Because I didn't have a car, I stayed in Katoomba overnight and used a bus transportation combined with the tour from Katoomba. The tour bus left Katoomba at 9:50 (should have been 9:35) and ran slowly on the narrow and winding road and arrived at the cave entrance at 11:30. Because the caving tour was scheduled to start at 13:15, I had nothing to do until then. However, I talked to the driver and then he gave me a Jenolan Pass, which enabled me to enter Nettle Cave with a free audio-guide
. When I presented the pass at the reception to borrow an audio-guide, the receptionist Alice hesitated to lend me an English audio-guide, because she was afraide that I wouldn't understand it. However, I insisted English one as always! Anyway, the cave itself was just so-so, but good to kill time. Then I walked around Blue Lake. Actually, I had been to the lake before with my bush walking club, but I didn't have time to explore around the lake at that time. This time, I walked leisurely, looking for a platypus (I know it is very hard to spot a platypus and especially harder in the daytime!). Eventually, I couldn't find a platypus, but I saw a 30cm-long lizard, which made my day. When I returned my audio-guide, I went to Jenolan Caves House for lunch. I had mistakenly believed meals there must be expensive, but they turned out to be reasonable. When I was eating at a balcony table, a few crimson rosellas flew to my table and ate my chips just in front of my eyes! Obviously, they are not scared of people... I was afraid that they would feel worse because of the junk food....
Anyway, because I was having fun in taking pictures of the birds, I was a bit late for the caving tour, so a guide was grumpy (Sorry!). Then I filled in a form and we headed to the shed where we changed to caving and abseiling gear. The caving began with a nine-meter-short abseil at Plughole. In fact, I was afraid that we couldn't abseil on the day, because we had a shower a few times in the morning and even while abseiling, we had a shower
. Actually, I was eager to experience abseiling, I checked up on a weekly weather forecast and chose the date. So if we had not been able to abseil, it would have shocked me. Anyway, we managed to abseil at the Plughole. Because the abseiling equipment was simple, I was a bit scared at first, but actually it was neither difficult nor scary. Then we got into the Elder Cave. Needless to say, the cave was very different from the showcasing caves which I had ever visited and it was right for caving! Because the ceiling was low in some parts, you must get down and walk or crawl sometimes. There were also a few holes you can barely get through and a rock slide you can go down on. It was a great fun and unforgettable experience. We took a group photo at the end and a guide Ted gave me a certificate, which also became wonderful memorabilia. I had a great time in my first caving experience thanks to the guides and other members. However, I almost lost track of time and missed the bus to Katoomba at 15:30. If I had missed the bus, I would have had no choice but to stay there! Fortunately, the bus was waiting for me until I got on the bus at 15:40. What a relief!
The bus arrived at Katoomba at 17:10. My train was at 19:20. I got plenty of time. Although I went to Leura, it was very boring. The village may have been busy in the daytime, but there were not so many people at the time. Besides, since it was cloudy and I got a painful blister on my sole, I didn't feel like walking into the forest. Eventually, I strolled in the village a bit and went back to Katoomba, where I killed time, having hot chocolate.
Because I had visited a lot of caves, I was not interested in Jenolan Caves very much, although I knew they are nationally famous. However, when I found a reasonable caving tour to the caves, I was so excited, because caving is one of the most adventurous activities. In addition, the tour included short abseiling. Actually, I had really wanted to try it since I heard about it from Australian friends. So the tour looked perfect for me.