Australia is mainly known for its beaches and tropical paradise destinations. However, it has so much more to offer than just fun in the sun.
I have been living in Sydney for almost two years now and while I love the big city life, I also enjoy exploring the countryside and mountains west of Sydney. There are beautiful country towns in New South Wales and the best part is, it only takes you between two to three hours to get there, making it the perfect weekend getaway.
I spent last weekend at Jenolan Caves, about 175km west of Sydney. The limestone cave formation is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by bushland and lots of wildlife. In fact, I had afternoon tea with a very friendly and cheeky Rosella who took a bite of my piece of cake while a kangaroo was watching the scene. In other words, it’s the complete opposite of the hustle and bustle of the city and very relaxing.
There is only one hotel at Jenolan Caves and it is all you need. Built in the 19th century, it is as charming and old-fashioned as you imagine, with high ceilings and period features including a cozy lounge with a big fireplace and a grand restaurant. This is in fact the only restaurant open for dinner, so be smart and make a reservation as it is booked out almost every night. I learned this the hard way and ended up eating at the bar (which isn’t too bad either).
There are plenty of bush walks to be done, but the main attraction is of course the caves. Eleven caves are open to the public and you’ll have to buy guided tour tickets for all but one cave, which can be explored on a self-guided tour. The guided tours are worth the money, however.
Prepare to be amazed by nature. The Jenolan caves are more than 400 million years old – a number too high to really grasp. But you’ll understand the significance of the caves when you’re standing in the so called Cathedral room of the Lukas cave, where stalactites and stalagmites have grown over thousands of years in shapes that look like church organs, steps and altars.
It does get very cold in winter, but there is central heating at the hotel and it is surprisingly warm inside the caves. Jenolan Caves really is a place of incredible nature and history and a perfect weekend getaway for friends, couples and families alike.
Images via jenolancaves and tripadvisor