Apr 192016
 

Ice Palace in Exponential Pot

Exponential Pot is one of the restricted entry caves on the Buchan Potholes reserve. Access is limited to one trip a year of just a few people, with the entrance protected by a metal plate and big padlock. I was lucky enough to join Peter Freeman and four other eager cavers on the 2016 trip. One of the trip objectives was to take some photos of this rarely-seen cave, and in that we definitely succeeded.

Decorations in Exponential Pot

Exponential Pot is highly decorated. It’s discovery was the driver for turning the Potholes Reserve into a Reserve and protecting all of the caves in it. As a result of the limited access arrangements most of the cave is in excellent condition. There are low hanging straws and huge white flowstones without a single hand print. This made for some fun photography where I didn’t have to worry about excluding damaged stals from the frame.

The cave itself is hugely complex. While it has over 2kms of passages, they twist and turn on top of each other in a labyrinth. The passages also alternate between ornate decorations and smooth sculpted rock. While the rock walls have obviously been sculptured by water the cave itself is now very dry. We didn’t encounter any really huge chambers. Instead, a series of small-ish rooms each have multiple leads and exits at different angles and levels. The map shows the overlying levels of the cave in a series of colours. This would be an easy cave to get very confused in and its layout is completely different to the straight line streamway of Elk River.

The top shot is Nina in the Ice Palace. This area can now be viewed from the other side and is rarely accessed from this angle. To get this view Nina crept up the slope in the existing footprints in her socks. She is crouching next to another rimstone pool, but I love the angle of this photo between the very white formations.

The second photo had similar limitations – Peter is standing on the very edge of the previously trodden cave. This bright little grotto was almost completely encased in flowstone. Just a few thousands of years more needed to finish the job. After a full day of very careful caving and lots of photography we headed up the rope to the surface and back out to the Potholes Reserve. Exponential is a beautiful place. It’s very different to other Potholes caves I’ve visited and it was great to get a chance to photograph the pretties in there.

Apr 052016
 
In the trees in Ela Elap

I spent the Easter long weekend in Mt Gambier. Four days of uninterrupted diving in sites at every level was a nice change from the usual two day jaunts. The first couple of days I dived with fellow-rEvo diver Tom in Pics, Kilsby’s and the site above, Ela Elap. Ela is a sinkhole site south of Mt Gambier. Unlike Piccaninnie Ponds it has greenish waters and a murky bottom. Ela is known for being cold and it lived up to its reputation – a balmy 18 degrees on the surface gave way to a chilly 11 degrees below 20m. We jumped in and spiralled down through the very murky surface layer to the dark water underneath. I took some shots of [read more…]

Mar 222016
 
Nurse sharks by night

My favourite dives and swims of the Carpe Vita Maldives trip were the night dives. There’s something surreal about swimming through inky black water on a warm tropical night. The otherworldliness increases when large creatures swim through the water beside you, completely ignoring your incursion into their world. The night dive on the first day was at Alimathaa Jetty. The resort on this island conducts a sunset shark feed and the sharks are very active after the sun goes down. We descended onto the reef to see a couple of nurse sharks and their large fish escorts zipping between the corals. They were using diver lights to hunt out small unfortunate fish in the reef. As a group we tried [read more…]

Mar 092016
 
Stalking eagle rays in current

My time on the Carpe Vita has come to an end today, and we’re about to be deposited back on dry land. Apart from a very nice BBQ on a deserted atoll one evening last week it will be the first time since boarding. It will certainly be the first time wearing shoes again. Since the last time I wore shoes we have done a lot of channel diving. The Maldives is a series of atolls with central lagoons. As the tides rise and fall, the water flows in and out of the lagoon through the channel between small sandy islands. When the current is running, animals gather at the interface between the channel and the deep blue sea. The [read more…]

Mar 012016
 
Whalesharks in the Maldives

My first full day on the Carpe Vita (booked with Liquid Diving Adventures) is going well. We arrived in the Maldives on Saturday afternoon and spent the night in a beachside hotel near the airport. After wandering the neighbourhood and picking up a few essentials on Sunday morning it was back to the airport. Instead of taking to the air we wheeled airport trolleys to the dock across the driveway from international arrivals. The diving dhoni pulled up and we were away. The Carpe Vita is a huge boat. When compared to other liveaboards I have travelled on she feels at least twice the size. With four decks for twenty divers and the dive deck duty offloaded to a companion [read more…]

Feb 162016
 
Fish on the Lonsdales reefs

Two weeks from today I will be on the lovely Carpe Vita in the stunning Maldives with thanks to Liquid Diving Adventures. I’m doing a run to the Deep South for an 11 night liveaboard. We hope to see sharks of all varieties – from fast hammerheads to small reef sharks to really big whalesharks. With some mantas, turtles and tropical reef thrown in for good measure it promises to be a great trip. With that in mind I thought I had better get out into the ocean and get back into the habit of chasing down some fish. Sven and I headed out from Portsea for a look at the reef off Point Lonsdale. While the seas were relatively [read more…]