(Part 2 of Exciting New South Wales Series)
|Image capture taken from http://www.jenolancaves.org.au . All rights belong to jenolancaves.org.au|
There was a previous post about Blue Mountains in NSW last month and in it, I mentioned Jenolan Caves as among the national parks you can visit in The Blue Mountains Heritage Site Area. The Jenolan Caves is one of the world’s oldest and astonishing cave systems in the world. It consists of ten caves open for tourism but there are also many other caves in the area only accessible to cavers as they are quite complex . Some are even believed to be undiscovered.
The drive to the park took about 3 hours from Sydney. As it is located on a higher altitude, expect lower temperatures, so we were told to bring a jacket. Note that this was last March where summer is just ending, going there around this time will probably give you much cooler temperatures.
|Keep warm with your hoodies and jackets. Especially if you easily get cold (i.e. me).|
The cave that we chose for our tour is the Orient Cave– not that its particularly the best one (but we’ll later on learn that it is probably the most beautiful) as far as our knowledge in caves go (which is nil), but because it is the one available with the time we have. There are shuttles that stop in front of the ticketing office according to tour schedule and will take you to your cave of destination. According to the brochure that was given to us when we bought our tickets, the Orient Cave is “one of the world’s most beautiful caves!”. Now, when you read something like that (and with an exclamation point!), you have to expect just two things: if they are telling the truth then it is really beautiful but if they are not then its probably plain ugs. And I guess they were telling the truth because this is what i saw…
and this, too…
The tour lasted for about 1 1/2 hours and a guide will take you through the tour, explaining the different formations, the history of the cave and dispensing factoids like you’re a bunch of 10 year-olds on a field trip– which is kind of fun, I have never been on a field trip for a long time.
|An actual 5 year-old being amazed by limestones.|
But what’s really remarkable about the Orient Caves is that all that beautiful, intricate and seemingly hand-crafted formations are highlighted by state-of-the art lighting. I am telling you to prepare to be awestruck.
My experience with caves here in the Philippines is way different with what I experienced in the Jenolan Caves. For sure our caves could be much beautiful and much awesome in some ways but how I wish we have that technology of lighting it and making it more accessible to people in a safer way.
|Safety railings, stairs and well-planned walkways make the tour comfortable.|
Walking through the orient caves is like walking to a natural museum: the natural cool temperature seems like you’re in an air-conditioned building; the lighting is so expertly put together to show off the dazzling beauty of each crystal decorations and the walk paths and railings carefully put around the formations both provide accessibility for the visitors and protection of the rather fragile subjects. These are only a few of my observations as to why Jenolan caves has won several awards including the 2009 NSW Tourism Silver Award and 2010 Blue Mountains Tourism Awards of Excellence.
You know that oft-used quote, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take your breath away’? It can teeter into corny territory most of the time (however true the quote’s meaning is) but it certainly fits perfectly on the experience I had with exploring the Orient Caves. I mean, it is just plain breathtaking. And I only got to see one cave, what more if I saw others? Well, I do not want to get ahead of myself but I’ll be definitely saving my breath for those ones.
The Jenolan Caves also provides accommodation and has a cafe bar and restaurant. For more information on the Jenolan Caves, visit http://www.jenolancaves.org.au