Adventure caving at the Jenolan caves has always been on my list, so when we had a quick getaway down to the Blue Mountains in NSW, I couldn’t wait to finally tick it off.
Our friends are from Victoria and NSW, while we’re in QLD so this was the middle grounds for us all. So we hired an Airbnb for four nights as a base to explore the beautiful Blue Mountains.
Where are the Jenolan caves?
Jenolan caves are about an hour and 40 minutes from Katoomba which is where we stayed. I think usually it wouldn’t take that long but they were doing some road works so there were a couple of detours. So just be sure to check google maps when you’re planning your trip.
Jenolan caves was always high on my list of places to check out as this cave system looks amazing!
There are quite a few different cave tours you can go on here. But when we found out there was an adventure cave tour, of course we booked that with the quickness!
The Jenolan caves adventure caving tour is called the PLUG HOLE!
What is adventure caving I hear you ask???
Well it’s where we go through the less traveled route through the caves, crawling through the tight holes in the rock as we slowly make our way to the bottom of the hill.
This adventure goes for approximately two and a half hours and is definitely not for people who are clostraphobic, don’t like to get dirty or people afraid of the dark haha
There were five people in our group, and we meet up with our two tour guides. They gave us a quick briefing full of dad jokes then we jumped into a minivan to take us to the top of the hill.
When we got into the van one of the guides put on some Enya to set the mood.. Then proceeded to tell us about the time he got to see Enya live and how bloody crazy the mosh pit was haha
Once we arrived at the top of the hill, this was our last toilet stop for the trip. Then we headed into the office to get equipped with coveralls and our abseiling gear.
Oh I forgot to mention the way we start this adventure tour is by abseiling into the top of the caves!!!
This is something I have never done before and I’m not going to lie I am quite scared of heights. So this got the butterflies in my tummy going!
They had their success rate tallied on the white board which luckily was a pretty good success rate lol.
We put on our helmets with a torch..
And we felt like we were in a Beastie boys film clip for Intergalactic.
We then had a quick briefing of what the adventure would entail with this detailed chalk drawing, then we were on our way to the plug hole!
On our way to the plug hole we spotted a rare rock wallaby! These guys are apparently on the endangered species list so that had to be a good luck sign, right?
Once at the entrance of the plug hole, we got a quick briefing on how to abseil and then it was time to go down!
My heart started pumping as SK and Paulie went down first then it was my turn…
Vertigo started to set in. But I fought it off and took a deep breath and started climbing down the three steps until they told me to let go and lean back.
Which went against all my instincts… JUST DONT LOOK DOWN!
I started my descent and took it one step at a time until I finally made it to the bottom. Woohoo! I was so glad that was over with.
Now it was time to enter the caves…
As we walk in, the cave opens up to a nice size entrance chamber with stalactites and stalagmites.
On some rocks, past explorers from the 1800’s had etched their names into the rock with pencil and even burnt the rock with their candles.
It’s crazy to think people were exploring this cave all the way back in the late 1800’s.
There was even a signature from the grandson of Arnotts biscuit mogul from 1856. Which is a huge biscuit company here in Australia. And to just think if he got lost or didn’t make it out of the caves that would have changed the Australian biscuit timeline intensively. Cause back then they didn’t have torches they would explore the caves with candles.
Which would have been so hard, as the light from the candle blinds you from your feet. So, you have to take each step very cautiously.
Unfortunately, back in the day, a lot of explorers have lost their way in this cave system.
None the less we move on to our first adventure caving challenge. As the cave gets smaller, we are met by two small holes in the rock. One small hole and one even smaller hole. And yes, you picked it.. We were going through the even smaller hole!
Now we had to go through this one headfirst, so hand your phone through the hole then go on headfirst with your arms in front of you. This actually got pretty tight!
It’s such a mind game when trying to get through these tight holes. Halfway through panic starts to set in as you try and wiggle your body through. Just take a breath and try and calm down then start wiggling again until your through.
Woohoo! We made it through our second of many challenges on this adventure.
Some archeological digs in this cave have recovered some old school Australian pennies.
And old broken bottles. But when they have dug down deeper, they have found the skeletons of extinct giant wombats, and even Tasmanian devils and tigers. Which is crazy to think how old these bones are!
As we make our way down through the cave, we come across some ocean fossils in the limestone.
What the hell is ocean fossils doing in this cave I hear you ask??
Well millions of years ago this was a coral reef and as the earth has shifted, it compressed the coral reef and pushed it upside down. Which the compression of the earth and time has turned it into limestone, hence the fossils that got trapped in the limestone along the way.
Crawling through we made our way into a cavern called the chapel.
Here we sit down and turn off our head torches and keep completely silent.
It is pitch black and not a sound to be heard. You can’t even see your hand in front of your face.
This is the true experience of sensory deprivation. If you stayed like this for more than a couple of hours you would surely lose your mind!
It was a very interesting experience to say the least.
Along this journey, painted on the rocks are arrows pointing to the exit.
These arrows have been here since the 1800’s so people wouldn’t get lost as easily.
Along this adventure we were treated to so many of the best dad jokes that I had heard in a while.
My favourite was what do the movies Sixth sense and Titanic have in common?
Icy dead people 😂😂😂
The next part of this adventure was the armchair.
Which of course sent you through another tight squeeze.
Then into the rock pile.
After crawling through the rock pile. We find ourselves at the S bend.
This was our last tight squeeze of the adventure, and it sounds exactly like the name suggests.
In the S bend we head in, headfirst and pull ourselves through in the motion of a S. It was a tight squeeze and halfway through, I thought to myself hang on I don’t think my legs are going to be able to bend that way. Luckily, I’m not super tall otherwise this would definitely be a huge challenge!
Once we made it through, we came to some stairs that led us into the Imperial cave.
As we made our way down the stairs another tour group was exploring the Imperial cave and just happened to be there as we were leaving.
The group all gave us a round of applause for completing the Plug Hole cave adventure.
Then we made our way to the exit of the Imperial cave.
Wow this sure was a fun adventure!! From abseiling to rock crawling and sensory deprivation, plus all the dad jokes… The Jenolan caves adventure caving tour had it all!