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Lord Fat Jack - a Legacy of Triumph & Tragedy

In 1902, a bushfire destroyed one of the staff cottages at Jenolan. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The occupants moved, and the bush slowly concealed the only clue that a house had ever stood there – a lone chimney.  Recently, staff rediscovered the ruin, exposed by last year’s bushfires. We realised that it must be a piece of long-lost history – Jack Edwards’ cottage.  

John Charles Edwards, later affectionately known as ‘Fat Jack’, was born in the village of Flimby, in Cumberland, England, on 14 January 1866. He came to work at Jenolan Caves in 1886, as a cave tour guide. In recent years, Jenolan has had up to 110 staff or more on the payroll at one time. But back then, things were very different. There were only 5 staff at Jenolan, so Jack would have turned his hand to anything that needed to be done. 

By all accounts, ‘Fat Jack’ was light-hearted, genial and good natured.  But this outwardly unassuming man is remembered for something really momentous, even life-changing - that made Jenolan what it is today! 


No Matter How Chaotic Life Is...

There’s a reason why September was chosen as ‘Biodiversity Month’ in Australia.  In a month when so many wildflowers seem to pop up out of nowhere, it’s natural to pause, if only for a moment, and think about the miraculous ‘web of life’ -  biodiversity. We depend on biodiversity for our sustenance, health, well-being and enjoyment of life.  Our ‘enjoyment of life’ is enhanced in Spring, by the uplifting sight of wildflowers. Delicate and often short-lived, wildflowers have come to symbolise joy, freedom and resilience.

How many poets have compared beautiful women to wildflowers?  Singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow said, “No matter how chaotic life is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.” 

But wildflowers do more than make life enjoyable. They are essential for the environment.  


The Ups & Downs of
Jenolan's Brush-Tailed Rock Wallabies

September is Biodiversity Month.  What does ‘biodiversity mean? It has been called the ‘web of life’.  It is the variety of living things or the different plants, animals and micro-organisms in the world. We depend on biodiversity for our sustenance, health, well-being and enjoyment of life.

Spring is the perfect time to visit Jenolan, when biodiversity can be clearly seen.  When people think of Jenolan, they think of caves.  But Jenolan is located in a huge nature reserve, teeming with flora and fauna – the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve - which is part of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.  The area was declared World Heritage in 2000, because of its incredible diversity of eucalypts (91 different sorts). In addition, 10% (over 3,000 species) of Australia’s vascular flora are represented in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, plus many rare or threatened species.

Jenolan’s colony of Brush Tailed Rock Wallabies is a good example of a rare species that lives wild in the Jenolan valley. In the 1800s, the little creatures were a delightful attraction at Jenolan.  Tourists and staff loved hand-feeding them. But then things went wrong, and the wallabies have endured many years of ups and downs, before finally bouncing back.


Enjoy Life's Detours

A wise person once said, "Enjoy life's detours. They often provide some of life's greatest memories."

It is absolutely vital to CHECK THE RMS WEBSITE FOR PERIODIC ROAD CLOSURES. before setting out on your trip to Jenolan Caves, because the recent months have shown that anything can happen on the way to Jenolan - bushfire, flood, snow, treefalls, landslides, road works, you name it!

But if Jenolan Caves Road happens to be closed, you can still get here via Edith Road instead.  The detour takes 30 to 40 minutes longer, but it's a very pretty drive through the highest parts of the Blue Mountains.

In February, we had an unbelievable flood, which swept tonnes of rocks and dirt into our Blue Lake, almost filling it! If you have seen the Blue Lake previously, you would know that represents a LOT of rocks!  We have started work to dredge and restore the lake to its former pristine condition. While the work is being done, Jenolan Caves Road will close from time to time for big trucks and machinery.

Restoring the Blue Lake has many benefits, most importantly to protect and improve the habitat for our local population of platypus, as well as to enable the construction of the Blue Lake Boardwalk, planned for early to mid-2021.
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