Jenolan Caves Australia, Bathurst

Jenolan Caves

The Jenolan Caves are limestone caves located within the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve in the Central Tablelands region, west of the Blue Mountains, in New South Wales, in eastern Australia. The caves and 3,083-hectare (7,620-acre) reserve are situated approximately 175 kilometres (109 mi) west of Sydney, 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Oberon and 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of Katoomba.

The caves are the most visited of several similar groups in the limestone caves of the country, and the most ancient discovered open caves in the world. They include numerous Silurian marine fossils and the calcite formations, sometimes pure white, are noted for their beauty. The cave network follows the course of a subterranean section of the Jenolan River. It has more than 40 kilometres (25 mi) of multi-level passages and over 300 entrances. The complex is still being explored. The caves are a tourist destination, with eleven illuminated show caves open to paying visitors.

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. The Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve is the most westerly of the eight protected areas within the World Heritage Site. The reserve forms part of the Great Dividing Range.

In 2004, the caves and reserve were listed on the State Heritage Register with the following inscription:

Jenolan Caves Reserve is of state significance for its historical, aesthetic, research and rarity values. The caves and karst landscapes developed as important scientific and tourist destinations throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries, and the Reserve is highly significant as the first public reserve set aside in NSW for the protection of a natural resource – in this case, the Jenolan Caves.