Getting in the Plughole at the Jenolan Caves

While reviewing possible activities in Sydney, I saw a tour that visited both the Blue Mountains and the Jenolan Caves. While I knew it would be better if I did both separately, I also knew that I didn’t have that much free time and so decided to do both in one tour. The good thing was that it was so cloudy that day that we couldn’t see the Blue Mountains and if my tour only did that then the day would have been a bust. But there is no fog issue in caves. But as is often the case with me, I wasn’t happy to just go to the Lucas Cave (the common cave that tourists visit). Nope, I booked The Plughole. And to add to the adventure (or my freaking out), I was the only person on my tour to do that.

I knew something was amiss when I found out how long my plughole adventure was going to take compared to the rest of my bus (1 hours vs 2 hours). Then when I joined my new group we had to sign out lives away and store our valuables in a safe. Next stop we had to suit up, in blue suits with helmets and rappelling gear. Seriously? What the heck did I get myself into. The people in the pictures in the office looked happy, they also looked like they were climbing through a cave – probably because they were.

Despite my compulsion to abandon the plughole before I even got to it, I didn’t and I was rewarded for my bravery.

The adventure really starts by abseiling into a sink hole. What the heck is abseiling? It’s the same as rappelling, you drop down a hole of off a building or whatever by rope. I had never done this and it freaked the shit out of me. I did manage to make it down, but I did bang my knee into a rock. It wasn’t bad so I figured I was ok to keep going. In the end I was fine, but it did hurt a lot the two times I had to kneel down. Tip – don’t do that!  Once inside the cave we squeezed through little holes, contorted our bodies through other holes, and in general did what you would think you would do in something called a “plughole.”   I have to give props to our guides. We only had 8 or 9 people in our group but we had 3 guides. Two of the guides were the sweetest guys and I swear they were in their 70s. I hope I can get around like that when I’m that old. Our other guide was a young woman, I liked her too but she wasn’t a 70 year old guy climbing around underground. The 3 worked well together and I felt totally safe and highly recommend it. Well, unless you’re a larger person or over 6 Feet tall – in those cases you’ll want to talk to the staff there, it is very tight in a few places, even for me who is 5 feet tall and slim.

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