[ DRAFT working file -BEWARE - will surely contain errors! ]


AND KEEP ON LOOKING:  "It is probable that subsequent field-work will necessitate the withdrawal or modification of some of the ideas advanced .." (So wrote G. Stanley in 1925 - both a Jenolan Caves guide and geology student.)


Along the road to Jenolan

and beyond (Kanangra)


Out of their shells the sea-beasts creep

And eels un-reel from holes;

With eyes of stone they stare and weep

Green stalactites of tears;

On sea-washed caves of years ...

( From "The Seven Rocks" by Norman Nicholson - quoted by geologist Steve M. McClean who wrote "GEOLOGY AND CAVE FORMATION, JENOLAN CAVES, N.S.W." in 1983, stated therein to be "the result of six years full and part-time study" during which time Steve had been employed as a Casual Guide at Jenolan Caves, where the topic [as part of the requirements of a geology degree] was suggested by Mr. W. Buckley and Mr. E. Holland (Jenolan Caves guides) at a meeting of the Jenolan Caves Historical and Preservation Society.  For the full poem "The Seven Rocks" see http://www.unz.org/Pub/Horizon-1948dec-00369 )


( The beautiful and amazing Jenolan Caves were discovered in 1838, and they

were entered on the Register of the National Estate on 21 March 1978 )



( And still searching for historical Whalan traces - especially at Budthingeroo Creek. )



I first spent considerable time in the Jenolan area in 1965, doing University of NSW (Kensington) geology honours thesis study.

Jenolan Caves was first controlled by the Mines Department but it was later on transferred to Tourism.  When I first enquired (1965) the responsible authorities has zero apparent interest in research.   John Dunkley and others have has since noted or commented on how the authorities indeed continued discouraging (or not encouraging) any scientific research at Jenolan Caves from that time till as later as 1986 when the then Senior Guide Ernst Holland managed to get established a Scientific Advisory Committee.   Nevertheless, enthusiasts still managed to get things done at Jenolan and by 1989 there had been something like 21 university theses done in the close area.   After Ernst Holland retired in 2000 the Scientific Advisory Committee and another Committee he'd been involved with (Social and Environmental Monitoring Committee) had been abolished within a few years with no seeming alternatives established, and since there there have been announcements about every decreasing Government interest in the Caves, and the current Government's desire to divest of the place as much as possible (i.e. Privatisation).   So the current situation about research at Jenolan Caves was unknown to me, and it was hoped to update on whatever is happening there by attending the May Symposium at Jenolan Caves.  Because Jenolan had not been sustaining sufficient continous research effort was one of the stated reason for holding the 2013 Jenolan Symposium.

As described below, Jenolan Caves has (since 2006) been declared the oldest limestone caves in the world - and that alone renders the place world-significant heritage.  And yet there is apparently still no scientific advisory committee or similar reinstated, apparently no existing plan of management (a 'draft' one having lapsed without adoption), and a considerable amount of general vagueness about management of the Caves reserve (the government apparently having abolished all of the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust except for one member who is in the Premier's office - this being done perhaps in preparation for privatisation?).   Again as John Dunkley (one of, if not THE most knowledgeable persons about Jenolan Caves) has stated, there is an increasingly unfulfilled public need for well-informed scientific information on Jenolan Caves.  That need has certainly not yet been satisfied and I shall endeavour to cite a few likely reasons why.   Some of these reasons, e.g. with regard to diminution of attention from the Geological Survey, also extend eastwards all the way to the main Blue Mountains plateau edge or beyond.  They are socio-political reasons in the main.  "Very rough or difficult" country is also another contributory reason - yet many bushwalkers do regularly traverse such very 'difficult' terrain.   In the absence of other systematic work for the time being, it becomes all the more important that bushwalkers seeing fossils or other geologically interesting things should PHOTOGRAPH them and record GPS or other positioning data for them.    That's a plea to all bushwalkers .. thanks :-)

Despite one current continuing small project of mine there with guide Ted Mattewys ( the Parastriatopora project) and various other interests that have been ongoing since the 1970s (e.g. caymanite - not just for the Jenolan Caves Limestone), I have not visited the region many times since 1965.  However we were back on the road to Jenolan again in 2013 (with thoughts also of going further south to Kanangra Walls), being on account of the excellently organised Jenolan Caves Symposium of May 2013 - "THE SCIENCE OF JENOLAN CAVES: What do we know?"

The area around Jenolan, and more broadly between Jenolan-Kanangra and the edge of the more populated Blue Mountains (Katoomba etc.) is of very considerable geological insterest (and natural history interest in general).

However, despite being "interesting", the geology of this region has remained very inadequately documented, e.g. in the easily accessible and standard form that the Geological Survey (GS) is charged with doing.

One major reason (there could be others?) for this has long been that most of this region has been progressively declared national parkland.

The funding priorities of the GS, just as for all State organisations, are determined politically from "on high"; and unfortunately there have been well known persons "up there" who have been, and likely still are, of a mindset that if a place can never be mined then there's but little reason to do its geology.

On the more fortunate side of such things, a valiant little assemblage of University geology honours thesis studies have plugged away at making advances to the understanding of the area.   Students from Sydney Uni, Uni of NSW (Kensington), and NSW Institute of Technology at Ultimo (now UTS) have each done months-long studies of areas in this region.   At least two of these students also had worked as cave guides previously, and so the period lengths of observation that they contributed to their their topics were likely much longer than the norm.   As always happens, such studies erect different names for stratigraphic and igneous units (as things must be called "something" or another), and to effect an integrated regional picture these of course require correlation and reduction to an agreed small number of names for units which run widely across the district.  This can be formally effected via a stratigraphic names commission (based in Canberra),.once identities and best type-section are agreed upon.   

Dr David Branagan has long been interested in compiling a district map and has contacted many honours thesis authors for around Jenolan.  As yet (2103) that has not resulted in any published compilation.   I have done similar in contact thesis authors running south from Jenolan and through Tuglow Caves, and also in seeking very modest funding for such a compilation.  No funding whatsoever could be located.   The other thesis author who had been considerably interested in such a project idea was Owen Shiels (who mapped around Tuglow Caves) but Owen is since deceased.

So despite Jenolan Caves being such a tourist icon for Australians (and not only for Australians - since the majority of the many tourists who "park out" the crowded parking areas there almost every day are from overseas) there is still no good geology map for Jenolan Caves area.   Nor have I ever seen even a complete references list for Jenolan Caves (but it is understood this might become available after the 2013 Symposium?).

Early geological writings on the caves area geology since the 1880s (by C.S. Wilkinson, T.W.E David, J.M. Curran, C.A. Süssmilch and others) have often been contradictory in some regards (e.g. geological structure, and way-upness of parts of the sequence).   Disagreement is still voiced on some of these matters which have now gone unresolved for over a hundred years.   Some of the still-debated very basic questions (e.g. does the Jenolan Caves Limestone young to the east or to the west) are in fact readily solvable at research costs that are extremely modest (estimated in the range of $50-200), yet such funding has continued being nowhere obtainable via government.

Research and exploration within the caves systems themselves has long been better supported than has the geology of the place.   This is likely because the cave systems have very clear-cut  dollar-value (tourism dollars), and additionally just because of the beauty and variety seen there.   Also a strong factor in this has been the personal enthusiasm of various cave guides, both in and out of their paid-hours.  Mapping of the cave systems commenced with the early guides (J. Wilson, F.J. Wilson and J.T. Wiburd), and particularly by the Mines Department employee Oliver Trickett.   Trickett was very enthusiastic about this and went on to became Government Superintendent of Caves in 1897.  He also published some small booklets on NSW caves (almost all original copies of which have been lost, but fortunately brought back to life recently by facsimile reprinting).

Some Quaternary radiometric dating has been done in the Jenolan caves (am not sure when that commenced).  Probably no pre-Quaternary absolute dating had been attempted prior to that done by Osborne et al (2006).  Their results were interpreted to mean that some sections of the now accessible cave openings had been in existence by the Early Carboniferous, before the deposition of volcaniclastic and mass-flow sediments dated as 303/340Ma.  The growth of secondary fine illite, dated at 258Ma and 240Ma was taken to be evidence for burial of the caves under the Sydney Basin.   Seeing that the region's granitic (and some mafic) intrusions had been regarded as mid Carfoniferous, all this was initially perplexing (later work has re-assessed the Bathurst batholith suite as Early Carboniferous, somewhat lessening the apparent anomaly).   It was, nonetheless, a very far cry from earlier thoughts, like "Tertiary" for the time of origin of the caves; and limestone dissolution at that very remote time would most likely need to be at very considerable depth, and hydrothermal.   Initially, Osborne's new chronology seemed to raise more questions than it supplied answers.   However, even before the radiometric datings it was previously thought by Osborne and others (e.g. his then supervisor David Branagan) that the oldest caves could be Permian or even Late Carboniferous in age, prior to initial Sydney Basin transgression.  Previously a widespead theory had been that all or most of the large caves at Jenolan would have formed after stripping of the Sydney Basin in the late Mesozoic or Early Tertiary (perhaps related to regional uplift and formation of the Blue Mountains).  After the 2006 dating work, Osborne regarded the large cupola chambers such as the Temple of Baal as excavated before 340Ma, and thought they must have undergone early filling events (303/340Ma).  Concerning the age of the infills termed "caymanite", doing more sediment stratigraphy and sedimentology, morphostratigraphy, and more dating, Osborne is of the opinion that significant funds and several PhD students would need to be engaged to make progress with the work.

The detailed district mapping by the University Honours students of the 1980s clarified quite a few aspects of the local geology, and their theses provide colour micrographs etc. that are a great introduction to the rocks of the area.   Dr David Branagan years ago thought that some of the sediment in the caves was from the Permian transgression of the Sydney Basin - a then rather unorthodox thought on the age of the Caves.  Since then, one of his students, Armstrong Osborne has published the evidence (from radiometric dating of clays within the caves) for even more amazing things on the age of the Jenolan Caves.  From such it would seem that some of the cavities there may be the oldest open human-or-bigger limestone caves known in the whole world.   It became a bit of a challenge to the NSW government on how to convey that new scientific outcome in the context of their extensive flow of tourism material on Jenolan Caves.

If you Google "oldest caves in the world" you will certainly find mention of Jenolan but it doesn't pop up first on the list.   What you'll find (dated 2006) includes this:

"Jenolan Caves - a series of spectacular limestone caves in central New South Wales- date back 340 million years, a University-led study has revealed. 'We've shown that these caves are hundreds of millions of years older than any reported date for an open cave anywhere in the world,' said Dr Armstrong Osborne, cave specialist and science lecturer from the University's Faculty of Education and Social Work.  'The Blue Mountains began to form 100 million years ago; dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, and Tasmania was joined to the mainland as recently as 10,000 years ago.  Even in geological terms, 340 million years is a very long time," he said.   Dr Armstrong worked with Dr Horst Zwingmann from CSIRO and scientists from the Australian Museum to date samples of clay from the Jenolan Caves - "Working out the age of a cave is working out the age of the stuff that's filling it," he said.) ( http://sydney.edu.au/news/84.html?newsstoryid=1172 ).

However that Googling also seems to throw up a contender for the title of oldest in the world - in Mpumalanga.  

"Take the hour-long guided tour on foot into its biggest cavern and marvel at the amazing rock formations in the oldest caves in the world ...." says the South African Tourism head office (= Bojanala House, 90 Protea Road, Chislehurston, Johannesburg - info@southafrica.net ) (http://www.southafrica.net/za/en/page/static/general-copy-southafrica.net-contact-sat-head-office#.UZMis0puPE0 )

Other references to those caves, however, only call them "some" of the olders ---  Echo Caves, Mpumalanga - South Africa - "The Echo Caves are some of the oldest caves in the world and were declared a Historical Monument" ( http://www.sa-venues.com/attractionsmpl/echo-caves.htm ).

Jenolan took the title of world's oldest in 2006 and I think has not been displaced.   In May 2013 the following appeared in the popular media:


( The editor added: "The info we have so far doesn't indicate in which mine in Timmins, Ontario, they made the find. It just says it was close to there and it was a copper/zinc mine." )

If the above were true, that there was a hole like that, with ancient water, two miles underground, then it would put Jenolan in the pale.   However the article is totally misleading.  You don't find things as shown at 2 miles down.   The original article in Nature is seen at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v497/n7449/full/nature12127.html .   Far from there being any "ancient pool of water found two miles underground" near Timmins (Ontario), the article is about deep fracture fluids and Fluids trapped as inclusions within minerals.  It states (speculation?) that deformation "must, at some scale, preserve pockets of interconnected fluid from the earliest crustal history".  And that work on radiogenic noble gases showed "that ancient pockets of water can survive the crustal fracturing process and remain in the crust for billions of years".  The article (at least the abstract) does not say the size of any 'pockets' or even if any at all had been sighted.   The media editor had apparently just added in some photo of a fair dinkum cave (from where?).

At Jenolan Caves, Grand Arch, ca. 1890(?).  L-R.: - Joseph Rowe, Jack Edwards, C.J. Whalan, Frederick Whalan, Fred Wilson, Jeremiah Wilson.  ( Photo: Henry King ; per Jenolan Caves Historical & Preservation Society ).  Jeremiah, the first distinguished keeper of the Jenolan Caves (earlier called Fish River Caves) would sadly be removed from his career there to Bathurst Gaol, found guilty of horse-stealing.   His son, Fred Wilson, seen seated on horse behind him, thereafter took over in as Keeper of the Caves.


Early English cave guides ("Subterraneous Guides") at Poole's Hole in 1797,

( Helictite, 24, 1-2, p. 8, 1986 ) 


A Burns-eye view of the Blue Mountains and their history of being crossed - and showing some of the sites "sacred" (one hopes) to the Burns/Byrnes.

Top, L to R:  "Jenolan Creek" - near here be Jenolan country ; Collet's Inn. 

Bottom L to R:  "Sam. Burns lagoon" (not a formal name), the area of never-to-be "town" of Castlereagh, and the mouth of the Grose River.

( Mapping age and source is discussed below )


History as it is said (NB: strictly a "Burns-eye" view of history and needs be checked): -  A party of the English pressed west from Sydney town under a Captain Tench and came to a lagoon (where Sam. Burns and others later farmed) by the second night, and camped there; and the next morning they proceeded a distance up the river that the English thereafter named "Nepean" (it was suspected but not proven till some time later on that the Nepean and the earlier-known Hawkesbury were the same river).   The English first colonised the Hawkesbury (around Windsor) but 'fringe' members of the society at that time (referred to variously as "bush rangers" or "kangaroo hunters" pressed on further upstream.  Certainly before 1800 such men would have reached the big bends of the Nepean River west of the "lagoon".   Settlement thereabouts later followed (Castlereagh and Emu, and later on the beginnings of Penrith).    One of the "kangaroo shooter"  type men by the name of "James Burns" (little can be learned about him) was employed by the Three Explorers and that party, following the main rivers interfluve, reached the valley that would a little later be named Vale of Clywdd once the Governor had been there.   Men of the Collet and Field families from Castlereagh (my Burns/Byrnes ancestors are closely associated with Field land at Upper Castlereagh) rapidly proceeded across the Mountains and took up land in the Vale of Clywdd (legally or otherwise).   Collets for a long ran a famous inn there, at the foot of the original Mount York descent (but the diversion of the main western traffic via Victoria Pass, once that had been opened, robbed them of their passing-by clientele.   In 1965, I  (JGB, a great-great-something son of Sam. Burns who farmed by the lagoon a long time ago) reached the Jenolan area and that year did a study between Jenolan Caves and Kanangra Walls.   On my way I met Rex Gilroy, who had a "Natural HIstory Museum" at Mount York.   Mr Gilroy makes many unusual claims.   He has said he found ruins of ancient civilisation around my study area, and also tracks of (living?) dinosaurs.   But in the time I spent there I did not see anything even remotely like that.

Enlargement of the upper right (NW) corner of the above map, which is an old map with underlying caption "Course of the Rivers Hawkesbury, Warragamba &c.  Engraved for the New South Wales Magazine".   It was published in the magazine in 1834 and was meant to illustrate the trip of Thomas Jones down the Cox from near Vale of Clywdd to the Nepean River.  


Thomas Jones was a botanist.  He was sent on this trip by John Jamison who had land exploring (and land acquisition?) interests.   Jones travelled with Aboriginal guide Gilderoy (who had previously been a guide for Jamison's men) and two other Aborigines by the names of "Millott alias Joe" and "Nagga alias Jack".   The trip took eleven days after which Jones turned up at the Jamison Nepean River property almost crippled and on crutches.  He possibly would have died on the trip had it not been for travelling companions - but this demonstrated that the Mountains could also be crossed via the rivers, as well as via the Cox-Grose Rivers interfluve or 'main ridge' that the Three Explorers followed.  


The time this map was made can be gauged by how it depicts roads around the Vale of Cywdd (now commonly called the Hartley Valley).   The map was drawn after the original Cox's Road down Mount York had been abandonned (hence shown as  dashed double line), and after the replacement Lockyer's Road existed (running parallel to the east of Cox's Road along the Mount York plateau), and also after the Victoria Pass had been made, but seemingly before Lawson's Long Alley route was in use.


Rough 3D sketch:  Road to Jenolan Caves, from Hartley marked by red dots, and the Boyd Plateau south of Jenolan Caves outlined in blue dots.  (Source:  Blue Mountains Tourist Information Centre)  

This is a mixed up and impure webpage (as perhaps are most of those I write, to at least as degree); since it is is not only about the road to Jenolan but also contains  bits about some of those who travelled the road to Jenolan.

Now of course probably tens, or maybe hundreds, of thousands of people have travelled the road to Jenolan.

I would never be able to relate anything on more than a handful of these - and for some reason I have chosen to write about ones whe were geologists (and for whom we have some record of what they thought).

Major geologists connected with Jenolan Caves are C.A.v.H. Süssmilch. T.W.E. David, G.A.V. Stanley and  R.A.L. Osborne.   Süssmilch, David and Stanley I mention very often herein.   Osborne not so often as he studies the insides of the caves (which I am leaving out of this webpage - or it could get too long - and maybe will discuss elsewhere).    Also of note is C. McA. Powell because he named the "Jenolan Mega-Kink".

The first possible golden "Jenolan rule" to note from all these people would be that if you were thinking to maybe advance the knowledge of how things came to be the way they are around Jenolan then it is far better to go there equipped with a long name than with a geological hammer (indeed anyone seen walking around Jenolan Caves with a geological hammer might be dimly viewed as many of the things there are 'sacred' - great Australian heritage,  great natural heritage).   Names-wise I could not compete with Carl Adolf von Heyne Süssmilch or Tannant William Edgewoth David, or even 

Had I actively been using all my names (John Graham Christopher Byrnes) maybe I could had better studied Jenolan myself.   But that was never to be and (in 1965) I was given an Honours year mapping area some distance south of the Caves and atop of the Boyd Plateau (on the road to Kanangra Walls).  That area is relatively "dull" and has but little spectacular country except for along its eastern fringe.

Of Süssmilch, David, Stanley and Osborne, most have since "passed on".  Osborne is today's most famous or widely known expert on Jenolan.  Apart from him, extremely little interest is known to exist on Jenolan from other geologists today.   This is perhaps not so strange, as there are so many other things in the world to take their attention.   Stranger still, however, is how neither "Jenolan Caves" nor the "Jenolan Caves Limestone" got mentioned in the large comprehensive "Geology of New South Wales" that was produced by the Geological Society of Australia (despite which, however, it IS well known as a geologically interesting place).

Of Süssmilch, David, Stanley and Osborne all were/are academics except for Stanley.   Süssmilch and David were teachers and writers.  So too is Osborne.  Sussmilch  wrote a "Geology of New South Wales" book, and David embarked upon a book to relate the geology of the whole of Australia (he died before he could complete it but it was finished for him by others after his death.   David probably took excursions of Sydney University geology students to Jenolan Caves, although I have not found any definite proof of that.    David reported discovering abundant radioarian in the strata on both sides of the later on this fell into some doubt (as to exactly what was David seeing as "radiolarians"?).   He also considered the age and facing of the limestone and the bands of igneous rocks running parallel to the limestone, especially on the eastern side.    Things David wrote of are actually hard to find substance in today.  

It was Süssmilch who laid the more substantial foundations for appreciating the area.    And it is Osborne who has published the greatest scientific announcement ever for the area - that these caves are the oldest in the world.

G.A.V. Stanley stands apart as different to the other four above.    He is an essential person to mention as he did the first of the geological theses which have been done in the Jenolan area.   Stanley may have chosen Jenolan Caves area for his Honour thesis study area because he'd had temporary work there as a guide, and/or it might have been suggested to him because Süssmilch who had laid the groundwork there thought the area warranted work by a student to take matters further(?).   After his Honours year at Jenolan Caves, Stanley did not continue on in academic word but there is evidence that he might have wised to (an application form for a Scholarship survives).   He stayed somehow associated with Sydney University for a little time (concerned with Great Barrier Reef work?) but then went to Papua New Guinea.   He left for PNG persumably because academic funding was running out, and/or because he was offered better money to go to PNG by an oil exploration company.    Stanley married a native girl and ended up spending most of his life in PNG (he did return for a period to Canberra - it's not known if he ever did return to Jenolan Caves).   Although Stanley did not continue in academic work it is clear that he had broad academic-like leanings.   He'd done a double degree (geology and geography).   He later on did years of geological work (largely unpublished company work), lesser geographic work (published) and also he developed interests in history and quite likely in anthropology or kindred matter too.   He was remembered as having one of the biggest or best libraries in PNG and there is a book (not seen) on the history of PNG which is dated the same year as the year he died.   Much of Stanley's output is not widely printed material and items of such  might now be in only one or two libraries in the world.

So the present webpage might hopefully entertain readers who like to ponder on assorted geological problems (or wonders) - or even on why anyone would wish to think about such things at all(?).   The "problems" of Jenolan area go back a long way.   Apart from the startling announcement that the caves are the oldest in the world, what progress has been made?   Probably (though even this is not terribly well illustrated as yet?) the way-upness of the now near-vertical bed of Jenolan Caves Limestone is resolved (namely that the bottom side is the western side of the body), which means that it and most of the area's rocks are mildly overturned.   Right up to and through the time of Stanley's thesis (1925) it was commonly thought that the sequence was a normal stratigraphic sequence and that the rocks west of the limestone (that look to have the same westwards dip) were younger rocks.   I do not know who first thought the Jenolan Caves Limestone is overturned.  It may have been Boyd Pratt, who had particular interest in the rocks west of the Jenolan Caves Limestone and did "Geology of an Area between Jenolan Caves and Ginkin, New South Wales" as his Honours year mapping area.   Boyd is also said (fide Leonie Chalker)  to have turned Süssmilch's Jenolan "anticline" upside down into a syncline  - but I would have to re-consult Boyd's thesis again to now know whatever he actually wrote on these matters.   I agree that the andesitic debris sediments that extend west from the Jenolan Caves Limestone look like typical Ordovician rocks elsewhere, but there's as yet no direct age dating.  Despite David's early report of abundant radiolarians in these rocks I do not know of anyone ever having found any fossils of any sort in them.   Silurian volcanics in NSW are more typically felsic types, but lesser andesitic ones are also known (e.g. south of Jenolan and also on the Molong Rise).   Thus the "problem" of the now-assumed Ordovician rocks on the western side of the Jenolan Caves Limestone is still a matter which has not been absolutely proven.   Indeed, with few exceptions, most of the rocks in the area, despite all the years that have passed since their first broad description, remain but poorly studied.   The nature of the sequence east of the Jenolan Caves Limestone (and just what the "Eastern limestone" is) remains poorly understood.

Jenolan Caves is a place well known and well loved to many.   The present writer nominated it for State and National Heritage listing repectively to both the State and Australian Governments in 2013 (albeit that perhaps others had already nominated it earlier - but this was not known).  Also, Jenolan Caves is not treated in "The geological heritage of New South Wales" (Percival, 1985).   This would seem a very strange situation and that has been read looking for any indication of why something so well known managed to be omitted from any treatment of the geological heritage of the State.  It may be that it was intended to be included later as in the foreword by Bob Carr (a former NSW Premier) it is stated that the volume would be "the first in a series", but by 2012 no more had appeared (the reason for that is also unknown, even though the Department for Planning and Environment, which published it, has been asked why).  The only reply was that they were indeed continuing to be interested in geoheritage, and ESPECIALLY in karst areas.   Bob Carr's words in the Foreword of the volume said likewise, that the Government had a "continuing commitment" to the natural heritage to ensure its preservation for future generations.  The book itself states that the project was supervised, and the report directed towards publication, by the Geological Society of Australia - and also that publication owed much to the dedication of Armstrong Osborne (known to be particularly interested in Jenolan Caves), and others.  So any of these might know how Jenolan Caves got to be omitted from amongst the 40 major sites of the State which the volume treated.   Jenolan Caves, however, did get included in "The Heritage of Australia", published by The Macmillan Company of Australia in association with the Australian Heritage Commission.  There the entry on Jenolan Caves is by Milo Dunphy (then the Director of the Total Environment Centre in Sydney).  It contains various errors, e.g. saying "The belt of limestone is 152 kilometres wide" (may have meant metres, not kilometres?), but is mainly correct.  It gives the popular account of the caves discovery ("In the 1830s a bushranger named McKeown established himself in one of the Jenolan Cave entrances .." but that is to be doubted.   Milo described the 1954 Binoomea cut as a "dreaded disaster", but does not explain why.  .    .

Heritage recognition (listing) by governments in Australia only started as one of the reforms/advances commenced soon after Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister, although one imagines all this would have been suggested to government previously (and never commenced?)     Anyway, once it got underway, after the Commonwealth Government had announced that heritage was going to be taken note of, virtually all geologists were requested one way or another to suggest the places of geological heritage.   I suggested quite a few places myself (but only ones in NSW).   At the head of my list of places of national significance that were situated in NSW was "Jenolan Caves".    I did not personally send any documentation off to Canberra, because at the time there were various levels of coordination in these matters (in Mines Department, in the main geological professional society,  etc.) which I had faith in, i.e. that such would do the job properly.    Indeed when I later checked (as well as I could) on all that at my end, I was assured that for all the places I had suggested, submission forms had actually gotten filled in and the lot sent off to Canberra.   But as years passed, nothing more was heard of it, and there was never any further feedback to myself from anyones.   To this day (2013) some of the places I suggested as State/National geological heritage still have not been government listed.   Many times, over the intervening years, I have asked the Commonwealth Government what happened to these submissions from (now) so long ago - and I asked for copies of the original submission forms; and specifically I also asked had all this information been copied to the NSW Government when it (later on) began to involve itself in heritage.   Despite all such enquiries, no answer to such questions ever came, and not a single copy of any original submission form has ever been sent to me by the Commonwealth Government (nor any statement that they'd been lost or destroyed, or anything like that).   Hence what actually happened to all the data in those submissions all that long ago (the "last millenium" now) remains one of the "little secrets" of Jenolan and a number of other sites of geological heritage in NSW.   Having gotten nowhere in locating the "original" submissions in Canberra, I mailed off to the Government in Canberra a fresh submission that Jenolan Caves is part of our National Heritage, on 21 January 2013.

It is also surprising that in the large and definitive 654 page volume of THE GEOLOGY OF NEW SOUTH WALES published by the Geological Society of Australia, neither the "Jenolan Caves" nor the "Jenolan Caves Limestone" is described (There is one brief mention in passing, in a general section discussing the Silurian, which refers to Süssmich's "anticline")..

This webpage has notes on the Jenolan Caves area and also along the road to there, from the Mount Victoria side (it is equally possible to go to the Caves from the Oberon side and once that was the only convenient approach).   Also herein are collected snippets on a variety of more or less "connected" persons - especially geologists who have been interested in the Jenolan Caves Limestone and/or the sorts of fossils in it.   The large amount of speleological interest that there has been in the Caves is relatively ignored (or rather "left to another time").

For their first visit, most people will approach the Jenolan Caves via the route described here, the Victoria Pass road and down the five mile hill.   For variety in later visits, or to extend their visit to seeing Kanagra Walls, they may travel also via the Oberon hill access (the zig zag and two mile hill).

Coming from the Hartley or Mount Victoria side approach, as you go through the Grand Arch, and enter the small Jenolan Caves valley on the other side,  you'll have entered almost another world - where almost everything about you is a historic environment - the whole of it, the caves, the limestone, the Caves House (built of the limestone), and a pervasive cultural heritage that pervades it all.   The caves of course have a dominant physical significance, and to those (relative few) keen on geological understanding the place has very ancient meaning too.  Most are probably not focussed on four hundred millions years back, but what is understandable to all (as historian John Dunkley put it) is that the significance of the place further derives from the accumulated legends, memories, experiences and writings of hundreds of people. 

Thousands go there every year (almost every day it seems - if one is struggling to find easy parking there).

In 1922 some 73,507 persons passed through Jenolan Caves and the Government collected £10,372 in inspection fees.   Nobody got hurt - not a serious fall or mishap of any sort.   That year approximately 12,419 guests stayed at the Caves House, which also served 13,500 lunches to the day-trippers (and about 200,000 individual meals served that year at Caves House overall). 

These numbers would be much higher nowadays and parking could become problematic as numbers of visitors continue to grow - as they always have in the past. .  

For anyone with a special interest in caves in general, the Journal of Australasian Speleological Research - "Helictite" is recommended.   That Journal (first published in 1962) has changed its publication method to in future provide all papers and articles as free PDF files on the Internet (In the future it will also be possible to purchase a DVD disk containing a full set of Helictite issues in PDF format).  Contents index = http://helictite.caves.org.au/helindex.html    

Originally Jenolan Caves was administered by the Department of Mines, later by the State Tourism body, and still later by a Trust.

Quoted repeatedly in this webpage is the 1923 "Geological notes on a trip to the Jenolan Caves" by C.A. Süssmilch.   These notes are short but very good and have withstood the test of time, being quite useful even today, and Süssmilch's "Sketch Section from Jenolan Caves to Mt. Victoria" (shown below, herein) still provides in complact simple form a "statement" as it were of most of the early developed geological concepts for this region.  Süssmilch's excursion notes for a trip to Jenolan Caves is not unexpectedly good quality - for he was known as a very painstaking teacher.   Süssmilch, third son of Christian Bernhard Süssmilch, a music teacher from Hamburg, and his German wife Anna Emilie, née Merkle, took elocution lessons to perfect his speech and presentation.  His friend and colleague, geologist E.C. Andrews once wrote about him that "he sought to inspire his students and the public with a love for geology and a robust spirit of comradeship and citizenship".  According to Andrews, another famous geologist from that period, his lectures were models of lucidity, and were delivered "with conviction".    Süssmilch's quoted notes are as in the Guide-Book of the 1923 visit to Jenolan Caves of the Pan-Pacific Science Congress.   The abovementioned statistics derive from the same Guide-Book.

Also writing in the same Guide-Book (and quoted herein) was Thomas Griffith ('Grif') Taylor (1880-1963), who was leading geographer/physiographer of that time.   In 1920 was appointed associate professor and foundation head of Australia's first university geography department, in Sydney.   His interests were very wide-ranging but included some pioneering and radical thinking on the physiography out from Sydney to the Tablelands.   Many of Taylor's ideas, such that the Cox's River once flowed in the opposite direction, have had mixed reception.  He also had a "first" with his observation (1923 Guide-Book, p. 24) about "rising and falling" notches or "scotia" along the side of a cave "show that the water was under pressure and the erosion was partly due to an upward flow".   It seems that nobody elaborated on that until the 1980s/90s and the studies of Armstrong Osborne.  Osborne suggested upwards "paragenetic" solution by water flowing over actively depositing sediment.

On Christmas Day 2012 we (my family and I - not Süssmilch and I, for C.A.S. has long passed, at a time when I was aged two years) had lunch at Jenolan Caves, and went on a tour of one of the caves (the Temple of Baal). 

In the past I would have been on most of the cave tours I imagine (not that I remember them well), and this time was qjutie keen to see the Temple of Baal (possibly one I'd not seen before?) - and for a number of reason.   The extent of cave development at Jenolan Caves is about 20km of passageways developed within about a one kilometre length of the 300m wide 'wall' of steeply dipping limestone.   There's upwards of 300 caves recognised in this system (i.e. " tagged" and registered cave entrances) within the Caves Reserve and the majority of the passages are oriented north-south, perhaps only because drainage so often follows rock strike (although Guide Ted Matthews also has another theory [about 'clay'/shale interbeds] on why this is so] and the few exceptions to the north-south generality of cave orientation are the Temple of Baal and Orient caves which show east-west orientations.   Maybe that is just because a former drainage from the west was involved?   Nonetheless there are various other ideas that have been expressed re Jenolan, about cupolas and cave erosion/stoping by ascending (not decending) water (perhaps hydrothermal even?).   The writings by R.A.L.Osborne contain references to many or all of the theories, and are the source of some of them.   The 'Dragon's Throat", of the Temple of Baal, I'd picked up was maybe a ?rising-series of truncating domes and I was therefore keen to get on down into the throat of that 'dragon'.

I had been in this area a great deal in one particular year (1965), when doing a geology thesis, but since then had returned there but few times - hence it was good to see Jenolan Caves once again (as it always is - most people who have been there agree with this).

Since then (in 2103) I have commenced writing a number of webpages (of which this is one):

*  "On the road to Jenolan" - being the road from Mount Victoria to Jenolan Caves [might finish this one first?]

*  Jenolan Caves Limestone (this one will drag on considerably, I think).

*  And this one, featuring Whalan family doings in the area (esp. for the Whalan clearings on Boyd plateau) - and a place to put any Whalan snippets I come across..

Beginning enquiries at Jenolan re the Whalans, and looking for who might have information on the doings of that extended family in the area, I was most helped by the historical society at Jenolan Caves - the Jenolan Caves Historical and Preservation Society:

http://www.jenolanhistory.org.au , info@jenolanhistory.org.au ; mwembership - https://sites.google.com/site/jenolancaveshistoricalsociety/membership


Noel Rawlinson (here seen in a passage near Chifley Cave in 1972), is author of two books related to Jenolan and published by the JCH&PS.  He had assembled volumes of numerous photos from the Jenolan area.  These were donated to the JCH&PS, which has made them easily available.  This is a wonderful source and many of them are used herein.

Noel Rawlinson in 2007 after 24 years at the Gunadoo, and about to leave it - having just sold it.  After two back operations and one knee operation, Mr Rawlinson decided it was time to give it away and concentrate on travelling around Australia.  ( http://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/769596/ophir-mine-strikes-out )

A very large album of photographs of Jenolan Caves was issued with a title page and one page of text by the Government Geologist, Charles Wilkinson (1887).   A copy is in the Mitchell Library.   This had the photographs published as actual prints.  The photographer for many is thought to have been A.E. Dyer, the photographer with the Department of Public Works from 1884.   

A mayor collection of Jenolan Caves photos was Mr Noel Rawlinson,  who amassed most of the photos of around Jenolan which are used herein.  He donated his collection to the historical society.  He has written books and papers on the area and was a guide at Jenolan Caves for some time (nickname 'Big Red'), possibly from back in the early 1960s till 1972.   In 1973 he became the owner/operator of the Gunnadoo tourist gold mine at Ophir near Orange.  Ophir is where payable gold was first discovered in Australia.  He was in the news in 2002, at which time he was aged 63, for his recommendations regarding the future of the Ophir reserve.  At that time he was asking Orange City Council to to take over the management of the historic site, because Cabonne Shire Council had been neglecting it.   The management and future of the site of Australia's first payable gold discovery, has been in limbo for more than 12 months at that stage, because of troubles the Reserve had been having.  Cabonne Shire Council had been the reserve's trustee, but voted early in the previous year to relinquish control of the site unless it received guaranteed significant and ongoing funding from State and Federal governments to help wtih upkeep and development of the area.  Council said that this resolution had been made out of frustration at a lack of financial support from the higher tiers of government for the management of one of the nation's most significant historic sites.   Mr Rawlinson said "I would like to see Orange [City Council] take over control of the reserve. I think Cabonne has really finished with this place because they have done nothing here; the place it going to rack and ruin with the weeds.  The road hasn't been graded in more than a year, there have been no blackberries sprayed in more than a year".   Mr Rawlinson also said that the worst case scenario for Ophir would be for the reserve to end up in the control of the National Parks and Wildlife Service" (apparently because he thought NPWS had a widespread reputation for neglecting the things that come under its control -?- as various other people had written about, e.g. historian Jim Smith for the Blue Mountains area and walking tracks below the cliffs of the main tourist towns).  ( http://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/753142/give-ophir-to-orange )

Enquiries were first made years ago about where Mr Rawlinson might be now.were made at both Orange City Council and Cabonne Shire Council.  Nothing was learned - it was thought that he'd "gone fishing" or gone touring.  But perhaps he is "back" by now, so this was tried again in 2013.  The Ophir Trust has a representative of Orange Council on it (and even though the reserve is not in the Orange City Council area and they hold few or no old primary records they still do have some information re Ophir and re gold in general).   The second time enquiry was tried via the Heritage and Museum Coordinator (Alison Russell).  However, they remain unaware of where Noel has moved to.   He did not hand over any of his files to Orange City Counci, and therefore it is thought he still must retain a significant amount of info.   Bill Schmich knows quite a lot of information on Ophir, and might know where Mr Rawlinson now is, but he has not been contacted.  Ophir Reserve Trust also might know, but has always been very difficult to contact.

The present webpage tracks my own progress in the following up of  various leads etc.   It is (lower down) also the repository of collected snippets - and I apologise for any errors of rough edges there but this is the best place for me to keep it all lest it be gathered and then simply lost again.

My reason for being in the area in 1965 was geology (doing an Honours thesis, at University of NSW, and staying mostly in a hut on Whalan's clearing near Budthingeroo Creek).   My current interests in the area are still largely the geology - which has not advanced immensely.   It is still largely UNKNOWN.

Some historical interests have been added to this natural history interest as well - such as this searching for local history involving the Whalans.

What was learned of re Whalans, from the HIstorical Society (and/or sometimes from other sources), by early 2013 includes:

Regarding information in the Historical Society's collection, there are some photocopies of assorted Whalan information, and various donated photos.

Fine 'Whalan' photos are framed and in the Caves House, especially those in the Caves House Ballroom on the wall adjacent to the piano.   Whalan portraits (Charles) are also near the Ticket Cffice and elsewhere in Caves House.    The portraits on the ballroom wall were presented to Jenolan not long ago the Whalan family including the children of  Charles, and there is a video that was made of the presentation ceremony.

There appear to be at least two books on the Whalan family, neither of which have been seen at the time of writing this.   I was informed that the Fay Manfield one may be obtained (if still in print?) by contacting  Jenny Whitby (and that as late as last year copies were still available).   Also there is a book "The Whalans in Australia", which was  written by Ron Whalan ( Ron F Whalan, 131 Derribong Street, Peak Hill).

A journey through time : the Whalan family, the family of James & Charles in Australia / compiled by Fay Manfield, 120 pp., 1993

State Library of NSW  Q929.20994/W552.2/1  ( Available from Mrs F. Manfield, 68 Kinnaird St, Ashgrove QLD 4060 ) 

The Whalans are credited as the discoverers and first explorers/developers (on a small scale) of the caves and conducting of tours to them.   Especially before any official Keeper position was created (first occupied by Jeremiah Wilson) the Whalans had a lot to do with the Caves, including the working on the 2-Mile or Oberon side road down into the Caves valley, and with such tasks as the making of ladders and other work in connection with exploring the caves themselves.  Such information as the Society has on that is said to have come from Ron Whalan (making him an excellent starting point for Whalan research).   

There are various accounts, sometimes somewhat conflicting, about how Jenolan Caves were discovered.  An account of their discovery which comes from Alfred Whalan is the one which the Historical Society decided to adopt as the best-accepted history history of the place.   Cave guide Rob Whyte, it is thought, relocated Alfred Whalan's account.

There are of course likely to be many Whalan references findable on Trove and a start to collecting those is herein (others may well have been doing this too).



If I have any photos from 1965 (it's possible) then I don't know where they are just now, so these are some later photos which others have taken.   I rarely stayed there on my own - rather mostly with my grandfather, Cecil William Steiner.

Snowing at the hut, Kanangra Road near Budthingeroo Creek,  in 1974.    (Photo:  NettyA)

Budthingeroo Hut - Regarded as probably the the finest, or certainly one of the finest of the former habitations on the Boyd, or Kanangra-Boyd, plateau and which seemingly the NPWS obiterated almost all traces of (or so I've been told).   There was also discernable in the 1960s some much older ruins very close to Kanangra Walls which I was informed had been a house site many years earler.   ( Photo:  David Noble, 1973)   Others have referred to this as Budthingeroo hut, or as  "Whalan's hut" (but it might long postdate any Whalans inhabiting the area?).  In 1890 Mr Campbell Whalan's house was likely somewhere nearby.

Another view of the hut, in 1975.   ( Photo:  David Noble).

Often on the Boyd plateau it rains or gets totally covered in mist.   Less often it also snows.

Snow on the Kanangra Road in 1981.   ( Photo:  NettyA - "I have finished sorting my more than 12,000 slides down to about 4500 which are now on CD.  Slowly putting some on Flickr.  Along with some of my late father's. I'm doing this for archival/historical purposes." -  http://www.flickr.com/people/7272097@N08 )



Usage/talk varies on this point.   

Personally I don't think it is (I tend to think of it more as the "edge" of such), but I think I'd be shouted down by many a tourism operator on this point.   You will often find journalists and tourism people calling Jenolan/Kanangra the "Blue Mountains".   The Oberon Council even states that at 1,113m elevation, Oberon is "the highest town in the Blue Mountains region" - however, most travellers would surely sense that they'd left the Blue Mountains well behind by the time they reached Oberon(?).

Geologists/geographers are perhaps a little bit more discerning - since the district is well separated from the Blue Mountains plateau by the valley of the Cox's River.  I have tried to give many views herein, showing the nature of the country from different viewpoints - it is certainly "like the Blue Mountains" in many ways but is probably best distinguished from the Blue Mountains.  Yet to give the lie to that, C. A. Süssmilch in his "Geology of New South Wales" stated Jenolan Caves to lie "in the heart of the Blue Mountains".

If calling Oberon the Blue Mountains seems odd, it is by no means the most ridiculous of statements sometimes seen.   For example, Mount Yengo, a located a few kilometres west of Wollombi got stated to be "in the Blue Mountains" by a government department in 2012.  This was the Office of Environment and Heritage, with "a culture camp at Mt Yengo in the Blue Mountains" ( http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/programs/ych/funded.html ).

Since the construction of the 5-mile road down to Jenolan Caves (which happened a long time ago, much to the consternation of then tourism operators at Oberon) most people now travel to Jenolan Caves going southwards from Hartley.   Indeed the road traffic now is so congested that the 5-mile descent gets closed for one hour after noon every day to ascenders from the caves, making it one way (down) for traffic on that winding road.

As you travel south to Jenolan Caves you are often very close to the Great Divide or maybe even driving along it in places - the line either side of which water drains either out to the Pacific Ocean on one side (eastern side) or to the Southern Ocean on the other (western) side, via a very long trip down the Darling River.   The line of the main or 'great' drainage divide is shown below:

Area map showing catchment boundaries.  The main roughtly north-south dark line is the Great Divide.  The cross-hatched areas are Pinus radiata plantations with which the region abounds.  (The location of the pine forests shown here can be seen below on the map "Location of Kanangra-Boyd National Park and surrounding conservation areas".)

The following maps may place Jenolan/Kanangra in context of the 'Greater' Blue Mountains region.

The Blue Mountains Map from Glenbrook to Lithgow, the Jenolan Caves and Mount Wilson, showing their geological and topographical features.   By Oliver Trickett, 1909.   Published by NSW Government Tourist Bureau.  Note at the bottom of this map the stream named as "McKEON'S CREEK" - which is contrary to the numerous other publications that have the next waterway that is here named "HEAD OF JENOLAN RIVER" called McKeown's or McKewan's Creek.  This is but part of the mystery of who really was McKeon/McKewan/McKeown, the ?absconded convict "bushranger" who at least in legend discovered the Fish River (later Jenolan) Caves?

Map which was was in the 1923 Pan-Pacific Science Congress "Guide-Book to the Excursion to Blue Mountains, Jenolan Caves and Lithgow".  Note how the road from Hartley travels obliquely west (southwestwards - mainly across granite).   Hampton is still on granite but near the edge of it.   The road rises to 4,200 feet, passing east of Mount Bindo (4,460 feet) which is the highest point.   From then on the road runs generally N-S (until beginning the more tortuous 5-mile descent to the Caves) and it actually runs along the Main Divide of the State.

KBNP = Kanangra-Boyd National Park.   This is a VERY rough outline and mud map (see more accurate boundaries immediately below) to show the general context/relationships of the Kanangra-Boyd Park.   Its boundaries have also expanded over the years.   It's core was a large early nature reserve in the Kanangra (Kanangaroo) area (Kanangra River and Walls).   Its eastwards boundary is deep wildness and relatively "useless" land and was never contested.  It's western boundary is against non-wilderness agricultural land and the "Boyd" (Boyd Plateau) part of "Kanangra-Boyd" was for a time hotly contested by the Forestry Commission which held an alternative vision of turning it all into non-native pine forest.   Nature reserve (conservation) lands have been continually expanding - note that this shows non-reserve land around Yerranderie which for a long time remained private land, but in 2011 the historic remains of Yerranderie were donated to the State, with conditions for the town's preservation - to be managed by the NPWS which also manages other very historic places like Hill End and Hartley.    Note that the only (recommended) vehicular way off the Boyd plateau south of Jenolan, apart from returning via the Kanangra Walls Road is to cross the river to the west at Tuglow Caves, via the Banshea fire trail (W4D strongly recommended although a VW used to be able to travel that road in the past). 

Satellite view of what largely is uninhabited land, in part deemed wilderness.  That east of the Lake Burragorang storage is Blue Mountains National Park.  That futrher west includes the Kanangra-Boyd National Park.

Note the many "State Forests" north and west of Kanangra-Boyd National Park.   Much of such land is planted with Pinus radiata.

Park outline and place names.  Boyd Plateau runs north from Pindari Tops and not quite to Jenolan Caves.

Flatter ('plateau') land surrounded by dissected topography.  Topographic transition off the plateus is mild to the NW across Hollander's Creek; strong but of limited extent of dissected land the west, and strongest of all (with most extensive rugged land) to the east.  The below sketch indicates oblique appearance from the south, looking across Kowmung River and Uni Rover trail to the plateau. 

The below sketch section well enough summarises the sort of country you cross when travelling from Mount Victoria to Jenolan Caves:

By C.A. Süssmich - "Geological notes on the trip to the Jenolan Caves", 1923.

The above figure is taken from near the commencement of a fine little six page geological guide for the 1923 Pan-Pacific Science Congress by Süssmich.  That Guide-Book also contains notes on botany (by R.H. Cambage), the physical geography (by Professor Griffith Taylor),  and the zoology (by A.S. Le Souef) for along the route; plus some notes specifically on the Jenolan Caves themselves by Oliver Trickett and others.

This is the relatively "simple" first interpretation of Jenolan geology - that the 'Western" (main or caves) limestone and the "Eastern" limestone were the same horizon and that they were disposed/connected in an anticline.

The overthrust fault (J) was inserted in the vertical section diagram most likely not because any thrust faulting was actually observed in the field but rather to accomodate or explain away a growing trend by some who were regarding the sediments west of the caves limestone as Ordovician.   Süssmich's 1923 diagram is clearly derived from 1896 work when David (1897) had summarised the knowledge of the Blue Mounains, with a secton from Jenolan Caves to the edge of the continental shelf, in a Presidential Address to the Royal Society of NSW. 

From David 1897

The initial reasons for regarding the sediments and volcanics west of the caves limestone as Ordovician ('radiolarians' and all the rest) are very weak.  Nonetheless, merely on general appearance I also regard them as Ordovician (I have seen a lot of Ordovician volcanics elsewhere in the State).  It is understood that Shannon (1976) may have gone into some detail on the relationship between the radio1arian chert, andesite, and a  1amprophyre, west of the caves limestone (but I have not seen this)..

 The caves limestone I have always regarded as overturned (steeply dipping yet only mildly overturned).  I have been told that north of the caves it may vary from steeply dipping (overturned) to vertical, and back again, over a relatively short distance.

E-W cross-sections by later Honours thesis students presented a much less simple picture than the simple anticline.  For example in the below vertical section through Jenolan Caves one would no longer suspect an anticline in the slightest. 

McClean (1983, Fig. 2.5).  Although the simple anticline had disappeared, McClean still retained the sequence of the western limb of the former concept, with the sequence younging west there (and no thrust fault). 


Sussmilch's 1911 "Geology of NSW" reprint 

Carl Adolph Süssmilch was a very fine early NSW teacher of geology, based at the Technological Museum and Sydney Technical College in Ultimo, Sydney, and here in 1912 he sent greetings to American geologist Prof. J.B. Woodworth, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  ( http://www.auspostalhistory.com/articles/1300.shtml ).  Süssmilch taught geology, mineralogy and mining at the college from 1903, and visited the United States of America in 1912 to study methods of technical education.


Süssmilch sent a copy of his greatest work, the "Geology of NSW", to Professor George Davis Loudeback (Geologist 1874-1957) of University of California at Berkeley.  This book passed on to the Paleontology Library, then to the Earth Sciences Library, and later to the main Berkeley campus library where it got scanned by Internet Archive to add to the "Universal Access to All Knowledge".

Carl Adolf von Heyne Süssmilch (1875-1946) was not a "great" geological thinker, or the stature of Sir Edgeworth David say, however he was a very well known and popular one who worked prodiguously at this topic - and above all was a teacher of the subject.   He was based at Sydney Technical College.  He was held in high regard in Australian geology, especially after achieving the distinction of having written a book on the Geology of NSW, in 1911.   Süssmilch  published many scientific papers on the subject of geology, and his "First Year, Practical Course: Determination of Rocks" went through four editions.  His "An Introduction to the Geology of New South Wales" had at least two revised editions (in 1914 and 1922) and has been further reprinted in facsimile.   Süssmilch's "Geology of New South Wales" has not been consulted by myself recenlty but presumably would have some more in it about Jenolan Caves.  Between 1905 and 1941, Süssmilch published nineteen papers, some with H.I. Jensen, H. S. Jevons and T.G. Taylor, on various aspects of geology and the State's physical geography.  He was especially interested in the mountains and tablelands.  Such work mainly appeared in the Technical Gazette of New South Wales and in the proceedings of the local Royal and Linnean societies.   For all of these reasons, Süssmilch was the obvious choice to have been asked to write geological notes in the Guide Book for the 1923 Pan-Pacific Science Congress visit to Jenolan Caves.  Not only that but Sussmilch and Stone (1915) had earlier written on "Geology of the Jenolan Caves district".   And there may have been even more reasons the Pan Pacific Science Congress may have liked Sussmilch - for he'd attended the Pan Pacific Scientific Conference in Honolulu in 1920, and apparently Süssmilch once expressed his firm belief that such things were a force for tolerance without which there could be no real peace (NB: Some prominent Germans were, even if Australan-born, somewhat vicitimised in WWI.  Some were, by Act of Parliament, even cast out of public office - such fate befell Berghoffer on the Blue Mountains and his name was chiselled of the Berghoffer Pass (later on re-engraved there by his descendants).   Süssmilch died at Burwood on 6 December 1946 and was cremated.  He had never married.   Süssmilch was hardly alone in his expression of belief that the Pan-Pacific Science Congress was a force for peace, for the The Sydney Morning Herald on 1 September 1923, page 14, reported under title of "Peace in the Pacific" that the Congress had a "great peace-making objective".  The Japanese representative, Professor Sakurai, told the Press "We love your people", and that "Japan is ever ready to join hand-in-hand to obtain the peace and welfare of mannkind".   They were nice sentiments, although not to be borne out in WWII which was yet to come.   Australia's Professor Sir Edgeworth David said similar things, including that such gathering as the Congress had in Sydney would do more to ensure everlasting peace in the Pacific than anything else.   Given all that, the "international" mood and camerarderie on that 1923 journey to Jenolan was likely were amiable.   I have not, however, found any direct mentions of it anywhere (other than the Guide-Book).

Geologist Sussmilch could have slightly improved his Mount Victoria - Jenolan Caves section shown above by drawing the western portion of "D" a little higher up.   For when travelling along the Lowther - Hampton section of the road one can look to the east when on or just below the base of the Permian Marine ("D") and readily sense that one is higher up there than the top of the Permian Marine seen far off further east across the valley of the Cox (e.g. which approximately forms the surface of the Hartley valley).

Although Sussmilch did not visually depict this westwards rise of the base of the Sydney Basin in his cross section above, he was nonetheless quite aware of it.   For he wrote: "In the Blue Mountains region the uplift was a differential one, the resulting tableland having a pronounced tilt to the east, reaching an altitude of 4,000 feet along its western margin"

From west to east in Sussmich's section the major units are still thought of similarly (more of less) as he depicted in 1923:  Ordovician; Silurian (now regarded as a Siluro-Devonian sequence); [angular unconformity]; Late Devonian (Lambian); intrusive Carboniferous granite; [unconformity]; Marine Permian; Coal Measures (Permian); Triassic sandstones (Hawkesbury and Narrabeen Group).

Geology has discovered a few extra things since 1923 (alghouth not many), such as the Jenolan Megakink  (Powell et. al., 1985) which occurs about a kilometre north of the caves - and most important of all that JENOLAN CAVES IS THE SITE OF THE OLDEST CAVES IN THE WORLD (according to a scientific publication by Armstrong Osborne).  The Megakink could be an impportant high order structure(?).   Another 'new' idea, although relatively minor, is that some of the colluvial deposits that are common on the steep slopes of the valleys around Jenolan, particularly on volcanics, may be rudimentary grez litees indicative of cold climate (this is found within the 2004 Draft Karst Plan of Management).

Although not the Blue Mountains as some would define it, the region is high and is a dissected plateau for much of it.    Between Jenolan Caves and Kanagra Walls to the south, that plateau has the name of Boyd Plateau.    It is not as distinctly plateau like, however, as the Blue Mountains plateau is  ... except perhaps where 'onlapped' by the Permian strata (e.g. the "Kanangra tops", which also used to be called the Thurat tops or plateau) - as seen below.

The elevated plateau or near-plateau (Boyd plateau and beyond), looking north from over Kanangra Walls.  In the foreground, at the end of Kanagra Walls Road the small ' peninsula' seen here (called at one time Thurat plateau or later on sometimes called Kanangra Walls plateau or 'tops') juts out from the main plateau and is almost entirely surrounded by sheer drops.  On its northern side at the head of Kanangra River gorge are the Kanangra Falls and other spectacular waterfalls.   These plunge over Late Devonian (Lambian) quartzites.  The northern side is known as Thurat spines/spires. ( Photo: http://hoore.com )

Same site, looking over the relatively gently undulating top of the tableland at Kanangra Walls, south of Jenolan Caves, showing encroaching arms of deep erosion along creeks draining to the Cox River.    The rocks at this point are inclined (folded) Late Devonian quartzites (Lambie Group) overlain by flat-lying Permian strata (with the white scar patches).   [Photo:  David Skeoch]

In this oblique aerial photo, there can be seen the the cliffs near the Blue Mountain towns at the upper right; and the granitic Kanimblan valley is seen below the horizon to left of centre.   The Permian is also well seen here, in the foreground (as Kanangra Walls "tops").   It is horizontal whereas the opposite side of the Kanangra gorge here is composed of dipping Late Devonian (Lambian) strata, largely quartzite beds. 

In this view the dip of the Lambian quartzites may not seem to be all that far off horizontal, yet views from the north towards Kanangra Walls show very well that there is an angular unconformity present.

Some more views in the vicinity of this gorge are given below, to show that the Later Devonian strata really do deviate extensively from the horizontal. 

View of the walls and the Thurat Spires, and showing the dipping nature of the quartzite beds.   His Honor Judge Docker recognised the sequence of events here in 1893 when he wrote of the conglomerate in the cliffs of the Kanangra Walls (or Kanagaroo Walls as he spelled it) being an old "sea beach"; and stating that as the strata at the walls were perfectly horizontal he concluded that "they were deposited after the cessation of the forces which had tilted the (beds on the) opposite side of the valley" (Australian Town and Country Journal, 5 August 1893, page 30).    (Photo:  David Noble)

Note that much of the Kanangra-Boyd plateau is somewhat above the level of the cliff forming Permian strata (and also that there is a higher level in the far distance).  Of the rise to the right, northwards, compare with the term 'Dome' used by some for the Boyd plateau.  Craft (1928) recognised a "Jenolan Plateau" which is a somewhat confusing entity though in its full extent, as he also stated it stretched north from this Kanangra Walls-Porter's Retreat area to Sunny Corner and beyond. 

The falls in the outlined box are shown close-up in next photo.

Close up of Kanangra Falls first (main) plunge.  Rocks are Late Devonian (Lambian) orthoquartzite beds   ( Photo:  David Noble) 

Lambian (Late Devonian) strata at Kanangra Falls near Kanangra Walls.   (Photos:  David Noble).   The base of this sequence is not seen exposed till well downstream along the Kowmung River (downstream of the mouth of Christy's Creek), and there it unconformably overlies vertical Silurian shales and limestone.  

Site of the Kalang Falls, near centre of photo.   (Photo: Charles Blaxland)

The surface of the Boyd plateau is far from being dead flat and the oblique aerial photo above does not give such a good impression of it being plateau-like as does a distant view of it looking westwards over the Cox's River valley does - as below:

Peaks east of the Kanangra-Boyd plateau and north of Kanangra Walls.   Mount Guouogang (1291m) is the highest.

Another similar (semi-digrammatic) view looking westwards to the "plateau" landform (some others call it a 'dome') is shown below:

As shown on the 'old' (1997) NPWS leaflet above, the Boyd Plateau forms the mid western part of the park.  It has often been called erroneously "a granite dome" (there is ample granite there but it is far from wholly granite).  The first lands to be dedicated for recreational and nature protection purposes were Kanangra (Kanangaroo) lands, around the Walls and along the river of that name.  This was very rugged land, and early judged that it never would be useful for anything else.   This historically is the "core" land (and tourism/scenically-wise Kanangra Walls was always its focus) for the formation of the National Park.   The plateau land was more "useful" and it had at least three early selections on it, now marked by clearings (and but few relics of the settlers), followed by stock grazing and logging activities.   Thus the "Boyd" part of Kanangra-Boyd National Park flowed into being with much greater birthpains than the "Kanangra" part.  The 'loss' of the Boyd Plateau for 'useful' purposes was greately opposed by the Forestry Commission - which had hoped to expand over most of it and eventually convert it to a sea of pines.   The pine plantation plan was active opposed by various people, especially the Colong Committee, and in the end the Forestry Commission lost and the Boyd Plateau land became incorporated in the National Park as now exists.   This semi-schematic view over much of the land of Kanangra-Boyd National Park is from above Lannigan's Creek and Mount Armour in the south, looking NW over the upper Kowmung River.  The blue dots show the "Boyd Range" divide between Kowmung River and Christy's Creek.   This range was used as the Sydney Uni Rover Scouts' trail from Kanangra to Colong or Yerranderie.

Looking southeast over the uninhabited/wilderness area - Yerranderie Peak (left distance) seen through Byrne's Gap, and Mt Colong (right).  The massive residual of Mount Colong is capped by a remnant of the Triassic sandstones, overlain by Tertiary Basalt.   (Photo:  Shoalhaven Bushwalkers)

Kanangra Walls was apparently discovered by a cattle man (searching for wild cattle) coming up on the southern side like that.  From the high ground he spotted some wild cattle and horses on the Boyd Plateau (story is herein, below); subsequently a trail was cut there for transferring cattle between the Plateau, the Cox's River and further downstream.   A "Uni Rover Trail", extending from west of Kanangra Walls Road to Colong Caves is shown on the map with blue dots.   Via the Rover trail it is a distance of 25 km from off Kanangra Walls Road to Bats/Batsh Camp.  Sydney University Rover Scouts and Sydney University Bushwalking Club cooperated or had shared membership over a number of years when members helped compile a map of the area.  Some of the storyof doing that has been recorded by Dr Geoff Ford who compiled the finished product.   Besides the Uni Rover Trail and various fire trail roads, there is a very popular track, worn but unformed, from Kanangra Walls via Mts. High and Mighty, Stormbreaker and Cloudmaker, down to the Cox's River.   Walkers may then proceed to various places from there, Katoomba being a popular destination.   That route has been walked by great numbers of people but requires care, especially by solitary walkers, against getting lost - and at least one person has gotten lost and perished whilst doing it.  In more recent times the carriage of small personal locational beacons has become possible.  Even though the Kowmung River and tributaries are regarded as unpolluted, the treatment of drinking water (boiling, or filter and add purification tablet) is still recommended by some.  

Further north from the above looking-west views towards Boyd plateau, a "sense of plateau" is also obtained at some places when driving south to Jenolan Caves and looking east over the Cox's River valley (which is there also called the Kanimbla Valley).   One such place is shown below:

From the Jenolan Caves Road in the Lowther area some excellent viewing outlooks are obtained looking eastwards over the Kanimbla Valley towards the Blue Mountains escarpment along the opposite side of the Cox's River valley.   Unusually flat hill tops, as at right, often indicate the presence of basal Permian strata,. generally sandstone, often with scattered pebbles and minor cobbles (or else areas where the Permian has been relatively recently eroded away but the relict flat form of the floor of the Sydney Basin still remains?).   A spectacular basal deposit (granite tors megaconglomerate?) in the Permian, immediately at the base of the Basin was recorded by Sussmich (1923) to be a quarter of a mile on (towards the Caves) from Lowther.  ( Photo:  ZenArt )

Another view eastwards from the Jenolan Caves Road from Hampton, over the Kanimbla Valley.

As seen above, the Cox's River valley (Kanimblan Valley) is extensively cleared (over granite) for a good distance south from Hartley valley.   Such clearing, however, does not continue south on Lambian (Later Devonian) and other rocks, and further south the land transforms, relatively speaking, into wilderness. 

An early publshed (1928) map by the physiographer Frank Craft (a student of Griffith Taylor) is shown below.   It shows the position of the Main/Great Divide (which he here called the Cox Divide) and how the route south to Jenolan followed it.    What he has labelled here as "Kanimbla Valley" also includes the valley of the Lett River (or River Lett / Rivulet ) which is known to most now as the Hartley valley (origially called the Vale of Clywdd).   The much rougher nature of the Cox's River valley east of Jenolan-Kanangra, compared with the Kanimblan Valley, is easily appreciated from this map.  

Map published in 1928 by Frank A. Craft ("The physiography of the Cox River Bains" - viz. http://www.megalongcc.com.au/Cox&Co/physiography_of_the_cox_rive.htm .   Craft was an early physiographer.  Most of the road south to Jenolan (which is about where the "n" of Jenolan is on the map) looks out east over the Kanimblan Valley carved by the Cox River largely into Carboniferous granite.  To the west not very far distant runs the Great Divide (here 'COX DIVIDE') west of which waters flow inland.   The Cox River, and also the Grose (shown exiting at right) discharge to the Nepean-Hawkesbury River which flows to the East Coast.  The high area shown here as "Jenolan Plain 4000 (ft)" has its southern part, south to Kanangra Walls, now known as the Boyd Plateau.  The valley of the Jenolan Caves is deeply incises in this gerally high plateau, with a 5 mile steep descent to reach it from Hartley and a 2 mile ziz-zag down to it from the Orberon side.    Craft had many inferences (sometimes complex) about physiographic evolution, most of which gained but little (or no) acceptance.  His major idea (probably in turn from Griffith Taylor) was the Cox's River has reversed its original flow direction).  [ The initials H.W.M. at lower left designate not the artist but 'high water mark']

North of Jenolan (also known as Inspiration Point lookout), before descending the 5-mile hill.   Note the generally flat skyline but deep dissection of the landscape by the Jenolan River or Harry's River (middle distance valley) and its tributaries.  On a fine day  the view from Mt Inspiration lookout, on the Jenolan Road shows how the district is a deeply dissected tableland.  (Photo: Jason Waddell)


Same place with mist rising from the valleys - a common sight also in the Blue Mountains.   Some days the Kanangra gorge, a normally spectacular view, south of Jenolan Caves, is also totally obscured by mist.



Onwards from Mount Inspiration towards Jenolan Caves the road starts a steep descent down the "Five Mile Hill".   There are numerous good road cuttings but not too many places to park.   The sequence dip is very often westerwards and some spectacular cherty-looking intervals are passed (I have not checked if they really are chert).  This photo is from Süssmich (1911, p. 23)   

Excellently exposed fine-banded silstone, argillite and very fine sandstone on the Five Mile Hill (near Rest Area shown below).

This photo is taken looking northwards - so these bands are dipping west too, similar as in the other photo above.

Rest Area on the Five Mile Hill.   This is a good place to park the car at, out of the way of traffic, so as to see the rocks.

The sequence east of the Jenolan Caves Limestone was primarily examined early on by T.W.E. David and presumably his students, and by Süssmich and Stone, and others, via the excellent exposures along the Five Mine Hill road cuttings.   This resulted in various expressed uncertainties on the nature of the igneous rocks seen there, the reported discovery of radiolarian shales and chert, and so on.  In 1911, C.A. Süssmilch probably visited Jenolan Caves again as he contributed a 'Note upon the geology of Jenolan to the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science" but this was only published as a short abstract.   In that same year Morrison and Jones went there.   Morrison (1912) reported briefly on the geology of the country between Rydal and the Jenolan Caves, examined by himself and Mr. Jones (some country between the Cox's and Fish Rivers, extending from Rydal in the north to Jenolan Caves in the south).   They noted some 500 feet thickness of Lambian (Late Devonian) strata exposed near the top of the Black Range, and the "Upper Marine" Permian beds extending against or over them.  To the north of Jenolan Caves the recorded the area much the same as others before them - as a large "Silurian" area consisting of slates, radiolarian cherts, claystones and contemporaneous lavas, which had been intruded in places by porphyries and felsites.   They suspected such latter intrusives were of post-Devonian age.  In this area they stated that the general trend was north ten degrees west, and the dip was generally westwards at about seventy degrees.   This is well observed when driving down the Five Mile Hill.   Morrison, like others who have written on this area, was not very consistent or conclusive about the nature of the felsic rocks.    Initially he refers to porphyries and felsites as likely post-Devonian intrusives, but later in the article he also wrote that on the "Main Road"  (Jenolan Caves road, presumably) south of Black Range there are porphyries and felsites noted for nearly a mile and he thought of them as "a series of lava flows which have probably occurred at the close of the Silurian Period".   However, the ever-changing interpretation of the igneous rocks there is seen once again in Süssmilch's (1923a) mention that the quartz-porphyry near the Jenolan Caves which he had previously thought to be a contemporaneous lava flow was 'now known to be a sill'.   The details of how people were determining things as flows or intrusions there seem not to have been preserved (and similar is the case for the precise locations of  seemingly hundreds of early samples collected around Jenolan - some of which are in the Australian Museum and the Mines Department collections still).

There are some references to the accounts on mining in the area given in Stanley (1925).  There was one small 'silver rush' once, of somewhat dubious validity, but overall the whole region has been found to be pretty well devoid of economic minerals.  Besides the mentions of rare gold finds, one reference to "pure magnesia" in the area remains a puzzle (The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 December 1912, page 4).  There is minor coal occurrence noted near Kanangra Walls, some small copper prospects west of Boyd Plateau, and there was the minor silver rush to Jenolan area (on the 5-mile hill side) in early years, for which there were only indistinct or indifferent results.

Although numerous people, from early cattlemen to modern day bushwakers, have criss-crossed that wilder country to the east (and south) from the Boyd plateau, virtually none of them have ever made any geological maps as far as I am aware - and hence the geology there is only hearsay.   Attempts to observe and map geology range from Kanangra Walls northwards, though Jenolan Caves and Hampton to Hartley.    Thus the regional geological concepts were first worked out and described for there (and also some geological work has also been extended southwards in the somewhat gentler terrain to the west, as through Tuglow). 

West of Jenolan and the Boyd plateau the landscape is far less rugged and there are extensive Pinus radiata plantations.

The type of rolling tablelands country westwards of Kanangra-Boyd area.  Looking south from near Ginkin Forest Rd, east of Shooters Hill and west of Tuglow Caves.  ( Photo:  Steve).   This area could be reached from Kanangra-Boyd plateau via tracks along/across Hollanders Creek/River, or somewhat more perilously (unreliably) via Tuglow Caves which required cross the Tuglow River (sometimes too high there for non 4WD vehicles).   Extensive areas of land have been put under pine forest.   Geological survey of such land would ideally be done before the pine forests were planted (or when being prepared for re-planting) but there was never any coordination on this matter.   State Forests at one time indicate that they were "thinking" of employing/engaging geologists, but if that ever went ahead is not know to the writer.

Similar pine forest landscape, near Sheepstation Road ( a western way in to Tuglow Caves area, via Edith which lies between Jenolan Caves and Oberon).   ( Photo:  Steve). 

Overlooking Jenolan Caves valley/hamlet from the southwest.   The road down on the east (the 5-mile) and also the the rise on the west towards Oberon (the 2-mile with lower Zig-Zag stretch) are both discernabloe.  This also well shows "McKeown's valley", along Cave Creek (upstream part of Jenolan River) above where it cuts through the on-end limestone formation at Jenolan Caves.  The flatter country to the west after rising up the "two mile" rise is extensive  Pinus radiata pine forest and a large harvest and/or re-planting is seen in progress here.

In the pine plantation country there are usually great regions to be seen being felled and re-planted at any given time.  A typical radiata pine in around 35 metres tall and half a metre  across at chest height when harvested at about age 35.   There are around 251,000 ha of radiata pine plantations in NSW. Of these plantations, 64,000 ha (25 per cent) are private plantations and 187,000 ha (75 per cent) are State-owned plantations.   In the past, radiata pine plantations had a very bad reputation with geologists because detailed plans of them were unavailable and they were of such a sameness inside them that it was considered often impossible to know where you were for the purpose of plotting observations.   Probably such navigational difficulties have now been overcome.    During the autumn months, mushroom gathering is popular in the pine forests. 

Oberon is famous for its sweeping pine forests right across the district.   Oberon‘s timber industry is a major employer, providing work for close to 500, or nearly a fifth of the whole town population.   There are various large factories.  Borg Panels produces medium density fibreboard and is the biggest such plant in Australia, employing 180 people.   Structaflor, owned by Carter Holt Harvey, produces particleboard flooring used in the construction of houses, and it employs around 70 people.  Boral Timber is another major manufacturer and it co-owns Highland Pine Products with Carter Holt Harvey.  Highland Pine Products employs 225 people and produces dressed timber and treated timber to be used as house frames and trusses. 


THE JENOLAN CAVES LIMESTONE ... and some of those who have studied it, or are connected to fossils in it, etc.

[ This is not complete .. more persons connected with Jenoloan are to be noted/added ... ]


This section has collected little life stories (where known) on people connected to the limestone or the fossils in it.    George Stanley was the first ever thesis student set to investigate Jenolan.   Seeing he had attended the Technical College, and technical education was the field of C.A. Süssmilch (the then keenest geologist on Jenolan) this may have had something to do with Stanley taking that area to study(?).  Quite a lot is findable on Stanley after he worked on Jenolan in 1925, although it is not known if he ever returned to Jenolan Caves again.  Stanley moved to PNG to work in oil exploration, married a native girl there, and spent most of his life outside of Australia except for a short stint with the BMR in the 1960s.  There, in Canberra, he learned he had cancer, and returning to PNG he died there not very long after.   He also became an expert in PNG history and wrote a book on that.   He has been described by at least one person as the 'the great New Guinea geologist', but by other accounts he may have had trouble in his later years in making geology payable in PNG (perhaps the reason why he returned to work for the BMR?).   As for others, his life in PNG was much disturbed by WWII.

Some of the stories may seem a bit remote (e.g. linked to America) yet are worth telling.   The Silurian age of the limestone is easiest known, and was first recognised, on account of the Kirkidium brachiopods present.   Kirkidium is a genus erected for some species earlier referred to as Conchidium.  It is named after Edwin Kirk of the US Geological Survey.   An interesting thing is that Kirk lost a leg (from gangrene) after accidentally falling into an old shaft, and then worked on until being found dead in his office well after that.   That's an exceptionally far-flung connection and other persons of note are all NSW people.   Speleologists (Armstrong Osborne and others) could certainly be mentioned more, but for the moment I have mainly only mentioned geologists - and have not entered at all into the speleogenesis side (as that is considered too large topic and warrants a webpage to itself).   

Early map of known limestone within "Reserve 43615 for the preservation of caves".   This is part of copying I did about 1970, but I omitted to annotate where this one came from (though probably, I think, from NSW Mines Department work by Carne and Jones - "The Limestone Deposits of NSW?).   A few comments may be made.  The so-called "Eastern Limestone" is the band going through EN in "PARISH OF JENOLAN" (not far south of the easternmost section of the road from Mount Victoria east of Mount George - where the Inspiration Point lookout is today).   More "eastern" limestone is noted north of there near the top of this map (as "Limestone hereabouts").   The width of the Jenolan Caves Limestone is under-estimated on this map.  For example, the limestone intersects the Two Mile Hill (to Oberon) road zig-zags, whereas this map shows it stopping east of such.   Stanley (1925) wrote of the map of limestone at Jenolan in the Carne and Jones 1919 work "Limestone Deposits of N.S.W." that this "map of the Jenolan Caves Limestone has proved in the main to be rather unreliable".   Cognisant of that, the Mines Department sent Leonie Chalker, a young geologist not long out of uni (see photo below), back to have another go and to rectify this, in 1970.  Leonie's mapping thickened up the limestone and she also mapped in shale lenses near the western edge of the limestone.   Leonie's re-mapping of the 'Eastern Limestone' didn't look much like what it is depicted as in this map.  Instead of a single band trending NNW and subparallel to the Jenolan Caves Limestone, Leonnie (who was assisted by Carole Mitchell also of the Mines Department) mapped a sort of elongated-north patch of 16 smaller limestone bodies which had widely varying dips [could they even be allotchonous blocks I wonder?].   Leonie's re-mapping of the Jenolan Caves Limestone only went as far north as about where Rowe's selection is shown on this map.  She did not treat the three limestone patches further north within R43615 and it is not clear why (are they Jenolan Caves Limestone or are they not?).   Another point of note is how this map uses the name "McKeown's Ck" as an alternative for the head of the Jenolan River above the Jenolan Caves Limestone 'barrier'.   Many other people have done that too (e.g. see Süssmilch and Stone's 1915 map below which calls it "McEwan's Creek").  However on other old official maps it is the next creek to the west which bears that name (for reasons unknown).   In view of this confusion it seems best not to refer to that creek as McKeown's Creek but rather as Cave Creek (another name for it) or the "McKeown's Valley creek".   Whether McKeown's Valley is in term a good name, or whether McKeown actually existed or ever lived there might also be uncertain(?).

Map compiled by C.A. Süssmilch (Süssmilch and Stone, 1915).   A "rhyolite" is mapped at the first bend east of Grand Arch.  The writer has not recently re-examined this.   West of the limestone are Ordovician radiolarian cherts and volcanics.  The Parastriatopora abundance at the base of the limestone near the last cottage (No. 2) at the end of Burma Road was found by Ted Matthews and is currently of interest to the writer.


 The age of the Jenolan Caves Limestone is middle Ludlow (Late Silurian), based on conodonts.    A Ludlow age was early suspect, based on the big pentamerid brachiopod spells (Conchidium , later named Kirkidium) which were quite early on recognised there.   The same shells are also seen in limestone at many other places in NSW.


The thickness/width of the Jenolan Caves Limestone was underestimated on the old (?Carne and Jones 1919) map shown above.   Early mentions of it were as 500-550 ft thick.   Stanley (1925) commented that it had a thickness greater than that estimated by Süssmilch, and he (Stanley) stated the thickness in the vicinity of the Grand Arch to be 870 feet.   


Who the first geologist was who saw the Jenolan Caves Limestone, I do not know.   Cook (1889) was not a geologist but used a word that is used in geology, "dyke", when he wrote of the "dyke" of limestone in which the caves are forms.   However that is not the geological sense of the word, rather the popular sense of dyke as a vertical barrier to water.   A likely first point of interest to any geologist about the limestone would have been the question "how old is it?".   I have compiled a a list of the invertebrate fauna in the limestone (published in Chalker 1971,  p. 59) and although there are many species noted in the limestone it is still true today that very few of them - perhaps none of them - have been well studied, if studied at all.   The assemblage is obviously Siluro-Devonian in macroscopic aspect (Silurian or Devonian) but many forms, e.g. corals look superficially the same in both our Silurian and Devonian limestones.   The easiest way to spot that this limestone is Silurian is via the large pentamerid brachiopods that were early known as Pentamerus ( or Conchidium) knightii.   This rather large and abundant brachiopod, easily recognised by its "spondylium duplex" feature) has been assigned successively to the genera Pentamerus, Conchidium and Kirkidium.   It is not seen in the oldest Silurian limestones of New South Wales but becomes abundant from the Late Wenlock on (perhaps extending through the Pridoli - pers. comm. John Talent - but usually regarded as Silurian).


The Silurian was a peak time for big pentamerids.   Their forms (taxa) diversified and radiated to some degree, but then all became extinct.  According to Watkins (1994), by the close of the Silurian all the large pentamerids were extinct.   This may have been known to Robert Etheridge jnr when he recorded there was Kirkidium knightii (initially referred to as Pentamerus knightii and later on as Conchidium knightii) within the Jenolan Caves Limestone, but it cannot have been a fact well know then to geologists generally?   This seems so because David and Pittman (1899), even though they well knew, and stated, that there was "an abundance of large specimens of Pentamerus knightii in the Jenolan Caves Limestone" in the same paragraph stated it was still "uncertain whether the Jenolan limestone is of Silurian or Devonian age".   


As long as I have known the Jenolan Caves Limestone, anyone else interested in it (e.g. at the Geological Survey) has always regarded it as Silurian.   The fact that the "Pentamerus knightii" shells occur right to the base of the limestone would roughly suggest a Ludlovian age.   None of the common Llandoverian corals of NSW (e.g. halysistids) are known from the limestone, suggesting that older Silurian strata are missing in the area.   Süssmilch actually did record Halysites  at the base of the limestone but this might be an error as I have never seen any in re-examining where he wrote that it occurred.   Stanley (1925) may also have pondered just when in the Silurian was the limestone deposited, as he wrote (p.12) that it was "worthy of note that although a good deal of collecting has been done in the area, the coral Mucophyllum has not been found".   The favouring of an Upper Silurian age (Ludlovian) was reinforced in 1970 by the determination of a stromatoporoid from the limestone as Actinostroma, a genus restricted to the Upper Silurian and Lower Devonian (Pickett, 1970).   The Jenolan limestone belt has long been considered to extend south to Tuglow Caves, although there is not mapping continuity.  The formation at Tuglow Caves, now known as the Hollanders Formation, has never yielded any indications of anything older than Ludlow to early Pridoli (Late Silurian).   There the sequence contains felsic volcanics that including some accretiionary laplli, showing that the sequence became emergent at times.   


Given the size of the large pentamerid brachiopods, their ease of recognition even in outcrop alone, their frequent occurrence in some abundance, the and 'absolute' extinction of these forms within the Silurian, it is no wonder that this is how the Jenolan Caves Limestones was first recognised as being Silurian.  Other easy diagnostic fossils are also present in the limestone.   For example, the Parastriatopora in also easily and instantly suggests Silurian - however that is not so absolutely foolproof (at least not without thin sections) since that genus does extend into the Devonian.


In certain genera of brachiopods, as Pentamerus and Conchidium, an internal spoon-shaped shelly plate extends from the umbo (beak) for most of the length of the ventral valve, and serves as a support for the muscles.  It is usually connected with the bottom of the valve by a vertical septum.  This has a distinct bi-partite structure ('duplex') and shells may sometimes split apart along the medial line or junction within this septum.


According to a large review of Australia's Palaeozoic and Mesozoic seas done by W.N. Benson and read to the New Zealand Institute in November 1921 (and published in their Transactions in 1923) "Pentamerus (Conchidium) knightii var. stricta, which Tscherneyschew compares to P. vogulicus" is found in Silurian limestones of Wombeyan, Jenolan, Bathurst, Orange-Molong, and Wellington.   Benson's paper omits any reference to Tschernyschew in the list of references, but he was likely referring to Tschernyschew (1893).   


"Pentamerus (Conchidium) Knightii" shells illustrated by Süssmilch (1911) as characteristic Silurian brachiodods.  Süssmilch wrote that the "cosmopolitan" species Pentamerus Knightii "contributed very largely to the formation of some of the limestone beds of the Silurian.

Typical bank of big pentamerid brachiopods (Kirkidium).   In the Heceta Limestone, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.   Prince of Wales Island has world-class preservation, Blodgett says.  He encourages residents to think about developing a regional museum of natural history.   ( Photo: Robert B. Blodgett )

IT'S A KIRKIDIUM:  "The sun has barely risen over Prince of Wales Island, and Tongass National Forest geologist Jim Baichtel has solved one small scientific riddle.  "Sue Karl, this is Heceta," he calls to his colleague from the U.S. Geological Survey.  Baichtel is standing on top of a cliff in a rock pit somewhere near Coffman Cove, peering at part of a clam-like fossil called a brachiopod ..... 'There's only one brachiopod that exists in these rocks that has that central line and it's limited to one age unit. It's a Kirkidium'."   ( http://juneauempire.com/stories/110303/sta_pow.shtml )



L:  A pentamerid brachiopod in 3D, side view, with the umboes facing  left  - http://www.geovirtual2.cl/geoliteratur/Rossmassler/068-3Pentamerus1.jpg .  

R:  Looking at the large(r) bottom valve of an actual specimen, with the umbo to top.  This one is Conchidium knightii from the Aymestry Limestone in England.  This (Aymestry Limestone specimens) is what Etheridge jnr. made his initial comparison of NSW material to in 1892.  The shells can grow quite large, up to 10 cm long (4 inches) [..... and exceptionally to even more, the largest known being 173mm long.]


According to the Government in Shropshire "The seas that covered the Shropshire area around 425 million years ago were warm and shallow, and in the area close to present day Much Wenlock they provided the right conditions for the growth of corals and other animals. Over a period of time these corals built reefs. However these were not huge structures like the modern Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia today, but were smaller, perhaps only ten to one hundred metres across and a few metres high.  The remains of these reefs can still be seen today along the top of Wenlock Edge in the limestone rocks that were created by this environment.  Kirkidium knightii was a large brachiopod found in the Silurian seas. It had a strongly curved, ribbed shell and can commonly be found as a fossil in the thick shell banks of the Aymestry Limestone".

Kirkidium Knightii from the Aymestry Limestone.   Occasionally the shells split in two medially, along the mid-line of the septum supporting the spondylium (i.e. split longitudinally in the plane of symmetry along the median septum of both valves).   This phenomenon happens in NSW too, but it is not commonly seen.   (I have noticed that heating limestone sometimes causes the shells to split apart in this manner).   The ventral valve has the long medial septum.  In the dorsal valve there are two shorter diverging septa.   Juvenile shell fragments are also common in silicified residues and it is seen that the septal plates in the brachial valves are divisible into three parts, the so-called inner and outer plates, separated by a flexure where there is a slight thickening.  That slightly thickened area also extends beyond the inner and outer plates, as brachial supports.  Such are rarely seen but the following photo such that extension:



Kirkidium alaskense (Kirk and Amsden, 1952) - Geological Survey Professional Paper 233-C .  


 In the smaller brachial valve, the inner and outer plates are separated by a flexure where there is a slight thickening, and this extends beyond the plates, as brachial support.  Such is seen here where outlined. 

Kirkidium knighti (illustrated as Pentamerus Knightii), from British Palaeozoic Fossils (Plate 21).  This specimen was collected at Mocktree Hill, near Lientwardine, Herefordshire, by J. Sowerby.







Other early illustrations of big pentamerids.  Mostly unknown source, but "Fig. 30" is from Ferdinand Siegmund in 1877 ( http://www.geovirtual2.cl/geoliteratur/Siegmund/030PentamerusSiegfried.htm )



Kirkidium KnightIi specimens in the  Natural History Museum, London.  Left, unknown; right is from Leintwardine on the Welsh Borders.

Many examples are known of large pentamerid shells looking disctinctly narrow or compressed laterally, asymmetrical, or sometimes even twisted.  Such irregularities may be because the animals lived in great abundance on the sea floor and were sometimes crowded upon each other during life.


Such brachiopods in NSW, and elsewhere have been referred to initially as Pentamerus (and very often named or compared as P. Knightii or P. knighti, but then later on there became even better known as Conchidium (and still are commonly called Conchidium by many) but they are now probably more correctly called Kirkidium (which newer genus has P. Knightii as its type species).


The genus name Kirkidium was named in honour Edwin Kirk, a very hard-working geologist/palaeontologist with the former Branch of Paleontology and Stratigraphy of the United States Geological Survey.   During fieldwork in Nevada he fell into an old mineshaft and lost his leg as a result (gangrene).   He was a stalwart paleontologist to the end, having been found dead at his desk in the Smithsonian Institution (where the Branch of Paleontology and Stratigraphy had been based at that time).   A summary re Kirk is below.


[ Edwin Roger Kirk (1884-1955) was born December 6, 1884, in Richland, South Dakota, the son of Nathan and Caroline Kirk.  Edwin's's interest in geology began early, as he was already corresponding with Frank Springer about crinoids at the age of fifteen.  He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1907, and served as an assistant paleontologist at the university until 1909 (he would later earn a doctorate there).  That year he entered federal service as a junior geologist with the USGS, assisting Edward Oscar Ulrich in studying Ordovician and Silurian sediments of the Appalachians. (USGS operated out of the United States National Museum at that time, when Kirk would have met A. C. Peale.)   Kirk became a paleontologist with USGS in 1914, and conducted field trips to the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and southeastern Alaska.  He married sometime prior to his 1918 World War I draft registration; his wife was named Page.  In 1920, he briefly left USGS to work as a paleontologist for the Bolivia-Argentina Exploration Corporation.  He returned to USGS in 1921 and remained there for the rest of his career as an associate geologist (1921-52) and geologist (1952-54).  He assembled Peale’s papers sometime before his death in 1955.  Later on both Peale and Kirk papers then passed to Page Kirk, and still later to the Kirks’ daughter, then to her daughter (Kirk's granddaughter).  The granddaughter donated them to the American Philosophical Society in 2007 - http://www.amphilsoc.org/mole/view?docId=ead/Mss.SMs.Coll.5-ead.xml ]


Pentamerus Knightii had been formerly placed in or made into Conchidium.  But better study of Conchidium bilocularis, the type species of Conchidium, revealed morphological problems - and as well there seemed to be problems with Concidium in terms of taxonomic rules as well(?).


The matter has been a little hard for some to fully come to grips with but in 1948Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 103, pp. 143-161) Mrs. Frances Elizabeth Somerville Alexander, B.A. Ph.D. F.G.S. published a paper "A Revision of the Genus Pentamerus James Sowerby 1813 and a Description of the New Species Gypidula Bravonium from the Aymestry Limestone of the Main Outcrop".   In summary, she reviewed the history of the genera Pentamerus and Conchidium and concluded that according to the International Rules of Zoological Nomenclature, the generic name Conchidium was inadmissible, and the name Pentamerus should still be applied to forms congeneric with P. knightii J. Sowerby, and that a new generic name was required for brachiopods congeneric with P. oblongus J. de C. Sowerby. 


However, in order to avoid the confusion which would follow this strict observance of the rules, she asked the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature to suspend the Régles internationales in this case.   The genera Pentamerus (type P. oblongus J. de C. Sowerby 1839) and Conchidium (type C. bilocularis [Hisinger 1799]) were re-defined by her in accordance with her application.  That paper was in fact a revision of a paper read before the Geological Society of London and published in abstract in July, 1936.   Publication in full was unavoidably delayed, and in 1938 Dr. St. Joseph in the meantime had published a history of the genera Conchidium Linnaeus auctt. and Pentamerus J. Sowerby auctt.  Though Mrs Somerville Alexander said she agreed with Dr. St. Joseph's conclusions in general, she still differed from him in important details hence consider it was worthwhile restating the case.  After referring the question of the nomenclature of this interesting group of brachiopods to the International Committee of Zoological Nomenclature she noted that she did not expect a quick solution and the matter could drag on for some time.


In 1951 Mrs Alexander again published on this, showing that the International Committee still had not acted or had not done as she'd reqested:  "Proposed use of the plenary powers to prevent the confusion which would result under a strict application of the 'Régles,' from the sinking of the name 'Conchidium' as a synonynm of "Pentamerus"  Sowerby, 1813 (Brachiopoda) and the transfer of the latter name to the genus now known as 'Conchidium'" (Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, vol. 2, part 3, pp. 89-94).    


Re-study of Conchidium bilocularis, the type species of Conchidium, had revealed that that the species bore relatively short outer plates and a pair of medially directed flanges adjoining the bases of the brachial process laterally, a structure that allied it to Cymbidium, which was then the only known genus bearing medial flanges.  That structure characterizes several other pentamerid genera but is not present in the otherwise well known and widely reported "Conchidium" knightii.   Hence a new genus, Kirkidium Amsden et al. 1967, was created with type species Pentamerus knightii J. Sowerby, for those species formerly assigned to Conchidium which have long, thin, smoothly merging inner and outer plates (as does Pentamerus).   So provided one agrees that our form is very akin to P. knightii, it should be called Kirkidium.



The large pentamerid brachiopods ranged world-wide in the Silurian.  The one at left (Kirkidium) is from the Niagaran age limestone at Dephi, Indiana.  It lived about 420 m.y. ago.  (Collection of the Field Museum at Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, USA).   The one at right is from the famous Silurian beds at Armfoting, island of Gotland (God's own land).  Collections which have been noted to contain Silurian Kirkidium are:  Australia (2 collections), Canada (7: Nunavut, Quebec, Arctic), China (2), Czech Republic (2), Lithuania (1), Russia (1), Sweden/Gotland (2),  Ukraine (1), United Kingdom (4), United States (4: Alaska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Indiana).



Another fine Gotland specimen - found by Jarlen5 ( http://www.flickr.com/people/jarlen5 )


Conchidium alaskense.  Posterior of a pedicle valve.   North shore of Heceta Island, southeastern Alaska.

Conchidium (Pentamerus) knightii from the Aymestry Limestone, showing internal detail.  Specimens that split naturally longitudinally may clearly show the inner and outer plates of the brachial valve, and the deep spondylliium  and high median septum of the pedicle valve.

"This limestone around Aymestry and Sedgeley is distinguished by the abundance of Pentamerus Knightii, Sowerby, also found in the Lower Ludlow and Wenlock shale. This genus of brachiopoda was first found in Silurian strata, and is exclusively a palæozoic form. The name was derived from pente, five, and meros, a part, because both valves are divided by a central septum, making four chambers, and in one valve the septum itself contains a small chamber, making five. The size of these septa is enormous compared with those of any other brachiopod shell; and they must nearly have divided the animal into two equal halves; but they are, nevertheless, of the same nature as the septa or plates which are found in the interior of Spirifera, Terebratula, and many other shells of this order. Messrs. Murchison and De Verneuil discovered this species dispersed in myriads through a white limestone of Upper Silurian age, on the banks of the Is, on the eastern flank of the Urals in Russia, and a similar species is frequent in Sweden" ( http://geology.com/publications/lyell/ch26.shtml ).

Another similar illustration ( http://mek.oszk.hu/00000/00060/html/kepek/szilur9.png ) - also termed "Pentamerus Knightii


L:  Partial weathering out of a pedicle valve, showing the characteritic appearance (spondyllium duplex), as illustrated by Süssmilch (1911).   R:  A pentamerid outline seen on the surface of the Jenolan Caves Limestone.  These animals were gregarious and occurred in banks.   So when one is seen, generally many others are too.   They are quite distinctive and easily recognised once known.    Knowlege of weathered out specimens and dissolved-out silicified ones in NSW has not suggested anything more than the one widespread and abundant species to be present..  

Typical appearance of pentamerids on weathered limestone surfaces.   Photo by Vertigogen (no real name given) from presumably somewhere in England, who calls it "Pentamerus or government rock because of the arrows, like those on prison uniforms".  (I've never heard that term "government rock" used in Australia though.  These sections of curved shell and median septum could also be said to be anchor-like).

Typical appearance of densely accumulated pentamerids on cut surfaces in limestone.  (Museum of Geology, University of Tartu, Estonia).


Note the yellow-brown patches of matrix - such can be widespread at Jenolan, as below.


Typical dolomitised limestone at Jenolan Caves.   The dolomitised area (yellow-brown) is replaced by microscopic (silt-sized) euhedral rhombs but this process has been so delicate that it leaves small shell hash unaffected.   Favosites colony at left; and what the large area at right was is undetermined.   Keys at top show scale.    ( Photo:  Ted Matthews, cave guide)


Noted to be a Kirkidium coquina.   Image reversed as now the 'shells' are holes on dolostone.  Thornton quarry,Chicago area.  Illinois State Geological Survey, Guidebook 29.   The environment was shallow and near-reef (a classic Silurian reefs area).

Beds with common pentamerids are seen at Jenolan (e.g. in walls of the road bend opposite the Carlotta car park) but really great abundances of them as seen in some other NSW limestones have not been noted.   


It is thought that Kirkidium (Concidium) commonly formed dense shell banks.  However, disarticulation and breakage is very common, suggesting that such shell banks were in very shallow water.  In Oklahoma, a wedespread Kirkidium biofacies has been recognised  (Amsden, 1975).  It contains some oolite beds (up to five feet thick), showing the shallow water environment of deposition.   Although very rich within that biofacies unit, Kirkidium had not been noted at all in the Silurian of Arkansas and Missouri, nor is it abundant in Tennessee.   The Kirkidium biofacies in Oklahoma is dominated by brachiopods, mostly Kirkidium but a few other genera are also present.  Mostly the Kirkidium shells are concentrated in relatively thin layers although the zone with them is up to 100 ft thick.   Amdsden envisaged that these gregarious pentamerids were concentrated in banks with few or no individuals in between.   Amsden's interest in the genus goes back at least as far as 1967 (viz. "Geologic and geographic distribution, and habitat of Genus Kirkidium" Amsden, Boucot & Johnson, 1967).

In the Aymestry Limestone, upward shoaling sequences from shallow subtidal to tidal flat conditions are recognised, and interpreted as being at the outer edge of a shelf.   Kirkidium shell banks and a coral-cryptalgal facies characterise the shoal environment (Noted in Diagenesis III.  K.H. Wolf and G.V. Chilingarian, Eds., Developments in Sedimentology 47, p. 323).   Along the base of the Jenolan Caves Limestone both Kirkidium concentrations (possibly shell banks) and a coral-cryptalgal facies are also recognised (the latter believed to be the undestroyed bases of small Parastriatopora patch reefs.  .   


Robert Etheridge Junior published that Pentamerus Knightii was at Jenolan Caves in 1892.   Probably somebody had been there collecting that year, as also in Annual Report of the Department of Mines for 1892, Etheridge recorded a few other fossils from Jenolan.   Edgewoth David had likely been taking geology student excursions to Jenolan Caves as by the time of his 1893 Presidential Address to the Linnaean Society of New South Wales it was clear he had been there "lately" (meaning either 1893 or 1892?) and in David (1896) he says quite a lot about the rocks around Jenolan Caves.


Edgeworth David

Prof. Edgeworth David of Sydney University likely took repeated excursions of geology students to Jenolan Caves (exactly how many times is uncertain).  They were likely set the same exercise, of walking up the five mine hill and logging the geological units seen (strata and intrusive bodies or flows) as we were when I went there on excursion as a university student.   Observations from such trips led to the late 1800s model of the area, involving a simple anticline, which was still being followed as later as the 1920s.

Edgeworth Davd (usually called "Prof. David" or sometimes sometimes "Twed", pronounced "tweed") was perhaps the greatest man of science ever to go down the Five Mile Hill (other great men, but of politics/ government, also descended there at different times). 

Memorial plaque (in the Grand Arch) unveiled by Prof. David in 1929

The ceremony unveiling the plaque.  This was late in David's life.  He was aged 71 and had by then become Sir David.  It was three decades after he'd done his most influential teaching on the geology of Jenolan and the Blue Mountains.  The ceremony honoured the several other pioneers of discovery and surveying (at least one of whom is present - Oliver Tricket as the fourth from left, wearing a hat [and maybe Wiburd as fifth from left?).   ( The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 February 1929, p. 16 -  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16533443 ) (Photo: Sam Hood, DG ON4/6023 ; Repository: State Library, hood_06036 )

David in 1896 had concluded that nearly all of the igneous rocks to the east of the limestone were of dykes and sills of acidic composition ("felsitic"), whereas nothing to the west of the limestone was like that.   He also seems to have thought that more basic rocks east of the limestone (porphyritic in augite) were dykes.  However, he also noted that there was "below" (east of, and actually 'above') the Jenolan Caves Limestone some coarse volcanic conglomerate that contained lumps of Favosites, Heliolites, etc. in it, within several hundred feet of dark indurated shales, greenish-grey argillites, and reddish-purple shales (David, 1896, p. 553).    David's mention of the corals in volcanic conglomerate (aggomerate?) and various Süssmich mentions of corals (and other rocks) he regarded as caught up in igneous rocks (especially along contacts) could possibly be the same thing(?).   W.N. Benson in 1915 made a passing mention (p. 166 in Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of NSW, vol. XL, part 1) whilst describing rocks of the Nundle district that so-called tuffs east of the Jenolan Caves had been proved by Mr. Süssmilch to be "really strongly differentiated instrusive porphyries full of inclusions, not only of cognate igneous rocks, but of fossiliferou limestone, and the enclosing cherts and slates".   But Benson also mentioned "The writer has seen these, under Mr Süssmilch's guidance, and has noticed some analogy (first suggested to him by Professor David) between them and the agglomeratic rocks of the Tamworth Series".


David in 1896 reported that the argillites and grey shales east of the Jenolan Caves Limestone contained numerous casts of radiolarians.   He in fact found radiolarians in the "Jenolan caves cherts" on both sides of the limestone and concluded that there here there was a sequence of radiolarian rocks which had "coralline limestone interstratified with them", probably over 400 feet thick.   He stated that in the "Jenolan Caves cherts" the radiolarian skeletons showed "obscure traces of latticing in the form of fragments of opaque, black nets".   Also in that same year he referred to this occurrence in his Presidential Address to the Royal Society of NSW, where he referred to "radiolarian jaspers" as having been "recently discovered" by him at Jenolan Caves and "not far" from the limestone containing an abundant marine fauna.  .  .   . 


More followed about the radiolarian rocks in 1899 (David and Pittman, 1899).   Although radiolarian-bearing rocks had previously been discussed on both sides of the Jenolan Caves Limestone, with radiolarians in abundance in a range of sediments near the limestone to the east of it, in this paper it is noted that the "radiolarian casts" occurred at Jenolan "chiefly to the west of the Caves Limestone" (though they still noted that they were also in shales to the east of the Limestone.   It was stated in the 1899 paper that the radiolarian rocks had been traced for at least a quarter of a mile west of the Caves.   The "best sections" of them were said to be in McKeown's Creek.   And also that they extended "for about 1 mile eastwards to Inchman's Creek".   That would be a misnaming of Hinchman's Creek, and would mean well above (east of) the Jenolan Caves Limestone. 


That same year, 1899, something went badly wrong with the supposed great abundance of radiolarians which via various mentions had been indicated to be present on both sides of the Jenolan Caves Limestone.   Hinde (1899) an expert on radiolarians, to whom David had forwarded material, reported that in only one of the chert specimens (No. 569, a black chert sample from McKeown's Creek) did he recognise radiolaria - as structureless casts of microcrystalline silica.   What then, one wonders, were all the other numerous things, presumably microscopic circles of specks, which David in earlier years seems to have been taking as radiolarians?   


David described there being numerous casts of radiolaria in rocks he stated to be "below" the Jenolan Caves Limestone.   As the limestone dips westwards, this probably means he was referring to rocks east of the limestone (which I would regard as being above the limestone stratigraphically - but overturned).   Although David first regarded the felsic rocks as sills, Süssmilch (1911) regarded one thick (300 ft thick) unit as rhyolite lava flow.   Süssmilch wrote that "at the junction of these igneous rocks with the sedimentary rocks, interesting contact breccias occur, consisting of subangular fragments of claystone embedded in the porphyry".   I am not aware if anyone has since relocated where he was talking about with that.   Süssmilch commented in general (p. 161) that many of the "Silurian" rhyolites closely resemble quartz-porphyry in hand specimens, and are frequently mistaken for such.


G.A.V. Stanley

After C.A. Süssmilch, whose views (1915/1923) are much referred to herein, the next significant study known to have been conducted on the limestone and the close vicinity geology was that of G.A.V. Stanley.   The 1923 Pan-Pacific Science Congress Guide-Book mentions (p.34) that "The guiding staff is augmented at busy seasons of the year by University students.  The efficiency and popularity of these young men is a proof of the experiment".   Stanley was one of those young men.    Professor Griffith Taylor in the Guide-Book mentions him (p.24), saying that many interesting features had been drawn to his attention at Jenolan Caves by Mr Stanley who was "a science student from the University, who has been temporarily acting as a guide".   In those times it was quite sufficient to write "from 'the' university" instead of stating from which one, as then there was only one - Sydney University.


George Arthur Vickers Stanley (1904–1965) in later life - A painting in 1945 by Geoffrey Mainwaring.

"Lieutenant George Arthur Vickers Stanley DSC, Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve Special Unit, Tadji" by Geoffrey Mainwaring, 1945 ( Australian War Memorial, ART24248 ) .   At right is G. Mainwaing's self-portrait from the about the same time (1944) [ AWM ART21250 ].  Mainwaring was a former art teacher who enlisted as a soldier in June 1941.  His last overseas posting was to the Aitape-Wewak campaign where he rendered a series of portraits recording the many different faces of men and women, Allied and enemy, in that campaign 


More of Mainwaring's 1944 paintings - Japanese P.O.W. Yahida; Indian prisoner Gian Singh recovered from the Japanese; 2nd Lieutenant Cordia McArthur who was a nurse at the Evacuation Hospital.  Most of  Mainwaring's art work was done in 1944, but 4 of 10 were done in 1945.  Stanley's portrait was the only painting at "Tadji".    Mainwaring had been posted to the "Aitape-Wewak" campaign, and Tadji was east of Aitape.  It was where in1943 the Japanese Army had built two parallel runways surfaced with crushed coral.  Japanese based at Tadji were the " 248th Sentai (Ki-43) Wewak".  Tadji was attacked by the Americans and neutralised in 1943-44.   Americans landed at Aitape on 22 April 1944, whereupon Tadji was assaulted.  By 24 April 1944, Tadj had become an operations base for the Allies.  Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RANVR) is a defunct reserve force of the RAN.  During WWI, most Australian "coastwatchers" were commissioned as officers in the RANVR.  Stanley's unit within RANVR was also known as the Far Eastern Liaison Organisation.  That unit carried out bush patrols, recruited people against the Japanese, and so on.  One member's log book ( http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/PR82/077 ) gives indication of the activities done. 

George Arthur Vickers Stanley was born on 26 July 1904 at Little Coogee.  He was the only child of John Arthur Hall Stanley, estate agent, and his wife Elizabeth, née Moyse.  He attended Sydney Technical College and the University of Sydney (B.Sc., 1926), graduating with first-class honours in geology and geography.   It would appear that Stanley likely did a "double degree" in undegraduate years.  For the University records show that he was awarded his B.Sc. in 1926 and was in Third Year Geology class in 1923.  The class of that year numbered twelve people (six males and six females).  Stanley was the only one not to graduate till 1926.  Three others (C. Barnard, F. Booker and Heather Drummond) graduated in 1925 so they must have done an Honours year.   What was George doing for the additional year?   It must have been geography primarily.   That he later published various things on geography, and was an office holder with the Geographical Society of New South Wales supports this.   His thesis on Jenolan did not greatly discuss geography so it is doubtful that one could regard him as any sort of double-honours graduate too.   So "graduating with first-class honours in geology and geography" might be read as "graduating with <first-class honours in geology>, and geography"?   

The fact that he'd attended Sydney Technical College means he would have known C.A. Süssmilch.   It may be no coincidence that it was he who did the first geology thesis at Jenolan Caves, not long after the interest in that area by Süssmilch and an international science congress in 1923.

Stanley may have stayed associated with Sydney Uni in some capacity after his thesis was finished, as he is known to have later taken part in a University survey on the Great Barrier Reef.   This might mean he actually did get some sort of scholarship (as he had applied for).  He wrote in 1927 "The physiography of the Bowen District and of the Northern Islands of the Cumberland Group (Whitsunday Passage)" which was published for the Great Barrier Reef Committee by  A.J. Cumming, Govt. Printer (Reports of the Great Barrier Reef Committee, vol. 2, no. 1).  Also associated, he in 1928 he wrote something [not seen] entitled "Physiographic investigations in Queensland with reference to the Great Barrier Reef" (American journal of science, vol. 16, July 1928).

At that time, 1928, he was also an Honorary Secretary of the Geographical Society of New South Wales.  In the Australian Geogrpher, the publication of that society, he published in 1934 "The Matapau region, near Aitape, New Guinea"  (Australian Geographer, vol. 2, issue 3).   Then in 1935 in the Australian Geographer (vol. 2, issue 8) he published "Preliminary notes on the recent earthquake in New Guinea".   Then followed "The present status of the geographical knowledge of New Guinea" at the 1939 ANZAAS (Proceedings, pp. 333-338).

Other items by him include a bibliography of New Guinea produced in 1940, and a collection of
27 black and white photographs of New Guinea fossils, taken during period that G.A.V. Stanley worked for the Anglo Persian Oil Company. Some photos have annotations on verso relating to the Anglo Persian Oil Company Reports v.3). 

In 1927 Stanley had joined Anglo-Persian Oil Co. and left the country for PNG connected with petroleum exploration.   Although in 1925 he documented the problems at Jenolan Caves and urged further work, it is not known that he ever returned there to think any more about those geological problems.  He lived most of the rest of his life in PNG (Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea.   In 1934 he appears to have left Anglo-Persian Oil and transferred to Oil Search Ltd.  Still later on he worked for the Australasian Petroleum Co.

With the Japanese invasion, George was forced to leave Papua in June 1942.  He was appointed a lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve, attached to the intelligence unit known as the Far Eastern Liaison Organisation.   He returned to Port Moresby to recruited, train and supervise local men to act as Australian agents.  In 1943 he participated in the unsuccessful 'Moss Troop' operation to try and land land forces behind Japanese lines on the Upper Sepik.   For his wartime efforts he was awarded the D.S.C. in 1945.

In 1947 Stanley was back with the Australasian Petroleum Co. and in 1956 he joined the Papuan Apinaipi Oil Co.  On 11 November 1961 he married the native girl Palu Hehuni, of Tubusereia village.  It would also appear that he adopted or was given another name, in the language of his wife, being "Uda Baroma" (which might mean "bush pig"?).   He became involved in some ethno-history of a kind, at least in so far as facilitating people recording their stories - .e.g. that of Kori Taboro in in the 1940s (published both in English and in Motu).   Kori Taboro was a prominent Koita woman in Port Moresby, a diviner, mistakenly represented by some as a sorcerer, and a witness  to early government and missionary activity in the area.

Stanley became President of the Port Moresby Scientific Society, a member of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science, and the owner of perhaps the best library on Papua New Guineana.   Besides his interests in geology and geography, he became (apparently) a noted bibliographer and historian of PNG.  In 1939 he published a ten page article "Recent literature on New Guinea" in the August issue of the Australian National Review.  In 1965, the year he died, he completed a book "History of New Guinea", but little seems to be known of it, and it may have been privately printed.

Stanley would often be seen dressed in singlet and baggy shorts, driving around Port Moresby in a battered Landrover, and is believed to have been often rather short of money.

Oil search work was apparently not proving very profitable and Stanley seems to have sometimes augmented income (for himself and or his relatives?) by collecting empty bottles around Port Moresby.   He also to some degree became a planter.   However the stories about Stanley's success or otherwise in PNG are variable.   Whilst some have him resorting to other activities as a planter or bottle collector to gain money, at least in his earlier (pre-WWII) days in PNG he seems to have been doing well.   Some others in the oil industry in the late 1930s spoke well of his efforts, and one refererred to him as "G.A.V. Stanley, the great New Guinea geologist", suggesting that he was then paramount in this field.  The person who referred to Stanley as the great New Guinea geologist was Colin Laing, when writing on early oil exploration by Australians.

In 1962 he took work with the Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR) in Canberra, but deplored the separations from his family and still did not seem to be earning very much money to send them.   He then found that he was suffering from cancer .  He returned to Port Moresby and after receiving Anglican confirmation he died on 6 October 1965.  He was buried in a local cemetery, and much of his extensive library was donated to the University of Papua New Guinea.   Search for anything further on him or his family yielded only that there are some G. A. V. Stanley papers held by the University of Papua New Guinea Library.   In addition, the State Library of NSW has miscellaneous papers from him (call number PMB 1049, microfilm), apparently relating mainly to surveys in PNG.   It is also stated (at SLNSW) that there is a "Guide" available to this material "from the Bureau" (presumably meaning from the BMR).   No doubt the BMR would also have some record of his employment there.   Stanley also donated some Hevehe masks worn as part of ceremonial rituals in the Kikori district of PNG to the University of Queensland.

PMB 1049 microfilm at NSW State Library is presumably a copy of the original made or kept at the :


Room 4201, Coombs Building

Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies

The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200 Australia

Telephone: (612)6125 2521 Fax: (612)61250198 E-mail: pambu@coombs.anu.edu.au

Web site: http://rspas.anu.edu.au/pambu

Papers in PMB 1049 ( http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/pambu/reels/manuscripts/PMB1049.rtf ) include a 2 page application "The University of Sydney form of Application for the Science Research Scholarship", which was signed by G.A.V. Stanley o 25 February 1926.  He presumably did not get the Research Scholarship or else he would likely not have left the country for PNG in 1927.

His 6 pages document on conditions of employment with Oil Search Ltd as Geological Surveyor at Matapau (Aitape, East Sepik District) have survived.  As well as a list of scientific and camping equipment and rations provided (6pp.) and his own jottings about employment conditions (1 p.).

Stanley no doubt interacted with many other European and American visitors who sought him out because of his local experience.   Below is one man who acknowledged Stanley's assistance, famous ant man Ed Wilson:

Ed Wilson, world's leading authority on ants (and " father of sociobiology ", looking at some in Trinidad. 

G.A.V. Stanley was also sought after (as an experienced PNG bush traveller) for advice by other European scientists/naturalists who were wishing to do field work in PNG.   His "selfless assistance" was acknowledged by Ed Wilson (then a postdoctoral fellow in ant studies) in setting up this camp in dense forest near Brown River (a tributory of the Laoki near Port Moresby) March 1955.  Ed gathered more than fifty species of ants there, many of them new to science.  Ed Wilson used sociobiology and evolutionary principles to explain the behavior of the social insects and then to understand the social behavior of other animals, including humans, thus establishing sociobiology as a new scientific field.  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._O._Wilson )

Stanley himself also seems to have at least occasionally collected natural history specimens too.   For example he brought back an orchid and some animals from his visit to Rennell Island some time after the mid 30s.

One geologist, also much connected with PNG, who must have known Stanley was Professor Sam Carey (1911-2002).   Sam Carey received a DSc from the University of Sydney in 1939 for his work on the tectonic evolution of New Guinea and Melanesia. Also, like G.A.V. Stanley, he worked in the petroleum industry in New Guinea and then likewise served in the Australian military when WWII came.  

In fact, George Stanley was the man who set Sam Carey on his PNG-involved career.

When Carey graduated, he had no idea of going to New Guinea.  He had hoped to go to Cambridge after he got his Master of Science.  However when he was halfway through his (Honours?) my year, G.A.V. Stanley turned up from New Guinea, looking for recruits.   The only other one that was available besides Sam Carey was scared of the idea of going to New Guinea.  So a Professor (likely Leo Cotton?) said to Stanley, "Well, there’s only one other man, that’s Carey. Try him."

Carey first said to Stanley that he was intending to go to Cambridge, Stanley nevertheless said, "Come down to our office and look at our maps."

Carey went and looked at all the maps and things, and saw what Stanley and others were doing with the natives, and so forth - and he got converted. 

That night Sam Carey went home and told his mother he was going to go to New Guinea.

In New Guinea, Carey did routine fieldwork, mapping mostly along streams, which were the only places you could get good outcrops.

After he returned from that geological mapping work was when Carey began to first get interested in the tectonics in New Guinea.   He went on to complete a Masters, then a Doctorate on that.

Sam Carey and Towangilme in 1935.  Towangilme was killed near Wewak during WWII

Steve M. McLean

Steve was another like G.A.V. Stanley, both a geology student and working as a caves guide.

Steve's supervisors were Dr. Colin Ward and Dr. George Gibbons, at the NSW Insitute of Technology, Ultimo (later UTS - University of Technology Sydney; and related in its history to University of NSW at Kensington) - UTS has hosted a number of Jenolan studies and if there is any particular reason for that it has not yet emerged.

Steve's thesis (McLean, 1983) acknowleges cooperation of Mr. John Culley, Senior Guide at Jenolan; Mr. W. Rooney and Mr. G. Dube, former and then-present managers of Caves House; and guides Ernie and Elaine Holland, Mike Chilcott, and others.  

Steve's thesis gives an excellent introduction to the rocks each side of the Jenolan Caves (and especially to the east, ranging as far east as the Eastern Limestone) as it includes colour photographs of thin sections.   That is something the earlier investigators had not the means to produce.

Steve developed a model of cave formation 



[ Current writer .. ]

I had spent time in the area in 1965 but was then concerned with the geology of an area south of the caves.   I did not have any really close look at the Jenolan Caves Limestone itself till about 1970.   At that time I compiled a list of the invertebrate fauna in the limestone (published in Chalker 1971,  p. 59 and tried to work out the "way-upness" of the limestone.    Edgeworth David had briefly mentioned the limestone in 1896 but it was Süssmilch and Stone (1915) who did the first detailed study of the area.    The interpreted the area as an anticline, with some limestone further east as repetition of the Jenolan Caves Limestone.   Seeing they regarded the rocks to the immediate west as Ordovician then then had to postulate the presence of a possible overthust fault between the limestone and the Ordovician.


Way-upness (facing) of the Jenolan Caves limestone

Some of my early interest in the Jenolan Caves limestone included the fossil faunas, pockets of laminated material which have since been termed "caymanite" by Armstrong Osborne, sedimentary facies recognition (optimally requires thin sections [or acetate peels] for carbonate petrography), and the way-upness or facing of the limestone.   From my first examination of the limestone I thought it was overturned (facing to east), and rested on Ordovician rocks to the west. 

I did not examine the so-called Eastern Limestone, only the Jenolan Caves Limestone.   I looked for evidence of "way-upness", also called "facing" in the form of sedimentary structures and fossil growth patterns.   However for fossil growth pattern to yield facing the fossils have to be undisturbed and disturbance of marine fossills is exceedingly common.    It seemed to me at the time that there were some (rare?) stromatoporoidal patch reefs (akin to those I knew from the Narragal Limesone of the Wellington district) in McKeown's Valley north of the Caves.   If these were in situ stromatoporoids then the patterns at that place indicated eastwards facing.   Much later interest (2009-2012) resulted in some large thin sections being made by Garry Dargan (Geological Survey, at Londonderry Centre) from material at the "Parastriatopora outcrop" shown above.   These thin sections immediately verified a boundstone fabric for the limestone at that spot, confirming the likelihood of the patch reefs as inferred in 1970.   Thus there is some confidence that the limestone youngs upwards.   The limestone dips 60-65 degrees to the west, as is well apparent around Caves House from the presence there of interbedded shale.   Moreover, I could find no evidence to support the possible overthurst fault of Süssmilch and Stone (1915).   The sequence, I thought, was younging easwards, but was regionally overturned.  

Although mapping by Honours thesis student has long ago dismissed the initial simple anticline of David's, or Süssmilch's, interpretation, that original idea (as in the depicted western limb of their anticline) of the limestone facing west (and not overturned) was retained by McClean (1983).

He wrote "The Jenolan Caves Limestone consists of a complete section through a reef deposit, with the fore-reef breccia, or sediment base, directly above the calcareous shale and the back-reef deposits on the upper or western side of the limestone outcrop. This lithofacies sequence information gives younging to the west and therefore the west-dipping limestone unit is upright".   Additional evidence he had for this was in the volcanics west of the limestone.  There (at rear of the large guest house behind Caves House) he interpreted structure in the volcanics as pillow lava with the pillows showing younging to the west.   I doubt, however, that the structures in question (McClean 1983, plate 2.13) really are pillow lava, but this required checking).       McClean illustrated a place (his plate 2.12 which he labelled as the spilite directly overlying the limstone.  That is an interesting place to relocate, as nowadays behind Caves House there is a roadway built up the small roadway towards the Trusts' works depot, and the spilite and limestone are on opposite sides of the roadway.   If there is a contact exposed anywhere here then it may be on the eastern side of this roadway(?).

As for the " fore-reef breccia" McClean drew attention to, this is very interesting - and requires work to determine if it really is a marine depositional breccia, or represents brecciation from some other cause.



Way-upness and limestone fabric.  Exposure in the Temple of Baal cave, looking north.   Bedding dips left (westwards).  Stromatoporoid growth convexity is towards the lower right. This means overturned bedding (unless the stromatoporoids had been rolled upside down, which is not considered likely).      ( Photo: JGB )


Similar re way-upness.  Photos by Guide Ted Matthews - showing overturning.  Both are looking south.  The left photo is of outcrop (look behind Jenolan Caves House for thinly bedded limestone or limestone-shale interbedded exposures like this).  The right photo is taken in the Temple of Baal cave (near the other similar one of a stromatoporoid shown above).   The bit of old fencing wire seen hanging vertically may be an old caves wiring remnant).  Laminar stromatoporoids like this one are hightly unlikely to be rolled-upside-down specimens.


Geopetal structure in a shell in limestone, near Salt Lake City, Utah. The line between the white crystalline calcite (above) and the fine carbonate mud (below) is palaeo-horizontal.    ( Photo:  Qfl247 )



Four geopetal fills (notice parallel surfaces).  Eocene, Spain.



Geopetal structures may be observed also at microscopic scale as in this small gastropod shell.  ( Source:  In "AAPG Memoir 77, Chapter 18: CARBONATE MATRIX: Carbonate Mud, Micrite and Microspar , by Peter A. Scholle and Dana Ulmer-Scholle " )


In reefal limestones the internal voids are typically more complex than just shelters under shells.  Here the geopetal palaeo-horizontal.surface is the top of the internal sediment.  Hard micrite (MC) and spar may line cavities before internal sediment enters them.  (Source description:  "Diagrammatic sketch of dolomite marine cement relationships and distribution within a reef cavity based on petrological observation. Cements include early fibrous cements (EFC), radial slow dolomite (RSD), fascicular slow dolomite (FSD), rhombic dolomite (RD) and radiaxial slow dolomite (RASD). Also indicated are micritic crusts (MC), internal sediments (IS) and ooid fabrics (OO)."  In "Synsedimentary diagenesis in a Cryogenian reef complex: Ubiquitous marine dolomite precipitation", Sedimentary Geology, Volumes 255–256, 15 May 2012, Pages 56–71.  ( http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0037073812000401 )


[ The Jenolan Caves Limestone is not reefal to anything like this extent.]

It should be a simple enough job to look for geopetal structures in the Jenolan Caves Limestone, but I have not seen any photographed to date..

Beyond looking along what I inferred (from the above reasoning) to be the base of the limestone, I made no attempt to work out the structure of the area.   Stanley (1925), Chand (1963) and Gulson (1963) all seemed to follow the anticline structure inferred by Süssmilch and Stone (1915) - but with varying degrees of uncertainty.   That structural model has the limestone being right way up, not overturned.   McClean (1983) also concluded that the Jenolan Caves Limestone sits right way up.

Boyd Pratt (1965) who was also a student from University of NSW, and who was also sent to the area to map in the same year as myself, disagreed with the Süssmilch and Stone (1915) anticlinal interpretation - as also did my work in 1970.   Chalker (1971) wrote that Pratt proposed a synclinal structure and "The present author's work supports Pratt's synclinal interpretation".   Without cross-sections given it is now rather difficult to know exactly what these authors were thinking (without going back to the original theses, which was not done for the writing of this webpage).

The limestone some 1.2 km east of Caves House (the "Eastern Limestone Belt" -which name likely dates from Carne and Jones' compilation "The Limestones of NSW") I have still not yet walked down the river in search of.   From descriptions it would seem to be quite different to the Jenolan Caves Limestone.  Hence it is not a good assumption that it is on the same stratigraphic horizon.   It seems to be a less pure limestone (has more shaley material) and may be less fossiliferous.   Gulson (1963) reported finding nothing in it except for crinoid stems and occasional stromatoporoids.    It could be some younger limestone and should these days be tested for conodonts in order to determine its age.   I do not know if anyone has ever done that or not.   From enquiries to people at Jenolan Caves, nobody knew of any more recent studies of the "eastern limestone" later than Gulson (1963).

Sedimentary structures which might give facing include "narralgalite" facies patterns (Byrnes in Chalker 1970) had detected indications of intertidal depositional conditions in the shallowest water facies that could be recognised; and also caymanite.   The caymanite appears that it may be mildly post tilting (not just post-uplift of the limestone) and hence must be very appreciably younger that the bulk of the limestone.   Nonetheless, there seems zero likelihood that the caymanite would be post the overturning of the limestone and therefore a detailed study of caymanite in the Jenolan Caves Limestone should give facing conclusion too.    Nonetheless, within my constraint of the time spent there in 1970 the sedimentary structures were not found to give good facing evidence.    Only the stromatopoid and laminar tabulate coral encrustation patterns gave evidence of facing - and that to the east.

The eastern limestone is reported to be isolated patches within shale, and with extremely variable dips.   There is even the possibility, from such desciption, that these limestone bodies could be allotchonous blocks - a possibility which never would have occurred to Süssmilch and Stone, because it was not till long after them that such were shown to be quite abundant within NSW..    

For the reasons above, the major change nowadays to the concepts depicted in C.A. Süssmich's 1923 section from Mount Victoria to Jenolan Caves would be that the anticline depicted near Jenolan Caves should be dispensed with (albeit that it is still mentioned in the modern Jenolan Draft Karst management plan).   The 2004 Draft Karst Plan of Management for Jenolan Caves Reserve still states: "The Reserve is located in the eastern portion of the Lachlan Fold Belt in the Captains Flat-Goulburn Synclinal Zone.  Its geology comprises a series of conformable Upper Silurian andesitic to rhyolitic pyroclastics, cherts, shales and limestone units.  A number of structural interpretations have been proposed for the area, with a strike faulted anticline structure being commonly accepted".

However, I would doubt that this anticline interpretation is "commonly accepted" any longer.   The 2004 Draft Karst Plan of Management for the Reserve seems in places out of date or confused, not only in that regard.   For example, it also states "Regional bedding dips steeply to the west with the Upper Silurian Jenolan Caves Limestone conformably overlain to the west by a calcium enriched basalt, or spilite".   The volcanics west of the limestone are Ordovician and hence "underlie" the limestone (rather than overlying it).   I have not read any detailed geology of the "?Ordovician" or "Ordovician-looking" rocks that may outcrop over vast areas west of the Jenolan Caves Limestone.   However as a very broad generality lavas and volcaniclastics in the Rockley area would appear to give way eastwards to a thick succession with lesser volcanic rocks, more volcaniclastics and possibly more shale and banded cherts - as if the more distal part of a volcanic apron that shallows to the west.  The volcanics also seem to have thinned overall to the east from Rockley (where there is some 1,500m of volcanics) and they are underlain by quartz-rich greywackes and and slates (according to Geology of NSW, p. 83).   Despite the many mentions of radiolarian chert I am not aware of any even vaguely identifiable radiolarians, or any other fossils, ever being found in these rocks.   This at least seems supportive that they are Ordovician and underlying the Jenolan Caves Limestone (paraconformably) - for it these strata were overlying the limestone then sooner or later one might expect to find reworked fossils.   Why no graptolites have been found in the deemed Ordovician sequence is curious though.

Also, the Draft Karst Plan of Management for Jenolan Caves Reserve probably states that "The Reserve .... geology comprises a series of conformable Upper Silurian andesitic to rhyolitic pyroclastics, cherts, shales and limestone units" following Chalker (1971).  Chalker retained the anticline structure idea, but could not find any "possible overthrust fault" therefore (seemingly for that reason) turned the western Ordovican beds into conformable Silurian beds.   The western sequence, however, is extremely like Ordovican volcanics country that I have seen a lot of elsewhere, and I have no reason at all that I'd doubt the original Süssmich and Stone determination of the rocks west of the Jenolan Caves Limestone as Ordovician.

However the 2004 Draft Karst Plan of Management for the Reserve seems out of date, or confused, not only in that regard.  For example, it also states " Regional bedding dips steeply to the west with the Upper Silurian Jenolan Caves Limestone conformably overlain to the west by a calcium enriched basalt, or spilite".   The volcanics west of the limestone are Ordovician and hence "underlie" the limestone (rather than overlying it).   Also spilite is sodium enriched, not calcium enriched - with the plagioclase altered to sodic plagioclase (albite) instead of the normal (original) crystallising calcic froms like labradorite or andesine that characterise basalt or andesite (viz. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spilite cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basalt ).

The idea of this (faulted) anticline was probably first adopted because there's additional limestone (the relatively little known 'Eastern Limestone' belt) occuring downstream to the east of Jenolan Caves.   Subsequently, however, the whole pre-Lambian sequence in the section is now regarded (by most) as a largely overturned (west-dipping, east-younging) section that extends into the Early Devonian with an increasing upwards abundant of acid volcanics.   The sequence deepens in depositional environment after the Jenolan Caves Limestone but later on shallows to possibly terrestrial with welded tuffs.   This sequence still has not been well mapped or studied in much detail but fine exposures of "bedded cherts" are seen when descending the 5-mile hill.   

Leonie Chalker in 1968 (Photo:  David Moore).   Chalker was possibly the first to try and walk/map or review the entire Jenolan Caves Limestone, in 1971.  Others had examined sections of it  - in 1915 and in the 1960.  The task of compilation of the Jenolan Caves Limestone that was carried out by Carole Mitchell and Leonie Chalker in 1969 (and hence was one of Leonie's first jobs as a government employed geologist following her above student days photo of 1968 [Carole Mitchell might have discontinued the project?  Her name is not on the paper finally written - fossil submission records show she collected there in 1970, but most of the material was collected by Leonie (Pickett, 1970)].   This work came about due to the Geological Survey's decision to revise the classic Carne and Jones volume "Limestones of New South Wales".   That was an immense task hence bits of it (different limestone areas) were farmed out across the Survey's staff.    This re-doing of the limestone resources survey of the State was not a thorough reconsideration of the geology of limestone areas - at minimum it only sought to check the boundaries of all deposits and note any changes or developments since the original early survey of Carne and Jones.

The overturned nature of the whole sequence (steeply-dipping overturned - not totally upside down as in a nappe) is very easily appreciated from strolling around at Jenolan Caves.

West of the Caves, and originally underlying the Jenolan Caves Limestone, are very extensive Ordovician volcanics which are of andesitic composition.

East of the Jenolan Caves Limestone the volcanics (Silurian to Early, or maybe even Middle, Devonian age) are mostly felsic/acidic - rhyodacites and rhyolites - most of them likely of marine setting but at the top of the sequence they may become emergent/terrestrial, based on the reports there of welded tuffs or ignimbrite.   Some andesite/keratophyre may also be present overlying the Jenolan Caves Limestone, but unlike in the Ordovician rocks below the limestone it is apparently minor and much more acidic flows (or sills?) dominate.   Also there is very often difficulty knowing if a given body of igneous rock is part of the Siluro-Devonian sequence (lava) or may be a dyke or sill related to the Carboniferous intrusive phase or even younger (one rather puzzling linear mafic zone in the region is that named the Budthingeroo Amphibolite).

Sydney 1:500,000 geological compilation..  L = the limestone bearing Silurian sequence; G = Bathurst batholith suite; La = Lambian (Late Devonian); bp = Bindook Porphyry and the assignment of all rocks between L and La to such (tentative); Ov = Ordovician volcanices and greywakes; Tr = Triassic (Sydney Basin); T = Tertiary basalt.  Black = area immediately north and south of Jenolan Caves along the Jenolan Caves Limestone, plus eastwards to the Eastern Limestone.

The geological compilation surrounding Jenolan Caves is in much need of further work.   The area map portion at right, has had less detailed work or little advancement since the 1960s.  That part is from Brunker & Rose (1967).   The area at left has been more recently revised; by Raymond, Pogson et al. (1998).  Width of this whole area depicted is about 45 km.    Tv - Tertiary volcanics (basalt, dolerite,  microsyenite, trachyte and tinguaite). Cg - Carboniferous granite and granodiorite, Cwg - Carboniferous, Kanangra Granite (pale pink, medium grained hornblende granite), Dlg - Devonian, Gibbons Creek Sandstone of Lambie Group (thickly to thinly bedded quartz sandstone, siltstone, mudstone), Dul - Devonian, Lambie Group conglomerate, sandstone and shale.  Duv - Devonian, undifferentiated volcanics (Bindook Porphyry), Dcd - Devonian, Dunchurch Formation of Crudine Group, Skc - Silurian, Kildrummie Group. Ss - Silurian, undifferentiated sediments, volcanics and limestone. Smc - Silurian, Campbells Formation of Mumbil Group (East), Smh - Silurian, Hollanders Formation of Mumbil Group (East), Smi - Silurian, Karawina Formation of Mumbil Group (East), Qcr - Ordovician, Rockley Volcanics of Cabonne Group, Qkt - Ordovician, Triangle formation of Kenilworth Group, Qa - Ordovician, Adaminaby Group.   [This combination by Jill Rowling in 2004.]    (NB:  The SW-trending linear "tail" from the Cg intrusion to the east of Jenolan is not normal granite like the Jenolan Granite.  That zone also contains the mafic ?intrusive body known as the Budthingeroo Amphibolite.]

 Coarse conglomerate in a cutting on the Jenolan Caves Road north of the five mile hill (at a spot near the edge of the Kanangra Boyd National Park and near where the Six Foot Track crosses the road and the "upper cabins" are).   This conglomerate is fully of Lambian quartzite clasts and also has clasts from the older Palaeozoic rocks as well (e.g. angular piece of 'banded chert' to the left of centre at top).

Conglomerate like that shown above I would regard (without ever having closely examined it, or its distribution) as representing the basal Permian onlapped over rough terrain consisting of Lambian (Late Devonian) rocks.   However it may be noted that in 1893 Professor T.W.E. David in the Presidential Address to the Linnaean Society of New South Wales (Proceedings, Second Series, vol. VIII, pp. 673-584) recorded in a description of the Lambian series that "The base of these Upper Devonian rocks are not seen near Mount Lambie, but on the road to the Jenolan Caves, six and nine miles from the Caves, a coarse conglomerate, perhaps representing the base of this series, appears to rest unconformably on the Cave Limestone series (Upper Silurian) and has lately been observed by Messrs.  W.F. Smeeth, J.A. Watt and myself.   A Heliolites and casts of crinoids have lately been discovered in this conglomerate by Mr. Voss Wiburd".   This also shows that Voss Wiburd, for many years the Keeper at the Caves, had some interest in the regional geology.



As shown above, a number of persons have been interested in how the Jenolan Caves Limestone formed.   Where those are now, e.g. Leonie Chalker, is not ascertained (other than that some are deceased of course - the first geologists who wrote about it).

Also over the years occasional attempts were made to get all the people who had mapped around Jenolan and south towards Kanangra to cooperate and make a simplified compilation map of the area.   Owen Shiels was interested a bit in doing that - "when I retire perhaps" but is now deceased.   Boyd Pratt was perhaps interested too, but in the end nothing has ever come of that desire to compile the geology of the area.

Far more people are interested in the formation of the caves than in the formation of the limestone.   Only extremely few people have been located from very wide enquiry over recent years, just two or three, who have expressed being interested in the origin of the Jenolan Caves limestone - and the best forum for this is a discussion group run by caves guide Rob Whyte:


You can also join the JENOLAN email group using any email account by just sending

an email to jenolan-subscribe@yahoogroups.com from your email account.

I began asking people on the Jenolan email group things like how do you think the Jenolan Caves Limestone formed - or what way up is the limestone.   I started this in 2008.

The first person to express any detailed view was guide Steven McClean, who it turned out has done a thesis on 'Cave Formation at JC' as part of his
B.App.Sc at what is now UTS (back then called the NSW Institute of Technology).

Steven had worked at a guide on and off at Jenolan Caves over 36 years or more, since 1977.   In 2008 he related (pers. comm., Jenolan list) "In early 1983 I spoke to John Culley, then Senior Guide at Jenolan about doing my Honours project at the Caves. He agreed and the project was completed in  July 1983".

I've not yet seen it but Steven states that he made two copies.  There are two copies in the library in the Guides Office he says, and his own copy at home in Sydney,  and the remaining two copies "somewhere in the archives of UTS in Ultimo".  (Later on, 2013, Steven thought that one of the two UTS copies was probably still with his supervisor, Dr Colin Ward).

Steven relates "I looked at the facies relationships at Jenolan particularly with respect to the 'back reef' deposits found in the rock walls along the road behind the House to No 3 carpark and the pillow lavas of the walls near the back entrance to the kitchen of the House. These pillow lavas were analysed petrologically and found to be a spillite."

And (in 2013) "My interpretation of the limestone was that it is sitting the right way up. I found no evidence of overturning either above or below ground. The basis of the interpretation was on a process called 'facies analysis' which looks at relationships between rock layers and tries to interpret them as a whole.  Generally, at the eastern side of the limestone many of the corals and other fossils appear to have been tumbled into position (interpreted as the 
'fore-reef ' area where wave attack breaks up chunks of the reef-forming structures which then roll or slide down slope) while at the western side 
of the limestone there are many smaller and more fragile fossils such as crinoids with much finer-grained lime muds (interpreted as the 'back-reef ' 
area due to much calmer water conditions that lead to the deposition of finer sediments and more fragile fossils). Also, behind the guesthouse near 
the back stairs to the kitchen is a rock layer that conformably sits on top of the limestone, immediately to the west. This rock was identified using
thin section observation and analysis as a spillite (a type of chemically altered basalt). Within this layer there are 'pillow' structures where the
partially molten basalt settles under gravity to form characteristic structures that show what we geologists call 'younging'. These two findings
were the basis of the interpretation. At the time I received quite a bit of flack as my interpretation disagreed with that of T.W. Edgeworth David.
Having spent weekends working both in the caves and above ground since then I am yet to come across anything to change my opinion."

Also it turned out, strangely enough, that Steve had gone to the same school as myself (St Piux X at Chatswood).   In on post (2011) I had written some reminescence in discussing Smiroff's Turnoff (a cave passage):  "I asked what happened if you got stuck and I was told 'they try to get you out but if unsuccessful they pour cement it'.   But it was beyond my comprehension how a cement truck could ever get in there.   I think they actually meant concrete, not cement, but we were young and probably knew not the difference then.  I cannot remember who lead that trip.   But some caving trips I went on were lead by Glenda Scheiss (?sp) - anyone recognise that name?   It was certainly a while back now as I just attended' the 50th-year reunion or anniversary of my school class (St Pius X at Chatswood).   I cannot believe it has all been 'so long'.   When I got there, on Friday evening I was told 'it was Wednesday' - for I had miswritten in my diary 28 instead of 26' " - to which Steve replied: "John, I too am an old boy of SPX. Class of 1975. Amazing where we turn up. Regards, Steve".

Another coincidence of sorts is that I had for some time been trying to locate Dr Colin Ward again too (on an unrelated matter) and ALSO what have become of materials from the UTS Geology Department (which has since been abolished), particularly theses or other work that had been done there.   Enquiries I made were indicating that some or all or it may have been transferred to the thesis collection of the Geology Department of the University of NSW at Kensington.   Enquiry there also indicated that in relatively recent years a thesis had been done at Jenolan Caves, which they held - and had probably been done at UTS/Ultimo.   Steven also discovered that a copy of his thesis was with the Australian Speleo Federation but he did not know how they had gotten a copy.   Steven adds "The original manuscript was typed and the photographs individual copied and then hand glued over the correct space in the document, making modern word processing a godsend".

Some words did go to the UTS Library, e.g.:


However a search at the Library online catalogue for McClean finds nothing relevant.

Although the geology department at UTS died, 'geology' itself (or "Earth Sciences") does appear to still live on at UTS within Environment school, viz.


Professor Greg Skilbeck

BSc (Hons) (Syd), PhD (Syd)

Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Science
Professor of Earth Sciences, School of the Environment
Core Member, Centre for Environmental Sustainability
Email: Greg.Skilbeck@uts.edu.au
Phone: +61 2 9514 1760
Fax: +61 2 9514 1656
Room: CB04.04.48i (map)
Mailing address: PO Box 123, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia


Further follow up, to locate all work done on Jenolan Caves at UTS, is intended.

Besides guide Steve McClean, guide Ted Matthews has a long standing interest in the caves formation and the limestone.   Ted has developed a number of teaching materials which are obtainable from him directly - and I think are the basis of the video currently (2013) playing in the display area between the guides rooms and the ticket selling area at Jenolan Caves.    For more details of Ted's materials see:  http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/ted-matthews-jenolan.htm



Many have commented on the sharp swing of regional strike seen at the latitude of Jenolan Caves (it is mentioned in Geology of New South Wales for example), and/or the emplacement of the elongate Jenolan granite at this 'bend'.

But what is the "Jenolan Mega-Kink":

.At Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve Draft Plan of Management, page 40 ( http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/jenolanDraft.pdf )

Unfortunately, in the Draft Plan of Management's "REFERENCES" the only "Powell" item is "Powell, J. M. (1976) Environmental Management in Australia 1788-1914. Oxford University Press, Melbourne", which is unrelated.

The Tooborac Megakink

The Victorian Geological Survey (Report 128 by R.A. Cayley and others, 2008) have mapped the Tooborac Megakink as shown above.  The Heathcote fault zone at the eastern edge of the Bendigo Zone is relatively simple south of the Cobaw Batholith (which cuts across it) but north of there, towards Heathcote, it becomes more complex and bends northwest.   This forms a kink zone (implied by the two dashed lines each side of "TM" (Tooborac Megakink) - which has been called the Tooborac Megakink since 2000.   In this area, structural analysis (working out which generations of smaller folds appear to oveprint which, etc.) has been done in considerable detail, and it is thought that the Tooborac Megakink was something that predated the emplacement of the batholith.   The axis of the megakink effect is thought to be subvertical of steeply northwest-plunging.   The plan view of the kink suggests possible possible sinistral strike slip displacement across it.    

This Victorian example is certainly not the first one noticed, as Powell in 1984 had written on "Terminal fold-belt deformation:  Relationship of mid-Carboniferous megakinks in the Tasman fold belt to coeval thrusts in cratonic Australia".

Powell (1984) wrote that "Megakinks in the meridional tectonic grain of the Tasman fold belt were formed by north-south compression in the mid-Carboniferous and appear to be related to the same stress system that formed intracratonic thrusts in central Australia during the Alice Springs orogeny."   The megakinks which Powell first drew attention to are parallel to other early recognised major structural direction like the ENE-trending Darling River Lineament direction and the ESE-trending Laclan River Lineament direction.  ESE- trending kink planes have show dextral offsets and ENE-trending ones show sinistral offsets.  

Whatever Powell said specifically about the Jenolan Mega-Kink is unknown since not even the reference has yet been located, but the above is a diagram in the book "Permian-Triassic Pangean Basins and Foldbelts Along the Panthalassan Margin of Gondwanaland", edited by John Veevers and  C. McA. Powell which shows a megakink west of Sydney and south of the Bathurst Granite.   As for the Tooborac Megakink, the Jenolan Mega-Kink would have preceeced the Jenolan Granite and perhaps had an influence in localising the ascent of the latter?


THE 'JENOLAN CAVES VALLEY' (Caves House valley) - into the hidden valley, the charming valley

Showing the large (2416 ha) the Jenolan Caves Reserve (oblique hatching).   This big surrounding reserve, one of the earliest such reserves, was declared on 2 October 1866.  In 1872 the Government declared mutilating or destroying stalactites a punishable offence - after many had already been mutilated by visitors/vandals.  The Jenolan Caves valley and Jenolan Caves hamlet/village is a tiny valley "hidden" (as approached from the east) behind the barrier of the upstanding Jenolan Caves Limestone straddling the Jenolan River - reached by either the yellow route (the 5-mile hill) or the red route (the 2-mile or Oberon hill, the lower part of which is known as the Oberon-side Zig Zag.)   This is within the Oberon Local Government Area.   Originally tourists reached the caves from the Oberon or Tarana side, after a fulld-day's horse ride.  The final stretch of descent was so steep as to have been usually walked down.    The descent road on the Oberon side was first constructed.  It was completed in 1879.  The Mount Victoria road's longer descent was made later on, completed to near  the Grand Arch by 1887 ( thereupon proving much more convenient for tourists from Sydney and largely killing off the earlier tourism business from the west ).   The two roads were joined via the Grand Arch in 1896. 

Features in the Jenolan Caves valley/hamlet area.  P2 is also known as Carlotta parking area.   the bend west of it is also known as water-tank bend as there is a water storage tank just above the roadway there.   That bend cuts the base of the limestone.  The base of the limestone can also be easily viewed along Camp Creek valley (P3).    (Source: Lands Department, Land and Property Information section, 2006).  The two chunky promontories east of point "7" (Devil's Coach House Lookdown) look to be bedding-joint controlled (possibly erosional re-entrants along shaley or thin-bedded units in the limestone - airphoto interpretation only).


The 'Grand Dining Room' at Caves House.   We went there on Christmas Day 2012 and the place was packed.  The food was amazingly varied, and more than we could eat.   This is an old building (but charmingly old) and has problems in places.  However the catering service could not be praised too highly - being at least the best I have seen anywhere.  I had not been back to Jenolan for a good many years before that, and it was this trip which inspired me to commence writing this webpage - to gather and consolidate varioius memories and anything else easily obtainable.   We did find that several sites known or noted along the road to Jenolan could this time not be found (even places that were once excursion stopping points like for seeing pegmatite between Glenroy and Hampton - accentuating once more the need for good recording of all points of geological interest (things weather away, roads get diverted etc.etc.). 

This area has also been called the Caves House hamlet, or Jenolan Caves village.   It has its own post code and long ago gained a post and telegraph office.  Besides in the immediate vicinity of the early accomodation house hear the Grand Arch, dwellings spread up the small valley of Camp Creek valley, and in another area up the Zig Zag (Oberon) Road known as "Burmah Road".

Griffith Taylor's sketch of around Jenolan Caves in the 1923 Pan-Pacific Science Congress " Guide-Book to the Excursion to Blue Mountains, Jenolan Caves and Lithgow".   Section "B" is longitudinally within the limestone belt and is after Trickett.    Upstream of the limestone barried the Jenolan River is called Cave Creek.  It has also been called McKewan's of McKeown's creek - but is is better to refer only to McKeown's Valley there, since there is a McKeown's Creek shown on early official maps in the next valley to the west and which flows to the opposite side of the Great Divide.  How that other creek came to be named such is not yet known. 

The Jenolon Caves longitudinal section (note that this is from the reverse direction to above and below views) through the "southern" tourist caves.  This was made from the careful survey work of Oliver Trickett, 1915.  The large Devil's Coachhouse is shown here by colouring (but is not labelled such) next to the Grand Arch.  Some "Holes from surface" are depicted to it, and the below photo is looking down one such onto the floor of the Devil's Coachhouse,  where "McKeowns Creek" water may flow above ground level in times of flood.

Looking down on floor of the Devil's Coachhouse from one of the openings in the roof.   ( Photo:  Bruce)

Enlargement of cross-section "B" above.   This also shows the presumed possible route whereby the body now found as a skeleton in Skeleton Cave near the underground river may have entered the system.   

The skeleton, Jenolan - Photo of the Noel Rawlinson collection, per the Jenolan Caves Historical & Preservation Society.

(There are over 170 Jenolan images in the Noel Rawlinson collection, not all taken by himself..)

By "Jenolan Caves valley" what is usually meant is the cosy and rather tight little valley space that is entered by the visitor travelling southwards after passing through the Grand Arch.    Griffith Taylor in the in the 1923 Pan-Pacific Science Congress Guide-Book (page 21) described reaching this valley thus:  "The last 10 miles of the journey cross a series of Palaeozoic slates, limestones [but not seen on the 5-mile road descent], cherts and porphyries, in which the deep gorge of Jenolan River has been excavated.   A steady descent of 1,400 feet brings us to the bar of Silurian limestone, in which occur the remarkable caves of Jenolan".

The descent of "Five mile hill" on the Jenolan Caves (Mount Victoria) Road.  ( Noel Rawlinson collection, photographer Henry King. ) 

C.A. Sussmilch thought very highly of the geological exposure (fresh rock exposure) created by the construction of the road down the 5-mile descent to the Caves.

Sussmilch (in the same guide book, page 15) described the descent, and the entry to the valley thus:  "At Cook's accomodation house, 5 miles from the Caves, is the beginning of as fine a road section as any geological student might wish to see.  The road, which drops about 1,200 feet in the next 5 miles, has been cut out of the very steep valley walls of the Jenolan River and its tributaries; the cutting thus made has exposed an almost continuous section of the Silurian strata and of the igneous rocks by which they have been intruded [but many might also be flows?].  The former consist of highly folded claystones, slates and limestones, with an aggregate thickness of upwards of 2,500 feet, while the latter include quartz-feldspar porphyry and felsite.  The contacts between the igneous and sedimentary rocks are well shown, and interesting breccias occur at these junctions, consisting of fragments of slate and limestone embedded in the porphyry.   As the cave-house is approached a great wall-like mass of bluish-grey rock will be seen standing athwart the valley and apparently blocking all further progress, but the road suddenly dives into a great natural tunnel- the Grand Arch ; a few seconds' drive in semi-darkness, and the visitor finds himself in a charming valley on the other side of the barrier, and at the door of the cave-house".

And that is how the "charming valley", as Sussmilch described it, is entered by the majority of visitors (others may also approach from the west, down the 2-mile Oberon side hill).

The bottom of the 5-mile hill road (or Mount Victoria Road), where it crosses the Jenolan River just before entering the Grand Arch.  The Devil's Coachhouse is almost immediately upstream, to the left, and far above that is the old arch remnant called Carlotta Arch.  Standing at this limestone bridge (designed by the well known Public Works bridge engineer Ernest Macartney de Burgh and constructed in 1896) one can see the river just a little downstream; but upstream of here there is no water seen except in flood times.   Griffith Taylor writing in the 1923 Guide-Book described the situation thus:  "West of the limestone, whose jagged summit is known as the Lucas Rocks, the main arm of the river (Cave Creek) receives two short tributaries - Camp Creek from the south and Surveyor's Creek from the west ; but the actual junction is made underground.  Indeed, normally no water is visible in the valleys of Cave Creek or Camp Creek, for they flow along the centre of the limestone outcrop in hidden channels many feet below the apparent river-beds".   ( Noel Rawlinson collection,photo by Kerry)

Just as the stream in the floor of the Devil's Coachhouse is often dry, Camp Creek flowed through the Grand Arch only after heavy rains.   Mostly it sank from sight through its own creek bed before reaching the Grand Arch.  Griffith Taylor and others assumed that the creeks that vanish in dryer weather combined underground somewhere about under the Ground Arch and re-emerged at a point slightly downstream of there.  Cook (1889, pp. 29-30) described the emergence point as:  "About 50 yards down this dry creek (from the Grand Arch) ... is the "Rising of the Water".  Here among the rocks in the bed of the creek the water bursts out of the ground like a sparkling fountain of considerable volume ..".   Regardless of that well described spring, Camp Creek did once very seriously flood the Caves House and for a protracted length of time also seems to have flowed through the Grand Arch instead of taking the underground route (discussed by Shaw (1990).   Shaw inferred that Camp Creek may have blocked its underground course with flood debris around 1889.  . 

Besides Jenolan River just downstream of the De Burgh's bridge.   B = Bridge arch, DC = Devil's Coachhouse entrance (obscured behind trees), GA = Grand Arch, CA = Carlotta Arch.  The blue lines are the north dipping joints prominent in the limestone.  There has been collapse along these joints at the eastern end of the Grand Arch.

Commenting on joints without any comprehensive study of jointing seems pretty pointless, since there are joints observed in practically any and every direction.   Yet looking at the limestone ridge when ascending the Oberon side zig-zag one is struck by the outstanding predominance of a northerly dipping set.  

The northerly dipping joints set as seen in the Jenolan Caves Limestone ridge looking east (distant zoom view) from the zig-zag road up towards Oberon.   Vertical E-W joints are also prominent.

The northerly dipping joints seen  looking across the road from the bookings/guides offices. 

McClean (1983) commented that "Fold axis and axial plane orientations for the folds varies slightly but the majority of the small  scale folds have fold axes that plunge at a shallow angle to the south. The largest fold observed in the area occurs in the hydrothermally altered crystal lithic tuff and the axis of this fold plunges at 15° to the south".   Rather simplistically (and probably overly so), if all folds plunged southwards, perhaps the district has had a relatively late tilt in that direction and the prominent jointing set might be at high angle to that?  Perhaps also related is a set of relatively late stage E-W faulting?   McClean (1983) observed that " ... there is some offset of the limestone along the line of nearly every creek that crosses the unit. All of these observed or inferred faults are oriented roughtly east-west".   Intersections of such ?frequent E-W faults with the prominent jointing have been looked out for (to examine the relative timing), but no such intersections have been yet observed.   N-S trending joints are similar in orientation to bedding, which latter is often difficult to recognise at surface in the more massive limestone (more easily recognised in smoothed surfaces underground).  Vertical joints are prominent at Mammoth Bluff, upstream along McKeown's Creek.

More prominent dipping joints, near (western) exit of the Devil's Coach House.

Glimpsing the Jenolan Caves Limestone, and hole in the wall - the Grand Arch.  (Photo:  Ted Matthews)




Driving through the limestone from the east (the Grand Arch), showing the 'massive' bedded nature of much of the limestone.  A complexity of joints and water stainings along cracks may combine to defeat the eager seeker after "where's the bedding", but essentially the limestone is  about-vertical (if that helps pick the bedding planes).  

Exiting Grand Arch one comes directly upon Caves House.   This area is often crowded and if intending to stay at Caves House accomodation there is only 5 mins standing zone outside the door for unloading.   One can load/unload around the back but it is little better there, with only one standing space available.

As one emerges into the hidden/charming/tight valley after passing through the barrier/wall of the Jenolan Caves Limestone standing on-end (and slightly overturned) the Caves House dominates the view.   The little house at the left with the woman at the door and the 'welcome' mat out was Kerry's photography kiosk.  It later on became the Ticket Office, and still later was demolished.  The Ticket Office nowadays is on the opposite side of the road to where it used to be.  Note that the hotel had been re-built/enlarged at the closest end between these photos.    (Photos of the Noel Rawlinson collection, per the Jenolan Caves Historical & Preservation Society; photo by Kerry Photos, Sydney.)  

Looking back through the hole, roadway constructed ( Noel Rawlinson collectionction, photographer Henry King. ) 

Same view at a later time, with the road well-made and the area landscaped.  The light patch seen in the hole is the eastern opening of the arch, at the opposite side of the vertically tilted Jenolan Caves Limestone barrier.  ( Noel Rawlinson collection, Kerry photo.) 

Very early photo of the same place, taken before any road-making at all had commenced.  Note also the north-dipping joints set, apparent above the archway.  A track into the arch is perhaps under construction in the bottom photo(?).    ( Noel Rawlinson collection, H. King photo. )

The upstream entrance to the Devil's Coachouse above Cave Creek is similar.    ( Noel Rawlinson collection, H. King photo. )

Every year the total number of visitors to the 'charming valley' increases, and being such a small tight place, parking can nowadays be quite a problem - other than in the early morning before the mass of day-trip visitors begin arriving.

Sussmilch (op. cit., p. 15) continued "The great mass of rock in which the Grand Arch occurs is a bed of limestone 450 feet in thickness and tilted at an angle of 60 degrees.  It entirely cuts off the the upper part of the valley of the Jenolan River from the lower part, the river itself passing through it by an underground channel.  It is in this bed of limestone that the caves occur.  These are found at various levels from the top of the hill down to the present river level, each cave-level marking the one-time channel of the river through the limestone ..... The presence of coarse water-worn pebbles in the caves at all levels from the Carlotta Arch down to the present lowest level cave shows that the different cave-levels were progressively developed, as the tableland was being more deeply dissected, the highest caves therefore being the oldest, the youngest caves being those now being formed at river-level".  Laseron, another writer of popular books, in 1954 had in his book "The Face of Australia" a diagram showing how a river could produce multiple levels of caves as it penetrated a limestone barrier - and this would seem to directly follow Sussmich's 1923 words about Jenolan.

Sussmilch also wrote "Quite obviously, also, the caves themselves cannot be geologically older than the valley in which they form".   This was a seemingly innocuous and even self-evident statement.   Hence it was very surprising that subsequent work might bring it into question, and when Armstrong Osborne found evidence of caves there being extremely older than the valley of the Jenolan River.

Griffith Taylor (op. cit., page 21) further wrote of the locality, and the  "bar of limestone" containing the caves that:  "It is about 800 feet wide and dips to the west at an angle of 60 degrees.  It can be traced along the strike for some 4 miles.   A similar outcrop, but dipping to the east, lies about a mile down the river.  Possibly this constitutes the eastern limb of a former limestone anticline, of which the arch has long been eroded."   Taylor also gave an explanation of cave level staged production similar to Sussmilch's.   In later years Taylor would repeatedly refer to the 1923-discerned five levels of cave formation at Jenolan Caves, and correlated these presumed stages to uplift features of the Blue Mountains plateau, and to what he called "five flats" on the (Lapstone) monocline at the eastern boundary of the Blue Mountains Plateau.   I have not yet worked out exactly where these "five flats" of Taylor's are.   Good review of the evolution of thinking on cave origins can be found in the 2010 publication  "Australian Landscapes", edited by Paul Bishop and Brad Pilans (Geological Society Special Publication 346). 

Views of the valley of Caves House, taken from above the Grand Arch.  Top two showing first clump of buildings constructed there (begun about 1880; and the lower one is sometime before 1897 and after 1887 when the first two storey building was constructe.  The limestone is seen dipping west in the lower left, and above/behind the Caves house/s (right hand one) a west-dipping unit within the Ordovician volcanics can be seen.   ( Noel Rawlinson collection, photographer Henry King ) 

Enlargement of the above photo.  The steeply west-dipping limestone is prominent at left.

Another enlargement of the same - showing the west-dipping unit within the Ordovician volcanics.

The same view of the valley later on, with the new three-storey limestone-built wing of the hotel erected.  Photographer's kiosk has been erected and various other buildings removed.  Portion of the rising Oberon hill zig-zag road is seen 2/3rd up at the right hand margin.     ( Noel Rawlinson collection, Kerry photos ) 

Detail of the re-building at Caves House.  Note the jagged facing edge of the front on the new wing, indicating that it was intended to later extend that eastwards.  What are the triangular frames at the right for? [see below].    ( Noel Rawlinson collection ) 

Some time a little later (ca. 1891) - and it can be seen that the triangular frame was built to support childrens' swings.   In this photo the north-trending limestone behind the Caves House is visible.   It shows one of the common features of such, the north-dipping joints (the cause of which is unknown).  Also apparent is the less massively outcropping nature of a zone here at the top of the limestone.  This is because it contains a lot of interbedded shale.   Immediately beyond the Caves House, the top of the limestone crosses to the other side of the roadway.  ( Noel Rawlinson collection ) 


Another imrovement of the 1890s was the addition of a post office.  ( Noel Rawlinson collection ).  This building is no longer used as a post office.   Rather it has become where the JCH&PS stashed all its little treasures salvaged from days gone by (and is regularly opened for interested day visitors to peruse). 

This is the main road close to the present Caves House and about where the toilets are on the western side of the Tickets Office - showing how the earliest building had begun to considerably clog up the main thoroughfare through the valley.   These structures were later removed.    ( Noel Rawlinson collection; H. King photograph. ) 

Showing the same early-constriction of the main thoroughfare from above (on the Oberon hill zig zag); and that it survived the construction of the first large caves house  (Noel Rawlinson collection; H. King photograph.).

Looking up Camp valley Creek behind Caves House, ca. 1890.   This valley is aligned along the junction of the limestone and the volcanics.  There is more massive limestone to the east (towards Grand Arch).  To the right (west, and limestone base) shaley intervals occur in the limestone.  (Noel Rawlinson collection; Kerry photo.).

Outlining the tunnel for the Binoomea Cut to the Dragon's Throat, Temple of Baal.  Note south-dipping jointing.   This cut though to the Temple of Baal was completed in 1954.   (Noel Rawlinson collection )

Leaving the valley via the Oberon hill zig-zag and looking back over Caves House from near the present Carlotta car park. ( Noel Rawlinson collection; H. King photograph. ) 



No doubt very many Whalans, many generations, have by now lived in the Jenolan-Oberon area but I mainly know of just those as yet who can be seen in photos at Jenolan Caves.   Besides all the fascinating geology you should encounter at Jenolan Caves you'll come face to face with Whalans on the walls of Caves House (and also in the display area adjoining the Ticket Office as well).   The walls of the very historic Caves House are indeed adorned thoughout with all sorts of historic photos.

The first grander Caves House that was erected for tourism in 1886.  Photo about 1895.   L - R Campbell Whalan 2nd, Herbert Whalan, unknown (but could be member of the Wilcox family), Frederick Whalan, his wife Edith Kate Whalan (nee Mutton), James Mutton, his wife Anne Mutton (nee Storey) parents of Edith Kate Whalan, Horatio Whalan, Roland Whalan, his wife Isabella Whalan (nee Ainsley), and unknown man.  Jeremiah Wilson is kneeling in front of the group.


Horatio Whalan's general store at at the top of the 2-mile or Oberon hill, Jenolan, about 1895.  Campbell Whalan III (left) and Sydney Whalan (right), Horatio's brothers, are photographed outside their Horatio Whalan's general store.  This building was situated at the top of the Two Mile Hill on the Oberon Road above Jenolan Caves and is still standing.   Horatio was Campbell Whalan's fifth child, born 1849.  It is thought he never obtained a wife for this establishment; nor has a death certificate matching him been found.   His brother Campbell Joseph Whalan, who moved to near Hartley, named one of his sons Horatio and another one Sydney.   At Hartley, Campell Joseph Whalan married another Whalan, his cousin Matilda Jane Whalan.   One of their children Frederick Whalan, who married Edith Kate Mutton, then moved back to Oberon area, as Campbell Whalan jnr also may have done.   These Whalans are shown in the photos above.

Jeremiah Wilson, the Curator of Jenolan Caves, ca. 1880.   In his right hand he is holding a magnesium ribbon burner, a device of his own choosing for achieving brightest  illumination.   Hanging around his neck is a speaking tube for he was going deaf.   He'd developed a habit himself of shouting, and to hear others they had  to individually speak into the mouthpiece end, whereupon he'd place the other end into his best ear.   ( Photo:  Henry King )

Jeremiah (Jerry) Wilson was appointed as the first "Keeper of the Caves" in 1867.   He remained working for the Department of Mines, which then managed the caves, until they dispensed with his services in 1900.  This was because he was being sent to Bathurst Gaol, as a result from accusations of horse thievery.  Jerry had received and sold a batch of horses that had been stolen.  At his trial Jerry's lawyer deposed that the horses had been received from a man named Mackenzie who'd duped him.  Jerry had by that stage gone stone deaf, or nearly so, and he did not attempt to defend himself in the court from the things being said against him (he could not have even heard them).  He instead pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of receiving, whereupon the thievery charges were not proceeded with.  However he received a year in gaol from which it is said that he never recovered.  Jeremiah Wilson, stolen horses or no, remains a hero of Jenolan Caves.   Not only did he explore the already known caves further (Elder and Lucas) but he went on to discover the Imperial, Left Imperial (now known as Chifley), Jersey and Jubilee Caves.  When he explored the Mammoth Cave in the 1860s, on one occasion his candle went out and he was lost underground for three days before he luckily found his way back to the entrance.

The first Caves House.  The earliest accomodation was built (1880) and paid for by Wilson, but was lost to fire in 1895.  ( Photo:  Henry King )

Same site, about 1887.  Identified from enlargements - Jeremiah Wilson (on horse, tenth from left), Fred Wilson, “Assistant Keeper” (on horse, eight from left), guides James Wiburd, Jack Edwards (on verandah, fifth and sixth from left) and labourer Robert Bailey (leaning on foundation pillar). 

In Greville's 1872 directory, some listed Whalans are:


WHALAN Alfred miller Oberon

WHALAN Campbell jun. farmer Duckmaloi

WHALAN Campbell sen. farmer Duckmaloi

WHALAN Charles, JP farmer Glyndior

WHALAN Edwin farmer Oberon

WHALAN Horatio farmer Duckmaloi

WHALAN John C. farmer Fish River Ck.

WHALAN John M. farmer Council Chambers

WHALAN Robert farmer Council Chambers

The unusual address of two Whalans as "Council Chambers" may not mean that literally.   It may be a corruption of "Council Chambers Flat" east of Gingkin and east of the Hollander's River.   If so that may tally with a report of John McLean Whalan being on the Hollander's River.

Settlers or stockmen of the Gingkin area, be it James Whalan or someone earlier, are very likely to have discovered Jenolan Caves as this is the closest area of early settlement to the caves.  A Major Druitt had occupied the area for stock at an early date and it was known by its native name of Ginggam.  In October 1826 Achibald Hood, who had award order for a 150 acres grant, asked that this be located there "at the head of the fish River" where Major Druitt had occupied.

Ward L. Harvard wrote to the The Sydney Morning Herald (6 July 1934, page 8) stating:




Sir,- In your issue of June 30, after showing that it was Charles Whalan who subscribed to St Bartholomew's Church fund, Miss O. Hughes states that "for many years after discovering Jenolan Caves in 1838 Charles Whalan was not only sole guide to them . . . ".

It Is to be regretted that such a claim regarding the discovery has never been substantiated; in fact, in your issue of December l8, 1931. there is confusion of claims which are but uninformed variants of one another. Charles Whalan was not "sole guide" for many years for by 1860 Nicholas Irwin was referred to by George Whiting tutor to Charles Whalan's children as "an old experienced guide."

It seems certain that the facts relating to the discovery of the caves will never be known.  In the early twenties a station near the caves known as Ginggam (Gingkin), had been occupied by Major Druitt; Archibald Hood sought interests there in 1826: James Whalan had a station at Gingkin about 1834; the caves were first known as McKeon's Caves; McKeon, about whom the Whalan tradition centres, is alleged to have lived for some years on a flat near the caves; Luke White, who had cattle-duffing confederates, is credited with having camped in the Devil's Coach House, and it must have been in the thirties.  Almost inevitably, then the caves were known to roving stockmen. In 1858, some years after a visit to the caves under Charles Whalan's guidance,. J. G. Millard wrote: "Our final approach to the caves was through a sequestered vale, formerly the rendezvous of a gang of cattle stealers, whose predatory excursions first drew the attention of Mr. Whalan and others to this interesting locality".  But no claim was made that Whalan found the caves; nor was there by George Whiting in his contributions about the caves in the early Bathurst Press.  So far as I know the claim in Whalan's favour was not made till after his death in 1885.  Then the claim was challenged in the Sydney Press, but the challenge was not accepted.  Nevertheless it is to Charles Whalan that credit belongs for having first brought the caves prominently under public notice.

I am. etc..


Artarmon July 4.


The Whalan brothers Charles and James are those most credited with "discovering", or at least making well known, the Jenolan Caves (first called Fish River Caves). 

A convenient point to start with re the Whalans of the Oberon district is the following very well written obituary with high praise for Mr Charles Whalan (the father in the family who were the first there), as published in the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal in 1885

Charles Whalan in 1867



Although for some years past the subject of this notice took but little part in public affairs, few men were more widely known in the district or more generally respected.  Born in Sydney in 1811, he was amongst the oldest native residents of the colony.  His early life was spent at Prospect, where he saw much of the convict population - his father having much to do with that class of men, and having several of them assigned to him as servants.

In 1838, with his wife and two young children, he crossed the Blue Mountains, and took up his residence at Fish River Creek, and was the pioneer of civilization in that part of the country. Here he resided for well-nigh half-a-century ; and was in reality, as an old resident remarked, ' a father to the neighbourhood.'  His prominent characteristic was unselfishness; and there are few, if any, persons in the district where he lived who have not been placed under obligations to him.  Many a new arrival was helped by him to make a start ; and not a few differences between neighbours were amicably settled by him.  For about thirty years he discharged the duties of an honorary magistrate, having been appointed to that office during the Cowper Administration in 1857.  He took a lively interest in all public questions, and was amongst the earliest advocates of the formation of a railroad to Bathurst, when that now happy accomplished fact was looked upon as an impossibility, and pooh-poohed as a Utopian dream.  In 1838, his brother — the late Mr. James Whalan, who had, in company with the police, been searching for the then notorious bush ranger McEwan — reported to him having seen the mouth of a large cave as they passed along the top of the limestone mountains to the north-east of the Fish River. Ever feeling the liveliest interest in natural wonders or curiosities of any kind, Mr. Whalan at once made   preparation to go in search of the caves. Having obtained careful directions from his brother, he started forth with two companions (both of whom deserted him before the object of his search was accomplished), and thus   became the discoverer of the now far-famed Fish River, or Binda, or Jenolan Caves.  On the occasion of his first visit he had but time to enter and partially explore the great arches. He soon went out again ; and whenever he could contrive to spare the time he prosecuted his searches, until he had penetrated many of those underground 'crystal palaces,' whose wondrous beauty has since won the highest admiration of all who have gazed upon them ; and nothing gave him greater pleasure than to conduct his friends to the halls of matchless loveliness which he had discovered. Visitors came from far and near, for the fame of the caves soon spread ; and many a party has he   conducted to and through them. There were no hotels in the neighbourhood in those days, and visitors to the caves made his house their stopping-place going to and coming from them, always finding a hearty welcome and receiving every attention from Mrs. Whalan.  Until his sons were old enough to undertake the work, Mr. Whalan was the only guide to the caves ; and either himself or some member of his family continued (of course gratuitously) to act in that capacity until the appointment of a guide and caretaker by the Government.  For many years he endeavoured to obtain the reserve and survey of a portion of land for a township, but met with much opposition from official and other quarters.  However, he persevered, and eventually the town of Oberon was laid out and the first lots submitted for auction.  In addition to his intensely active secular life, Mr.Whalan took the deepest interest in religious matters; and whilst the friend of all Christians, he particularly devoted himself to the establishment and advancement of the denomination of his choice — the Methodist body.  For over 40 years he laboured in various offices in connection with that body ; and often, in the absence of the ministers of religion, he has ministered to the dying, cheering their last moments, and pointing them ' to realms of love beyond the sky.'   People of all denominations were accustomed to send for him ; and it mattered not whether the message came in the daytime or at the dead of night, he has always gone — no matter how far or at what personal inconvenience.

Believing the country around his residence to be rich in minerals, he spent much time and capital in seeking to develop its resources. He had several likely looking copper lodes opened out and sunk to a considerable depth; but meeting with no success, he turned his attention to gold mining and searching for precious stones, only, however, to meet with a like fortune; and Mr. Whalan lost heavily.

Old age was now coming upon him, and his losses and disappointments seem to have been too much for him ; his mind began to show evidences of giving way, and his mental powers continued in a clouded state to the end.  On the 2nd February, 1885, he quietly passed away, being 73 years of age. His   remains were interred with those of his father in St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta, and were followed to their last resting-place by many old and prominent residents of that historic borough, who had been his friends in the days of his boyhood and manhood.  Besides an aged widow, he leaves four daughters and three sons, a large number of grand-children, and some great-grand-children, by whom his good name and consistent life are considered greater wealth than any material inheritance that could have been bequeathed them.

( Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 15 August 1885, page 2).


W.L. Harvard did not agree with the commonplace account of James Whalan having discovered the caves when in search of the bushranger James McKeown.  He wrote to The Sydney Morning Herald on 15 December 1931 (page 3):




Sir - In his article under this heading in your last Saturday's issue, Mr. L. De Nos kowski apparently following the guide books, or listening too well to the faint voices of oral tradition, is in error regarding old Jenolan and Wombeyan.  Caves at Jenolan were seen before 1841.  They were not first seen by James Whalan nor did he follow tracks of a stolen horse and pursue the bushranger McKeown, in 1841, or in any other year.  The Government appointed Jeremiah Wilson as caretaker to the (Binda) caves.  He was not the first guide as Charles Whalan and Nicholas Urwin, among others, had acted (unofficially) before 1867.  There is doubt that Charles Chalker, who died at Taralga in September, 1924, was appointed caretaker to Wombeyan Caves in 1864.  Considerable exploration had been carried out in the caves contiguous to the Victorian Arch at Wombeyan prior to the visit in 1862 of the party of which James S.Hassall was a member.  

I am, etc.,  

Artarmon, Dec. 14. W. L. HAVARD.    


Harvard early in his account of Jenolan Caves history stressed how 'Ginggam' (Gingkan) had been occupied in some manner for grazing prior to 1826, and hence it is thought quite likely that stockmen or others may have come upon the caves at Jenolan before the Whalans made them known.   Harvard also noted that a statement in Rev. J.G. Millard's 1858 "Recollections of a Tour" (Christian Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 19) [not seen] indicated that the flats along McKweon's Creek a mile or two from the caves were known before the advent of Mr. Charles Whalan and others, and Harvard thought this also would mean that "beyond reasonable doubt the caves also were known" (Harvard 1933, p. 7). 

On the other hand, seemingly supportive of the story that a bushranger, McKeown may have been living in the valley (as reputedly discovered there by Whalan/s) is this on page 6 of Basil Ralston's book "The Golden Ages of Caving":  "Many Years later, in a small cave along McKeown's Valley, a schoolboy found bullock bows and hinge pins cached away. This is now the Bow Cave."  Also in the 1889 book "The Jenolan Caves - An Excursion in Australian Wonderland" by Samuel Cook, it is stated (p. 15):  "It is possible that some of these caves were known previously to outlaws, who found in them a secure and convenient hiding-place when hotly pursued.  But the visit of Whalan on the occasion of the capture of McEwan first brought them into public notice.  The name of the bushranger is given to the creek which plays an important part in connection with the caves.  One of the principal features received its name from the captor, and another - the Bow Cave - is called after some stolen bullock-bows found therein" ..... "The next is the Bow Cave, to which reference has previously been made. It is a small cavern, and, as has already been explained, there were found in it six bullock bows, together with two harrow pins, and a pair of hinges; supposed to have been "planted" there by McEwan, the bush-ranger, about the year 1839.  This cave has about it numerous small drives not yet explored" (p. 187).  The Bow Cave is tagged as J16.

W.L. Harvard to be doubting 1931 was going against some quite detailed earlier published pieces, such as this one from Jeremiah Wilson:


Lithgow Mercury April 7th 1899

The Discovery of Jenolan Caves

To the Editor

Sir. - In your issue of the 31st March 99 I see a scrap from Mr A.S. Whalan re the discovery of Jenolan caves.  James Whalan is the real discoverer of Jenolan caves.  It was after he captured the bushranger McEwen, who robbed his team of the bullock bows and chains at a place known as Coogie Flat near Gingkin.  Mr James Whalan, with the assistance of a police officer and Jerh Beale tracked McEwen to the top of the range above his camp when they saw the smoke of his fire.  They camped for the night; the descent was made in the morning when they captured McEwen whom they secured and handed over to the authorities.  James Whalan returned to his camp to try and find some of his property which included bullock bows and chains, horses and a steel mill which were used at that time to grind wheat for the Government men told off to James Whalan to serve their time.  When he got to the hut where they had taken him he followed the valley down to within about 3/4 of a mile of the caves.  He left his horse and walked down, it being impossible to get his horse with him.  He then went through the archways; finding he could not get down the river further he went about the daylight caves and returned to his horse, and could not get any of his property.  When it was reported McEwen was taken a stockman at Lowther got a blackfellow to take him to McEwen's camp and he took the steel mill away between the time Whalan had taken McEwen and when he returned to look for his stolen property.  Whalan heard of the mill being taken and went and identified it by a No.8 on one of the bolts.  When McEwen robbed Whalan he always packed what he took on Whalan's horses.  When he got near his camp he killed the horses so that they would not track the horses back and find him.  I was told this by Whalan's stockman, James Campbell afterwards in 1855; so that James Whalan was the real discoverer of Jenolan Caves in 1841 and the first man to enter them.  When he returned he told people that he had been at the end of the world in the Devils Coach-house so that is how it got its name.  Jerh Beale who tracked McEwen told me all they had done from starting to track. They did not see the caves until after the capture of McEwen.   Mr J Whalan searched several times for his bullock harness and his horses.   When I heard that McEwen took the bullock bows and chains I did not believe he carried them so far but when exploring about fourteen years ago I found the bullock bows six bows, two pairs of iron hinges and two harrow pins planted in a cave.  There are scores of people who have seen them in the cave since I discovered it.   This is the true account of the discovery of Jenolan caves and as I have been exploring them since 1855 I have collected the particulars from eye witnesses as to James Whalan's work and the robbery at his house by McEwen.   I have taken a great delight in the exploring of the caves and everything in connection with their discovery, etc, before my time here.   Kindly publish the above in the interest of the readers of your valuable paper of which I am a constant reader - Yours, etc.

J. Wilson
Jenolan Caves, April 4



In that it actually states that he, Jeremiah discovered the bullock bows.   So much for a schoolboy finding them, then?

Photo of J.G. Millard in ca. 1880 by Henry Jones.   (Methodist Church collection)   In 1858 Millard was the Wesleyan minister at York Street, Sydney, apparently in charge of Bathurst and outlying areas.   His referred to article has not yet been seen by the present writer.

Harvard corrected a report in the Daily Telegraph of 29 August 1888, which stated that until his sons were old enough to undertake such work, Charles Whalan (of Glyndwr property on the Fish Rive, later Oberon)  was the only guide to the caves.  Harvard noted (p.5) that Nicholas Urwin and others had also been early guides at that time.

Harvard's "Nicholas Urwin" might acutally have been Nicholas Irwin.   This is suggested by the following article which was published in the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (11 January 1860, page 2), at a time when the caves were known as McKeon's Caves:



We do not identify ourselves with the opinions of our Correspondents.


To the Editor of the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal. Sir, — In presuming to trespass upon your valuable time and attention, permit me to express a hope that the following communication   may be found interesting to all admirers of the magnificent wonders of nature. 

THE McKEON'S CAVES have long been visited and admired by visitors from the most distant parts of the colony, and though the road is very rough and scrubby in places, and the caves are about eight miles from the nearest farm,— that of R. Armstrong, Esq. and very difficult of access, yet the number of visitors at all seasons of the year is continually increasing. Many even of the fair sex find their way hither, and after overcoming the difficulties of the tour, they all express the greatest admiration and wonder at the marvellous grandeur, and   fantastical variety of these unrivalled specimens of nature's architecture. One of the most constant and experienced explorers is our respected local magistrate, C. Whalan, Esq., who has often sacrificed his time and ease to become the guide and exhibitor to many of the large parties of visitors who have so often experienced his hospitality and attentions. This gentleman's first visit goes back to 1838,  and, ever since then, he has frequently visited them.   The caves are rather a labyrinth of endless variety, than distinct and separate grottos.   Imagine a huge limestone mountain of about 700 feet in height, pierced by two vast vaulted halls, which meet in a creek of ever flowing water.

Each of these halls or tunnels admits the daylight and is about 200 yards in length, of   stupendous height, and encompassed by immense   galleries, branching out into an endless variety of caves, adorned by numberless stalactites, hanging from the roof of 20 and 30 feet in length, and   stalagmites and rocks in endless abundance,   scattered profusely around. Every variety, of   limestone, (from the rude rock to the polished   marble) in every conceivable form. Then you may   conceive a faint general outline of a spectacle which must be witnessed to be appreciated, and which, once seen, can never be forgotten.

THE NEW CAVES — The opinion had often been expressed by the most experienced explorers that new caves, surpassing any hitherto seen, existed lower down the McKeon's Creek, but the towering precipices seemed inaccessible, and to preclude the idea of human investigation.  About 10 o'clock on the morning of Wednesday,  4th January, two visitors named Nicholas Irwin (an old experienced guide) and your present correspondent, resolved to make an attempt to measure the height of a lofty pinnacle     overhanging the creek. To do this it was necessary to climb up the precipitous side of the mountain, to a magnificent natural arch, spanning a deep abyss between the two mountains.   The accomplishment of this exploit was no   easy task, owing to the steep precipitous nature of the ascent, and the loose slippery character of the soil; rocks and stones loosened by our   ascent would now and then escape from beneath the feet and bound with fearful velocity down the frightful precipice, loosening others in their descent and accelerating in velocity, till they thundered down into the creek below with an awful crash, shattering trees and rocks and everything in their way. One slip of the foot     would probably have led to instant, and frightful destruction; after some delay we got safely to   the summit, and after observing the deep   weather-worn furrows of the rocks and the horrible chasm beneath us, we ascertained the time of a stone falling to be about 6 seconds, or 580 feet depth. While here, my attention was attracted by the appearance of an opening in the side of the precipice a great way beneath us, and shrouded above by a thick mantle of 20 or 30   feet of what seemed to be ivy. Resolving to attempt this spot, Nicholas Irwin led the way, and I followed him, sliding and scrambling down through the loose stones and thick bushes around us, and led by the apparent ivy. We   gained the opening, found the ivy was an   evergreen olive, all springing out of an ancient twisted, gnarled tree. We became convinced that we were probably the first human beings   that had ever penetrated into this mysterious spot. The ground was covered with a soft loose mould to the depth of two or three feet, the spars and stalactites were of exquisite beauty, in their pristine state, unbroken and undilapidated; not the slightest trace or vestige of human being ever having set foot there, for it would have been impossible to have crept through the next narrow opening without breaking the delicate spars or leaving some slight trace of passage.   It is impossible to express the impression of awe, produced by the solemn twilight and sacred stillness of that unbroken solitude. After having   satisfied ourselves of the unfathomable   depth, and the unexplored nature of this cave, unfortunately having no candles, we were   compelled to return by the perilous way by which we descended. We immediately informed some others of the party, and visits were made on two succeeding occasions (that evening and next day) to the same spot. The last party consisted of C. Whalan Jun., E. Whalan, Rev. W.T.     Mayne, Rev. T. Skewes, J. Wilson, N. Wilson, C. and W. Armstrong, J. Harvey, J. Hughes,   W. Stanger, G. Whiting, J. Falls, James Nolan, and E. Armstrong; 14 in number; who are witnesses of the truth of these facts. Two hours exploring by this large party only had the effect of exhausting all our candles, and convincing us of the unexplored fathomless extent of this new   discovery. Adequately to describe the scenery, or the influence produced on our minds is   impossible, but to give a faint outline of what we witnessed, is all that lies in our power. After passing through the narrow crevice already mentioned, there commences a rapid and   dangerous descent, which continued as far as our utmost researches reached. At the same time the cave increases in height and width, so as to open out into a long succession of spacious     amphitheatres, surpassing in extent all the other caves, and exceeding the wildest imaginations of romance. As we pass along our arduous course an uninterrupted succession of magnificent panoramas is presented to the eye; spreading   into endless varieties of perspective, ending in blackest midnight darkness; and embellished with all the unexhausted diversity and fantastical beauties of nature, in her purest and wildest fancies. In some parts transparent fringed draperies of the richest and most exquisite texture, and emitting, when struck, musical organ-like tones, are there. In others marble sparkling like jewels, or white as driven snow. Baths and fountains of the clearest water abound, and numberless passages of unexplored extent, &c., &c., &c., &c. Feeling conscious that I should exhaust your patience, before my subject,

I remain, Sir,

Yours respectfully,



Nothing earlier is know of Nicholas Irwin the 'old experienced guide'.   A little earlier in 1857 a man of that name had been charged with charged with the offence of leaving his bullocks to stray across the road, and fined twenty shillings or twelve hours' imprisonment, but it might or might not be the same person.   If the same, he was likely a carrier.   Or, if Harward was correct with "Nicholson Urwin" and the Georgy Whiting story above has the wrong surname, then he might have been the Nicholas Urwin who died in the Tuena district in 1899, aged 92 years.

Yet another guide in 1860 as "J.F", whoever that was, as indicated in the The Australian Home Companion and Band of Hope Journal of 25 February 1860 (page 23) from the following letter to the editor:


Sir, - I see by your publication of the 14th of January, that a party wishes to ramble into the country for a few months, I would recommend him to come and have a look at the McKeons' Caves, on the Fish River Creek.  They are far before the Wellington Caves. If he wishes to see the Wellington Caves first, it will be in his road home to Sydney again to call at the Fish River Creek.  I am going out with a party myself in about three weeks, and if he wishes to join us, I 'shall be most happy to see him.

J. F., Fish River Creek.


Also in 1860, Charles Whalan travelled to see the newly discovered cave referred to above and it was reported that Charles found there a "fossil hand" (e.g. South Australian Weekly Chronicle, 7 July 1860, page 3), in "quite perfect" condition, cut off at the upper joint of the wrist.   Charles indicated his intention to return, but nothing more has been found recorded about the 'fossil hand'..  

As to unofficial discovers, besides James McKeon, Harvard (page 7) noted that other known cattle stealers in the area were Luke White, James Farney, and James and Leonary Cheetham.  Others have attributed the naming of the Devil's Coach House to Luke White when he once camped there.   Harvard noted that Luke White was convicted (at Sydney) in 1840 of a charge of cattle stealing at Bendo in August 1839.   This was evidence that the caves were known of before August 1839.

Harvard may have gotten this slightly wrong, as the Australasian Chronicle ( 12 November 1840, page 2) reported as follows:


TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11 (Before his Honor the Chief Justice.)

Luke White, late of Hartley, was indicted for stealing a calf at Bendo, near Hartley, the property of Mr. John Wood, of Lowder, on 10th August, 1838. The prisoner pleaded not guilty. Messrs. Purefoy and Windeyer appeared on behalf of the prisoner; and Mr. R. Therry for the crown. The first witness called was Mr. Peter Workman, who said that he was a superintendent of Mr. Wood's, of Lowder, near Hartley ; Mr. Wood had cattle in that neighbourhood; witness missed a calf about eighteen months ago; the mother of the calf had been missing for some time before she calved; she calved about ten miles from Lowder; Perry, the stockman, brought some cattle, and amongst them the calf in question ; it was branded with the prisoner's brand, LW, and a bit cut off its ears; it was then about six months old ; it was a kind of yellow colour; it was at that time following the mother ; she had been away off and on nearly two years; she was five or six years old, and witness had known her ever since she was a calf; the calf was then branded with Mr. Wood's brand a figure of 3 on each thigh; witness was of opinion that the calf belonged to the cow, because it followed her ; it was a male calf; it was turned into the paddock amongst some other calves, and the cow into the bush, but she remained for five days about the paddock, when the calf was either let out or got out, and they both went into the bush; witness had seen the cow since; she had been brought by the prisoner, and witness told him if he should find any more of their cattle he would give him five shillings for every head he brought ; he had seen the calf about a twelvemonth after the first time; it was a poly; he knew it by the brand; it had their own brand on, Luke White's and Mr. Whalan's, which was C U ; the brand of Mr. Wood, two figures of 3, were still on it ; he was sure it was the same beast; they had it ever since at Mr. Wood's; they had it yet ; it was now two years old. Samuel Perry was then called, and said he was in Mr. Wood's service about eighteen months ago as stockman ; it was his duty to collect the cattle in the bush; he recollected a heifer being missing; she was about a twelvemonth old ; when he found her again she was two years old, and had a calf with her; at Bendo; witness tried to bring her home, but he could not, as the calf knocked up; he left her at Bendo; he brought her in afterwards, but could not say whether it was more or less than a twelvemonth old; there was a calf with her at that time, but witness could not say whether it was the same calf as he had seen before ; it appeared to be about the same age as he should suppose the calf he first saw would be, and it corresponded in colour; it was branded L W, and a bit took off its ears; he never saw that calf sucking the cow; it followed her; he turned the calf into the paddock, and the cow outside; she stopped about for two or three days, and then the calf got out and they went away; the calf had been branded by them with a figure of 3 on each thigh; witness found the calf again at Bendo; it might be more than five or six months after it went away ; it had then another brand upon it, a C U ; it was Mr. Whalan's brand; witness brought it home. Cross-examined by M. Purefoy--He could swear to a calf that he not seen for a twelvemonth, if it was in a tame herd, but not in a wild one; he had seen a calf which had lost its mother take to another; he would not swear positively that it was the same calf he had seen first. Re-examined-It was the same colour and had the same brands when brought back the second time as it had before ; the colour and brands would assist him to identify it. James Farney was then called-Had some cattle running on the Fish River, about four miles from Bendo; Mr. Wood's cattle often came upon witness' run; he remembered a red and yellow coloured cow; she had a steer calf of the same colour; it was now two years old gone; he saw it last about three months ago in Mr. Wood's paddock ; it was branded with L W, a figure of 3, and C U; he saw it about twelvemonths before, in January or February; Luke White brought it to the stockyard, and the next day he (the prisoner) branded it as his own; it was the same that he afterwards saw at Mr. Wood's; it was about nine months old at that time, and the prisoner branded and cut the calf himself; it was a very difficult thing for one man to accom plish; Luke White was witness' stockman. Cross-examined by Mr. Windeyer-Witness did not sell the cow which was the mother of the calf to the prisoner; he was present when prisoner sold part of his stock to Mr. Whalan ; witness did not tell Mr. Whalan that Mr. Wood's brand was on the calf by mistake, and that the calf belonged to a cow which witness had sold to the prisoner; would swear that he never said that to Mr. Whalan; said he would vouch for all that had Luke White's brand to be right; that calf was among them; would swear that he told Whalan that all those which had L W only were all right; witness assisted in driving the cattle to Mr. Whalan's, a distance of nine or ten miles; after that Luke White said he was going to England, but he returned, and said he was going to hire with Mr. Whalan; would positively swear that he never told prisoner in presence of Mr. C. Whalan that if he would not serve him witness would take care he should not serve any one else; he had charged Mr. C. Whalan with cattle stealing as well as the prisoner; he had charged about half a dozen people with cattle stealing, some before and some after he got into trouble ; witness himself stood committed for cattle stealing ; never said that Luke White, as his servant, ought not to collect witness' cattle for the government; he had not a morsel of ill will against him for it; he gave information of the calf which belongs to Wood before he was in trouble himself; he was always sure that the calf belonged to Wood. This closed the case for the prosecution; and Mr. Purefoy then addressed the jury for the prisoner, and said there was no evidence except that of Farney to prove the identity of the animal; and he need offer no comments upon the respectability of that witness. The information stated that the calf belonged to Mr. Wood: now the witness Perry had   stated that he could not swear to the identity of the animal; and they had no evidence whatever to prove that it really did belong to Mr. Wood, except that of Farney, who had positively sworn that the prisoner branded it as his own ; but the manner in which he had described that process was so extra- ordinary that hie was sure the jury, who were better acquainted with such matters than himself, would give no credence to it. He should call Mr. Charles Whalan who he believed was a gentleman of unimpeachable character. Mr. Charles Whalan was called, and said he was a farmer and grazier on the Fish River Creek; he had been committed on the evidence of Farney, and was now out on bail. He remembered purchasing some cattle belonging to prisoner, one of which was a steer about eight or nine months old ; Farney was present at the time; Mr. Wood's brand was upon it, and witness asked Farney how it came there, and if the steer was the property of prisoner; Farney said it was, and Mr. Wood's superintendent had branded it by mistake ; he also said that witness had bought the mother of it from White, a star poly cow which was amongst the lot. Farney had not said anything to witness about that steer before ; witness took the steer to his brother's, and branded it with C U. After that White left that part of the country ; when he came back he went into Farney's service, and after that into witness's ; Farney was not pleased at the prisoner's going into witness's ser- vice; could not say how long after that it was that Farney charged the witness and White, but Farney was in trouble when he gave evidence against wit- ness. Farney assisted witness and White in driving the cattle from Farney's yard. Witness should think that a man could not have cut and branded that steer without some assistance when the animal was nine months old. William Coxon was then called, but did not ap- pear; and Mr. Therry, on the part of the crown, addressed the jury. He remarked that the evidence of the man Farney was one on which he could certainly place no reliance; but he was sure that the evidence of the other witnesses was such that the case might go to the consideration of the jury. It was proved that White had exercised ownership over the animal ; the evidence of Mr. Whalan proved that he had sold it to him; and the evidence of Perry was sufficient to establish its ideniity. After making a few other observations on the evidence, the learned gentleman said he would confidently leave the case in the hands of the jury. His Honor then addressed the jury, and said if Mr. Whalan had not been called he should have considered that the case was not sufficient to go to the jury; but the evidence of that gentleman had materially altered the case. His evidence went to show that Farney was as much implicated in the matter as the prisoner; and the only question they had now to consider was, whether the calf was really the property of Mr. Wood, or whether the prisoner had really any proper claim to it. His Honor then read over the evidence, and the jury, after about twenty minutes' consultation, returned a verdict of Guilty. Mr. Therry then prayed the judgment of the court upon the prisoner. Mr. Purefoy said he would move in arrest of judgment that the property had been proved by the witnesses to belong to John Woods; whereas in the information it was said to be that of John Wood: the names were certainly those of two distinct persons. His Honor said that the objection should have been made before the verdict was returned. He then addressed the prisoner, and said that with the verdict of the jury he was perfectly satisfied. The name of the prisoner had been often before that court in connexion with cattle stealing transactions; he made no doubt that the prisoner had been most intimately concerned in those transactions; but the justice of the country had at length overtaken him. It appeared that though he came originally to the colony a convict, and had been employed nearly the whole of his time in the capacity of stockman, he was some time ago about to retire to England with a considerable sum of money: it could hardly be supposed that he had come by that honestly.  It was clear that he had been most intimately engaged in the nefarious practices of a gang of cattlestealers, of which Farney was one, and the probability was, that if they two had never quarrelled the prisoner would still have been at large; but, "when rogues disagreed honest men sometimes came by their own."  He was glad that justice had at length overtaken the prisoner, and he should now be sent from the colony. The sentence of the court was, that the prisoner be transported to a penal settlement for the period of ten years. 'The court then adjourned till Saturday morning, at ten o'clock.


This states that the calf was stolen in August 1838 (not August 1839) as Harvard wrote.  Thus if the story about Loke White naming the Devil's Coach House is accepted, these caves were known before August 1838.

The Australasian Chronicle ( 12 November 1840, page 3) also reported the same ( = "Luke White, late of Hartley, was indicted for stealing a calf at Bendo, near Hartley, the property of Mr. John Wood, of Lowder, on 10th August, 1838").   However, The Australian on 14 November 1840 (page 2) reported "Luke White, late of Hartley, was indicted for stealing one steer, the property of John Wood. at Bendo, on the 10th of August, 1839."  

The Australian's version is much shorter (and also turned the calf into a steer) and is presumably the inaccurate one.

Thus contemporaneous newspaper accounts of this trial differed and Harvard presumably saw the erroneous one in this regard.

After Mr Jeremiah Wilson was appointed Keeper of the Caves in 1867, mentions of Charles Whalan there are sparse.   Some Whalans might have continued an association with the caves, but only as employees there(?).   As Harvard mentions, faithful cave workmen around 1900, who had for many years been entrusted works inside the caves, included Joseph Luchetti snr. (a Whalans relative) and Mr. M. Whalan.

From all these historical indications, Charles and James Whalan are believed to have learned of Jenolan Caves in 1838, with James likely seeing them first from a distance, although accounts vary.  Charles Whalan (Jr) married Elizabeth Harper in 1836, and  1837 saw them settle on a 2000 acre property at Bullocks Flat now known as Oberon. The farm was named Glyndwr, welsh word (pronounced  'Glendor') by Elizabeth who had been born in Wales.  James Whalan married Lydia Dargin and they settled in Gingkin.   James was closer to the caves and more likely the discoverer.  The discovery did not take long after the Whalans arrival in the district.  During the 1850's and 1860's,  the public would call upon the Whalans and one or other of the brothers would arrange their passage to the caves and show them through.   

Another reference ( http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/71522971 - Australian Town and Country Journal, 19 April 1902, page 15) gives a different Whalan, neither Charles not James, as the discover of Jenolan Caves, namely John McLean Whalan:  "The death is announced of Mr. John Whalan, a very old resident of Lithgow, and the owner of "Glendyr," one of the finest homesteads in the mountain district.  Deceased was 81 years of age, and was a brother of Mr. John McLean Whalan, the discoverer of Jenolan Caves."  [Wikipedia at one time also stated likewise: "John Whalan explored the areas around Jenolan Caves and the Blue Mountains and discovered the rock formation known as Grand Arch".]   The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (14 April 1902, page 2) however in reporting that same death, noted that the deceased was not John Whalan the brother of John McLean Whalan, but rather was John McLean Whalan.  And it (the Bathurst newspaper) stated that John had come to the district in 1842 "with his brother Charles (who was the actual discoverer of the Jenolan Caves".   However it does also say that John McLean Whalan "assisted in the capture of McEwan, the bushranger, whose hiding-place was the gully near the Caves, now known as 'McEwan's Hole '".   Also, the Bathurst newspaper reported that although John had once settled at "Glendyr", he'd moved from there.  And about "25 years ago he came to Edith, and rented a place on the 'Buckemall Creek' where he lived till his death on Friday morning".   Thus it seems he died at Edith, not at Ligthgow as one might think from the other newspaper report.

Charles Whalan's brothers James, John McLean and Campbell were all early settlers in the Gingkin, Hollander’s River and Edith areas (and Boyd plateau too in the case of Campbell?).

Ernest McLean Whalan , the last of the five children born to John McLean (or Maclaine) Whalan, near Oberon in 1907 is prone to being mixed up with another Ernest Whalan of Oberon.  The latter, Ernest Thomas Whalan was a butcher in Oberon who was one of three men that brought a charge of horse-stealing against Jeremiah Wilson, Keeper of Jenolan Caves, in August 1900.

The Wilson and Whalan families are also intermarried - Edwin Whalan (born 1841, third of eight children of Charles Whalan) married Amelia Wilson at Hartley during 1875.   And Alfred Samuel Whalan (born 1849 at “Glyndwr”, Oberon, seventh of the eight children of Charles Whalan) married Agatha Josephine Wilson in 1874 (they had ten childen, one of whom was another Ernest Whalan).

I don't know how the Whalans and Wilsons first came to be interrelated but they both go back to Northern Ireland, as do ?most of those families who settled in the shire around Bullock Flat, Titania, Edith and Gingkin (partly before Oberon was named).  They came  especially from County Tyrone (Armstrongs, Beatties, Edgars, Eatons, Flemings and Wilsons).  William Fleming and his wife Lucinda Wilson arrived in Australia in 1836 and soon went to Oberon area.  In March 1839 they were joined by John Fleming and his wife Susannah Brien; Mary Ann Wilson and William Armstrong, and her sister Elizabeth Wilson with her husband Alexander Graham ; etc., all of who had had arrived on the Argyle that year.  Many such families are originally of  Borderer origin, from the conflict-ridden border district between England and Scotland, and had been sent or displaced from there into northern Ireland.

The establishment of Edith is credited to John McLean Whalan, brother of Charles Whalan of Glyndwr. 

Old Methodist cemetery, Oberon

 Edith was originally called by the Aboriginal name, Buckemall.  John McLean was the last of the brothers to settle in the Oberon area (and so the least likely to have discovered Jenolan Caves?)   He came to own 'Buckemall' and 'Woodlands' properties, and was responsible for the establishment of the Methodist church at Edith.

I have been trying to find out who built/owned the hut I stayed in in 1969 in the clearing at Budthingeroo Creek on the Kanangra Walls Road.  Earliest indications I could find about that clearing claimed that it had been Campbell Whalan's land.   However I later came across a statement that a "hut well known to bushwalkers" was erected by John MacLean Whalan "in the Jenolan Caves/Kanangra Walls area as a stockman's hut".

A number of John Whalan descendants were no doubt much connected with Jenolan Caves.  One of those whose name crops up a fair bit was Orton John Whalan, who apparently lived for many years at "the Lower Farm".   Campbell Whalan appears to have lived mainly at Edith somewhere, but he took up further land on the Hollanders River (well west of the Jenolan Caves to Kanangra Walls Road)..

Another reference describes how William and Rebecca Wilson moved inland to settle in the Fish River Creek area after arriving in Sydney.  There they joined friends, neighbours and relatives from their home-region in Ireland.  In March 1853 and in 1854 William Wilson applied for and was granted three land grants, for which he paid the requirements.  Those grants were apparently all around the south-eastern corner of Charles Whalan's "Glywndr" estate.  This reference also says that Charles' brother James took up a land grant at Gingkin, his other brother John Whalan went to Hollander's River, and his third brother Campbell Whalan settled near Edith (unlike the account that says Campbell took up land at Hollanders River).  John Whalan did later move to Edith and is credited with pioneering the village there.  Edith village was named after Edith Druscila Bailey who was the oldest girl in the school.

Three different (but related) Wilson lineages would become with Jenolan Caves.  The best known is that of Willam Wilson, who joined the Methodist community at Oberon and whose two daughters Agatha and Amelia, married into the Whalans  (The other lines include Ralph T. Wilson who worked as a blacksmith for many years at Jenolan).



Jeremiah Wison was appointed keeper or caretaker of the caves.   Later his son became assistant caretaker, and evertually took over as caretaken from Jeremiah.

The best-known Jenolan Caves Wilson is Jeremiah Wilson.  He was born in 1839 before the family emigrated to Australia.  The first known connection between Jeremiah and the caves seems to be that he (re-)discovered the Elder Cave in 1848.  Jeremiah and Noble Wilson are mentioned in an article in the Bathurst Free Press (11 January 1860) as being members of a party of fourteen led by George Whiting (the tutor to Charles Whalan's children) and Nicolas Irwin.  This party on Wednesday 4 January 1860 discovered the third dark cave in the McKeon's Caves, now known as the Lucas Cave.

In 1866 a caves reserve was created by the government. The Government Gazette of 8 March 1867 announced the appointment of Jeremiah Wilson as first Keeper at the Binda Caves (then popularly known and subsequently officially referred to as the Fish River Caves until 1884 when they were renamed Jenolan Caves).    He'd been recommended for appointment as "Warden of the Bendo Caves" in 1866 to the Minister of Lands, J. Bowie Wilson.   What feelings that the Whalans family might have had about this, that they had been by-passed (and likely didn't even know that this was afoot) is unknown.   Jeremiah Wilson may have been recommended as the first caretaker by a surveyor, John F. Mann, who had been instructed in 1863 to survey there. This is shown in a letter that Mann wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 October 1903 - "I claim the credit of having brought the necessity for their preservation under the notice of the then Minister for Lands, the late Hon. John Bowie Wilson, who, on my recommendation, appointed Mr. Jeremiah Wilson as first caretaker" (The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 October 1903, page 5).

Until 1880, Jeremiah resided on his farm on the Fish River Creek, travelling some 30km to the caves as required.

To overcome this long travel he was given a lease of two acres in 1878 (as gazetted 24 December 1878), and on that land he built the first guest-house at the caves.  He had gotten this course of action put forward by the politican John Lucas who on 11 September 1879 wrote for him to the Under Secretary of Mines that "There being no place of shelter... Wilson, the keeper, ... will erect a place 40 feet long by 14 feet wide if the Govt. will supply him with the iron necessary to cover it and enclose the front and one end".  Geologist Lamont Young wrote in 1880:  "Mr J. Wilson ... had at the time of my last visit erected a small slab kitchen just above the junction of the Surveyor's & Wallaby Creeks ... Adjoining this kitchen on the Wallaby Creek side he was clearing a piece of ground for the erection of a larger hut, to afford sleeping accommodation to visitors; the floor of this second hut will be some 18 inches higher than that of the first, but even then it appeared to me liable to be flooded.  And flooded it was.  Jememiah r fought also for the protection of the caves from the public who generally lacked conservation insights, and he was involved in all the early development at the caves.

The NSW "Blue Book"s recorded in 1891 that Jeremiah was Caretaker of Caves under the Secretary of Mines and Agriculture, having been first employed on 1 January 1867, and appointed to his current position on 1 January 1881 with a salary of £175.0.0.  The 1885 edition shows a concurrent appointment from 27 August 1877 as Caretaker of Forest Reserves Oberon, under the Secretary of Mines, Conservation of Forests (prior to the establishment of any separate forestry authority in the government).

In the early hours of 14 March 1895, the whole of the accommodation and other buildings at Jenolan Caves was destroyed by fire.  None of the Wilson household effects were saved.   He had been keeper of the caves for 28 years and had erected all the buildings at his own expense.  He was not in a position to rebuild, sought compensation, requested the cancellation of his two acre lease, and relinquished his position as Caretaker of Jenolan Caves that year.  Nonetheless the 1899 Blue Book still showed him in the employ of the Department of Mines and Agriculture, Geological Survey Branch, listed in the General Duties Section as "Explorer of Caves" with a salary of £130.0.0.   Although his name does not occur in later editions, his services were fianally dispensed with only on 11 October 1900.

His services were dispensed with on 11 October 1900 because he went to gaol on 22 October 1900.

For Jeremiah (Jerry) Wilson), who gaol or no goal is still highly regarded in caving circles, it was the end.  According to Sylvia Evans in 1998 (who must be a family researcher? - reference needed)  Jeremiah went into Bathurst gaol "a fine strong man and came out as broken physically and mentally, ready to die".

It is related that he never regained self-esteem, and was usually to be seen sitting silently in a "pola" with head bowed, withdrawn from any company.

On 21 August 1900 Jeremiah was arrested at his Jenolan Caves residence, and on 7 September, at Oberon he was committed for trial on three counts of horse stealing.

The charges were brought by Robert Vincent (miner and labourer) of Jenolan Caves, William Reeves (farmer, of Duckmaloi), and Ernest Thomas Whalan (butcher, of Oberon).
Ernest Thomas Whalan was the son of  John McLean Whalan of Edith.
Ernest was living in a house he rented from Jeremiah and if Jeremiah went to gaol he might get the rent free?

More charges, of cattle stealing, would emerge from Reeves of Duckmaloi.

It was alleged that on 3 August 1900 the accused stole one 16-hand bright bay saddle gelding from Vincent, one black draught gelding from Reeves and one dark draught mare from Whalan.

It was alleged that the horses were among others trucked across flooded rivers to Mount Victoria, by Jeremiah alone, on the evening of the 3 August, where they were consigned aboard No 32 Up via Penrith to Flemington, to be auctioned there by J. Inglis & Sons.

The whole matter seems quite astounding.  The charges were augmented by a deposition made on 30 September by a Mr Edward Cooke (?of Cooke's Point near the top of the Five Mile Track):  "On the night of 23rd of August... Mr Jeremiah Wilson came to my house at Jenolan and asked me to do him a favour, saying I could get him out of trouble: in asking what the favour was he said that he stole my mare and that if I would sign a receipt as having sold the mare he would give me the value of her, and then when I went to Sydney to identify her I could tell the police she was not my  property and that I had sold her to him."

Cooke testified that on the 24th travelled to Newtown to claim his horse; contracting influenza, he recovered his horse on 22 September and returned to Oberon to make his deposition.  Further, a black unclaimed stolen horse which had been hurt was stated by Constable Haine of Oberon to have been destroyed.

Jeremiah pleaded guilty to receiving, so he must have claimed that he bought this stock from someone?

He was sentenced to 15 months hard labour in Bathurst Gaol.

Several prominent people from near and far wrote to authorities giving testimony in favour of Jeremiah's good character.  They included Henry Butler of The Lagoon, who deposed that he throughout an "...  intimate association ... of 25 years ... found Mr Wilson thoroughly honest and trustworthy".   John Vaughan, the Rector of S Andrew's in Summer Hill, wrote that having known
"... for more than 30 years Jeremiah Wilson and his family - having been the CE Clergyman in the Fish River district and that for 15 years saw a great deal of him - [he found Jeremiah] a man of unblemished reputation; indeed I doubt if there was a man in the vicinity of Oberon and its surroundings who was more highly and generally respected than he was. Further I may add, it has never been my lot to this day to hear even a whisper against his uprighteousness, honesty and integrity."

James Doust, JP (before whom Jeremiah was arraigned), deposed on 1 October to have: "... not known anything wrong in his conduct or dealings and I thoroughly believe that his position under the Crown at Jenolan Caves has been carried out faithfully and conscientiously".   Another deposed that Jeremiah was "a most reputable character ... sober, stead, well conducted in every way ...". Others testifying were Ward Harrison (Wesleyan minister at Molong, who had conducted Divine Service at the Caves for three years), Jac Barnes (JP of Triangle Flat, who had known Jeremiah "... all my days"), the Rector at O'Connell, Albert Fox JP, and businessmen W.H. Paul and J.B. Dalhunty who had found Jeremiah scrupulous and honest over 40 years and 16 years respectively.
Jeremiah agreed that he had received the horses but the report of the trial (Bathurst Daily Times of Thursday 11 October) gives no details of the circumstances of how he got them.
However, his lawyer, Mr. W. P. Crick, said in Court that the had been known in the district for the last 35 or 40 years, and for about 20 years had been in charge of the Jenolan Caves, and the evidence he would produce would show that during that time accused had always been a good character.  In this case he had been the dupe of someone else who had taken advantage of his infirmities, and he had been more sinned against than sinning.   For a number of years Jeremiah had been very deaf.   
Gloster Searle White deposed that he had resided in Bathurst for over 40 years and had pursued the occupation of journalist in the town for 26 years, he had known the accused for between 20 and 30 years and had never heard anything detrimental to his character, had known him to be in charge of the Jenolan Caves for the last 20 years.

George Halkerston MacDougal deposed that he was one of the proprietors of the BATHURST TIMES and had resided in Bathurst about 40 years; he had been connected with the TIMES since 1864 and had known accused for about 20 years; so far as his knowledge enabled him to form an opinion, the accused had been a man of excellent character; had never heard anything against him or his family.
Mr. Crick said that it was hardly likely that a man who had lived to the age of 60 years with an unblemished character, should, in the evening of his life, commit a felony, and that in open daylight, and  in a most public manner.
Mr. Crick said that "the depositions showed" (but which depositions?)  that thes horses had been either given or sold to the accused by a man named McKenzie.
The accussed had then sent them from Mount Victoria railway station to Sydney where they had been sold at auction by Mr. Inglis.
Mr Crick also said that the accused Jeremiah had stood in the auction box beside Mr. Inglis while the sale was in process - and that surely a man who knew he had committed a felony would not stand thus before the people and connect himself publicly with his crime. 
Another report of the case is in Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 12 October 1900 (page 2). 

The case reporting, or the case itself, seems highly unsatisfactory as it does not describe how Jerry got the horses (if he was truly a receiver).  The sentence for receiving clashes with the evidence offered that he'd admitted to stealing, and so on.   There is adequate description of how he sold the horses (very openly) but next to nothing on how he got them.   If it was truly a case of receiving then that could have been detailed - so why is that missing?   The judge apparently thought the horses were stolen at different times.   The judge said (reportedly) that the Crown had been very lenient indeed in charging him with receiving only as one offence.   But facts are facts and the Court either neglected to establish the true facts or such were not fully reported(?).   If it was really a case (or cases?) of receiving - which is what the Court sentenced on - then from whom?    The accused should have been asked to answer the assertion that he'd admitted to stealing, yet apparently that was not done.  The horses were seen in Jeremiah's possession at the Mt Victoria railway station, where he apparently said he he'd got them from a man named McKenzie.   There is no evidence of the Court seeking to find this McKenzie or even find out more about him (or if he existed or not even).    Even if the Crown Prosecutor had gone along with a lesser degree, but untrue, plea of guilty the actual evidence the Crown had (or multiple theft) should have been preserved even if never used in the Court(?).   If so, nobody seems to have later gone looking for it.   Thus case remains at the very least "odd". 

Accusations of stock theft appear to have been not unusual between those in the district, if earlier cases are any indication.   Even Charles Whalan earlier on had been accused of stock theft.   And earlier on, Jeremiah Wilson had once been accused at Oberon Police Court, on 13th September 1882, with stealing 240 sheep that were the property of Thomas Slattery.  That case was apparently dismissed for lack of any evidence.

Regardless of what is the truth of all these charges/depostions, Jeremiah, or Jerry, continued to be affectionately remembered and admired by those who researched the history of the Jenolan Caves.   For example, Basil Ralston (now himself elderly), who wrote a well-respected book on the Caves in 1989, put it that "he (Jerry Wilson) will always be a hero".
Basil wrote that he had investigated sections of Jenolan Caves known to very few people, which Jeremiah had discovered and explored.   Basil wrote "Only a brave and dedicated man could have found Elysium and many sections off Jubilee, where he went. He was a great man".   
Others believed that Jeremiah Wilson had a "fine eye" for ladies and horses.   But if he stole horses because he was attracted to them as such fine horses, why would he immediately proceed to sell them?   Or if he really did it, was it because he was desperate for money?    In his last years his hearing had failed completely, but nobody seems to have suggested his mind went too (although his lawyer perhaps came close to it at one stage?).   Prior to his puzzling gaoling though, Jeremiah Wilson had already earned his place in history by his undoubted courage, determination, exploring nature, and prior high reputation before the thieving charges.

Having been convicted and gaoled, however, must cast some doubt on whether the Jeremiah Wilson "true account" of the discovery of Jenolan Caves, as written  above, really is the true story or not.

Could it be that Jeremiah had been duped, as his defence lawyer claimed?   It seems the answer should be "yes", it was possible.  In a book published by P.J. Glover is recorded a visit to the caves in October 1884.  It describes Jerry using his hearing aid tube:  "... and after listening patiently for some minutes says yes, when a man who hadn't had measles (the supposed cause of Jerry's deafness) would have said no ... ).

Things began going badly wrong for Jeremiah Wilson in 1895.  That was when his Caveshouse caught fire and was completely destroyed.  He wrote to the Government that he had been the "keeper of these caves for 28 (twenty-eight) years" and had erected all the buildings at his own expense.   He did not have the means or the strength to bebuild and he decided to retire - and hand his lease back to the Crown.  It was terminated in June 1896.  His son, F.J. Wilson, formerly working as the Assistant Caretaker, then became the Caretaker.   Jeremiah himself was retained as caves "Explorer", on presumably a lowered salary.  The following year, 1897, his youngest daughter, Maude, was reported confined to her bed and suffering from the dread disease of "consumption".   In 1901, whilst Jeremiah was incarcerated at Bathurst, his family lost their property east of Oberon near the confluence of Fish River Creek and Deep Creek, sold in bankruptcy by the official assignee, Mr N F Giblin, to William Bucknell .  This compulsory sequestration took place on 1 April 1901, and the first meeting and public examination was conducted at Goulburn on 27 June.  Depending on how one reads the ad (The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 December 1901, page 19) quite a lot of property may have been lost, and some of it may have been connected with Charles Whalan land(?).

By the time Jeremiah was wrought from the caves by virtue of being sent to Bathurst Gaol for a period of confinemene therein, he had spent forty years of his life pioneering the development of Jenolan Caves; and his sentence, even if just and not a miscarriage of justice (as can at least be suspected), was poor reward for such public services.  His defence lawyer had sought some leniency but the Judge gave reasons why such was not possible.   

In 1897, F. J. Wilson, then Caretaker, reported another new cave discovery - the magnificent Aladdin Cave.   In 1900 he discovered a beautiful passage off the Lucas Cave, which was named the Mafeking Cave and opened in 1902.   In 1903, F. J. Wilson resigned to undertake development of caves in Western Australia.    He was replaced by J.C. Wiburd as Caretaker, in October 1903.   Where that left Jeremiah living is unknown.  He appears to have moved to relatives in suburban Sydney and died in 1907.  His death notice states "Mr. Jeremiah Wilson, late caretaker and explorer of the Jenolan Caves, died at his residence, 16 Jersey-road, Woollahra, on November 3 (Australian Town and Country Journal, 6 November 1907, page 53).     His wife Lucinda died in 1920 at Bondi, aged 78 (The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March 1920, page 12).



No land tenement documents have yet been found for this area (but neither have any been looked for very hard as yet).

In 1900 there was also a Herbert Whalan living at Upper Farm (Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 12 April 1900, page 2).

Others have also referred to the clearing as "Cunnynghame's Upper Farm on Budthingeroo Creek" (that is the name Myles and Margaret Dunphy knew it by on the occasion  they pushed their son Milo there in a pram from Oberon).  At that time there were "huts" there (plural) and old Mr, Cunnynghame dwelled in his little hut from which a column of blue-white wood smoke rose.  He appreciated company and Myles Dunphy thought he must lead a very lonely existence "on this roof of the mountains".  They spent over a day pausing at Cunnynhame's on the in and out journeys.  On that trip Myles saw a group of men near Boyd crossing rounding up horses (The Sydney Bushwalker, June 1932).

In "The Geology of Sydney and the Blue Mountains: A Popular Introduction to the Study of Geology" (1898) by John Milne Curran, "Upper Farm" is mentioned but rather inappropriately was referred to being at 'Ginkin':  "The nearest basalt is found at Upper Farm, Ginkin, six miles to the west of the Caves, and quite 1,400 feet above them. This basalt is of Tertiary age, and the excavation of all the great valleys around was probably subsequent to its eruption"  (page 246). 

Ab Whalan of Edith, born 1888, grandson of Campbell Whalan and son of Albert Whalan and Ann Wilcox, left his recollections in 1969 with the Oberon  Council.  These give general account of life at the time and also make slight reference to the "Upper Farm".

Ab noted that his family settled at Edith about 1860 and he passed on some of the things he recalled his own father had told him.

Ab's father told him that when the family came to land at Edith they first had to build fences and a house.

Without a fenced paddock their horses would stray anywhere, and the wild stallions used to take them at night. There was lots of wild horses and wild cattle then.

After getting a paddock fenced they had to clear some land to grow potatoes and oats to feed horses when they had to do ploughing. They would pick the places where the least timber was, and they would only have a mattock, a shovel and and axe to clear the green timber.

There were many wild horses and cattle still in those early times.   Apparently the wild cattle were valued but the horses were not(?).   In 1878 a letter in the Town and Country Journal mentioned that "Oberon is a country merely sprinkled with inhabitants for 40 miles….till lately almost exclusively in the possession of wild horses".   This letter noted that "The Green brothers alone destroyed about 6,000 head and there are still hundreds to be killed."   Sometimes a use was found for the wild horses.  Ab related that his father had often told of the delivery of 300 horses in one mob at Bathurst.  After having been two weeks with seven others mustering in the open country and securing them at Sydmouth Valley ( a property then owned by James Lowe), Ab's father and two others were chosen to ride in front of the mob and prevent them breaking away.  They were to be delivered in Bathurst to a buyer from Forbes for station use.

Clearings continued to be made (and it must have been very laborious?) for various purposes, e.g. to grow potatoes, and to grow oats to feed the horses which did ploughing.

Ab records that his father and others would go to the " Upper Farm" and shoot " a beast" for meat, and pack the meat back home on horses. 

 The first ploughs were of solely wooden construction, and Ab remembered his grandfather, Campbell Whalan, making one.

After ploughing all day a farmer would often still have to cut chaff enough at night, after tea, and with a hand chaff-cutter, so that the valued horses could be fed to keep up their strength.

The farm Ab was on as a boy had five or six such draught horses, as well as two of three saddle horses (as well as a cow for milk).   So quite a lot of chaff needed to be cut constantly.

The Whalan family which made the rather large clearings alongside the Kanangra Walls Road, near Budthingeroo Creek, also had a house there once:

Campbell Whalan's house named "Upper Farm" at Budthingeroo Creek.   This was built in the late 1800s, and probably in the 1880s.  This photo, believed to have been taken in or around1915 is in the John Whitehouse collection.

I have, as yet, never been able to find even the slightest trace to suggest where this house stood.  I expect that it has not vanished entirely without traces,  such as a few buried bricks, or pieces of stone, which someone sooner or later might locate.



( http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=890 )

Jenolan Caves and Reserve, Jenolan Caves Rd, Jenolan Caves, NSW, Australia

Photographs (0ne supplied by the nominator)
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Natural
Legal Status Registered (21/03/1978)
Place ID 890
Place File No 1/07/236/0007


Statement of Significance

The geomorphic history of the Jenolan Caves system is extremely complex, the cave system contains an exceptionally diverse variety of karst and cave types illustrating the full range of processes and products from incipient, scarcely perceptible depressions through to multistage cave developments and decayed remnant features. The McKeowns Valley, north of Blue Lake contains the finest such assemblage in Australia. The Jenolan River valley is one of the most outstanding fluviokarst valleys in the world.

The range and diversity of the karst and decoration, including a remarkable diversity of mineral species, is varied, profuse and equal to the finest in the world. The Jenolan Caves and surrounding areas contains a very diverse assemblage of morphologies and mineral species. There is evidence in these features of the influences of palaeolandscapes. The contribution to the formation of the landscape of structural influences, lithological influences, and drainage patterns is the source of considerable scientific and educational interest at Jenolan. The geomorphology of Jenolan includes a variety of non karstic phenomena that are important because of their relationship with the karst. Because these features lie adjacent to, and in some cases over, the karst they give considerable insight into the formation of the karst.

A large number of invertebrate fossils have been discovered in the limestone of the Jenolan Caves. These include corals, stromatoporoids, algae, brachiopods, gastropods and straight nautiloids. Subfossil remains of many vertebrates are also found in the caves. The caves provide shelter and habitat for a number of rare species including the sooty owl (TYTO TENEBRICOSA TENEBRICOSA) (rare in Australia) which roosts in the cave known as the Devil's Coach House and the Jenolan Caves Reserve supports a population of the brush tailed rock wallaby (PETROGALE PENICILLATA). This species is listed as vulnerable on Schedule Twelve of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Act. Also found in the caves is the opilionid arachnid (HOLONUNCIA CAVERNICOLA) which is known only from the Jenolan Caves system. The Caves Reserve contains three rare or endangered plant species. These are PSEUDANTHUS DIVARICATISSIMUS (3RC), GONOCARPUS LONGIFOLIUS (3RC), and GERANIUM GRANITICOLA (3RC).

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the caves were recognised as perhaps the premier natural attraction in Australia. Although they no longer occupy this role, Jenolan remains one of the most important natural heritage areas in Australia. The caves are a very high profile natural feature in New South Wales. The Jenolan Caves area is widely used as a research and teaching site for studying the geomorphology and processes involved in karst formation.


The Jenolan Caves were first discovered in 1838 and rapidly gained widespread recognition. The caves receive over 250,000 visitors per year who come to view the cave system. The Jenolan Caves Reserve is located in a steeply sloping heavily forested river valley. Much of the area is covered by narrow leaved peppermint (EUCALYPTUS RADIATA) and mountain gum (E. DALRYMPLEANA) woodland, with some large areas of Silvertop Ash (E. SEIBERI) and the stringybark (E. BLAXLANDII) in the east and along the valley of the Jenolan River. These woodlands are on steep slopes the latter predominating on west facing attitudes. The mountain gum (E. SEIBERI) woodland has an understorey dominated by shrubs up to 1.5m high with very few grasses while the narrow leaved peppermint (E. RADIATA) woodland has only scattered shrubs and is dominated by grasses. Small areas of tall shrubland dominated by sweet bursaria (BURSARIA SPINOSA) and giant hop bush (DODONEA VISCOSA) are found around the Caves House region and to the south of the main caves area along the Jenolan River. The Jenolan Caves area embraces a range of geomorphological features, pre-eminent among which are the karst and caves that are its best known attribute. All but five of the approximately 320 entrances are genetically related, being associated with active and fossil drainage to the Blue Lake and are located in a narrow band of limestone approximately 8km long and 100m-200m wide. Development is on at least five levels. There are at least three discrete perennial underground rivers and several non perennial tributaries, all rising at the Blue Lake, which is a dam used for hydroelectricity generation. Decoration including a remarkable diversity of mineral species, is varied, profuse and equal to the finest in the world. The Jenolan Tourist caves system is dominated by and centred upon three great daylight arches or tunnels: the Grand Arch, Devil's Coach House and Carlotta Arch; the first two giving access to all present tourist caves. The complex system which includes the tourists caves is simply one cave, two sectors of which are the Devil's Coach House and Grand Arch, thus providing four major entrances, a number of minor ones and a number of dug tunnels to facilitate tourist access. It encompasses some 8km of surveyed passages. An unknown extent of the cave is unsurveyed. The most extensive caves that have been explored beyond the area of the tourist caves complex are Mammoth Cave (3.5km of passage) and Wiburd's Lake Cave (2km) in the Northern Limestone. The caves of Jenolan exhibit considerable variety of form and striking contrasts are evident north and south of the Grand Arch. The caves to the north of the arch show a greater range of vertical development in comparison to their horizontal development, and the converse situation applies south of the arch. There are a total of sixteen entrances, some of which are artificial tunnels built for tourist access and others are connections within the system. Some of the original natural entrances are now closed and impenetrable. The Jenolan caves limestone is upper Silurian in origin and unconformably overlies laminated cherts and andesites to the west and silicic volcaniclastics to the east. The Silurian Sequence is unconformably overlain to the east by Upper Devonian Lambie Group sediments and the Silurian rocks are intruded by granitic plutons north-east and south of the caves. Permiotriassic rocks occur at approximately 1,150m within 3km of the caves and Lower Carboniferous rocks are overlain by Permian and Triassic sediments 15km to the east. The limestone outcrop is seldom more than 300m wide and in places narrows to a little over 100m. The continuous limestone outcrops extend for only 5km along the Camp Creek and Jenolan River valleys with limestone that extends a further 4km up McKeowns valley and occurs immediately north of the surface drainage divide between the surface drainage divide between the southward flowing Jenolan River and the northward flowing Bindo Creek. There is a series of sinkholes and streamsinks in the area. Most streams vanish underground almost immediately upon reaching the limestone, except where alluvial deposits form aquicludes and temporarily inhibit sinking. The major underground watercourse is the Jenolan River.

Condition and Integrity

The caves are in very good condition considering the large number of people which visit the tourist caves annually. The Jenolan Caves Trust, who manage the caves, are aware of the potential detrimental effects of tourist traffic and are taking appropriate measures to limit any damage. The surrounding area has been subject to various land management practices including logging and the establishment of pine plantations. Logging activities in the early 1950s have altered the drainage pattern of the catchment of the Jenolan River and increased the sediment load in the waters flowing into the caves. Cessation of logging has reduced the sediment load, though other land use activities in the area contribute to increased sediment load in the caves watercourses. The vegetation of the Jenolan Caves Reserve is generally in good condition. The Jenolan Caves Reserve does, however, contain significant numbers of weeds in parts, many which has escaped from the manicured gardens surrounding the Caves House. Weeds which have established successfully in the reserve include the sycamore (ACER PSEUDOPLANTINUS), tutsan (HYPERICUM ANDROSAEMUM) and the blackberry (RUBUS FRUTICOSUS) amongst others. Efforts have been made over the years to control weeds, primarily through the use of herbicides. More recently, weed control has become more systematic and more successful. The Condition Statement was written in September 1994.



This was also anticipated in Osborne (2005) with "The caves at Jenolan containing the Carboniferous clay remnants described by Osborne et al. (in prep) are larger and more complex than other accessible Palaeozoic caves yet described, and may be the oldest complex cave system accessible to humans yet recognised ...... recent work at Jenolan Caves (Osborne et al. in prep) has identified relict volcaniclastic deposits that are probably the only physical evidence for a long theorised period of Palaeozoic vulcanism".

Following the publication of these results (Osborne et al., 2006) the following was written by Warren Peck (formerly Associate Professor of Geological Engineering at Melbourne’s RMIT University for seven years, thence a Principal Geotechnical Engineer of AMC Consultants [international mining consulting group], and also a past President of the Australian Speleological Federation)( Address:  Warren Peck, Principal Geotechnical Engineer wpeck@amcconsultants.com.au:


The challenge for management is twofold:

  1. How to present to the general public a factual, yet readily understood description, of the complex cave development processes that have occurred at Jenolan; and
  2. How to use the great age of the caves to promote all aspects of cave conservation, sustainable tourism and community awareness.


Years later (2012) I have not yet found any management response to this.   But how would one check that?  Who actually is the "management" there.  According to http://jenolancaves.net (which is of uncertain ownership but appears to be associated with Lithgow (with  www.ligthgowtourism.com ), the website of the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust is http://www.jenolancaves.org.au , however that says in one corner that it is "content 2012 Jenolan Caves", and in another corner links to http://www.bluemts.com.au which is a private company based in Springwood.  Elsewhere at http://www.jenolancaves.org.au it states "Jenolan Caves is part of the NSW Government" (a rather curious statement?), and also at the website one does find a geological page = http://www.jenolancaves.org.au/about/geology-of-limestone-caves   This would surely be a place to do what Warren Peck recommended !?    However, there is no mention there of the work by Osborne, or of any other researcher.   There is also a webpage on cave sediments ( http://www.jenolancaves.org.au/about/geology-of-limestone-caves/cave-sediments ).  That mentions "Important paleontological discoveries have been made in caves all over the world, including Jenolan", but does not say what was found.   Nor does it even mention any age of cave sediment - let about it would world-significant on account of age.   Nothing or note is found in these pages.   The whole site can also be searched with a search box and nothing is found for <age of caves> or <Carboniferous>.   Nothing is found.   Hence it would appear from such searching that nothing at all has been done, or at least has reached the public, along the lines of what .  Warren Peck said the "challenge for management" was from the Osborne et al. work to show that Jenolan had the oldest caves in the world? 



The immediate above is quite a curiosity it would seem, but a management curiosity.   What about more natural curiosities (apart from helictites and other speleothems and speleogenesis which as previously mentioned are being left to separate consideration somewhere else)?

The "Buthingeroo Amphibolite" long "tail" running SW from the Jenolan Granite.

( NB:  The category "Early Devonian volcanics" is overgeneralised here - there's lots else in that zone besides volcanics )

Another regional curiosity, not of any particular bearing, apparently, on stratigraphic or structural understanding has nonetheless attracted study.   This is that to the south of the Hartley Valley, in the Cox's River Valley, and about Jenolan,  there are basic bodies occurring which are older than the Carboniferous granite and variously affected by the granite.   This concentration of them is remarked upon briefly in Geology of New South Wales, just saying that similar do not occur further west.   South of Hartley there have been studies on various "ususual" igneous rocks by Germaine Joplin and students.  Further south the Budthingeroo Amphbibolite (or metadiabase) has been studied by Brenda J. Cahill (Brenda Macara) (Macara 1964).   This body is the long SW-trending "tail" for long erroneously shown as part of the Jenolan Granite on the 1:250,000 geological map.

One of the problems of the Budthingeroo Amphibolite to me was why was it even a problem in the first place?   This problem was given to Brenda McCarra by Dr. C.T. McElroy.   Brenda acknowledges him as having introduced her to the "problem" but when I first learned of it my problem was partl;y  "what problem".   I had that problem also with the fact that Dr McElroy was also the one who introduced me to the area I was to map.   When I enquired just what were the problems or features of that area, the sparse answer suggested to me that the University (along with the Geological Survey) were really just trying to fill in better the poorly known SW corner of the Sydney 1:250,000 sheet area.   That was so for area mapping but Brenda was doing just one elongate basaltic composition body.   I guessed that the problems were what was it and how had it formed.   But many of the igneous bodies around Jenolan were like that.    Those who had looked at them were often not agreed if they were flows, sills or dykes   Süssmich had seemed to have kept changing his mind.

The Budthingeroo Amphibolite is an elongate body that runs SW "off" the Jenolan Granite for about six miles and is up to half a mile wide.

That seems too thick for a flow, although there sometimes appear to be vesicles and flow evidence at its margins.   It is contact metamorphosed (where the igneous hornblende is converted to tremolite) so that it predates the granite.   It does not "emerge" at the other side of the granite so possibly is an intrusion which postdates the big bend of regional strike that the granite sits at.   This would tend to make it close in age to the granite - a reason for suspecting it may have some affinity of genetic connection with the mafic bodies further north (which are also suspected to be Carboniferous).    

This intrusion has chemical composition of normal high alumina basalt but consists of hornblende (40%) and plagioclase, (45%), instead of augite and plagioclase as in basalt.   Grainsize is 1-1.5 mm except in the chilled margin (0.5mm).  Cahill believed that the hormblende had crystallised directly from a basic magma.  Olivine and clinopyroxene are present but are only minor.   The plagioclase is a sodic labradorite. 

In the outermost contact metamorphosed zone the rock is converted to a tremolite hornfels and the plagioclase is albite.  Tremolite needles predominate.   Appreciable biotite (6.5%) is present.    

The inner contact metamorphic zones are low-grade thence high-grade amphibolite hornfels and return to be more like the unmetamorphosed rock.  Again the amphibole is hornblende but fibrous endings are present on most crystals (unlike for the magmatic hornblende crystals). Plagioclase is not well formed and is only poorly twinned.

In the high grade amphibolite hornfels there is 54% hornblende and 32% calcic labradorite.  The plagioclase is well formed by still largely untwinned.  In mineral composition this 'returns' to being quite like the unaltered rock.  A small amount of clinopyroxene (2.5%) is again present.  Magnetite (4.5%) is similar as in the unmetamorphosed rock.  Texture is more granoblastic as is typical of high grade contact hornfels.  

Besides amphibole content increasing across the four zones (unmetamorphosed, tremolite hornfels, low grade and high grade amphibollit hornfels) - 40, 45.5,50.5,53.5% - there is also a rise in magnesium (from about 11 to 14% MgO) in the contact aureole amphibole.

Amphibolites are equigranular non-foliated rocks of sub-equal amounts of dark and light minerals (hornblende and plagioclase).  They are usually  metamorphosed mafic igneous rock (basalt, gabbro) although it is usually difficult to determine the protolith because original features are often obliterated.   Basalt is composed of pyroxene + plagioclase.  In order to make amphibolite out of basalt, we need heat and pressure to initiate chemical reactions and also need to add water because amphiboles, unlike pyroxenes, are hydrous minerals. According to some sources, impure carbonate rocks (rich in clay content) may also metamorphose to amphibolite.   However in the case of the Budthingeroo Amphibolite, Brenda Cahill who studied it intensely thought the hornblende was a direct magmatic crystallisation product - although along strike towards the granite it does pass into a contact metamorphic amphibolite (likely having been through a tremolite hornfels stage in the contact aureole?).. 

 Hornblende gabbros and dolerites are known elsewhere (with up to 60% hormblende) but commonly in higher grade terrains (e.g. with grantite gneiss) and so igneous versus metamorphic textures may be harder to judge.   Igneous hornblende rocks which are crystal cumulates are known, but rare, and the environment at Budthingeroo is clearly not right for cumulates.   Hornblende-plagioglase igneous rock would fit in the grab bag widest sense of lamprophyre but lamprophyres are typically bimodal/porphyritic rocks with the amphibole or biotite as coarse crystals in a groundmass.   A typical amphibolite or metadiabase texture rock but with the hornblende held to have crystallised directly from a basic magma - as Cahill holds for the Budthingeroo intrusion seems a rare concept and I cannot easily find other examples of such.   And alternative might be that Cahill was wrong about this and the rock actually is a regionally metamorphosed doleritic dyke which in addition was also contact metamorphosed at one end.  According to Wikipedia entry ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphibolite ) "While it is not impossible to have remnant protolith mineralogy, this is rare. More common is to find phenocrysts of pyroxene, olivine, plagioclase and even magmatic amphibole such as pargasiste  rhombohedra, pseudomorphed by hornblende amphibole. Original magmatic textures, especially crude magmatic layering in layered intrusions, is often preserved".   Precambrian metadiabase dykes which consist mainly of plagioclase and feldspar are common, but for greater relevance other examples from areas of low grade regional metamorphism, and maybe also near granites, are desired for comparison with the unusual Budthingeroo Amphibolite/Metadiabase.   Brenda Cahill later became Brenda Franklin.  She was, until 1996, Professor and Head of the Department of Applied Geology at the University of Technology, Sydney.  That department has now ceased to exist and she entered into private practice as a consulting geologist.  It is hoped to check with her re memories of the Budthingeroo area and for any more ideas or comparisons.



See the Historical and Preservation Society webpage, http://www.jenolanhistory.org.au , for many links.

See Rob Whyte's website "The Jenolan Guide" at http://members.optusnet.com.au/rawhyte/index.html

( "Hi. I'm Rob, and I'd like to be your guide to Jenolan Caves. I love this place and run this website as a hobby so please don't confuse it with the official website for Jenolan, which is www.jenolancaves.org.au." - Rob has a collection of newspaper clippings, at: http://members.optusnet.com.au/rawhyte/newspaperclippings.htm ).

See guide to materials developed and made available by another guide, Ted Matthews, at:  http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/ted-matthews-jenolan.htm



Caymanite - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/caymanite.htm

Parastriatopora - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/para-bed-jenolan.htm



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(Copy of Powell's thesis is also at Industry and Investment NSW. Mineral Resources NSW Library , fide Libraries Australia [ Libraries Australia ID] and http://books.google.com.au/books/about/The_Geology_of_Mount_Budthingeroo_an_Are.html?id=CLLpXwAACAAJ&redir_esc=y )  [Chris Powell went on to become a very distinguished professor in structural geology and tectonics.  Professor Christopher McAuley Powell died 21 July 2001, aged 58.]

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Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales

Vol 136 (2014)

Table of Contents

Section 1 Papers arising from a symposium held by the Linnean Society of NSW at Jenolan Caves 22-23 May 2013.

Minerals of Jenolan Caves, New South Wales, Australia: Geological and Biological Interactions PDF
R. E. Pogson, R.A.L. Osborne, D. M. Colchester
The Jenolan Environmental Monitoring Program PDF
Andrew C. Baker
Invertebrate Cave Fauna of Jenolan PDF
Stefan M. Eberhard, Graeme B. Smith, Michael M. Gibian, Helen M. Smith, Michael R. Gray
Jenolan Show Caves: Origin of Cave and Feature Names PDF
Kath Bellamy, Craig Barnes
Understanding the Origin and Evolution of Jenolan Caves: The Next Steps PDF
R. Armstrong L. Osborne
Geology and Geomorphology of Jenolan Caves and the Surrounding Region PDF
David F Branagan, John Pickett, Ian G. Percival

[ Other articles in that issue - not about Jenolan ]

A review of the Cenozoic palynostratigraphy of the River Valleys in Central and Western New South Wales. PDF
Helene A. Martin
Integrating History and Ecological Thinking: Royal National Park in Historical Perspective PDF
Daniel Lunney
A Comparative Study of the Australian Fossil Shark Egg-Case Palaeoxyris duni, with Comments on Affinities and Structure PDF
Graham McLean
Reproductive Biology of Estuarine Pufferfish, Marilyna pleurosticta and Tetractenos hamiltoni (Teleostei: Tetraodontidae) in Northern NSW: Implications for Biomonitoring PDF
Rumeaida Mat Piah, Daniel J Bucher
The Effect of Disturbance Regime on Darwinia glaucophylla (Myrtaceae) and its Habitat PDF
Carmen Booyens, Anita Chalmers, Douglas Beckers



To discuss, please contact the writer, John Byrnes, at john.mail@ozemail.com.au