Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jenolan Caves

Welcome to Jenolan Caves

Jenolan caves are natural limestone caves in Blue Mountain, New South Wales, Australia. It was named after a mountain, Mt. Jenolan, that is located near to the caves. In Aboriginal language, Jenolan means ‘high mountain’. The caves system is about 340 million years old and located in a 24.16 km2 area. It is, then, claimed as the oldest and the largest open caves system in the world. The exact number of the caves, that are included in the system, remains unknown until now ... further explorations are still going on. However, there are 10 caves which are publicly accessible: Cerberus cave, Chifley Cave, Imperial Cave, Jubilee Cave, Lucas Cave, Nettle Cave, Orient Cave, Ribbon Cave, River cave and Temple of Baal Cave.

The caves were already discovered by the Aboriginies thousands of years ago. They named it ‘Binoomea’ meaning ‘Dark Places’. Then, in 1838, the caves were first discovered by a foreigner, James McKeown. He was a lawbreaker and hiding in the caves. The Whalan brothers run after and arrested James. It was, then, Charles Whalan and his sons who ‘really’ discovered the caves system and became the first ‘cavekeeper’.

The Stalactites in the Lucas Cave

If you have limited time on your visit, do the Lucas, Imperial, Chiefly or Orient caves tour. Actually, I can not fully enjoy the cave tour as I do not like to be in the dark and cold places for a long time ... I just do not feel good about it. But, as I was there (... I had come far away from my home country), then I should take at least one cave tour. I only took the Lucas cave tour. The cave was named after the local parliament member to honour his effort for preserving the caves. The main feature of Lucas Cave is the Cathedral chamber and the broken column formation. The Cathedral was used for religious services and wedding ceremonies. It was good though. The thing that always amazes me when I visit a cave is the formation of the stalactite and stalagmite. I always think and imagine how long it takes to form and grow one stalactite or stalagmite with the average of growth rate of 1 mm/year ... Yes, it is very very very long!

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