Caves and Critters

New South Wales does not lack for diversity in landscape and fauna. The Senior Missionary Couples set out for an October excursion to the Jenolan Caves. Of course the caves were known by the aboriginal community for hundreds of years, and they were discovered by the Europeans in 1848.

Driveway Arch at Jenoaln Caves
Driveway Arch at Jenolan Caves
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These Blue Mountain valleys bring out the country boy in Joe.

The caves are located in a little crevice in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. For Utahns, these Blue Mountains are not really mountains at all, more like rolling green hills. It is cooler there, and in fact, this year, the mountains did get snow once – a real novelty. October is spring in the Blue Mountains, and the blossoms were everywhere on the three hour drive to the caves from Carlingford. The valley of the Blue Mountains are verdant green with little ponds in the hollows and fat sheep happily munching grass. Joe loved the drive almost as much as the destination.

The caves became a tourist destination at the first part of the 20th century, and the buildings reflect that era. We were able to visit on a weekend when not that many tourists were there and we got there early so we could enjoy them without the hordes of visitors. Joe actually went through the caves and you can see some of the pictures here that were taken by our friend Brent Finch.

The Bottle 1-0078
The Bottle
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Jenolan Cave Reflection
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Jenolan Cave formation

I had a bit of cave avoidance going on at the time, so while the others went into the depths, I chose to explore the Blue Pond and stream along with another sister who had similar aversions that day. She is a former school teacher and had a bird book.

Feathery needles on Blue Pond
Feathery needles on Blue Pond
Tree Reflected in Blue Pond
Tree Reflected in Blue Pond

We were practically the only ones there that early in the day, so the lizards and critters were out in abundance. This water dragon is huge and he can run, swim crawl rocks and trees.

Jenolan Caves Lizard
Jenolan Caves Lizard

We also saw a gorgeous black snake with a bright orange red belly. We are almost positive he was poisonous since 95 percent of the snakes in Australia are. But we couldn’t get a photo because he slithered into a hole too quickly.

Of course, as the tour concluded, we had to get a group photo.IMG_0083

On the way home, we saw some kangaroos and wombats. But the most interesting siting was this echidna.

Echidna burrowed in the Hill
Echidna burrowed in the Hill

He was crossing the road, when our teacher friend yelled “Stop the Car”! by the time we got the car stopped and chased him down, he had burrowed his snout into this hill. You can just see his back there. No amount of digging around him could get him to budge.. He is about the size of a large porcupine. Can you see him amongst the grass?

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