Tourist Towns – Terrigal


On Terrigal Beach Front

With the weather rapidly cooling down, it seemed the perfect time for The Past Present to focus one last time on a beach before Winter hits properly. Many Sydneysiders have spent the recent holidays enjoying the last of the warmer weather with a beachside holiday. Many have headed up the coast to the Central Coast, like the one featured in the image above – Terrigal Beach.

Today, Terrigal looks very different to the Terrigal featured in the image above, with abundant shops, hotels and houses. Yet Terrigal was once a much quieter place, and in fact, until the 1970s, had only one market, one medical practice and a lot of orchards! The first European settler in the area was John Gray who arrived in 1826. He named his property Tarrygal, after an Indigenous word he heard the original inhabitants, the Awabakal Aboriginal people using. Tarrygal was believed to mean place of little birds. In the 1870s a sawmill was opened, with a tramway to run timber to a newly built jetty, where it would be shipped to Sydney. Soon after dairying became an important part of the area.

Tourism though was slower to arrive, not really beginning to impact the area until 1889, when the Sydney to Newcastle Railway was opened. Roads were built, and people did visit the area for the healthy sea air and for leisure. A life saving club was established in 1925 and beach houses were increasingly let to tourists who came to the area for holidays. Yet Terrigal remained a sleepy coastal town, right up until the 1960s and 1970s, when tourism to the area really boomed. In the 1970s the first high rise hotel was built, and the future of Terrigal as a tourist resort was set.

Jenolan Caves Part 4 – Discoveries

Grand Arch Jenolan Caves Front

This week, in the final instalment (for now) of The Past Present’s series on Jenolan Caves, we focus on the discoveries of various show caves, and how these discoveries were made.

By 1900, Jenolan was well established as a tourist destination, yet many of the most famous show caves were not yet discovered. In 1903 James Carvosso Wilburn was made Superintendent of Caves, and it was during his tenure that many of the caves we visit today were discovered. In fact, in 1903 alone the River and Pool of Cerberus Caves were both discovered, with the River Cave being opened to public tours in 1904. In 1904 the Temple of Baal, Orient and Ribbon Caves were also discovered, with The Temple of Baal and Orient Caves being opened to public tours in 1909 and 1917 respectively.

Today, when we visit and explore the caves, we are assured paths, lights and a safe passage, but exploring unknown caves, or even going on one of these early tours was a very different experience. In the 1800s, and well into the 1900s, all cave exploration was carried out by candlelight, and there were certainly no paths or ladders in place. Exploration could be dangerous, and even after caves were opened to public tours, the experience was very different to what we know today. Many of the caves have had new access routes built, some even blasted into the rock to allow people to easily enter the caves, and most visitors will wear sturdy shoes and clothes suitable for cave exploration. Women in the past though had to abide by fashions of the time, and explored in long skirts and even corsets, as the photograph above shows.

Jenolan Caves Part 3 – Tourism

Caves House Jenolan Caves Front

This week, The Past Present shifts attention at Jenolan Caves from the caves themselves, to the visitors who have flocked to the caves for over 100 years.

In the 1880s Jenolan Caves emerged as a true tourist destination, which attracted many visitors from far and wide. In 1879 the Imperial Cave was discovered by Jeremiah Wilson, and in 1880 the Left Imperial (now known as the Chifley Cave) was explored. With more caves having been explored, and pathways, and even electric lighting (which was introduced in 1887), it became easier still for visitors to view the spectacular caves. Soon enough accomodation was needed to house the increasing numbers of tourists. The first formal accomodation was built in the 1880s, but was partially destroyed by fire. Before this visitors camped in the Grand Arch. The current Caves House, which we see today, was built in 1893 and provided comfortable accommodation for the visitors who flocked to the spectacular natural wonder. By 1900 Jenolan was not only well known, but was a thriving tourist destination, despite many of the most well known show caves not yet having been discovered!

Come back next week for the final instalment of The Past Present Jenolan Caves series, to find out about how the caves were explored, and about the discoveries of some of the most famous caves!

Jenolan Caves Part 2

Carlottas Arch Jenolan Caves Front Australia Day

The image above is a beautiful, seemingly painted image showing the iconic Carlotta Arch at Jenolan Caves. The image comes from a postcard, and shows one of the earlier features of the cave system to be ‘discovered’ by Europeans.

The first European, according to local legends, to see the caves was James McKeown, who was an ex-convict and outlaw who used the caves as a hideout. The first offical sightings though came in 1838 when a local pastoralist, James Whalan, discovered the caves. Over the following years Whalan and his brother Charles discovered and explored many cave openings, with the first ‘dark cave’ to explored being the Elder Cave in 1848. This cave is not far from Carlotta Arch.

The largest of the show caves currently open to the public is the Lucas Cave, which was explored in 1860 by Nicholas Irwin and George Whiting. Just six years later, in 1866, the caves were brought under government control, and in 1867 a caretaker was appointed, Jeremiah Wilson. In these early years, many visitors came to the caves and explored, but there was little protection for the caves themselves. Visitors broke formations to take souvenirs from the caves with them, a practice not made illegal until 1872. You can still see some of the damage in the Lucas and Elder Caves, and in fact the Lucas Cave is named after John Lucas, a local member of parliament who was largely responsible for making such damage to the caves illegal.

Jenolan Caves Part 1 – Aboriginal History

Jenolan NSW Front

This week, with the holidays rapidly approaching, it seemed the ideal time to share a series of beautiful images of Jenolan Caves. The cave complex at Jenolan is an iconic tourist attraction in NSW, and has a fascinating history, which The Past Present will explore over the coming weeks.

Although today Jenolan Caves is an iconic tourist attraction, for many thousands of years the series of caves was known to and extremely important to Australia’s Aboriginal Peoples. The Jenolan Caves area itself is in the traditional lands of the Burra Burra people, who are one of the clans belonging to the Gundugurra Nation, though they have been used much more widely.

According to Dreamtime stories, the Jenolan area was created when Gurangatch (who was part eel and part fish) battled with Mirragan (a native quoll). Mirragan chased Gurangatch, carving out rivers and caves during the fight. Eventually, Gurangatch settled at Jenolan Caves, resting and healing his wounds by licking them. Aboriginal people believe you can still see his blood on the rock walls as you leave the grand arch. Gurangatch’s peaceful thoughts have become part of the landscape, and Jenolan is a peaceful, restorative place according to Aboriginal culture, especially for women, who are represented by flowing water.

The waters themselves are in fact seen as nadyung, or healing waters, and for thousands of years Aboriginal people from many different nations came to bathe in these waters. Sometimes their journey to the caves took days, and sick people were often carried to the underground waters, deep in the caves, from long distances. Indeed, the Aboriginal people were very familiar with these caves, long before Europeans colonised Australia.