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Try the Road Less Travelled

Staying overnight in the tranquil mountain valley of Jenolan? Always remember to check to see if the roads are open.  (Check for periodic closures.) You may need to take a detour, via the less travelled Edith Road, to get to Jenolan.  

Sometimes a detour turns into something quite special.  For example, last week, heavy rain closed Jenolan Caves Road, which meant that travellers from  the direction of Katoomba and Sydney had to get to Jenolan via the tiny village of Tarana. It was a long detour.  However, in bygone days Tarana was a busy agricultural hub, so several narrow winding roads still lead to and from Tarana, through some of the most beautiful farmland that it is possible to see in NSW - no exaggeration!  Also, Tarana Pub is one of the most popular in the whole region.  Those drivers were really lucky!

If you discover that you need to take a road less travelled to get to Jenolan, it is most likely that you will be detoured down Duckmaloi Road, Titania Road and then Edith Road.  This very pretty detour takes you through the highest parts of the Blue Mountains and the roads are in good condition, as they don't usually carry much traffic.

When you enter Jenolan via Edith Road, you have the opportunity to experience something that you would miss if you came the usual way.  Consider it part of your Jenolan adventure.  The last 2 miles into Jenolan are sealed, but they are steep, narrow and winding, with several hairpin bends. This winding section, built in 1878, was originally called Cambridge's Zig Zag after H. Cambridge, the engineer who designed it. At the time, this very special road was considered an engineering marvel, "the grandest of its kind in the colonies'. From 1878 to 1897, this narrow zig-zag road was the only road that came all the way into the valley.  (Jenolan Caves Road existed, but didn't quite reach the caves.) So if you have the chance to travel this road, think of how it must have been for horses and carts, bullock trains, etc. 

This time of year, snow is always a possibility in the hills surrounding Jenolan. Last August, a heavy snow fall completely closed all roads.  So always remember to check this website before leaving home.

You Will Almost Have the Place to Yourselves!

Jenolan is so associated with its famous caves, that everyone tends to forget that Jenolan offers more.  Our big hotel, including historic Caves House and Chisolm’s Restaurant are open. With fewer people travelling, Jenolan is quiet, and it's a lovely time for a very peaceful and relaxing visit.

Our cave tours are not yet running, due to the COVID-19 restrictions. But if you come for an overnight stay, you can purchase a cave tour gift voucher for a future visit, for half price. We are calling this our 'Jenolan Handshake'.  This deal will be available to guests who stay overnight before 26 September.

Also, we are offering a couple of great accommodation deals - our More the Merrier deal and our No Tab No Wallet deal.  Elegant Chisolm's Restaurant is open for dinner every evening, plus a-la-carte lunch on weekends and decadent high tea every day. Jeremiah's Bar is open, offering a mind-boggling range of wine, beer, spirits and cocktails. And, as usual, our Caves Cafe is open for light lunch, drinks and snacks. 

Due to our Blue Lake restoration work, our Blue Lake walk, River walk and Grand Arch are temporarily off limits.  However, you can still walk up to the dramatic Carlotta Arch lookout, and you can wander even further uphill to the Devils Coach House lookdown. You can even explore part of the historic Six Food Track and our McKeown's Valley track where you may spot wallabies and lyrebirds.  Winter is a great time for walking.

And you can use Jenolan as a base from which to visit the Talisman Gallery at nearby Hartley Historic Village, the small town of Oberon, astonishing Mayfield Garden (10 minutes north of Oberon) and even the many museums of Bathurst. So, book an overnight stay with us, and remember to come via Edith Road.

1919 When the Spanish Flu was an Unwelcome Visitor to Jenolan

So far, in the current COVID-19 pandemic, the virus has not reached Jenolan Caves, where we are careful to ensure that it doesn’t.  However, back in 1919, while the ‘Spanish Flu’ raged, one of Jenolan’s cottages was used as a hospital, and Caves House was used as a convalescent home for nurses recovering from Spanish Flu. 

In February 1919, rumours were circulating that Jenolan Caves was closed due to the epidemic, but in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, February 24, the NSW Government Tourist Bureau denied the rumours, stressing that Caves House was still taking accommodation and cave tour bookings, “the only restriction being that all persons wishing to make inspections shall wear masks whilst in the caves.”

On February 26, 1919 a massive flood tore through Jenolan, causing great damage.  To clean up, “a large number of men” were brought into Jenolan. They were tasked with clearing away “about three thousand tons of mud, rubble and drift”.  It was hard work. After a month of double shifts, “wet-footed”, the men were weakened by exhaustion and cold. Then in March, some of them attended the Oberon Show - a bad decision in hindsight, as they carried influenza back to Jenolan.

AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED?

Walter Liberty Vernon - "If You Would See His Monument, Look Around!"

At the funeral of the man who designed Jenolan Caves House, Joseph Cook said, "It is with most profound regret…. that I saw that Colonel Vernon had gone over to the great majority. His was a most useful and valuable life…. It was Christopher Wren of whom it was said 'if you would see his monument, look around'. So with Colonel Vernon. The public will see his monuments for a long time - perhaps for all time - in the city and in the country".  The Prime Minister was not exaggerating.

Colonel Walter Liberty Vernon was a man of superhuman energy.  We know that he was a highly prolific architect, designing numerous landmark buildings, including our Jenolan Caves House.  However, he was also active in local government and in the military. One of the quirkier aspects of his brilliant career was the staggering number of clubs, organisations, committees and boards to which he belonged.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HIM HERE
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