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Blue Mountains
Blue MountainsDriving to the Blue Mountains from Sydney couldn't be easier. After traveling west on Paramatta Road you hop onto the Great Western Highway at Concord. The drive time could be cut in half were it not for the low speed limits on Australia's highways. Unlike the United States the police will ticket you if you are just five miles over the limit. Driving in Australia is much like driving in Canada with long distances made to seem longer with the leisurely pace required to stay in the good graces of the law.

Carlin and his cousin Johnny playing chessVacations also mean hotel rooms or in this case a beautiful lodge in the Blue Mountains which on this day was a drizzly gray. The Gladestone Lodge was our temporary home; filled with antiques we were greeted by the mother and daughter proprietors. We ended up being the only guests that Easter weekend. While not on the road, time is taken up with board games such as chess or catching up on homework.  That's my 9 year-old son Carlin beating his nephew. I think that they played at least twenty games! My nephew Johnny is such a nice person with infinite patience. Carlin really likes him. While there my girlfriend worked on her business and computer homework. Oh yes I'm just as guilty as I always seem to be bringing my laptop though I didn't get to use it much. 

Blue MountainsWe traveled by minivan and the roads were well maintained even though the road we liked best was a short dirt road from the Jenolan caves to Oberon. They told us it was a short cut and me being the naive tourist I believed them. Not much to see in Oberon though the brochures led you to believe otherwise. Beware of the brochure that highlights the local drugstore as a point of interest! We drove straight back stopping for dinner at McDonalds; oh well some things never change.

Jenolan Caves
The area around Jenolan is composed of limestone. Mildly acidic rainwater can dissolve this limestone creating cavities which become caves and caverns. The Jenolan Caves is operated as a Reserve Trust and was established in 1866. The main caves are Chifley, Temple of Baal, Orient, River, Imperial Ribbon, Cerberus, Jubilee, Adventure and Lucas. The cave photographs shown below were taken in the Lucas cave. The tour encompasses 910 steps and takes approximately 1.5 hours. This is one of about 6 tours that you can take. Each one is slightly different and involves different levels of difficulty. Some years certain caves can actually be closed due to high water levels.

The Jenolan Caves House dates from 1889 and serves as a deluxe mountain guest house. The Jenolan Caves are located within a two hour drive from Sydney and is considered part of the Blue Mountains recreational area. The Jenolan Caves were named after a nearby mountain with the Aboriginal meaning of 'a high place'.

Until the 1860s, few visitors approached the caves. Jeremiah Wilson, arriving in Australia from Ireland in 1843, began exploring the caves in 1855, and built the first accommodation house in 1880, gradually expanding it over the next fifteen years.  In the late 1880s, the government constructed a road from Mt Victoria to the caves, which was extended in 1896 through the Grand Arch.

After a fire in 1895 which destroyed the original accommodation house, the government began work on a new structure of limestone, which was completed in 1898, and now forms the central part of the present Caves House. The Caves House itself was completed in 1918.