…. a lovely and wondrous spot

Glimpsing the Jenolan Caves Limestone, and hole in the wall – the Grand Arch.  (Photo:  Ted Matthews, one of the Jenolan guides)

For a guide to materials  developed and made available by guide Ted Matthews, see –

[ See also THE JENOLAN GUIDE – a website by one of Jenolan’s guides, Rob Whyte, at ]

I have been interested in the Jenolan Caves area, and in the Silurian etc., since the 1960s and did my Hons. Thesis (Uni of NSW, Kensington) on an area south of the Caves, around Budthingeroo Creek, on the road to Kanangra Walls.   The Budthingeroo area has some clearings made when it was settled by members of the Whalan family.   Some Whalans are also shown below.   Besides being farmers primarily, they were also early associated with guiding people to both Jenolan Caves and Kanangra Walls.

This was made from the careful survey work of Oliver Trickett, 1915.  The large Devil’s Coachhouse is shown here by colouring (but is not labelled such) next to the Grand Arch.  Some “Holes from surface” are depicted to it, and the below photo is looking down one such onto the floor of the Devil’s Coachhouse,  where “McKeowns Creek” water may flow above ground level in times of flood.  Below is looking down into the Devil’s Coach House

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

Jenolan took the title of world’s oldest caves in 2006 and I think has not been displaced.

The descent of “Five mile hill” on the Jenolan Caves (Mount Victoria) Road.

 ( Noel Rawlinson collection, photographer Henry King. )

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.

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 )

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

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

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

Detail of the re-building at Caves House (large stone/limestone building added at rear of the main wooden one.   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 ) 

showing the main limestone building of Caves House some time a little later (ca. 1891).   In this photo the north-trending limestone behind the Caves House is visible.   It shows one of the common features of such, the north-dipping joints (the cause of which is unknown).  Also apparent is the less massively outcropping nature of a zone here at the top of the limestone.  This is because it contains a lot of interbedded shale.   Immediately beyond the Caves House, the top of the limestone crosses to the other side of the roadway.  ( Noel Rawlinson collection ) 

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.).

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

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

Campbell Whalan’s house named “Upper Farm” at Budthingeroo Creek.   This was built in the late 1800s, and probably in the 1880s.  This photo, believed to have been taken in or around1915 is in the John Whitehouse collection.  Presumably it was located somewhere near the hut but I have been unable to find any traces of it.

Snow on the Kanangra Road in 1981.   ( Photo:  NettyA )

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

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 S�ssmich.  That Guide-Book also contains notes on botany (by R.H. Cambage), the physical geography (by Professor Griffith Taylor),  and the zoology (by A.S. Le Souef) for along the route; plus some notes specifically on the Jenolan Caves themselves by Oliver Trickett and others.

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

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

From David 1897

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

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

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

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

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: )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For MORE by myself:


There are many publications on Jenolan, and one discussion list, viz.:

In addition to many books as at jenolan-caves-books.htm, another one “Jenolan Caves – Nature’s Hidden Wonder” has been recently completed by Mark Hallinan which covers all aspects, and is expected to be soon announced via  [… has been announced as below.]


Jenolan Caves : nature’s hidden wonder / Mark Hallinan.pages.

AN: 51711012

ISBN: 978098588906 (hardback)
Available from: PO Box 8166 Woolloongabba QLD 4102
ANL eng rda ANL contributed cataloguing
994.45 23
Hallinan, Mark, author.
CIP entry.  Projected publication date: 2013/12

( )


THERE ARE ALSO MANY OTHER LIMESTONE AND CAVE AREAS IN NSW – In mid 2014 a lethal threat (from a proposed dam) arose to one of those.   This is the CLIEFDEN CAVES.

To see more about the caves, and the threat – go to:


Some palaeontologists



Esperanza García Ortiz de Landaluce (Ph.D. 2008- …):  She is studying dinosaurs behavior analysing their tracks, as well as applying GIS technologies in the field of dinosaurs paleichnology and paleontological heritage. She is currently doing her Ph. D. about the dinosaurs footprints from La Rioja area of Cameros Basin (Spain).

One of Esperanza’s supervisors is Esperanza M. Fernández-Martínez (viz. below).

“””” Webpage – “”””
University of León – Universidad de León, Geography and Geology, PhD student in Paleontology

Research Interests: –  Dinosaur Behaviour, Dinosaur Footprints, Dinosaur Tracks, gvSIG, Dinosaur trackways, Paleontology, Geological Heritage, Dinosaur Paleontology, Social behavior in animals, Earth Sciences, Palaeontological Heritage, Animal Behavior, Ethology, GIS, Archaeology, and Cuiltural Heritage

About: –  I obtained my Biology Degree from the University of León in 2007. Since 2007 I am doing my PhD at the University of León under the title “Dinosaur paleoichnological sites of the Cameros Basin area (N of Spain): population analysis and the aplication of new GIS technologies. Rating and paleontological heritage diagnosis” under the supervision of Dr. Félix Pérez-Lorente, Dra. Esperanza Fernández-Martínez and Dr. José Ramón Rodríguez Pérez.

Book: – Los fósiles urbanos de León. Recorridos paleontológicos desde el campus de Vegazana hasta el Albéitar

“Castaño de Luis, R.(Coord.), García Ortiz de Landaluce, E., García Parada, L., Molero Guerra, J. y Fernández-Martínez, E. 2011. Fósiles urbanos de León. Recorridos paleontológicos desde el Campus de Vegazana hasta el Albéitar. Oficina Verde, Universidad de León, 64 pp. (In Spanish)” [ Deals with: Paleontology, Cultural Heritage Management, Paleontological Heritage, and Geological Heritage. ]

Download this book (.pdf) –


Talk: –  “Diez años de paseo con los fósiles urbanos en León” (Concerns ….  Popular Science, Geoheritage, Paleontological Heritage, Urban Fossils, and Paleontological Routes.)

a) Guided excursion with students from the “Universidad de la Experiencia”.

b) Eocene equinoids in paving stone next to the León Museum.

c) Group around a goniatitid at San Isidoro Square.

Download the talk (.pdf) –




Esperanza M. Fernández-Martínez.  Palaeontology Professor, University of Leon, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Campus of Vegazana s/n, 24171 Leon,  Spain, Email:  (Website: )

Research Interests

  • Systematics and Palaeoecology of Tabulate Corals
  • Palaeoecology and Evolution of Palaeozoic Reefs
  • Carbonate Systems
  • Ecosystem response to catastrophic environmental change
  • Bio- and Geoevents


  • 1993 PhD in Palaeontology, University of Oviedo, Spain
  • 1985 BSc Honours in Geology, University of Oviedo, Spain