Jenolan Caves

Connect and Protect - Every Week is Australian Wildlife Week at Jenolan

October 6, 2021

A lyrebird at Jenolan Caves - photo by Dale Versteegen

Australian Wildlife Week logo

Australian Wildlife Week is celebrated across Australia during the first week of October, to encourage a positive relationship between humanity and nature.  The President of the Australian Wildlife Society, Doctor Julie Old, said “the Society founded Australian Wildlife Week in 2019.  We hope to raise awareness of wildlife conservation issues across Australia and inspire all Australians to explore and develop a deeper understanding of these issues, gain the necessary skills to make informed decisions, and implement wildlife conservation action where possible.”[i]

One of Australia’s First Wildlife Sanctuaries

Jenolan was declared an animal sanctuary in 1920At Jenolan, we look after Australia’s most spectacular cave system - the oldest cave system in the world.  But there is more.  Jenolan was officially declared a wildlife sanctuary in October 1920 – just over a century ago. Along with Wombeyan and Yarrangobilly Caves, Jenolan was one of the first wildlife sanctuaries to be created in Australia.

Because we work with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, an abundance of birds and animals thrive in the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve.  Be very watchful on the access road, because of wallabies, kangaroos, and wombats crossing. While bushwalking at Jenolan, you might spot lyrebirds, currawongs, swamp wallabies, brush-tailed rock wallabies and echidnas, and remember to protect your lunch from the cheeky rosellas. For their health, we do not feed any of these wild birds and animals, and we ask visitors not to either.

In the warmer months, there are water skinks and large lizards – Eastern Water Dragons and Cunningham Skinks. Sometimes Wallaroos are seen, and sometimes (oh dear) even snakes!  

If you stay at Caves House hotel, and go for an evening stroll, you might spot possums and wombats.  And there is wildlife underground, although not as often seen - Eastern Bent-wings, a species of microbat.[ii]

How You Can Help Protect Wildlife

Lyrebirds are commonly seen at Jenolan Caves

Why is it important for all of us to be aware of Australian Wildlife Week?  The week is our reminder to think about the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora, such as those found at Jenolan, and how they benefit us. It is also a time to think about what we can do, even if only in a very small way, to help conserve wildlife.

Look at www.aws.org.au/australian-wildlife-week-2021/, to learn how you can get involved in the many projects run by the Australian Wildlife Society, year round.  In particular, this webpage lists numerous very easy ways, big and small, that you can help the environment or gain an appreciation for conservation. For example, you could plant a native tree, be a responsible pet owner, car-pool to work or bushwalk.

Immerse Yourself in Nature – Bushwalking at Jenolan

If you like bushwalking, next time you visit Jenolan, take a stroll along the McKeown’s Valley Track, which starts near our carpark.  Take the stairs way down into the valley, turn left and stroll along the mostly level valley floor.  As you listen for lyrebirds, loudly showing off their eclectic vocal repertoire, keep an eye out for wallabies in the wild. Imagine you are stepping back in time to 1837, when local pastoralist, James Whalan, followed this dry creek bed, looking for his oxen bows and horses that had been stolen by ex-convict, James McKeown. Instead, he found the huge caves

Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallaby - image by Dr. Anne MusserUntil 1878, before roads were built to Jenolan, the only way down into the valley was on foot or horseback, along this track. Read more about it here.

If you keep following the track, you will come across a long, high wire fence. In 1965, to protect the brush-tailed rock wallabies from predators, a substantial electrified enclosure was built. The enclosure is no longer used, but today there are over 100 brush-tailed rock wallabies in the wild in the Jenolan Valley, carefully monitored by National Parks and Wildlife.  Read more about it here.

Follow the track a bit further until it widens out into an area known as the ‘Old Playing Fields’.  Early staff and visitors used the 'Old Playing Fields' for recreation, especially for cricket. A cricket pitch was maintained for many years and can still be found under dirt and leaves.   

Protect and Connect

Jenolan is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature, both above and below ground, and return home with a greater appreciation. Our brand mission is strongly tied to conservation – ‘Our mission is to connect our visitors with the unique natural and cultural heritage of Jenolan Caves, and through that connection, stimulate the urge to care for and protect all such special places. Put simply our mission is to protect and connect.’

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4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains NSW. Ph: 1300 76 33 11 or +61 2 6359 3911

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