Jenolan Caves

Ghost or Geological Phenomenon?

January 22, 2015

James Wiburd discovered River Cave at Jenolan and experimented with ways of crossing the underground river.Jenolan Caves may be Australia’s best example of a ‘haunted’ limestone cave system. Although Jenolan runs popular tours that focus on unexplained events such as ‘ghost’ sightings, not all members of staff take the ‘ghosts’ seriously. However, because Jenolan has so many 'ghostly' stories, I asked Geoff Melbourne, cave guide, to tell me his best ‘ghost’ story, from his 8 years of experience at the caves.

Here is a formal portrait of James Wiburd.Geoff said, “About a year ago, I was taking a group of visitors through the River Cave at Jenolan. It was a regular tour – not one of our ‘ghost’ tours. The path runs alongside the Pool of Reflections – one of the main features of the cave. I was leaning over the railing, looking into the crystal clear water and I saw something on the bottom.

“A bloke standing next to me said, ‘It’s a button.’

“Without looking up, I said, ‘You think so?’.

“He said, ‘It’s a button off an old tunic. There’s another one over there.’

“I still didn’t look at him. After peering into the water for a few more moments, I started moving the group on, but there was no one standing right next to me. The closest guy was several metres away, and he called out, ‘What happened to that guy in between us?’

“I said, ‘What did he look like?’

“He said, ‘He was a tall man wearing a rumpled gray suit.’

“But there was no sign of the man.”

Unfazed by the event, Geoff  wished he had actually looked at the man that spoke to him. 

He said, “I thought about it and asked my group if any of them spoke to me about the button in the water, and no one knew what I was talking about.”

Prior to working at Jenolan Caves, Geoff Melbourne worked in the Commonwealth Bank for 32 years, supervisory and management roles in customer service and IT. He claims that he did not believe in ghosts before working at Jenolan, where he has had many unexplained experiences.

The following week, after leading a tour by the same spot, one of his group said he was glad to get out of that part of the cave.  When asked why, he told Geoff that in the shadows he had seen someone sitting on a rock watching their tour group.  Geoff asked what the person looked like and was told it was an old man in a suit.

James Wiburd

Geoff speculates that it may have been the ‘ghost’ of James Carvosso Wiburd, who worked at Jenolan for almost 50 years and who extensively explored the caves. He discovered the River Cave, Pool of Cerberus Cave, Temple of Baal Cave, Orient Cave, and Ribbon Cave – all at Jenolan. It is whispered that his ashes may be buried in an inaccessible crevice deep in the labyrinth to which he devoted his life.

Since Mr Wiburd’s death in 1942, guides and visitors have claimed to have experienced fleeting glimpses of him on many occasions.

Geological explanation?

‘Haunted’ caves are also found in other parts of the world. There are well known ‘haunted’ cave systems in the US and the UK. In recent years, some paranormal investigators have theorised that rocks containing a high percentage of quartz (such as limestone) can somehow absorb energy from people. (Quartz is silicon dioxide, and silicon is used in the manufacture of computer memory chips.) The stored energy may somehow be able to release itself in a sort of replay - a full ‘manifestation’ or partial sounds such as voices or footsteps. This is known as the 'Stone Tape Theory'.

However, Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust does not ascribe to any paranormal theories. Many members of Jenolan staff come from backgrounds in science and technology.  Some staff members have not experienced anything that cannot be explained, while others have had frightening experiences in the caves and in Jenolan Caves House, the historic hotel.

2 Comments (Reply)
Misha (Reply)
Well I have a few pictures I can't figure out, I'm pretty sure it's just someone's flash or even my own being reflected back, but I can't find the where it was reflected from.
sam (Reply)
Thank you for the interesting post. If you like to read ghost stories, you may enjoy these creepy ghost stories from India:
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