Writers’ Caves

Jerekellimi, the Dark’s ‘private’ cave

Some writers are fascinated by caves. Two Australian authors Eleanor Dark and Nan Chauncy spent time in caves near where they lived. Chauncy wrote about the caves at the Chauncy Vale wildlife reserve in her first children’s book They Found a Cave (1946) which was later made into a film. The cave in the book was partly inspired by Browns caves that she used play in as a child, which are named after a bushranger who holed up there while on the run. Apparently he used to take potshots across the valley to warn others to keep away.

Dark regularly visited a cave in the Blue Mountains with her family which they named ‘Jerekellimi’ (a combination of all their names). I visited this cave late in the day after scrambling through the bush in inappropriate footwear, not realising how arduous it would be. It started to get dark and my mobile phone wasn’t working due to my distance from the grid. I worried that I’d be unable to find my way back to the start of the track alone. Thankfully I escaped unscathed but the experience gave me new respect for the Darks who would make this arduous journey on weekends. They tried to domesticate it by adding a bbq, utensils and other items which are still there for curious travellers to find. Their dynamiting of a portion of the cave and the addition of a small sign saying that it was theirs – doesn’t accord with the way we think of National Parks these days but I can understand the impulse behind the creation of their own special haven.

Cave at Chauncy Vale

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