weekend walks: inside jenolan caves

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Weekend walk took us indoors this week, inside caves! Actually, the initial plan was to do the Jenolan River Walk and see the Blue Lake in the Greater Blue Mountains region (which is a UNESCO Heritage Site). So after driving 2.5 hours, we arrive to find that the walk is closed for maintenance. The most of the Blue Lake we got to see was up above from the road.

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Luckily, Plan B was not a bad plan at all. Plan B was to visit Jenolan Caves themselves. The tours of the caves last about 1.5 hours and range in levels of fitness/difficulty. We elected to join the Orient Cave tour which is considered one of the top 10 most beautiful caves in the world! There was no way, we were missing that one. Not that we have seen the other top 10 contenders, but we certainly rate this one incredible!

Inside the caves, there are crystals: millions and millions of crystals. There were stalactites (those formed from the ceiling down), there was stalagmites (those formed from the ground up) and there were helictites (those that changed directions as they form). It was a crash course for us in basic geology and cave formation.

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An extremely fascinating (and almost unfathomable) fact was that sometimes 1 cubic centrimetre of these formations can take up to 300 years to form, so…. given “that” and after some calculations, the Jenolan Caves are about 340 million years old, making them the world’s oldest caves!  (Well, actually, we didn’t do the maths, it was already done).

As we pass through the caves, the water overhead drips, we can hear it and see it. Crystal is forming as we walk! From the photos, the surfaces looks almost waxy. We also managed to see a flowing stone as we entered.

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The Orient Caves contained a Persian Chamber, an Egyptian Chamber and an Indian Chamber. Looking around, it felt like we were in another dimension or on another world. It is so utterly unusual and intriguing. Some of the formations are given names or descriptions for orientation.

(1) Example of “shawls” – these are two alongside one another. The one on the right is what crystal looks likes after water over times flows over the limestone: it is white, translucent white. The one on the left is crystal formed from dirty/contaminated water.

In general, the brown streaks through the formations are from iron in the water.

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(2) Pillar of Hercules – found in the Persian Chamber, stands at about 8 metres tall.

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(3) The Dome – found in the Persian Chamber, approximately 40 metres high

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(4) The pilgrims – found in the Persian Chamber, “walking” up a hill

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(5) Little crystals formed in water

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(6) Egyptian Blanket and curtains – found in the Egyptian Chambers

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(7) The Frozen Nile  – also found in the Egyptian Chambers. The white dots on the far right of the picture are the sparkles of the light hitting the crystals.

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(8) Elephant Headress, found in the Indian Chamber.

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(9) Medusa, looking down with a headful of snakes.

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Jenolan Caves are such a delight to visit. We are curious and keen to go back – more so as with each ticketed tour purchased, the visitor receives a ticket which entitles them to get 50% off any other cave tours that they do with the year (BONUS 🙂 )

We really do take our hats off for those explorers who were so brave in venturing into such unknown territories (with only candles and naked flame as their source of light) to discover such beauty and even more so to those in 1867, who gazetted the area as a reserve! Thank you to those people with such foresight to protect such beauty so we can enjoy it today!

Greater Blue Mountains were UNESCO Heritage listed in 2000. To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited, visit our unofficial bucket list

 NB: This was not a sponsored post – we visited on our own accord. 

 

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36 thoughts on “weekend walks: inside jenolan caves

    LyndaS said:
    April 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Wow! Your pictures are incredible. I visited Ruby Falls in Tennessee (US) and took some pictures inside the caverns and learned how difficult it is to photograph the different formations. Great job. (I also learned something from your post. I had never thought about Australia having caves.)

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 27, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Hi Lynda, Glad you enjoyed the post! It was tricky with the camera but we got good lighting in there, luckily 🙂
      Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

    Jaspa said:
    April 23, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Fantastic, crisp photos, Monkeys! Rich’s cave photos are usually a bit underwhelming.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 23, 2014 at 9:36 am

      We are sure you are downplaying Rich’s photos 😉
      We were lucky with lighting and our camera was deciding to work with us 😀 – thank you much for your lovely comment!!

    ourworldheritagebe said:
    April 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Great post! Lovely pics of the caves – we find it always really hard to photograph inside a cave!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 22, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks guys!! Our little point and shoot did its magic here 🙂 there was also pretty good lighting inside but still needed steady hands!!
      Hope you guys had a lovely Easter eating Belgian chocolates 😉

        ourworldheritagebe said:
        April 22, 2014 at 7:37 pm

        We actually spend it eating Moroccan Tajines… so all is well at our end 😉

    thebritishberliner said:
    April 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Oh yes please. I love caves and these caves look amazing and daunting all at the same time. Nice post!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 22, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Thank you 🙂 Definitely worth a visit if you are ever around the area!!

    emmahart7 said:
    April 20, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    These caves look like something from another planet! So beautiful!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 20, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      It does, doesn’t it? Could’ve sworn we were in another dimension!! Definitely worth a visit for anyone around Sydney area for several days.

    Browsing the Atlas said:
    April 20, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Beautiful! I love caves. I can’t go when we travel with my mom; she’s too claustrophobic. But I could spend all day exploring caves.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 20, 2014 at 8:27 am

      Caves are so very fascinating! As long as its well lit and quite roomy , we are fine otherwise they can sometimes make us a little claustrophobic.
      Have you got a favourite cave?

    mithriluna said:
    April 16, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Wow, beautiful images of an amazing place.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 16, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      Thank you – it’s hard to take a bad picture in such a stunning place!

    Savvy Kenya (@savvykenya) said:
    April 15, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    I never thought caves could be these beautiful!

    Melinda Lusmore said:
    April 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Gosh, I haven’t been there since I was a kid. Glad Plan B turned out OK 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      Us too – so happy it turned out perfectly 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by!!

    ekhaugli said:
    April 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Amazing and fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 15, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      So happy you liked it and it was unbelievably fascinating 🙂
      Hope you are well!

    Know-All said:
    April 15, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Oh Boy!! This is just amazing! What a place!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      It was unreal! Honestly felt like we were zapped into another world!

    MiaMusings said:
    April 14, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Awesome pictures! How did you get such lovely shots? I’ve been to some caves here in SA but there are too dark to take any pics….are these ones all lit up?

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      They were lit up well and also took off the camera flash for the shots but that meant, steady hand needed 😉
      Thanks so much for the feedback – really appreciate it!

    Just Another Nature Enthusiast said:
    April 14, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Outstanding photography! I felt like I was along with you on the tour. Good choice using large photo format to showcase your adventures. Thumbs up for Plan B!!!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 14, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Thanks Jane – we are so thrilled to hear your kind words!! A definite thumbs up for Plan B 🙂
      We are still experimenting with our blog as to which photo formats work best – so we are grateful for the feedback!!

    renxkyoko said:
    April 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    They are so eeriely beautiful !

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 14, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      At the time, we wouldn’t describe them as eerie but definitely looking back and thinking about the lighting and the shapes of some of the formations – they do look eerie 🙂
      Thanks for swinging by!!

    Tanzalongs said:
    April 14, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Amazing photos – what a place. At least one of these should be used for the weekly photo challenge – a monument to time?

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 14, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Ahhh!! Great point 🙂
      Thanks for your lovely comment! We actually saw this after we had submitted our entry into the Weekly Photo Challenge 😉
      It is quite a special place! Worth a visit!!

    Sha said:
    April 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Wow, it looks amazing. I had wanted to go to the blue mountains and the Jenolan Caves when I was in sydney earlier this year but unfortunately had to skip it because I felt too sick to travel that far. But I’ll definitely visit this on my next trip there!! 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 14, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      That’s a shame you were so sick 😦 – thats never fun when travelling!

      Next time you are in Sydney, let us know 🙂 Not seeing Jenolan Caves seems like a good enough reason to come back to Sydney 😉

        Sha said:
        April 14, 2014 at 5:53 pm

        Yeah…I stayed in instead. I loved sydney when I was there this summer. It was such an awesome place and yes, not seeing jenolan caves is definitely a reason to come back to sydney…:)

    Shelley @Travel-Stained said:
    April 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Wow!! These caves look so cool and eerie. I think I would feel a little bit freaked out wandering around inside there!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      April 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      Thank goodness it was a guided tour and there were proper walkways with good lighting! Actually the tour guide switched off all the lights at one point and it was sooooo eerie!

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