Jenolan Caves Blue Lake

Jenolan, New South Wales 2790

The Blue Mountains are one of Australia’s top tourist attractions, unfolding out in a majestic show of soaring peaks and lush, green valleys.

Blue Lake

Throughout them, there are plenty of natural wonders to feast your eyes on, like the Jenolan area that sits in the middle of it all.

In this part of the country, there is a rich history that characterises the natural scenes, complete with centuries-old trees and wild hiking trails that weave through the landscape.

One of these picturesque watering holes is known as the Blue Lake, and it boasts incredibly smooth waters that sit below the impressive Grand Arch. The manmade lake itself was originally created in 1908 to help aid electricity, but it is now fed by the River Styx and the Jenolan River.

The Gundungarra People and the Blue Lake

Perhaps the most famous part at the heart of the Blue Mountains is the Jenolan Caves, which date back 340 million years. The history here is fascinating and lengthy, with plenty of age-old stories to go along with the stunning surroundings. The local Gundungarra tribes called the area “Binoomea”, which literally translates as “Dark Places”, as they used to travel to the caves and the pretty lakes that flank them to heal sick members of the tribe with the curative waters.

Water is an extremely sacred element in Gundungurra culture, providing ailment to the sick, and even being used to mark boundary lines between tribes. The story goes that a water creature that was part eel and part fish has a direct connection to the Jenolan area. This creature called the Gurangatch began fighting with a native quoll called Mirragan. Gurangatch made its way to the Jenolan area where it licked its wounds, supposedly on the site where the Blue Lake lies today. Before European settlement, the area was a peaceful swampland that was fed by 4 rivers.

Why was the Blue Lake created?

Blue Lake

This man-made dam was constructed as a result of a demand for a bigger dam to power the lights in the caves, as well as pump out water to the nearby accommodation house. You can see the remnants of the hydroelectric power- Lefffel Wheel- on a self-guided ‘Working Waters’ tour around the base of the Blue Lake dam. The Leffel Wheel holds an important part in Australia’s engineering history, as it was the first-ever use of hydroelectric power in the country at the time. The form of electricity used now is the most advanced lighting system for caves in the world. All the lights -which are LED-based- are remote controlled and produce little heat to conserve the rock face. Despite having this system in place, the cave does still have candles so should all else fail, this timeless method of producing light can be used before the generator switches on.

The scenery surrounding the lake is beautiful, with exotic palm trees that flank the waters and shallow blue waters that make it look like it has stepped out of a fairytale. It gets its name from its rich colour, a striking blue, which is made by the refraction of light that bounces off limestone deposits and bedrock.

But there’s more. This is one of the only places in the region where you can catch a glimpse of the elusive platypus. As one of Australia’s rarest native species, they’re difficult to spot- (look out for ripples in the water) but they can regularly be seen enjoying the Blue Lake and its surroundings.

The platypus is unlike any other animal you’ve seen before. Their duck-billed face and beaver-like tail aren’t hard to miss, with these mammals being excellent swimmers, able to dive for around 30 seconds before coming up for air.

How to Get to the Blue Lake

There are several walks that loop around the Blue Lake and take you to some of the more popular hotspots in the Blue Mountains. Take the track from Jenolan to the Blue Lake, which spans around 2.6km of track. It takes around two hours to get there, and you’ll get to marvel at the undulating hills, carved steps, and magnificent views along the way.

The Blue Lake really does show off the charm of the Blue Mountains at its finest. Not only are the views absolutely stunning, but the historic stories give it a fascinating depth.

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