Jenolan Caves in the State Archives Collection

Published on Wednesday 05 June 2024

We are donning our speleological hard hats and highlighting digitised material relating to Jenolan Caves held in the State Archives Collection.

The Jenolan Caves are part of the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve, located in the Greater Blue Mountains. The Caves are on the traditional lands of the Burra Burra people who are part of the Gundungurra Nation.1

Jenolan Caves have long been a popular tourist destination, with the land having been set aside by the NSW Government in 1866 for recreational use and public enjoyment.2 Today, the caves are managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust.

The State Archives Collection contains a range of digitised material relating to Jenolan Caves.

In this image from a series of glass-plate negatives created by the Government Printing Office, tourists can be seen posing on a bridge over Jenolan River.

The State Archives Collection also holds a series of tourist information flyers from the former NSW State Rail. Jenolan Caves features heavily in the series with advertisements of special one-day tours by rail and motor car.

The images in these tourist brochures date largely from the 1930s. Caves House and the surrounding area are still recognisable, with Caves House having changed little since the second Caves House was completed in 1926.

If you have walked the Six Foot Track, a 45-kilometre bridle trail from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves, you may know the joy of arriving on the doorstep of Caves House for a well-deserved beverage after the challenging three-day hike.

Early morning, Jenolan Caves House, 1919
Close-up of Caves House, 1945
Jenolan Caves House, 1923

Recently digitised albums

Other material in the State Archives Collection that showcases Jenolan Caves is a set of two photograph albums created by the Government Printing Office and presented to Lord Carrington, Governor of NSW from 1885 to 1890. Lord Carrington visited the caves in 1887 and 1889. These images of the interiors of the caves were created using electric and magnesium light.

Exhibition or Bat Cave, 1887
Imperial Cave, The Shawls, 1887

In these photographs, taken in 1887, Caves House and grounds are less recognisable – the original iteration of Caves House was a much humbler abode.

The Cave House (Accommodation House), 1887
The Cave House and grounds

These images, taken in 1887, show the entrance to the Grand Arch before a road was constructed allowing travellers to drive through the Arch before arriving at Caves House.

Entrance to the Grand Arch – east side, 1887
Entrance to the Grand Arch – west side, 1887
View the albums in the catalogue

The Grand Arch became the main entry way to Jenolan Caves in 1896.3 This image, taken in 1932 by the Government Printing Office, shows the road built through the Grand Arch.

More digitised photos of Jenolan Caves can be viewed in the State Archives catalogue.


1. Jenolan Caves Trust, The Gundungurra People, accessed 30 May 2024.

2. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve, accessed 30 May 2024.

3. State Library of New South Wales, Amaze Gallery Fish River Caves, accessed 30 May 2024

c.1923 coloured sketch of alternative cantilever Sydney Harbour Bridge

State Archives Collection

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