Critic cheers cave clean-up

A SYDNEY man who once described Griffith’s Hermit’s Cave, “an utter disgrace” has praised recent efforts to turn the popular tourist attraction around.

John Pickles, a self-confessed hermit enthusiast, lodged an official complaint with council five years ago when he found used condoms, a pig carcass and household rubbish scattered around the hill. 

Frequent trips to Griffith to visit family have allowed Mr Pickles to keep a close eye on the site and this time around he was thrilled with what he found.

“I haven’t been back for two-and-a-half years but I can tell you I’m very impressed,” he said.

“When I pulled up there were four cars and I noticed they’d put up a big sign, railings and picnic tables.

“My wife and I were not able to walk down to the cave this time, but the changes are clear. We could see that access has been improved.

“I am so impressed with what has been done up there. I feel that someone has 

really grasped the importance of it. It is a hidden treasure. I’ve said from day one that long after every councillor or mayor is gone Valerio Ricetti will be remembered.”

Seventy-eight-year-old Mr Pickles believes the story of the hermit offers huge potential for Griffith.

“Now that they have a sign with his face he will never be forgotten,” he said.

“You look at him and you believe his story. You can see he was more than a vagabond. He kept the place well. He obviously had a deep spirit. He had a chapel and was a very capable man.

“It is an amazing story that I believe will one day be made into a big movie, it’s just waiting to be written.

“I’m just so glad that council is looking after the site. There is so much potential there and it’s a good start. I can’t help but feel I had a small part to play.”

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