Jenolan Caves Essential Visitor Guide
Jenolan NSW 23 March 2020
Continue reading for key facts on the Jenolan Caves, along with the top things to see and do whilst you are there. Scroll to the bottom of the page for tour and accommodation bookings.
The Jenolan Caves are located under a 3-hour drive west of Sydney's CBD in the Blue Mountains. The drive out to the Jenolan Caves is an experience in itself. There are many wonderful places to stop along the way including Wentworth Falls, Scenic World and the Three Sisters in Katoomba.
On the drive out to the Jenolan Caves, we came across a friendly mother and joey wallaby, that even allowed us to snap a selfie with it! So please be very careful of wandering wildlife when driving out to the caves.
After a picturesque drive, winding through some of Australia's most rugged bush land, you will be greeted with the very impressive Grand Arch cave. You are required to drive through this cave in order to get to the main hub of the Jenolan Caves valley. This includes the Jenolan Caves House, Ticket Office, Gift Shop and Visitor Information Centre.
The Jenolan Caves are rich in history. The caves are located in the lands of the Burra Burra Aboriginal people, a clan of the Gundugurra Nation. They were aware of the cave’s existence for tens of thousands of years prior to European settlement in the area. The local Aboriginal community referred to the caves as 'Binoomea', which means 'Dark Places' in their local Aboriginal dialect.
European settlement began in 1838 and in the 1880's the Jenolan Caves began its tourism journey as one of the longest continually running tourism attractions in Australia. For more information on the history of this incredible place, ask one of the knowledgeable guides who are full of interesting facts on Jenolan Caves.
ALL ABOUT THE CAVES
No visit to the Blue Mountains is complete without a tour of one of the many spectacular Jenolan Caves. There are approximately 10 show caves that are open to the public for viewing and numerous tours that you can go on at very reasonable prices. Browse through the links toward the bottom of this page to find out further information on each of the most popular cave tours.
A tour of the caves will likely bring back memories of high school geography. You will learn all about how the stalactites, stalagmites and underground river systems were formed over millions of years. The caves are also full of beautiful crystals and are even home to many fossils including a Tasmanian Tiger!
There are also free self-guided walks that you can do in the area. Ask the Visitor Information Centre for details of these walks while you are there. The guides in the office will be able to give you a map and provide suggestions depending on your individual interests and fitness levels.
We loved the walk around the Blue Lake where we saw plenty of wildlife including a red-belly black snake slithering by the water’s edge and many Australian water dragons. There are also platypus (or platypi for plural) in the lake, however you will be one of the lucky few if you happen to spot one. The Blue Lake is at its bluest in the morning and middle of the day when the sun is shining on it. In the afternoon when the sun goes behind the mountains, we noticed the lake did not appear as blue.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR TOUR
It's best to purchase your tickets to the caves online prior to visiting, as some of the best cave tours will book out quickly. We have listed booking links to each of the most popular cave tours at the bottom of this page for you.
When you arrive at the Jenolan Caves valley, there is plenty of free parking just past the Jenolan Caves House. The Ticket Office and Visitor Information Centre are conveniently located across from the Jenolan Caves House and is within easy walking distance to the entrance of most caves. If you have any questions about your cave tour, there are plenty of staff around that will be able to point you in the right direction.
After meeting your guides at the entrance to the caves, they will take you on an incredible journey underground. It reminded me of the Disney movie Aladdin, when he found the underground cave full of hidden treasure. The caves are just so spectacular, words and photos cannot do them justice. You really need to see them in real life to be able to appreciate how impressive they truly are.
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU ON YOUR TOUR
When you are thinking about what to wear, the temperature of the caves is a very comfortable 15*C year-round. We suggest that you bring the following on your cave tour:
• You will be doing a lot of walking so make sure to bring comfortable, fully enclosed walking shoes.
• Food is not allowed to be eaten in the cave however we do suggest that you bring a water bottle with you.
• Bring your camera!
If you are booked on an Adventure Caving tour, there will be additional requirements and restrictions for people attending these tours. Please see Jenolan Caves official website here for more information on Adventure Caving.
Your phone will most likely not have any reception in the caves and only Telstra has service in the Jenolan Caves Valley.
TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
At the time of writing this blog post, tours are FREE for under 6-year olds. However, you will still need to get them a ticket to show the guides at the beginning of the tour. Children's tickets are available to purchase for those aged between 6-17 years old.
We took our 18-month-old baby in a Ergo Baby carrier and our 3 year old walked two entire tours herself. Prams and strollers are not suitable for the caves as there are lots of stairs to navigate.
If you are taking little ones into the caves, I suggest being prepared with a backpack as most tours are at least 1 hour long. Remember to pack spare nappies, wipes and a disposable bag to place used nappies in just in case. There are no toilets inside the caves so make sure your little ones go immediately prior to the cave tour (there are toilets located at the entrance to the main caves and near the Visitor Information Centre). You will need to take your rubbish with you as there are no bins inside of the caves. No food is allowed to be eaten inside the caves so make sure to arrive with full bellies. There is a great little cafe next to the Jenolan Caves House with lots of yummy things to eat and drink, including coffee!
Make sure your children have fully enclosed, comfortable walking shoes as the floor can be wet and slippery in some areas. They may also need a light cardigan as they do feel the cool, especially if they are in a baby carrier and not walking around themselves.
TRAVELLING WITH A CARAVAN OR PET?
Please note that the road down into the Jenolan Valley is extremely narrow and windy, so caravans are not permitted down this road. There is also no campground in the Jenolan Valley, however many campers decide to leave their caravan in nearby Oberon or Lithgow. The caves are located in a national park so unfortunately pets are not allowed. The Jenolan Caves are an absolute must on your lap of Australia, so please do not let this stop you from visiting this incredible place.
There are numerous accommodation options available in Jenolan Caves Valley and the surrounding Blue Mountains. The Jenolan Caves House is the most conveniently located as it's within easy walking distance to the caves. Booking.com have a full list of most accommodation options available in the area.
Written by Samantha Raine - Aussie Bucket List® Founder and Travel Writer
Disclosure: We were given complimentary tickets to the Jenolan Cave tours for the purpose of providing informative content to our Aussie Bucket List community. All views expressed in this blog post are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and are based on my own personal experience.
Affiliate Disclosure: The link for accommodation options are with our affiliate Booking.com and tour bookings are through our affiliate Viator (a Trip Adviser company). Please note that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase (which we are very grateful for). This helps us to continue to write helpful blogs and create useful resources for our Aussie Bucket List community.