Jenolan Caves

Food & Equipment for the Journey to Jenolan


Food was provided by the animals caught on the way to Jenolan.

Little lizards such as jooloogungang were a small food and drinking source!   

Witchetty Grubs are the larvae of several large moths which are commonly found amongst the roots of the Acacia and Black Wattle. Varying from 5 to 10 centimeters long, they are traditionally dug up by women and children. They can be eaten raw, or when lightly cooked, the skin is like chicken, and the fleshy inside is yellow.

Aboriginal culture used, but always left enough for those who came after - allowing animals to breed and plants to grow again. The Gundungurra followed the tradition of only taking what was needed. Aboriginal culture is largely about balance – balancing the needs of the people with the need to protect and preserve the natural world with which they so closely interacted. Animals may have been hunted, but they were utilized as fully as possible. Nothing was wasted, and patterns of movement allowed hunting areas to replenish themselves.

This meant that animals and fish could breed, plants could rejuvenate and there were ample food supplies left for others. People moved through the land generally in small family groups, coming together in the larger clan group only for ceremonial and other purposes such as warfare. As a consequence of this deliberate nomadic lifestyle, their hunting and gathering footprint was much lighter than the intensive grazing and cropping techniques introduced by European settlers. Traditional Aboriginal land use was practicing good conservation techniques. They never exploited resources on which their present and future wellbeing depended.



Aboriginal people came to the nadjung barefoot, wearing wella carreng. Up to 80 wella would make a cloak. The skins were dried then sewn together, using the sinews of animals or vegetable fibres. A design on the cloak indicated the wearer and his or her clan group. 

Babies would be carried in biggulamas, made from She Oak or Korall tree burs. Amongst the Kamilaroi people in the north west of NSW, they are called coolamons.

No rock art or cave paintings are in the immediate vicinity of Jenolan, but rock tools have been discovered nearby. One stone would be ground over another to shape and sharpen it. 

Grooves in the larger, static boulders are evidence that a bunggawurra has been at work in the vicinity.

Some whamharha were made from crystal hit with a piece of quarzt to shape them. In addition some were heat treated and grooved – a far more advanced technique.

The McKeown Valley Track at Jenolan has an abundance of river rocks. Amongst them are currobung, nubda, mullanubda, and burrumburrum. These are used in the making of hand tools, such as the mullada and whamharha.

Crystal worked into spear tips from the Jenolan Caves were traded. The eucalyptus tree provided the handle. The heads were tied on using the ‘blackboy’ plant. A trading route existed all the way up to the lands of the Pitjantjatjara, Arrente and other Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. 

Weapons and tools

It was once commonly believed that there is little evidence that Aboriginal people had used the interiors of the caves or that any artifacts could be found on site. However, in recent years, research and much onsite investigation has shown that this was far from the case. Artifacts have been observed and documented.

This work has greatly enlarged understanding of the relationship between the Aboriginal peoples and the caves themselves and the uses that the cave offered.




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

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