It’s funny how mistakes often have a way of working out in the end.
Like our last road trip to see the Jenolan Caves, a world-famous natural attraction in eastern Australia.
Put simply, we accidentally booked the wrong accommodation for our party of 10. It was somewhat embarrassing but, in doing so, we stumbled onto a gem that made our visit all the more memorable.
Jenolan Caves are a series of striking limestone formations on the western fringe of Australia’s Blue Mountains, about three hours or 175 kilometres (109 miles) west of Sydney. The caves are part of a UNESCO World Heritage area and attract more than 250,000 visitors a year.
We didn’t set out to stay at Jenolan Cabins, but it was a fortunate mistake that led us to this accommodation perched high on Porcupine Hill overlooking the Caves complex.
Jenolan Cabins are certainly not your typical tourist accommodation, but proved perfect for the location.
In place of free wifi and complimentary breakfast, we found ourselves up close and personal with the Australian bush in a series of environmentally-sensitive cabins.
At an altitude of 1,350 metres above sea level, Jenolan Cabins sit above the snow line, mingling with kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and flocks of native birds.
The cabins are snug and warm – and command a spectacular 360 degree view over the World Heritage Blue Mountains National Park; Kanangra Boyd National Park; and the Jenolan Caves Reserve.
Each cabin has been purpose built to fit within the alpine hilltop environment – earth-sheltered for climate control and clad in timber to allow them to blend into the hillside.
The cabins accommodate six people, with each containing a queen-sized bed and four bunks. One has been done out to provide disabled access.
There is a kitchenette and a dining room, where we were able to prepare the food we brought and then serve it.
Each cabin also has a bathroom, with hairdryer and a lounge area with picture windows, a cathedral ceiling, as well as HD television and a DVD player.
Although we didn’t use it, there is also a laundry for the complex. We did, however, make good use of a barbecue.
Although there are many leisure facilities in the vicinity, we spent most of our time at Jenolan Caves, taking guided tours of some of the 11 well-lit caves that are open to the public.
The cave network is massive, following a subterranean section of the Jenolan River, with more than 40 kilometres (25 miles) of multi-level passages and in excess of 300 entrances.
Parts of the 3,083-hectare (7,620-acre) reserve of caves are still being explored.
Tours of Jenolan caves vary in difficulty. For example, the Imperial Cave has the fewest stairs, while the River Cave is the most strenuous.
During the tours, we were told that the cave chambers contain numerous marine fossils and the calcite formations, sometimes pure white, are noted for their beauty.
Overall, the trip was enjoyable and Jenolan cabins proved a great base for exploring the area. We have no hesitation in recommending them for anyone who feels they are mobile enough to tackle the whole caves experience.
Jenolan cabins are located at Porcupine Hill, 42 Edith Road, Jenolan Caves.
The site can be reached by road from Sydney via the M4 motorway, Great Western Highway and Jenolan Caves Road.
Alternatively, trains travel from Sydney’s Central Station to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, from where travellers can get coaches to the caves.
Main photo courtesy Jenolan Caves