Between Mt Charles and Mt Bell is a deep shelter (about six metres wide and almost 10 metres deep) above Bells Line of Road is Emu Cave, which contains Aboriginal rock carvings inside it.
The western wall is covered with hundreds of emu footprints (they also include wallaby and lyrebird prints). The cave is one of the first indigenous sites in Australia to have been documented, with a correspondent for the Town and Country Journal on 2 June 1871 describing Mount Bell: “at the end of which is Cave-hill, named from a curious cave at the side of the road, the roof of which has some singular impressions resembling emu’s tracks”.
The engravings have been dated as being 2,000 years old, but could have been carved as much as 8,000 years ago (the science of dating rock engravings is fairly imprecise). An Aboriginal stoy which explains these carvings is that a man offended the water spirits by drowning someone in a lake, so they imprisoned him in the cave where he marked the walls.
Above Emu Cave are a number of axe grinding grooves.
More recently, Thomas Shearwood (sometimes spelt Sherwood) built a lodging house and offered accommodation to drovers and other travellers in the 1860s. A modern inscription stating “The Cave Hotel by T. Shearwood” was thought to have been made in the latter part of 1871 or in 1872. Emu Cave was thought to have been used in the 1930s during the Depression as accommodation.
More information on the Emu Cave
- Bushwalking Blog – A Week in the Blue Mountains – Part 1: Aboriginal Discovery
- Flickr – The Cave Hotel