Stalagmites, Cottages and a Lack of Forks

We didn't think we were going away this holiday. We all expected a quiet time at home with the family. We were wrong.

"Sophie, Gemma-Rose, I have booked a cottage in the Blue Mountains and we are going to see Jenolan Caves," Mum said.


I had never been to see caves before. I have walked round museums and had trips to the beach but never caves.

We had to get up very early on the day of our holiday. We rushed to have breakfast, pack the food and check that we had everything in our bags. Then we left the house and animals to the boys' care.

It was a three hour drive but I had a good book to read. Just before we reached the caves there was a very narrow winding road that we had to go round and I felt sick. At last the car arrived at the caves and Dad parked. We climbed out and looked around. The ticket office and souvenir shops were built in mock Tudor style.

The first cave we went to see was the Diamond Cave. It was a very pretty cave with lots of crystal. The guide told us that lots of the stalagmites and stalactites were in shapes of things and had names. There was one that was called the Indian Elephant. Dad kept bashing his head into the rocks in this cave.  

Then we had lunch. There was a very inquisitive bird that came right onto our table and sat right in front of me. I hoped it wouldn't steal my lunch. I remember years ago, when we went on a beach trip, a magpie stole a piece of avocado right  from my sandwich. I got most upset (even though I don't like avocado).

After the Diamond Cave we went to see the Lucas Cave which was huge. One of the chambers in the cave was called the Cathedral and used to be used for church services. They had a rock that was the altar and they had a place called the organ and there were 'stained glass' windows. It was gorgeous.

The guide demonstrated how good the sound was in the cave by playing a piece of music and there wasn't any echo.

The guide told us that in the original tour, years ago, the visitors would go down into the Lucas Cave with two guides. One guide would sit on a hessian sack and slide down a slope with a rope until he reached a certain point and then he jumped off. Then the other guide would give one of the visitors a hessian sack and a candle. The visitor would hold onto the rope with one hand and the candle with the other, and slide down until the guide at the bottom grabbed them. But if their candle went out and the guide didn't see them coming, then the visitor would keep on going till they hit a rock called Full Stop Rock and met a very painful end.

After the Lucas Cave we went to see the cottage where we were staying. It was a wooden building and there were kangaroos literally in the garden and they weren't afraid of us at all.

The living room in the cottage had two settees and a TV. It looked very nice. The kitchen had a bottle of drinking water on the bench which you had to pump water out of. The bedrooms were the best bit. They were nice rooms. Us four girls were sharing a room together. Our room had a set of bunk beds on either side of the room. All the beds had thick quilts and an extra blanket. We had also brought sleeping bags.

Mum and Dad went to buy food for the next few days while we stayed at the cottage watching a movie while Imogen made dinner.

It was freezing in the cottage and we pulled out the extra blankets from on our beds and snuggled up. When Mum and Dad arrived home, all they saw were huge piles of blankets with the vague shape of girls beneath them.

Dinner was slightly more complicated than we had thought it would be because there were only three forks and five spoons, and there were six of us. I was one of the people who had to eat with a spoon instead of a fork, and it is a rather hard thing to do when dinner is spaghetti bolognaise, Then we washed the bowls and ate ice cream.

When we had finished the ice cream and cleaned up, we watched another movie, then went to bed.

In the morning I was awake first and waited for everybody else to wake up. When they did eventually wake up, I served out bowls of cocoa pops. Then when everybody else went for showers, Mum and I cooked bacon, and while I had my shower, Dad cooked the eggs.

"Careful, the water from the shower goes all over the floor," Mum said.

When I'd had my shower (being careful not to flood the bathroom) we ate bacon and eggs before I dried my hair (Sophie kept taking pictures while I was drying it), and then we got ready for the fifteen minutes' drive back to the caves.

"We will go see the Nettle Cave first," Mum said. "The Nettle Cave is a self-guided tour."

Mum went to get the tickets and these strange phone things that we used to listen to the recording of a man telling us all about the cave.

This cave wasn't as good as the other ones but it was still good. There was a formation called The Willows and it looked like its name. The Nettle Cave was a lot more opened up than the other caves so wasn't as pretty.

When we had finished seeing this cave, we had lunch and the inquisitive bird appeared again hoping for some lunch.

"I think we will do the Temple of Baal Cave next," Mum said, and we all agreed.

We packed the lunch things back into the car and then waited for the Temple of Baal tour to begin. The group for the Temple of Baal was very small. Just us and three other people.

There was a small cave in the roof of one of the chambers. The cave had stalagmites and stalactites in it and they called this Paradise. Under Paradise was a place they called the Devil's Kitchen.

"Why don't we do a walk?" Mum suggested, after we came out of the cave.

We all nodded.

The first part was full of nettles and Imogen and I both got pricked.

"Who wants to go back the same way we came and who wants to take a different route back?" Mum asked.

"Let's take a different route back," Charlotte said.

This turned out to be a very hard walk. It went steeply up and up then occasionally down. My legs hurt from the amount of walking we had been doing and I was thinking that the other route had been a lot easier. Then we came out onto a view high above the caves. The view was amazing and there was the Carlotta Arch. It was massive.

"That walk was definitely worth the view."

Then we went back to the cottage.

Mum and Dad attempted to cook sausages on the outside barbeque, while Imogen cooked some chips in the oven. We all love chips.

We watched another movie over dinner and dessert. Our dessert was ice cream again but Mum had a brilliant idea. She suggested we eat it with cocoa pops on top which does taste great!

"Gemma-Rose, Sophie, why don't you two go have a shower before bed, so we can be out quicker in the morning?" Mum asked.

I forgot about the whole flooding thing and when I came out of the bathroom, I saw my pants were drenched because I'd left them on the floor.

I came out of the bathroom and showed my pants to the rest of the family. "I got them a bit wet," I said.

"A bit?"

"Okay, a lot."

Dad turned the gas heater on and draped my pants over a chair in front of it. After a few minutes they began to steam. Soon it was really warm in the cottage and we had to open the window. After a while the pants were dry.

"Thank you, Dad," I said looking at my (dry) pants.

A while later Mum and Dad went to bed leaving us to finish off the movie before following them to bed.

In the morning I was again first up. I crept as silently as a ninja out of the bedroom. CREAK! went the floor. I winced and took another step. CREAK! I gave up the whole quiet thing.

"Good morning."

I turned to see Sophie.

"Want some cocoa pops?" I asked.

She nodded and I poured some into a bowl for her and than we sat down to eat. Soon everybody else joined us. After breakfast, we began to pack up our bags.

Sophie and I stripped the beds and folded up the blankets and put away the sleeping bags. I took one last look at the room and closed the door behind me and then we left the cottage and piled into the car and drove back to the caves.

We waited outside the entrance to the Orient Cave. When the guide arrived we went back through the man-made blasted tunnel that we had to go through for the Temple of Baal Cave, and then through a different door and into the most gorgeous cave yet. All the chambers had names. One was upper Egypt and the other was lower Egypt. Another was India. The scene was breathtaking. This one was my favourite cave of them all and I savoured every moment of it. It had the biggest stalagmite ever. It nearly reached the roof.

Then we went on another walk before getting back into the car. We were going home after the best holiday ever. The car trundled away from the caves and I strained for a last look as they disappeared.

Then we were home, saying hello to the cats, Nora and the boys. Sophie and I entered our room. It was exactly the way we had left it.

We were home from the best holiday we had ever had.

Have you ever been to see any caves?


  1. That looks like such an amazing trip! I've been on a trip to tour a cave before, but I was eight, so I don't remember it well.

    xoxo Morning

  2. What an awesome holiday! I wish I could have been there! You have written so beautifully about it, I feel I got to go on holiday with you from the comfort of my own computer screen. Well done, and thank you!

  3. No wonder you like writing - you are excellent at it! You wrote this so well that I felt I was right alongside all of you.

    I wanted to see caves all my life, ever since reading a book called "Five Boys in a Cave" when I was about your age (even though I was a girl, I really wanted to tag along on that adventure!). I didn't get to go to a cave until after I was twenty-two! I love them, although I have never seen any with formations as beautiful as these in Jenolan Caves.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful holiday with us!

  4. Wonderful Post Gemma-Rose! You wrote it so well! I so want to go now. I am going to beg my parents to take me.

  5. This is from Gemma:
    That must have been a great holiday! I would like to go to some caves sometime. :)