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Van Ventures: Banks, Rigby Hill, Mount Wilson & Jenolan

river hazel

Part of the Botanical Gardens experience included a room (visitor centre) that gave you a bit of a virtual tour of the Blue Mountains. We saw videos of canyoning and so Dan decided we'd set out to find them. Along the way to Mount Wilson, we stopped off at the picnic spot signs; leading us to Mount Banks and Rigby Hill.

I was excited to find both as I'd had them saved on my list of places I'd seen on Instagram and wanted to visit. Mount Banks was beautiful, covered in wildflowers and reminded me a lot of home. 

The only downside was the wind! It was howling, pushing us both over at times. My ears and hands were numb from the icy chill. I adored this spot though and have bookmarked it for future visits. The views were breathtaking. Rigby Hill was equally as enchanting, again another place I'd like to visit (perhaps when its a bit warmer.)

From there we drove up Mount Wilson, then realising the canyoning walk was unmarked and down fire trails where I had no reception... I bailed on the idea and instead we decided to visit the Cathedral of Ferns, making a stop in when we saw a sign stating 'rare plant nursery.' I'm a massive sucker for succulents, and had trouble finding any interesting ones in the city, so thought we'd try our luck. (We struck gold!) 

The Merry Garth Gardens are absolutely gorgeous. It's a $5 per person fee to walk around 5 acres of beautifully manicured gardens (and free entry to the rare plant nursery.) Our list of ‘come back again’ is getting even longer now, especially seen as I’d like to see the gardens when they’re in full bloom. 

We then drove to the Cathedral of Ferns and cooked our combination lunch/dinner (rice noodles, veggie stock and chickpeas.) The van doesn’t have lights yet so you tend to go to bed when the sun sets and wake up when the sun rises. They had a lovely, tidy picnic area with fire pits and we camped there for the night.

Following a brisk morning walk through the forest we drove to Jenolan Caves. I visited Jenolan on my travels around Sydney last year and knew it was somewhere I just HAD to show Dan. We chose the 'River Cave' experience - $50pp for a 2hr guided tour (although this turned into nearly 4 hours.) 

The caves were absolutely breathtaking. That water you see above is metres deep, but crystal clear. 

We had a fabulous older guide, a guy extremely passionate about his caves. This, teamed with some excited cave-goers who didn't speak a word of english, meant our tour was almost doubled. At the 3.5 hour mark one of the couples piped up to say that had another tour starting soon, so we made a cut through one of the other caves, which we'll definitely have to go back to visit when we have a bigger budget. 

After experiencing the caves we walked around the Blue Lake and then began our drive to Kanangra, another of my favourite spots...

Read about it in part 3/3.