Imperial/Diamond Cave Tours
Tour Length : 1.0 hour Imperial, 1.5 hour Diamond
Number of steps :
Tour Size : 40 people
Difficulty : These are the easiest tours at Jenolan. There are hardly any steps with the majority being in a diversion down to the underground river which is optional. A little bit of stooping is required, but not much.
General Tips : These are the best caves for the elderly or very young children. It is relatively safe to let children go ahead feeling as though they are the ones discovering the cave although adult supervision should always be present in the form of parent or guardian. Guides are not child minders! The Diamond Cave inspects all of the Imperial but then continues on to look at some spectacular decoration. If you have the time the Diamond tour is well worth going on.
This cave is best described as a tunnel with hardly any large chambers. Consequently the visitor is up close to the formation throughout the tour. This is the easiest cave to take photos in due to the proximity of formation. The cave was found when a group descended a sinkhole from the Elder Cave in 1879. Jeremiah Wilson is usually given credit for the discovery although records are indistinct about this detail.
Points of Inspection
Woolshed - The tour commences almost as soon as the cave is entered. The formation in the Woolshed appears dry and fluffy due to the small crystal size of the calcite when near the surface.
Sinkhole - A large hole in the floor dominates this part of the passage. Nearby a skeleton of a Tasmanian devil can be viewed. The skeleton was found in the cave nearby, evidence of a period when Tasmanian Devils inhabited this part of Australia.
Ridleys Shortcut - The passage by which the cave was found is inspected, looking from the base of the sinkhole up. A short time after the cave was found a gentleman by the name of Ridley was passing through the Elder Cave and fell down the sinkhole. His fall was broken by wire netting at the base of the sinkhole which had been brought in to help protect the cave. The name for this area, Ridley's Shortcut, commemorates this event.
Shawl Cave - The narrow passageway that is now passed through continues several large and impressive shawl formations. At the beginning of this section the remains of a wallaby skeleton can be seen.
Lots Wife - At the end of the Shawl Cave the passageway narrows and a few steps ascended to pass by a tall stalagmite named Lots Wife, the inspiration being the biblical story of Lot and his family. Careful examination of the top of this stalagmite may reveal some small white dots moving very slowly. These are cave fauna known as springtails.
Crystal Cities - The Crystal Cities are a series of rimpools which still occasionally fill with water.
The Showroom - The Showroom is where the Imperial Cave tour turns around and starts back towards the entrance. The formation in this area is quite beautiful and clean.
Underground River - On the return to the entrance a descent is made to the underground river. The river has been underground for several kilometres and although it is seen in other caves north of here, this is the only tourist cave it is seen in. It is a different river to that seen in the Cerberus, river and Lucas Cave tours.
This tour adds on another half hour to the Imperial Cave and since the last round of tour price rises, represents excellent value. Apart from everything described above, the tour includes visits to the Selena Cave, Nellies Grotto, the Fairy Bower and the Diamond Cave. The Diamond Cave in particular is quite wonderfully decorated and allows for close inspection of the cave decoration.