Absolutely magical day in the mountains - Jenolan Caves -Australia

About 340 million years old Jenolan Caves are the worlds oldest caves and it is one of Australia’s national treasures. Yes... 340 Million years old!!!
It is one of our favorite places to enjoy a day tour. My family is still like Jenolan caves scenic drive and cool weather even though we have been there many times. 
The Jenolan Caves were once part of a seabed millions of years ago. After that the whole area was lifted into mountains. Shells and Corals fossils are found in the rocks of the caves, which are the most remarkable limestone cave system in Australia.
This spectacular showcase located in the beautiful Blue Mountains World heritage area and only a 3 hours drive (175km/ 109miles) from Sydney Airport and from Canberra make a great day or overnight excursion.

Most visitors drive to the Jenolan Caves from Sydney and Canberra. It is the common and easiest way. But several privately owned coach companies come to Jenolan Caves, from Sydney, Katoomba and further away. A tour from a company can be booked if you like a group tour.

Reaching Jenolan Caves
Reaching the caves is not hard from Sydney. Once you have passed Katoomba, turn left at the Jenolan Caves turnoff just pass the Hartley Historic Village. Jenolan Caves Road goes through the beautiful village of Hampton and finally to Jenolan Caves. 
There is no public transport to Jenolan Caves. However,you can take a train to Leura station and take a taxi to the Jenolan caves.
Jenolan is not suitable for caravans, however caravan parks in nearby Oberon or Lithgow can accommodate you.
But make sure you have lots of fuel as there are no service stations beyond Lithgow.
Scenic Twisty Drive from Katoomba
The drive from Katoomba, follows the high ridge tops with has stunning picturesque views. Normally we have a break and enjoy the scenery in pasture lands after Lithgow. The Pine forests, rural villages winding road and beautiful mountains are amazing and don't miss the chance to get relax and take gorgeous photos. The Jenolan Caves are accessed by passing through one of the most dramatic and impressive stretches of road in all of New South Wales.

The last 8km of the drive that is sign posted steep and windy.The last sealed section to the caves is very tight, twisty and narrow. If you pass another vehicle you will be driving right near the edge with about a 500m drop down into the valley below full of trees. This journey offers spectacular scenery and terrible scary feelings as well.

There are 450 spaces  for cars, camper vans and buses, about 5 minutes walk to the main ticket office. Parking is free of charge. Normally we do not book a tour online and get tickets at the office, but booking would be preferable and absolute on weekends.
Cave Tours
There are 11 richly decorated show caves to be seen on tours for all ages and fitness levels. The cave network has over 40 km (25 Miles) of multi level passages offering easy site seeing walks, educational and historical tours to active adventure caving, night tours, ghost tours, multi-lingual self-guided tour, bush walks and underground concerts. During  school holidays, there are tours that have been specially developed for children, aged 7-12.
There are wonderful walking tracks in external caves to explore along the river. The caves have paths, handrails and subtle lighting, designed to highlight the most outstanding cave features and enhance your experience of the amazing underworld. You can tour any of 11 amazing caves, each one different. Tours are 1 to 2 hours in duration. You must take a tour, no self guided tours allowed. All this caves include stairs. Some are easy but some are bit difficult to elderly people.

Popular Caves
  • The Aladdin’s Cave, 
  • The Lucas Cave, 
  • The Orient Cave, 
  • The Temple of Baal,   
  • River Cave,  
  • Mammoth Cave,  
  • Chifley Cave, 
  • Imperial Cave,  
  • Jubilee Cave,  
  • Nettle Cave,  
  • Elder Cave  
  • Ribbon Cave  
  • Jersey Cave  
  • Arch Cave are the most popular caves at Jenolan caves.  
Lucas Cave
Among them, Lucas Cave is the most interesting cave. It offers the biggest chamber of all Jenolan caves and a wider range of different cave formations. The whole Lucas cave tour takes 1 1/2 hours. You will need to walk several flights of stairs to get to the Lucas caves. The Jenolan cave system has a lowest level with a cave river. Here at Lucas is the only possibility to get a glimpse of this underground river. The highest chamber is the Cathedral is reaching 54 meters(177 feet). The blue green water flows 20m below the tour path and we can cross on a bridge.

Creations of the Caves 
The caves were created millions of years ago through a complex relationship between water, rock, atmosphere and the lifeforms that inhabit the environment. Within their ancient depths, you can see marine fossils and calcite formations which are often pure white and incredibly surreal. 

Underground, the caves follow a network of tunnels and caverns that run alongside a subterranean section of the Jenolan River. The caves are a network of ancient limestone tunnels, subterranean rivers and caverns richly draped with exotic mineral deposits.

Since their discovery by European settlers in the 1830s, more than 40kms of multi-level passageways have been explored and mapped.



Geological History   

Scientists have determined, through the examination of the clay found in the caves, that the Jenolan subterranean system is around 340 million years old which makes them the oldest known and dated open cave system on the planet.

Today, they remain the most ancient, open caves that have been discovered on the planet.


Indigenous Believe 

The traditional owners of this land are the Wiradjuri and the Gundungurra people. That local Aboriginal people first named the Jenolan Caves as "Binnomea" or "dark places".

The caves still remain a significant part of Indigenous culture. In the past, the Gundungurra people travelled through the caves to the subterranean water where they bathed their sick people because it was believed that the waters of the Jenolan River have curative powers.

Amazing Memory
This was our third visit to Jenolan caves and it always leaves me speechless. Jenolan Caves as a natural attraction is absolutely beautiful. You won’t be disappointed with the cave. The temperature is a nice 10-15 degrees and is all year around. This place is amazing! You feel like you are in another world when you drive through the entrance tunnel. My children did really well with the tour including my little one. Might be hard for little kids to climb the stairs, so you might need to carry them. Our tour guide was great, entertaining and very informative, really made the tour enjoyable and interesting. Kids Loved. The sound and light effects in the cave were great and brought it to life. 

The colored lights at the end were fun. The guided tour was absolutely recommended  and you had plenty of time to take photos, ask questions and didn't feel rushed to get to the next section of the cave. They take such good care of the caves and the main focus is to preserve it for future generations.

Jenolan has the most spectacular and best known Limestone caves in Australia. A great photo opportunity for the heritage buildings and the many cave hikes. Hard to believe places like this exist. Photos don't do these caves justice. It is absolutely amazing!!! It's chambers are simply incredible. It is magnificent and very beautiful tour. Our young kids had learned a lot about the history and geography of this cave network.
The Jenolan caves are set in a 2416 hectare reserve which has beautiful bush trails with lookouts and restful spots to enjoy the scenery. Colorful birds and Australian native animals, wallabies, kangaroos, possums, echidna platypus and wombats make their homes in this habitat.
UNESCO World Heritage
The caves and conservation reserve are one of the eight protected areas that was inscribed in 2000 to form part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains Area. 
There are so much amazing things that happen millions of years ago and worth a visit. It is honestly a beautiful place to visit. I would recommend Jenolan if you have plenty of time to explore the surrounds such as walking treks as well as the other caves.
Jenolan Caves is a magical place to spend a weekend or several days ­ as a romantic escape or as a fun place with families and friends. Remarkable beautiful and awesome natural cave formation was a very fascinating tour and memorable too.
One of the most beautiful caves I have ever been to.This is a must do! It was magnificent and a great destination for all ages


Excellent experience for climate change effects - Tasman Glacier - New Zealand


When you drive from Christchurch to Queenstown, there are many spectacular places through the journey which you can't be missed. Among them, our kids got too excited to see glorious Tasman Glacier when we landed in Christchurch. New Zealand South island is full of natural beauties with lakes, mountains, forests, beaches and fiords. Among of them Tasman Glacier is one of the famous and iconic attractions in the world. Incredible long deep Tasman Glacier is in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.

From Christchurch to Mount Cook National Park, we drove through the New Zealand  State Highway8 by a ranted car. 

Lake Tekapo

This scenic route is amazing full of  picturesque scenery. Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo located on the South Island of New Zealand.

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki can be seen from State Highway 8 when driving between Tekapo and Twizel. When driving, you’ll notice people parking by the side of the road and taking photos.

Lake Pukaki

Mount Cook Scenic Drive

Soon after Twizel we turned onto Mount Cook Road. There's a sign displays at the  T -junction saying "Mt Cook/Aorak" when the Mount Cook road starts. You just drive along the flat valley floor to the base of the mountain. That drive is magnificent! Words can't describe the beauty. It’s a great place to take photos, especially when there’s lots of snow on the top of the mountains. Doing this drive without stopping would also be rather missing the breathtaking views, so we spent more time on the road side to enjoy beautiful cloud touching mountain range.

Scenic Mount Cook Drive

Close to the end of the Mount Cook road you can see two detours, one of the Hooker Valley and the other one through the Tasman valley.The end of the road to Tasman Valley, we reached  the Tasman Glacier view point car park.

Car Park and the Toilet at the Entrance

Gravel Stairs to the view point

Bring a bottle of water and remember to go to the toilet before the trip. Then there will be no toilet after the following 1.5 hours. There is a small toilet just before the walking trail start and a sign by the entrance read "15 min walk. There is no entry fee to visit Tasman Glacier. It is a  few minute walk from the car park to the glacier lake. But with kids we spent about 30 min. The walk affords spectacular views all the way along.

Spectacular views all the way long

The hike starts off easy and then gets harder as it goes to the top of a range overlooking the glacier lake. Mostly on gravel stairs with no handrails. Blue Lake,Green Lakes and the panoramic views of the valley behind also visible from above as you climb the steps to the viewing area.

Blue Lake & Green Lake

When the Blue Lakes were first formed, they were fed by the Tasman glaciers. The blue water is melt water that is older than the milky colored water in the lake. Milky colored water has large amounts of ground up rock and when the rock flour finally settles the water becomes blue. So they were turquoise blue in color, hence the name "Blue Lakes"

Over the course of several years, the Tasman Glaciers have shrunk and retreated, so the melt water from the glaciers don't flow into the Blue Lakes anymore. The lake is now filled by the rainwater, supporting the growth of algae, causing the lake to appear green.

We walked a little further up to the higher viewing point at the  hill  gorgeous views of the Tasman Lake and Tasman Glaciers opened up. There were few signs with some recent history of the glacier. Wow!!! it was gorgeous!!! I felt so privileged to be witnessing yet another marvel of nature. Views really take your breath away.

We went there in April. It was quite cold. The wind was chilling when at the top of the viewing point. It can be very windy at the viewpoint so secure your belongings, specially hats and scarfs.

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

The Tasman Glacier is the largest glacier in New Zealand by far. Currently the glacier is 23.5 km(14.6 miles) long, 4 km (2.5 miles) wide and lies entirely within the borders of Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. It covers 101 square km(39sq miles) and is around 600m (2000 feet) thick at it’s maximum depth. The terminus is 200m deep.

Tasman Glacier is absolutely enormous and it is known as Haupapa as well. The upper areas of the glacier are covered with snow and the lower glacier is entirely rock covered.

Global Warming Effects to the Glacier

Some 22,000 to 16,000 years ago, it was even more imposing. Joined by ice from the Murchison, Hooker and Mueller glaciers, the Tasman glacier stretched for 115 km. In the 1970’s there was no lake at all but since the 1990’s the glacier has been melting rapidly. The ice has thinned so much that in the mid 1980s, ponds at the Tasman’s terminus joined to form a lake. The lakes are increasing in size as icebergs break off into the lake. It is also melting from the surface, shrinking around 150m in depth since it was first surveyed in 1891.

Icebergs breaking due to global warming

We could see how much of the original glacier size is supposed to be from an old photo shown at the view point and compare to the present size of the very much reduced glacier to know how much climate change has caused this damage. The lake is getting bigger since Tasman Glacier is melting more than it used to do. In 1890 the glacier was 29 km long and by 2027 it’s expected to be only 20 km.

This is one of our New Zealand highlights. If you have not seen a glacier this place is an eye opener.The views of the glacier and the lake are absolutely wonderful. There is about 300 steps to get up to the lookout but well worth the effort. There were no broken icebergs float in the lake the day we went there. But we saw some icebergs near the glacier. If you want to see them, summer is the best time.

If you're in the South island you really must visit this Tasman Glacier. Highly recommend. But remember, comfortable walking shoes should be worn and wear warm clothes, gloves and sunglasses to the Glacier. I’ve been fortunate to see this remarkable glacier. It's a place I'll definitely be visiting again!

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