file -BEWARE - will surely contain errors! ]
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.)
the road to Jenolan
Out of their
shells the sea-beasts creep
un-reel from holes;
With eyes of
stone they stare and weep
stalactites of tears;
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
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
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
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
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:
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.) (
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
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.
English cave guides ("Subterraneous Guides") at Poole's Hole in 1797,
Helictite, 24, 1-2, p. 8, 1986 )
Burns-eye view of the Blue Mountains and their history of being crossed
- and showing some of the sites "sacred" (one hopes) to the
L to R: "Jenolan Creek" - near here be Jenolan country ;
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 )
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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. . .
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
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).
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
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
* 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:
, email@example.com ;
mwembership - https://sites.google.com/site/jenolancaveshistoricalsociety/membership
(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.
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
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). (
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
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).
through time : the Whalan family, the family of James & Charles in
Australia / compiled by Fay Manfield, 120 pp., 1993
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
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).
CLEARING AND SHED WHERE I STAYED IN 1965
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.
Hut - Regarded as probably the the finest, or certainly one of the
finest of the former habitations on the Boyd, or Kanangra-Boyd, plateau
seemingly the NPWS obiterated almost all traces of (or so I've been
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
SO IS ALL THIS
(STILL) THE "BLUE MOUNTAINS"?
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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
('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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
"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.
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).
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
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).
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
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
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
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
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)
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
Peaks east of the
Kanangra-Boyd plateau and north of Kanangra Walls. Mount Guouogang
(1291m) is the highest.
(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.
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
exposed fine-banded silstone, argillite and very fine sandstone on the Five
Mile Hill (near Rest Area shown below).
photo is taken looking northwards - so these bands are dipping west too,
similar as in the other photo above.
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
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
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).
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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).
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(?).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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".
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
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.
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
(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.
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
A pentamerid brachiopod in 3D, side view, with the umboes facing
left - http://www.geovirtual2.cl/geoliteratur/Rossmassler/068-3Pentamerus1.jpg
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.]
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".
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
alaskense (Kirk and Amsden, 1952) - Geological Survey Professional Paper
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
knighti (illustrated as Pentamerus Knightii), from
British Palaeozoic Fossils (Plate 21). This specimen was
collected at Mocktree Hill, near Lientwardine, Herefordshire, by
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
KnightIi specimens in the Natural History Museum,
London. Left, unknown; right is from Leintwardine on the
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.
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).
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
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(?).
matter has been a little hard for some to fully come to grips with but in 1948
(in the Quarterly
Journal of the Geological Society, 103, pp. 143-161)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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,
fine Gotland specimen - found by Jarlen5 ( http://www.flickr.com/people/jarlen5
alaskense. Posterior of a pedicle valve. North
shore of Heceta Island, southeastern Alaska.
(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
"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
similar illustration ( http://mek.oszk.hu/00000/00060/html/kepek/szilur9.png
) - also termed "Pentamerus Knightii"
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
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
appearance of densely accumulated pentamerids on cut surfaces in
limestone. (Museum of Geology, University of Tartu, Estonia).
the yellow-brown patches of matrix - such can be widespread at Jenolan, as
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)
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).
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.
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).
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. .
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.
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.
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
plaque (in the Grand Arch) unveiled by Prof. David in 1929
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
) (Photo: Sam Hood, DG ON4/6023 ; Repository: State Library, hood_06036 )
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".
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. . . .
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.
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
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.
Vickers Stanley (1904–1965) in later life - A painting in 1945 by Geoffrey
"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
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
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 Photographs
of New Guinea fossils, [ca.1927-ca.1942 (
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
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 :
PACIFIC MANUSCRIPTS BUREAU
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
Web site: http://rspas.anu.edu.au/pambu
Papers in PMB 1049 (
) 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.
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.
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.
(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
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.
(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
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
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
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.
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 )
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.
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
geopetal fills (notice parallel surfaces). Eocene, Spain.
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
Peter A. Scholle and Dana Ulmer-Scholle
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
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.]
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
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).
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.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
nature of the whole sequence (steeply-dipping overturned - not totally upside
down as in a nappe) is very easily appreciated from strolling around at
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
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.
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.]
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).
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.
THE SEARCH FOR
OTHERS INTERESTED IN HOW THE JENOLAN
CAVES LIMESTONE FORMED
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
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:
can also join the JENOLAN email group using any email account by just sending
email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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
B.App.Sc at what is now UTS (back then called the NSW Institute of
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
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
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,
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
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
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
.At Jenolan Karst
Conservation Reserve Draft Plan of Management, page 40 ( http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/jenolanDraft.pdf
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.
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
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
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?
CAVES VALLEY' (Caves House valley) - into the hidden valley, the charming
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.
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).
'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
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,
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
Looking down on
floor of the Devil's Coachhouse from one of the openings in the
roof. ( Photo: Bruce)
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
skeleton, Jenolan - Photo of the Noel Rawlinson collection, per the
Jenolan Caves Historical & Preservation Society.
over 170 Jenolan images in the Noel Rawlinson collection, not all taken by
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".
of "Five mile hill" on the Jenolan Caves (Mount Victoria)
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).
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. .
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
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.
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
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.
prominent dipping joints, near (western) exit of the Devil's Coach
the Jenolan Caves Limestone, and hole in the wall - the Grand Arch.
(Photo: Ted Matthews)
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).
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.
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.)
back through the hole, roadway constructed (
Noel Rawlinson collectionction, photographer Henry King. )
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.)
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
Noel Rawlinson collection, H. King photo. )
upstream entrance to the Devil's Coachouse above Cave Creek is
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).
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 )
of the above photo. The steeply west-dipping limestone is prominent
enlargement of the same - showing the west-dipping unit within the Ordovician
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 )
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 )
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
Noel Rawlinson collection )
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. )
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.).
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.
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.
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 )
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
In Greville's 1872 directory, some listed
Alfred miller Oberon
Campbell jun. farmer Duckmaloi
Campbell sen. farmer Duckmaloi
Charles, JP farmer Glyndior
Horatio farmer Duckmaloi
C. farmer Fish River Ck.
M. farmer Council Chambers
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:
THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.
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 . . . ".
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."
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.
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
LATE MR. CHAS. WHALAN.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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):
THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.
- 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
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
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.
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
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.
Jenolan Caves, April 4
In that it actually states
that he, Jeremiah discovered the bullock bows. So much for a
schoolboy finding them, then?
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
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
do not identify ourselves with the opinions
of our Correspondents.
DISCOVERY IN THE McKEON'S
NEAR THE DUCKMALLOY RIVER.
the Editor of the Bathurst Free Press and
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.
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
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.
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.
NEW CAVES — The
opinion had often
been expressed by the most experienced explorers
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
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
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:
- 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.
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
Harvard may have gotten this
slightly wrong, as the Australasian Chronicle ( 12 November 1840, page 2)
reported as follows:
(Before his Honor the Chief Justice.)
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
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
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
'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
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.
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
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
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
establishment of Edith is credited to John McLean Whalan, brother of Charles
Whalan of Glyndwr.
Old Methodist cemetery, Oberon
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
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
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,
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
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.
services were dispensed with on 11 October 1900 because he went to gaol on 22
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".
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
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
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).
Thomas Whalan was the son of John McLean Whalan of Edith.
was living in a house he rented from Jeremiah and if Jeremiah went to gaol
he might get the rent free?
charges, of cattle stealing, would emerge from Reeves of Duckmaloi.
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.
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.
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."
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
Jeremiah pleaded guilty to receiving, so he must have claimed that
he bought this stock from someone?
was sentenced to 15 months hard labour in Bathurst Gaol.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
accussed had then sent them from Mount Victoria railway station to Sydney
where they had been sold at auction by Mr. Inglis.
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.
report of the case is in Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 12
October 1900 (page 2).
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
horses were seen
in Jeremiah's possession
at the Mt Victoria railway
station, where he
got them from a man named
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
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
Slattery. That case was apparently dismissed for lack of any
of what is the truth of all these charges/depostions, Jeremiah, or Jerry,
continued to be affectionately remembered and admired by those who
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
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".
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.
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.
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 ... ).
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".
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(?).
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
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).
SNIPPETS RE THE WHALAN'S HOUSE
AND THEIR CLEARING EFFORTS - the "Upper Farm"
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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
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.
THE NATIONAL ESTATE ENTRY
Jenolan Caves and Reserve, Jenolan Caves Rd, Jenolan Caves, NSW,
||(0ne supplied by the nominator)
||Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
|Place File No
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
|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.
THE LATEST ADDITION TO HERITAGE
VALUE OF THE CAVES
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 email@example.com:
The challenge for management is
- 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
- How to use the great age of the caves to
promote all aspects of cave conservation, sustainable tourism and
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 "
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
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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?)..
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
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
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
JENOLAN GEOLOGY TOPICS
Caymanite - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/caymanite.htm
Parastriatopora - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/para-bed-jenolan.htm
Allan, T.V., 1986.
Structure and Stratigraphy of Palaeozoic Rocks in the Jenolan Caves area, NSW.
BSc. Hons. Thesis, University of Sydney.
Boucot, A.J., and Johnson, J.G., 1967. Conchidium and its
separation from the subfamily Pentamerinae: Journal of Paleontology, v.
41, no. 4, p. 861-867.
T. W., 1975. Hunton Group (Late Ordovician, Silurian and Early
Devonian) in the Anadarko Basin of Oklahoma. Bulletin 121,
Oklahoma Geological Survey.
Barrett, Jim, 1993. Kanangra Walls : discovery and history. 58 pp. (Published by Jim
Barrett, Armadale, Victoria. Public Library copies:
Hurstville, 919.445/BAR ; State Library, 919.44504/9 ) [Not seen.]
1970. Little Wombeyan Creek limestone deposit No. 2. NSW
Geological Survey, GS 1970/141.
Cahill, Brenda J. (nee Macara),
1968. The use of amphiboles to illustrate trends in contact
metamorphism. pp. 189-203.
Chand, F., 1963. The
Geology of the Area Northeast of Jenolan River. B.Sc. Hons thesis, University
of New South Wales.
Chalker, Leone, 1971.
Limestone in the Jenolan Caves area. Records of the Geological Survey of
N.S.W. 13, pp. 53-60.
Chappell, B.W. , English, P.M.
, King, P.L. , White, A.J.R. , Wyborn, D. 1991. Granites and
related rocks of the Lachlan Fold Belt (1:1 250 000 scale map). Bureau of
Mineral Resources, Australia 1v map.
Colley, A. and
Gold, H., 2004. Blue Mountains World Heritage. Colong Foundation for
1889. The Jenolan Caves: an excursion in Australian wonderland.
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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.
Cave Fauna of Jenolan
|Stefan M. Eberhard, Graeme B.
Smith, Michael M. Gibian, Helen M. Smith, Michael R. Gray
[ Other articles in that issue - not about
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