Nettle Cave

Useful Information

Nettle Cave, Jenolan Caves, Australia. Public Domain.
Location: 4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves NSW 2790.
182 km west of Sydney. Right side of Grand Archway.
Open: All year daily.
Fee: Included with any other tour.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=20,000 m, VR=200 m, A=790 m asl, T=16 °C.
Guided tours: self guided, digital handset available in English Deutsch - German Chinese
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: E V Barlow (2017): Conveying the importance of stromatolites to self-guided tourists in Nettle Cave, Jenolan, NSW, Conference: 17th International Congress of Speleology. online
Address: Jenolan Caves, 4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves NSW 2790, Tel: +61-2-6359-3911, Tel: 1300-76-33-11. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1932 cave closed to the public.
18-DEC-2006 cave reopened to the public together with Devil's Coach House.


The Nettle Cave is an old show cave, open to the public from the early days until 1932. In 2006, it was reopened for self-guided tours. The new technology used for the tour makes it a digital audio tour. A digital handset developed by Acoustiguide allows visitors to hear explanations of geological features and historical aspects in as much detail as they choose, while exploring at their own pace. The tour is very easy, the path is level, and on the self-guided tours visitors have a lot of time. Relics from past tours, almost a century ago, are a little more strenuous old ladders and early electric lighting.

Nettle Cave has fine speleothems like stalactites and stalagmites. But the special sights are the stromatolites, fossils which are part of the surrounding rock, but here they were chiseled out of the rock by natural erosion. Those structures are formed by colonies of cyanobacteria, which form cauliflower like cones. Cut through the layering becomes visible, resembling the tail of a crayfish or lobster. That's why they were called craybacks by early visitors.

Nettle Cave is entered from the Devil's Coach House, a huge natural bridge forming a 57 m high arch. There is an almost horizontal short trail from the road, opposite the Blue Lake on the eastern side of the Grand Arch, which leads directly to the arch. Unfortunately, it is now closed for some years due to rockfall. It is unclear if and when it will be reopened. For the time being the Devil's Coach House is reached from the Carlotta Arch trail. Its also posible to get there through ShowcaveNettle Cave which seems to be freely accessible as well. However, the official website, though quite informative on many aspects of the caves, does not mention this rather important detail, so we guess you haveto ask when you arrive.

The Nettle Cave begins behind Devils Coachhouse with the first chamber named Sculptors Studio. The name is derived from the numerous stalagmites which resemble sculptures draped under canvases by the artist. Some stalagmites with a strange elongated form are called the Tombstones. Their formation is thought to be a result of the presence of light interacting with algae growing on their surface. This is called phototrophic stalagmites.

The next section of the cave was once inhabited by owls, hence the name Owl Roost. Scientists have conducted excavations to examine the droppings of the owls, which gives insight into their diet. It is also an excellent high-level vantage point for the Devils Coachhouse.

The cave ends at the Ballroom, the largest chmaber of Nettle located right below the daylight hole referred to as the Teardrop. It is another excellent high-level vantage point for the Devils Coachhouse and up McKeowns Valley.

But the absolute highlight of this cave is: the tour is available in 13 foreign languages, including Klingon!