Jenolan Caves

Jenolan's ANZACs

April 22, 2021

General Pau (centre holding hat)

ANZAC Day is almost here.  It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.[i]  ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

During the 1920s Anzac Day became established as a national day of commemoration for the more than 60,000 Australians who had died during the war. In 1927, for the first time, every state observed some form of public holiday on Anzac Day. By the mid-1930s all the rituals we now associate with the day – dawn vigils, marches, memorial services, reunions, two-up games – were firmly established as part of Anzac Day culture.

Later, Anzac Day also served to commemorate the lives of Australians who died in the Second World War. The meaning of the day has been further broadened to include those who lost their lives in all the military and peacekeeping operations in which Australia has been involved.[ii]

Three years ago, to mark a century since the end of WW1, Kath Bellamy, of the Jenolan Caves Historical & Preservation Society (JCHAPS), did considerable research to find out about members of the tiny Jenolan community who joined Australia’s defence forces way back in WW1.  David Cook, also from JCHAPS, put all this information into 2 fascinating posters. The information and images from the posters has been directly transposed below. We hope you enjoy the following information:

Jenolan Caves in the Great War
A centenary commemoration of the Armistice 11th November 1918

During the First World War men from all over Australia enlisted for service. At that time Jenolan Caves was a small community with a school, post office and police station. The caves were a major tourist attraction and Caves House employed a large staff. Many men associated with Jenolan enlisted including some who had been children at the Jenolan school. This poster acknowledges some of those soldiers, their relatives and friends at home and is a tribute to the contribution of Jenolan Caves to the Great War of 1914 – 1918.

It’s a little known fact that Jenolan was the scene of early wartime propaganda. While Gallipoli is usually recognised as Australia’s initial experience in World War 1, the first battle actually happened in September 1914 at Rabaul in New Guinea.

An Australian contingent fought and captured a German wireless station. Prisoners of war were brought back to Australia. In December it was reported that a group of badly behaved German prisoners visited Jenolan causing damage by breaking stalactites. When the caretaker, James Wiburd, was questioned he reported that no fault could be found with the behaviour of the visiting Germans who had conducted themselves as gentlemen while at Jenolan Caves.

Dr Roy Wiburd

James Wiburd was a long time guide who made many significant cave discoveries. His son, Dr Roy Wiburd, who grew up at Jenolan, served with the Australian Army Medical Corps. He is pictured 2nd from right in back row. 


Leonard Bailey

Len (left) was the son of Robert Ervine Bailey who was a co-discoverer of caves with James Wiburd.

Leonard Bailey was killed in action on 12th October 1917 at Passchendaele, Bel-gium. 

In 1921 the parents of Leonard Bailey were still looking for his remains (see right). 


Archie Tait

Archie (no image) was appointed as guide in 1912.

He enlisted at the recruiting office at Jenolan on 6 April 1916. At age 41 years, he was one of the many older men who joined the army. He served in a Signal Company, and after the war he was known for his experiments with wireless transmitters in the caves.

In August 1919, Archie returned to Jenolan and was presented with an inscribed gold medal and fountain pen by James Wiburd. Decorations at his welcome home party included his battalion colours, national flags and a banner. 


Stanley William Matherson Stilling

Stanley William Matherson Stilling

Stanley (right) was manager of Caves House in the years between the world wars. He served in a Light Horse Regiment. He is pictured here with his wife Ada in front of Caves House.


Hugh Patrick McKenna

Hugh was employed at Caves House for 4 years.

At a send-off, held in June 1915, he acknowledged the farewell gifts and hoped to return to his kind employer and his good friends at Jenolan.

Mr Sydenham, manager at Caves House, felt sure Private McKenna would serve his King and Country as faithfully as he had served his employers.

Hugh Patrick McKennaHugh (left) died of wounds, 26th November 1915, after only 27 days on Gallipoli. He is buried in the cemetery on Shell Green. His Executors were George Syd-enham and James Wiburd of Jenolan Caves.


Joseph Albert MellorJoseph Albert Mellor

Joseph (right) and his brother Ernest came to Jenolan in 1900 to work as electricians.

Joseph Mellor was wounded at Gallipoli in August 1915 and went on to serve in France.


Donald and Cecil Wilson

Jeremiah Wilson was “Keeper of the Caves”, who made many early discoveries and developed the first accommodation at Jenolan. His brother Fred Wilson was caretaker in 1900. Two sons of Fred Wilson enlisted.

Donald Wilson landed at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915 and was wounded in May and again in August. Cecil Wilson was wounded by a shell fragment in 1916 and died in 1919.

The Lithgow Mercury in July 1917 reported cheery letters had arrived from local soldiers at the front that mentioned the Wilson lads, young Dr Wiburd and Harley Cale who were all school mates at Jenolan Caves.


Harry MalthouseHarry MalthouseWilliam Henry (Harry) Malthouse

Harry (left) was a gardener from the Sydney Botanical Gardens, who came to Jenolan in 1898 to work on the ornamental plantings.

He was 46 years old when he enlisted. In August 1917, his transport ship was sunk by a German raider, and Harry became a prisoner of war. He died in Germany just weeks after the Armistice was signed.

Harry was renowned as a cyclist and used to ride from Mount Victoria to Jenolan. His bicycle is now part of the collection held by the Jenolan Caves Historical & Preservation Society.  


Joseph Luchetti 

Guide, Joseph Luchetti (left) enlisted in December 1915 as Joseph James Bourke.

He was wounded in Belgium in 1917. 







Frank Hurley

Frank (right) was a photographer known for his work in the Antarctic. He served in the war as an official photographer with the Australian Imperial Forces from 1917–18.

He produced books on Jenolan Caves and took some of the most iconic photographs of James Wiburd.


Mary Frances MoranMary Frances Moran

Mary (left) commenced work in Caves House in August 1928. Two of her brothers served in the 40th Battalion and were killed in 1917. Her remaining brother served with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and returned to live there.

When Mary died in March 1950, her headstone was erected by those who had become her family: the Jenolan Caves staff.


Tannant William Edgeworth DavidTannant William Edgeworth David

Renowned geologist and polar explorer Tannant William Edgeworth David was 58 years old when he enlisted in 1916. He was attached to the Australian Mining Corps, or as they were known, The Tunnellers. He provided valuable advice on the design of trenches and tunnels. He was seriously injured when he was dropped 80 feet down a shaft while inspecting a well near Vimy Ridge. Three times mentioned in dispatches, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1918 and was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. Edgeworth David is pictured here unveiling a plaque in the Grand Arch on 23rd February 1929.


General PauOfficial Visits

General Pau

Just prior to the Armistice, French General Pau visited Australia, to express gratitude from the French Government for the generous aid given in the war. He visited Jenolan in September 1918, and is pictured in the Devils Coach House at far left with binoculars.

General Sir William BirdwoodGeneral Birdwood

In April 1920, General Sir William Birdwood made an official visit to Jenolan. He is pictured standing in front of Caves House in a light coloured suit and holding his hat. Standing next to the General is Major Pain. The Jenolan guide leaning on the post near the flag is William Robertson. He saw service under Major Pain and was wounded in a gas attack in 1918. The guide on the far right is James Wiburd.

The grounds were specially illuminated at night in honour of the General who on arrival was played through the Grand Arch by the Oberon Band. There was a guard of honour made up of local returned men. Guide Archie Tait, who served in France, was in charge of the local Diggers.

Memorial Application

The Government Tourist Bureau applied for a war trophy for Jenolan in 1921. It was proposed that a machine gun be placed in a prominent position within the Grand Arch where every visitor could see it. The application stated that it would be a labour of love and post of honour among the permanent officers at Jenolan to keep the gun polished and in first class condition. It would be located under natural cover and out of the weather. There was a favourable response to the letter but the application was later withdrawn.

The only known example of a memorial at Jenolan is in the River Cave. Part of the river forms a pool where visitors would throw coins into the water. Oral history has the story that this practice was in memory of soldiers as some of the money collected was given to the Anzac Memorial Hospital in Katoomba.

Thank you very much to Kath Bellamy for finding all the above information about diggers from Jenolan!

During World War 2, a few men from in and around the tiny Jenolan community also signed up:

  • Staff Sgt. Thomas William Clark, of the Army Canteens Service. Clark also served in WW1 (image at right)
  • Gunner Victor Harcourt Ebberton of the Australian Light Anti-Aircraft Battery. Ebberton’s mother was a Whalan, one of the very oldest families in the Jenolan region, and related to Jenolan’s discoverer.
  • Flight Lieutenant William Linton Ravenscroft, of the NSW Air Training Corps. Ravenscroft also participated in the Korean War and was mentioned for distinguished service.
  • Private Leonard George Wilcox was a porter at Jenolan Caves in 1941, the year he was married. Wilcox’s family lived at Gingkin, very close to Jenolan.[3]

Flight Lieutenant William Linton RavenscroftFlight Sgt. Henry Edward Barnes and Private Stanley Joseph Collits also saw action in World War 2, but we were unable to discover anything about these men. If you can help, we would be happy to receive any information. 



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