Jenolan Caves to receive $8.5 million facelift
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Small Business and Skills John Barilaro, and the Member for Bathurst Paul Toole today toured Jenolan Caves to announce $8.5 million in funding to give the ancient cave system and tourism hot spot a modern facelift.
Mr Barilaro said the funding from the NSW Government’s Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund would give tourists an even more spectacular view of the caves and the incredible surrounding scenery.
“A trip to Jenolan Caves is simply mesmerising,” Mr Barilaro said.
“For people young and old across Australia a lesson on stalactites and stalagmites is not complete without a visit to Jenolan Caves.
“It’s easy to see why Jenolan Caves captures the hearts and attention of so many people, and we want to make sure visitors continue to flock to this incredible spot.
“That’s why we are funding the long overdue renovation of Jenolan Caves which will not only improve the grand entrance to the caves, but will also build and upgrade nearby walking tracks to give tourists unique access to the amazing landscape, lake and wildlife that surrounds the ancient caves system.
“Jenolan Caves is often the first stop for tourists travelling west over the Blue Mountains into regional NSW, and today’s announcement will guarantee we capture the attention of visitors with a much needed facelift of this world class tourist destination,” he said.
The funding will go towards three key projects - upgrading the Blue Lake area, construction of the Binoomea Track and Inspiration Point lookout, and the Jenolan Caves Gateway Centre - and will create economic benefits by delivering additional jobs in the regional location.
The projects are expected to generate at least an extra 40 jobs in the region during the construction phase, and an extra 50 jobs in the local community well into the future.
Minister for the Environment, Local Government and Heritage Gabrielle Upton said with the construction of the new facilities and walking tracks, there will be more activities for visitors to experience and enjoy outside of a tour of the caves, encouraging more overnight visitors to the Blue Mountains and Central West region.
“Every year Jenolan Caves attracts over 230,000 visitors and once the new facilities are complete, it’s estimated there will be an increase of 160,000 day visitors to the Caves each year,” Ms Upton said.
“Once delivered, the new visitor facilities will include upgraded walking tracks, boardwalks and observation platforms to the Blue Lake area allowing visitors to get up close to the lake for platypus viewing, environmental education and recreation purposes.
“This is a truly fantastic announcement for one of NSW’s most precious tourism jewels,” she said.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said the renovations will entice more tourists out of Sydney, over the mountains and into the Central West.
“The renovations announced today will not only transform the visitor experience at Jenolan Caves but turn Jenolan Caves and the surrounding towns into a gateway for tourists travelling to the Central West,” Mr Toole said.
“These vital upgrades will mean close to 400,000 people will be able to visit the caves every year.
“That is a lot of people spending money eating in local cafes and restaurants, shopping at local businesses and staying overnight in local accommodation.
“This is another example of the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government investing in regional NSW and growing our local economies,” he said.
Director of Jenolan Caves Jodie Anderson said the $8.5 million investment in Jenolan Caves, which sits within a state, national and world heritage listed reserve, will provide new and revitalised experiences for tourists and immerse visitors in the magic of the natural and cultural wonderland of the unique natural landscape.
“The funding will not only increase both international and domestic tourism to this area by an estimated 160,000 visitors per year, but also increase overnight stays by an estimated 14,000 visitor nights,” Mrs Anderson said.
“Additional benefits will include strengthening the tourist pathway to country NSW, increasing regional employment opportunities and economic growth, and providing additional environmental education and health and fitness opportunities in the region.”
Construction is expected to begin by December 2018, with works completed by December 2021.