Jenolan Caves Reserve | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Jenolan Caves Reserve

Item details

Name of item: Jenolan Caves Reserve
Other name/s: Binoomea, Binda Caves, Fish River Caves, McKeon's Caves, McEwan's Creek Caves, Bendo Caves, Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Landscape - Natural
Category: Cave
Location: Lat: -33.8194727258 Long: 150.0210892150
Primary address: Caves Road, Jenolan, NSW 2790
Parish: Jenolan
County: Westmoreland
Local govt. area: Oberon
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Pejar
Hectares (approx): 2422
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
CROWN LAND  R190098
LOT37 DP728898
LOT38 DP728898
LOT39 DP728898
LOT40 DP728898
LOT41 DP728898
LOT42 DP728898
LOT43 DP728898
LOT44 DP728898
LOT45 DP728898
LOT46 DP728898
LOT47 DP728898
LOT48 DP728898
LOT49 DP728898
LOT50 DP728898
LOT51 DP728898
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Caves RoadJenolanOberonJenolanWestmorelandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Jenolan Caves Reserve TrustState Government 

Statement of significance:

Jenolan Caves Reserve is of state significance for its historical, aesthetic, research and rarity values. The caves and karst landscapes developed as important scientific and tourist destinations throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries, and the Reserve is highly significant as the first public reserve set aside in NSW for the protection of a natural resource - in this case, the Jenolan Caves.

The Reserve is highly regarded for the aesthetic qualities of the caves and cave formations, reflected in cave names such as Aladdin and Gem Cave; for the ability of the caves to demonstrate technological developments such as the first use of electric cave lighting in the 1880s, and the first development of hydro-electric power in Australia. The setting of the caves hamlet in the Jenolan Valley, with the tiny hamlet and picturesque Caves House almost dwarfed by steeply rising cliffs on all sides, the entrance into the hamlet through the fortress-like Grand Arch, and the distinctive Blue Lake formed by the weir for the hydro-electric scheme, all combine to form a landscape of great beauty and distinctiveness.

The Reserve has the ability to yield information on the geological history of NSW and of the Australian continent, and for the archaeological potential of the hamlet area to provide evidence of the early period in the development of tourism in NSW.

The number of rare and uncommon flora and fauna species to which it is home, especially within the caves; and the evidence it can demonstrate of the development of tourism, especially mountain and caving tourism, in NSW, add to the significance of the Jenolan Caves Reserve (HO).

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 palaeo-landscapes.
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 12 of the NSW 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 19th 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 NSW. The Jenolan Caves area is widely used as a research and teaching site for studying the geomorphology and processes involved in karst formation (RNE, 1978).

Jenolan is one of the most important areas of natural and cultural history in Australia. The area includes one of the largest and most beautiful interconnected cave systems in Australia and is an outstanding site of geological and speleological interest. The Jenolan River, Blue Lake and a system of intimate valleys and watercourses provide a magnificent setting for a distinctive range of native vegetation and fauna. The Caves Reserve was created in 1866, six years before the declaration of the world's first National Park. Since its reported discovery by James Whalan between 1838 and 1841 the area has attracted more than three million visitors. Caves House, and its associated outbuildings, adds to the area's cultural significance. The area also contains a number of important industrial relics, including Australia's first hydro-electic power station and the remants of the first electric lighting of caves which was installed in the Chifley Cave in 1887 (National Trust of Australia, 1985).
Date significance updated: 15 Jun 04
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Construction years: 1866-
Physical description: The Jenolan Caves Reserve is situated on the western spur of the Blue Mountains, about 180 kilometres west of Sydney. The Reserve is located in mountainous country, forming a dissected eastern margin of the highland plateau east of the town of Oberon, and contains the most well known karst landscapes in Australia.

The geological structure of the Jenolan karst is complex, resulting from two periods of major folding and a number of faulting events. In addition to many smaller scale structures, a change in the strike of the limestone 1 kilometre north of the Grand Archway is the expression of a large scale fold described as the Jenolan Mega-Kink. The most spectacular surface karst feature is the wall of limestone 90 metres high and 150 metres wide at the confluence of the Jenolan River, Surveyors Creek and Camp Creek. The three spectacular karst bridges - the Grand Archway and Devil's Coachhouse (at present stream level) and Carlotta Arch (at a higher level) are internationally renowned.

The main cave system contains over 20 kilometres of passage developed in a one kilometre length of limestone body. The Reserve is renowned for its range and profusion of calcite speleotherms, including examples of less common forms such as helictites, ribbon helictites, shields, monocrystalline stalagmites and sub aerial stromaltilites. Aragonite speleotherms, often with spectacular morphology, and also found in restricted localities. Gypsum speleotherms are significant and include forms not reported elsewhere.

The karst contains over 300 tagged cave entrances. A large percentage of the discovered cave passage is linked and effectively is one large cave system formed by three major catchment areas. The caves contain a rich troglobitic fauna, an outstanding level of aesthetic quality, and a diverse range of speleotherms and minerals.

A large amount of highly decorated cave passageway is located in close proximity to three natural rock arches. This area also contains areas where underground river systems can be viewed. The development of these caves provides visitors with an opportunity to view some of the most highly decorated areas of cave as well as caves that have formed over many different time spans under different conditions and which demonstrate a diverse range of shape, form and decoration.

Many caves contain a wide range of river sediments and surface infills relating to the different environmental conditions that have occurred over millions of years. The sediments contain information about changes to climate, vegetation and land formation processes. Many caves and 'unroofed surface cave' sediments contain fossil faunal remains deposited under a range of conditions. Very little study and documentation of the fossil bone deposits has been undertaken (Manidis Roberts 2003: 17, 22-23).

The Jenolan Caves, located 80km west of Katoomba, is part of McKeowns Valley which is a very significant fluvial karst valley. The caves are a result of this karst land form which characterised by caves, disrupted surface drainage, underground drainage and closed depressions that can all be witnessed as part of the Jenolan Caves Reserve. There are over 300 Limestone caves as part of the Jenolan Caves area that are very diverse in their nature and demonstrate contrasting characteristics. The caves can be horizontal or vertical and there are both inactive (dry) and active caves in the area that contain either abandoned or active underground stream ways (Caves Reserve Trust 1996:10). The caves can also be classified into 'dark' caves and above ground systems (Department of Public Works, 1979).

The caves contain large sediment banks that are able to reveal a stratigraphy of many thousands of years. Bone deposits are prevalent in many of the caves on the Jenolan Reserve and some of these fossils are of human remains and have and important anthropological significance. There are also many animal bone deposits as the caves have acted as a natural trap for animals and these deposits are now of a significant palaeontological value such as a 20,000 year old owl pellet site and bone deposits of the Mountain Pygmy Possum (Caves Reserve Trust, 1996, 11).

The caves entertain a wide variety of invertebrate, flora and fauna species many of which have been studied and recorded as part of the complex ecological system. The cave system and the surrounding area also supports rare animals and plants such as the Sooty Owl and the Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby (Register of the National Estate Database, 2001).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good. Some caves have been damaged through poor past management and vandalism, and there are concerns about the impacts of visitor numbers on the physical condition of some caves.
Date condition updated:24 Mar 04
Modifications and dates: 1870s - visitation to the caves associated with destruction and theft of cave features
1878 - first road to the caves hamlet built from Oberon.
1880 - first permanent buildings erected, with some clearing of the land.
1887 - electric lighting introduced into the caves
1895 - fire destroys most existing buildings
1896 - first wing of Caves House built
1897 - remodelling of landscape around Caves House
1920s - new buildings erected in the hamlet area
1960s - interiors of the caves extensively renovated
1980s - new wave of building works
(Moore 1989, 21-22)
Current use: Tourism, recreation and conservation.
Former use: Aboriginal land, Tourism and recreation.

History

Historical notes: The Aboriginal peoples of the Reserve left many artefacts that have been noted and recorded. Several caves would have made good occupation sites and artefacts have been found at Jenolan. The nature of the landscapes, including caves, arches and steep sided slopes, would have developed many strong anthropological links. Gar-rang-atch, part fish and part reptile, formed many of the holes and caves in a number of karst landscapes in the south east of NSW while trying to escape Mir-ra-gan. Kohn (1993) states that at the time of contact with Europeans, Jenolan Caves fell within the territory of Gundungarra-speaking people, with Wiradjuri-speaking people to the north and west. The traditional land owners were probably Gundungarra-speakers, who had territory which included the Megalong and Burragorang valleys (Jenolan Reserve Trust 1995: 6).

The Post-contact history of the Reserve, or at least of the caves hamlet, was summarised by Moore in 1989 in six distinct phases.

Phase 1, 1838-1866, began with runaway convict James McKeown using the caves as a hideout for about 3 years, where he was found and captured by local pastoralist James Whalen in 1841. News of the caves then attracted a trickle of visitors willing to make the arduous journey. Unfortunately, the visitors were prone to taking large pieces of cave formations with them back to Sydney, and in 1865 local MLA John Lucas, after removing a large formation from Exhibition Cave, then persuaded the colonial government to declare the area a reserve to protect the caves. In 1866, the Fish River Caves Reserve was gazetted, the first reserve in NSW made for the protection of a natural feature.

Phase 2, 1867-1895, covers the gradual increase in public control over the reserve, especially the caves, and the provision of accommodation and access.

Caves Reserve was created in 1866, six years before the declaration of the world's first National Park.

The destruction of formations was made an offence in 1872, and in 1879 Jeremiah Wilson was appointed as the first resident caretaker, a year after the first road (from Oberon) was made to the caves. Visitors then would have had to sleep in the Grand Arch - ladies on one side, gentlemen on the other - along with the caretaker and guide, Jeremiah Wilson. He took a lease of 2 acres on some flat land on the Oberon side of the Grand Arch. Previously the site of a surveyor's camp, he erected a kitchen in the same year, and in 1880 built a 'rough house', with an iron roof supplied by the Government. This first Caves House, with its white washed walls, low roof line and no verandah, would not have looked out of place in mid-Wales. Rough and ready it may have been, but to visitors weary of the long train trip from Sydney to Tarana, a lurching buggy ride to the top of the steep 2 mile hilll from Oberon, then a walk down to the caves, ti was welcome indeed (Hay, 2013, 29).

By the mid-1880s Wilson was flooded with requests for accommodation. In 1887, with more visitors he extended his original buildings several times to include a two storey wooden building catering for 30 guests, with another joining it the following year. By then 1829 visitors a year were coming, including Governors of NSW and distinguished personages such as Prince Louis of Batternberg (Hay, 2013, 29).

On 14 March 1895 fire destroyed most of them - rumour has it that this was deliberately lit - Wilson, the 'Crown Prince of Guides' had a reputation for being free with other mens' wives, sheep and horses, so it may well have been a settling of scoresi(Hay, 2013, 29) and brought an end to Wilson's caretakership. Wilson campaigned for 'improvements' in the caves, and steps, gates, railings, ladders and wire mesh cages were built for the safety and comfort of visitors, and to protect the formations. In 1887 a steam-driven dynamo was installed in the Grand Arch to provide electricity to light the Imperial, then the Nettle and Arch caves. This was replaced in 1889 by a water driven Leffel Wheel near a waterfall on the Jenolan River. This was the first hydro-electric scheme in Australia and the first time electricity was used to light caves anywhere in the world.

The new lessee was Harry Curzon Smith, the king of railway refreshment rooms. Sir Sydney Smith, who, as Minister for Mines ultimately controlled the caves, engaged Walter Liberty Vernon, the Government Architect (see below)(Hay, 2013, 29).

Phase 3, 1896-1906, was marked by a strong commitment by the government to development of the caves as a resort for wealthy travellers and a retreat from Sydney. The Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon, designed the first wing of Caves House, built in 1897, which could then be reached by a new road through the Grand Arch. Vernon designed Caves House in an Arts & Crafts style to reflect the romantic and picturesque associations of the caves, describing it as a 'large comfortable hotel of the type best known in the tourist districts of England, Scotland, Ireland'. Moore describes it as having a craggy gabled faade and series of picturesque gablets, knobbly tile roof and deep recessed openings with multi-paned windows, giving the new building an instant air of old-age, charm and respectability. In 1897 the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Joseph Henry Maiden remodelled and terraced the slopes around Caves House, providing a setting of park-like gardens.

Phase 4, 1907-1929, covers the gradually widening popularity of the Caves made possible by motor transport and promoted by tourism literature. In 1907, a second wing, also designed by Vernon, was added to Caves House, with subsequent wings in 1914 and 1923, probably also designed by Vernon but supervised by George McCrae. Numerous service buildings were also constructed in the hamlet during the period, reflecting a move towards day trips as well as overnight stayers.

Botanist and plant collector William Blakely worked at Caves House as a gardener (AGHS/Betteridge, 2018), likely between 1900 (when he joined the staff of Sydney Botanic Gardens as a gardener, and 1913 when he worked in its Herbarium (until 1940) (Read, Stuart, 12/7/2018, using ANBG.gov.au/biography/).

Phase 5, 1930-1965, was marked by the Depression, World War 2, and the post war years which saw a great drop in the numbers of visitors, then a gradual rise towards the end of the period marked by extensive renovations to Caves House.

Phase 6, 1965-1989, covers a period of strong growth in visitor numbers with consequent further renovations and building programs to keep up with demand. At the same time the growing environmental awareness lead to visitors and others taking a greater interest in the reserve's natural and scientific values, and an Environment Protection Committee was formed to approach the perceived conflicts between natural values and tourist activities (Moore 1989, 13-20).

Phase 7, 1990-2003, covers the period of the Jenolan Caves Trust, established in 1989, when the first conservation plan for the Reserve's cultural heritage was produced after its transfer from control by the NSW Tourism Commission. The Trust was set up to manage the karst reserves of Jenolan, Wombeyan and Abercrombie, with Borenore added in 1996. In November 2000 the Reserve was included in the Greater Blue Mountains Area that was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its natural heritage values. Visitor numbers to the Reserve peaked during this period at about 250,000, then began to decline. In late 2003 the Trust Board was replaced by an administrator (HO).

In the 20th century visitor numbers continued to increase and the caves are now a major tourist attraction of NSW. Hence, alterations have been made to the access points of some caves although there are still many caves in the region that remain relatively untouched by tourism (Mackay, Quint, Pratten:1985), (Department of Public Works and Services:1979).

Since its reported discovery by James Whalan between 1838 and 1841 the area has attracted more than three million visitors. The area also contains a number of important industrial relics, including Australia's first hydro-electic power station and the remants of the first electric lighting of caves which was installed in the Chifley Cave in 1887 (National Trust of Australia, 1985).

A photo of a healthy-looking koala raises hopes the marsupial is moving back to the Jenolan Caves area after a 48 year absence. The image was captured by accident on a remote camera used to monitor endangered brush-tailed rock wallabies as the koala wandered around a conservation area. Koalas have not been active in the area for decades, despite a breeding program trying to reintroduce them in the 1960s. A NSW OEH senior threatened species spokeswoman said she was amazed to see the koala walk through a gate twice in as many weeks. The conservation area is protected under a state government five year, $100m Save Our Species programme designed to protect the endangered wallabies but it has also lured other species. The government also recently announced a koala strategy to boost populations across the state and plough $10m into cultivating vital habitat. The Australian Koala Foundation estimates there are less than 100,000 of the animals left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000, across Qld., NSW, Victoria and South Australia (Gusmaroli, 2016, 5).

In 2018 the state government announced funding of $8.5m for a facelift of Jenolan Caves, to be concentrated on 3 projects:key projects. Trust Director Jodie Anderson states they're excited about a new Jenolan gateway, a new field study centre, and longer trails or walking tracks. Glover says JC has 230,000 visitors a year. JCRTrust want to grow it by 160,000 visitors more. She mentions they'll add walking tracks using the funding (ABC radio interview with Jodie Anderson, Director, JCR Trust, 30/5/2018).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Other open space-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural: Caves and underground spaces known to humans-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural: Conserving and protecting natural features-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Scientific: Geoperiod Quarternary Epoch Pleistocene 10 000 to 1.7 million years ago-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Gundungurra Nation - evidencing creation stories-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Operating a tourism venture-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Places important in developing conservation processes-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of cultural and natural interaction-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Accommodating travellers and tourists-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Adapted heritage building or structure-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to tourist-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Planned towns serving a specific industry-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Vernacular hamlets and settlements-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. State government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administration of land-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. work of stonemasons-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Interior design styles and periods - Edwardian-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - Victorian period-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - 20th century interwar-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Interior design styles and periods - Victorian-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Building in response to natural landscape features.-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian (late)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - Federation period-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - Federation period-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Adaptation of overseas design for local use-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1850-1900-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1900-1950-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1950-2000-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Holidaying in hill stations and mountain retreats-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in a bushland setting-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Outdoor relief-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Tourism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Activities associated with relaxation and recreation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going to see the caves-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going bushwalking-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Climbing mountains and peaks-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting lookouts and places of natural beauty-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Walter Liberty Vernon, Government Architect, private architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George McRae, architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Joseph Maiden, Director Botanic Gardens 1896-1924, botanist, museum curator-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with William Blakely (1875-1941), botanist and plant collector-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Jenolan Caves Reserve is of state significance for its ability to demonstrate the significant historical activity of identifying and conserving the natural resources of NSW - in this case, the caves and karst landscapes that have developed as important scientific and tourist destinations throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries. The Reserve is highly significant as the first public reserve set aside in NSW for the protection of a natural resource - in this case, the caves, and as such predates the creation of The National Park in 1879. The caves hamlet illustrates the significant human activity of providing accommodation for travellers and tourists since the 1890s in romantic buildings especially designed for this purpose by the Government Architect (HO).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Jenolan Caves Reserve is significant for its associations with Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon, who design much of Caves House. Although only the first or 1897 wing was built during his tenure, his plans were respected and adapted by subsequent government architects so that the original style and setting for the building has been largely maintained to the present day (HO).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Jenolan Caves Reserve is of state significance for the highly regarded aesthetic qualities of the caves and cave formations, reflected in cave and formation names such as Aladdin, Orient and Temple of Baal caves and Gem, Arabesque, Angel’s Wing and Pool of Reflections formations; for the ability of the caves to demonstrate technological developments such as the first use of electric cave lighting in the 1880s, and the first development of hydro-electric power in Australia. The setting of the caves hamlet in the Jenolan Valley, with the tiny hamlet and picturesque Caves House almost dwarfed by steeply rising cliffs on all sides, the entrance into the hamlet through the fortress-like Grand Arch, and the distinctive Blue Lake formed by the weir for the hydro-electric scheme, all combine to form a landmark landscape of great beauty and distinctiveness (HO).
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Jenolan Caves Reserve is of state significance for its associations with many groups of people, three of which have been particularly identified – tourists, speleologists (that is, those who study caves and engage in caving) and guides. From the 1860s travellers and cavers have visited the Reserve, and cavers have continued to explore and make know to the public more of the caves, their connecting passages and the often unique plants and animals that inhabit this subterranean and lightless world. The caves are also important to the community of caretakers and guides who for nearly 150 years have guided visitors through the caves, shown them the beauty and wonders of the caverns, interpreted and educated people about the geological history of eastern Australia, and made the caves hamlet their home (HO).
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Jenolan Caves Reserve is of state significance for its ability to yield information on the geological history of NSW and of the Australian continent, as the benchmark karst landscapes contained within the NSW reserve system, and for the archaeological potential of the hamlet area to provide evidence of the early period in the development of tourism in NSW (HO).
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Jenolan Caves Reserve is of state significance for the number of rare and uncommon flora and fauna species to which it is home, especially within the caves; for containing the greatest diversity of cave invertebrates in NSW; and for the evidence it can demonstrate of the development of tourism, especially mountain and caving tourism, for over a century and a half in NSW (HO).
Integrity/Intactness: High
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0169825 Jun 04 1044807
Local Environmental PlanSchedule 2 Part 2 Caves 13 Mar 98 48 
Local Environmental PlanLEP 2013 (amdt.5): Jenolan Caves House; Limestone 113, 11413 Mar 13   
National Trust of Australia register Jenolan Caves Conservation Area316423 Sep 85   
Register of the National EstateJenolan Caves and Reserve78021 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Vertebrate (Tetropod) Palaeontological Sites in New South Wales1993 Paul M A Willis  No
Central West Pilot Program SHRP2001 Heritage Office SHRP  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Jenolan Caves Reserve View detail
WrittenAustralian Garden History Society, Sydney & Northern NSW Branch / Betteridge, Chris & Margaret2018Caves House - and its landscape setting - a talk by Chris Betteridge (flier) View detail
WrittenAustralian National Botanic Gardens2007'Blakely, William F. (1875-1941)' entry View detail
WrittenBrennan, W.1973Experiences in Cave Management of the NSW Department of Tourism
WrittenCox, G. & James, J. (ed.s)1984Helictite - Journal of Australasian Cave Research volume 22(2)
WrittenCox, G., James, J. & Dyson, H. (ed.s)1984Helictite - Journal of Australasian Cave Research volume 15(2)
WrittenDunkley, John & Anderson, Edward1978The Exploration and Speleogeography of Mammoth Cave, Jenolan
WrittenEddison, Ian2010Jenolan Caves House - Historic Landscape (report & slideshow)
WrittenGusmaroli, Danielle Danielle Gusmaroli, 'Koala comes strolling back after a 48 year break'
WrittenHay, David2013'The First Caves House' View detail
WrittenJenolan Caves Reserve Trust1996Progress Report - 28 March 1996 - Jenolan Caves Reserve Natural, Cultural and Heritage Resource Inventory
WrittenJenolan Caves Reserve Trust & Department of Environment & Conservation2006Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve - Draft Plan of Management
WrittenJohn R Dunkley A Bibliography of the Jenolan Caves - Part 1 - Speleological Literature
WrittenManidis Roberts2003Draft Plan of Management Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve
WrittenManidis Roberts Consultants1995Determining an Environmental & Social Carrying Capacity for Jenolan Caves Reserve
WrittenMoore, Robert thrtough the NSW Department of Public Works, Architectural Division, Public Buildings Branch1988The Caves House Precinct, Jenolan Caves Reserve: Conservation Plan (Built Environment)
WrittenNSW Department of Commerce2005Building Report of Caves House
WrittenNSW Heritage Office2004New Aboriginal nominations to the State Heritage Register 20/1/04
WrittenPower, Julie2018'Jenolan Caves Tourism: Stalactite to Stalacmite: return to the halcyon days'
WrittenThe Australian Museum1975'Australian Natural History' Special Issue - Australian Caves
TourismTourism NSW2007Jenolan Caves View detail
TourismTourism NSW2007Jenolan Caves Resort View detail
TourismTourism NSW2007Jenolan Caves Cottages View detail
TourismTourism NSW2007Jenolan Caves View detail
WrittenWelch, B. (ed.)1976The Caves of Jenolan 2: The Northern Limestone

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5051578
File number: 09/3860;S90/6436H05/211H99/351


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