the tour times before you leave online here and consider booking ahead during busy periods. Don’t forget to wear comfortable clothes and shoes with a non-slip sole.
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Getting There

Jenolan Caves is accessible by car or bus at 4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves, 2790.

Several bus companies run services to and from the caves, including Grayline, AAT Kings, and FJ Tours.



Tour Times:
The first tour starts at 9am and the last daytime tour begins at 5pm. Night tours are available, see the website for more details.