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Jenolan Caves Tour. (23 October 2009)
contributed by DerrickJessop
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The Lucas Cave, the first discovered of the intricate caves complex, was opened in 1860. It has the largest cavern called the 'Cathedral Cave'. A long step ladder reaching high into the darkness was used in the earliest days but is now used to service the lighting for the 'Stained Glass Window' feature.
The tour is 860m long and has 910 steps, but in the beginning tourists had to scramble over and through with only candles to light their way. A section called the 'Slide' must have been scary as the only way forward was to slide down a steep incline into the darkness on a hessian bag hanging on to a rope.
All the way along the walk small grottoes lead off in all directions indicating how honeycombed the caves system is.
A special fature on this walk is the 6m high 'Broken Column' caused by movement in the earth at some time long ago.
The 'Bone Room' has the skeleton of an animal who had fallen into the caves long ago.
The entrance to the 'Orient Cave' was hewn in 1954 saving a half day trip beyond the 'Lucas Cave'. The tunnel through solid rock is now easy to negotiate. The Orient section was discovered in 1904 and is the last discovered cave opened to the public in 1917. It is 470m long and has 358 steps.
Its colouration is different to the Lucas complex, being mainly white. The 'Egyptian' formations are particularly beautiful, as is the 'Fairy Grotto' with its mass of stalactites and helectities of a pure white crystal due to having been formed by pure chemcal laden water without contamination by the soil, tannin or other chemicals.
There are also beautiful small opaque white shawl formations and the symbol of the Jenolan Caves, the large hanging shawl with its fine stalactities.
Nearby are the 'Indian' formations, which, by contrast, are a rich red/brown, and a feature of this section, passed on the way out, is the "Persian' stalagmite.
These are only two of the many beautiful tours, all of which have their own special features and characters.
This story was uploaded into the Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia entry for the Cave 'Jenolan Caves'.
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