Day out at the Caves

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I've lived here for a quarter Century, and there's a historic area less than 80 miles away that I've never, ever been to. In the 90s, I was commissioning engineer for a fiberboard factory, stonesthrow from there (relatively speaking) and still never made it there. Wife has done two weeks of volunteer work for the local PCYC (Police and Citizen's Youth Club), my son learns archery there after school, and my daughter is on the Youth Comittee, so wife decided to spend her school holidays helping out. It's a good cause, they have parquor clasess, holiday care, and an on site Police presence in a friendly environment. Today was a field trip to the Jenolan Caves ... a world wide attraction, the Jenolan Caves ...bear in mind that "historical" in Oz is only a couple hundred years maximum ... took the day off myself and tagged along. Here's the sort of environment that's in my district, so what we left this morning (gorgeous day BTW). Inside a half hour, windy roads, and a type of bush that we call either bush, or scrub. (Going Scrub is "getting away from it all") And the regional version of mountain areas. Single lane, windy stuff (well 1-1/2 lanes), they have daily curfews on the roads, allowing coaches in 11:30 to 1:30, and out after 1:30...two coaches can't pass...two cars is close. Bottom of the windy roads and "mountains" Getting there across an historic bridge (actually, the pics are not quite right, the house view is from the back road in, not the regular road). Caves are 500M years old, formed by raging underground rivers and whatnot, and now that they are high and dry (half a mile above sea level), have spent aeons with ground water and CO2 dissolving limestone, and forming stalegmites and stalegtites of Calcite. There was a convenient bit up close where one had been broken off in the past to provide head room. Cave that we went down was called the "Madonna" cave, as the first explorer was reminded of the statue of the Madonna and Child. A lot of the features in the cave (there are multiple, we only did one) have been named over time (see Madonna above), so I entertained myself and son (and as it turns out the children around us) by spying features and naming them myself...got the kids imagining stuff as well. As we came down some stairs (me in the lead), I declared this one a dragon...went down a treat. This one was "Davey Jones", although in hindsight, Predator would have been apt as well. Aliens Cave ??? Some really nice formations present. so thin There was limited colour down the cave, as deep within, there's limited airborne dust...the black in the aliens cave was some reflection thing. The caves were explored in the 1800s with candles and carbide lamps, and in order to increase the attraction of the caves, back in 1880 (???) they electrified the caves, and installed electric lights. That was still while Sydney was being lit with coal gas...three days by train and horse/carriage from Sydney to the caves, and according to our guide, people were as enamoured by the electric lights as the caves. Sydney, two caves, and home is a day trip these days. Can stay the night some evenings and hear Symphony Orchestras, or Rock in some of the caves. Being established in the Victorian Era, they didn't want just plain natural lighting, they wanted something else...one area has been lit the way that it was in the 1880s. Here's the site of the original hydro-electric power station for the site...way too small for the mod cons that we expect these days. Fed from a weir that was installed on a marshland that receives runoff from the caves...you can see the penstock to the power station at the bottom. Being an old marshland, it's very very shallow, and you might be able to see a decent sized rainbow trout in it. The blue is the refraction of the light on the (dare I say) nanoparticles of Calcite that are suspended through brownian motion in the water (like the blue sky). They have a fountain at the village that is fed from one of the internal caves. We sampled some, and it reminds me of growing up in mineral water country. but not as bitey...would drink that all day versus the swill that is chlorinated/flouridated, metalised tap water these days. And wandering around above ground, the wildlife. Dragons again...the bearded kind Heaps of other lizards, these were the only co-operative ones. A baby Lyrebird (google them, they are cool). Had to look hard to find the mother But when he worked out that we weren't in a hurry to go away, the father turned up to mark his territory, or dig up bugs or something. While on the road, we also saw an echidna (spiny ant eater)...I've seen a few, but not many not run over, and not many this close. Lots more animalia was seen, really wanted to take a pic of a "Red Bellied Black Snake" that I got to within 3 feet of, but was busy moving the child recieving first aid who was seated a foot closer. The warm weather is here...hallelujah
 
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Nice caves and apparently a great day out. Are half-timbered buildings popular in Oz?
 
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Nice post. We have lots of caves near us in Middle Tennessee, you could spent a lifetime searching caves here, recommend it in the winter, to many snakes here in the summer, believe me, to many snakes...
 
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A few years ago my wife, son and I went to Carlsbad caverns in New Mexico. This was the first time I had been since I was 5 so it was as if I had never been. It was an amazing place and in the dead of summer while it was 105° at the surface it was a cool/damp 68° in the caves. We stuck around until sundown to see the bats exit the caves and it was quite the experience, sometimes the simplest things in nature are the most treasured memories.
 

Shannow

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Originally Posted By: BRZED
Ever been to Paechtown?
Positive that I have...we lived in Adelaide from when I was 6 to 13. I have vague memories of the place, and the purchase of flat, crinkle cut "fries".
 
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Great pics Shannow. I've always enjoyed visiting caves. The girlfriend and I went to southern Indiana last year and saw a few. Took a boat ride through one as well. It was a great time especially because she had never seen one before. They offered "off the trail" excursions that took you beyond what they had marked and the electricity. I want to say it was a few miles of hiking that eventually lead to what they described to be a room the size of a football field.. underground! laugh
 
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