Jenolan Caves

Darlin' Don't Ya Know?

November 10, 2021

Romance is alive and well at Jenolan Caves.  After the long COVID-19 lockdown, we reopened last weekend, and we were booked out.  Cave Tour Guides reported that there were 2 marriage proposals, setting a marriage proposal record for Jenolan Caves – both with happy results.

The first proposal was planned, and our friendly guides jumped at the chance to assist with prop set-up and cave preparation before the couple's tour.  It went over excellently.

The second suitor sprung his proposal on visitors and guides, with cheers echoing through the caves.  

'Ladder's Open'

Something about the Jenolan Caves inspires marriage proposals. I asked sentimental cave guide, Geoff, to tell me his best marriage proposal story. 

His face lit up, and he said, “Well, I was taking a full Lucas Cave Tour - around 60 people - and when I got to the Cathedral Chamber, that’s where I always mention marriage proposals.” 

He led the group to the immense ladder, which stretches something like 50 metres way up to the cave roof.  He announced, “Many a man has climbed this ladder and popped the question, so is there anybody here who would like to give it a go?”  

He said to us, “I didn’t really expect anyone to say anything. Sometimes I pick out a couple, and I say to the guy, ‘Ladder’s open! How about you?’ But blow me down, this bloke calls out, ‘I’ll do it!’ 

“So I made way for him, and he climbed a couple of rungs up the ladder, and in front of everyone, called out, ‘Emma, will you marry me?’ 

“And I heard a voice in the crowd reply ‘Yes!’ 

“I’ve never experienced anything like what happened next.  Their 2 kids were so happy they stared jumping up and down and crying happy tears.  The couple got all teary, and when I looked around, EVERYONE was crying.  Then I started crying too!”

In the course of their work, cave guides have to take such unexpected things in their stride.  

Darlin' Don't Ya Know?

Cave Guide, Anne, said, “This young guy had let me know at the start of the tour that he wanted to propose to his girlfriend.  So, when we reached the most romantic spot, at the Crystal Basin, I gave him a ‘look’.”

Here, Anne laughingly demonstrates her ‘knowing look’, then said, “He handed me his camera so I could capture the moment.  But before I was even ready, he was down on one knee.  His girlfriend just looked irritated and said, ‘What are you doing?’. 

"And, he just gazed up and came back with the classic line, slow and with feeling, 'Darlin’, don’t ya know?’  It was just so sweet!”

Coping with the Unexpected

Then there is the amusing story of one of our newer cave guides who had been told about the Jenolan marriage proposal phenomenon. But it had not yet happened on any of her tours. So when it finally did, it caught her by surprise.  One day she was taking a group through a cave when a young man held out his video camera and said, “Can you take our photo?”

She assumed it was going to be the typical tourist pose, until he suddenly sunk down on one knee in front of his girlfriend. 

For my benefit, our guide threw up her hands and gave me her most dramatic look of shock-horror.  “I had no idea what was happening!”, she said. 

Years from now, when that couple views their treasured video, we hope they remember to delete these regrettable words of a very flustered cave guide, “Oh my ***, what is he ******* doing!”

Example of wedding notice

The Honeymoon Hotel

Since the 1880s and 1890s, Jenolan has been very popular for honeymoons.  Before cheap overseas airfares, Jenolan Caves House hotel was THE place to honeymoon - Australia's answer to Niagara Falls. Using Trove, we have researched wedding notices going back more than a century, and the majority of NSW wedding notices ended with something along the lines of, "and will spend the next few days at Jenolan Caves.".

These days, couples can have a wedding ceremony at Jenolan, followed by a reception in Jenolan Caves House, where they can also stay in our romantic bridal suite. You never know – you could be staying in the same room that your great-grandparents stayed in on their honeymoon 100 years ago.


2 Comments (Reply)
Julie Massey (Reply)
I met my husband when we both worked at Jenolan, 44 years ago, and he proposed to me there. His grandmother was the housekeeper there.
Carolyn Melbourne (Reply)
Hi Julie, It sounds like a great story. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions? What is your husbands name? What did you both do at Jenolan? Did you live on site? What was his grandmother's name? Was it a romantic proposal? Who were the managers back then? We would love to hear your memories of Jenolan from the 70s.

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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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