Jul 222014

Jenolan diving

About the site

Today’s photos are from the Downstream Imperial section of Jenolan. Jenolan Caves up in NSW see nearly a quarter of a million visitors each year. The show caves and pathway system are extensive and tours run frequently. From a diving perspective, this means timing our entrance so as not to interfere. For Downstream Imperial we moved off the beaten track and down to the water through an area known as the Woolshed.

About the dive

Unlike our through trip on Saturday, this Sunday dive doesn’t allow us out the other end. And instead of swimming upstream against the flow, we were swimming downstream. There are two main rivers in Jenolan that both emerge into the Blue Lake. You can see this distinctly in the surface photo I took back in 2011 – the flooding rains had started to emerge from one stream in muddy brown water, but the second one was still running clear. Our through trip started in the clear stream and went up into the cave. Divers in Downstream Imperial are very close to emerging in the muddy water of that picture (which was clear this time around). Unfortunately the cave flattens down far enough that divers don’t fit, so starting in Blue Lake and doing this dive from the other end is not yet possible.

Greg Ryan in JenolanAs we weren’t surfacing in any air chambers along the way the photography was correspondingly more difficult, especially when the off camera strobes refused to work off the bat. After a bit of stop and start we got the sensors positioned in the right place to really show off this part of the cave.

About the photo

I love the rippled effect of the rocks here. I could live without the giant cloud of silt rapidly moving up behind us. Every little ripple contains a teaspoon of ultra-fine silt and once it’s disturbed the flow moves it downstream with the divers. The water clarity therefore wasn’t quite as good as the previous day’s upstream diving. The cave here is a bit larger but with the silt cloud rolling along we had limited time to manouvre multiple divers into view. Adam Hooper is hiding back there in the silt…I don’t think he saw much on this trip!

I particularly like the top shot for having two divers clearly separated. Greg in the front is very sensibly reaching for the permanent guideline with his right hand, anticipating that it’s all about the go dark. And Andreas is just surfacing out of the silt cloud behind into the clear water. The second photo doesn’t have that same clearance between the divers but it does have the beautiful ripple effect front and centre. It was a great dive – I can’t wait to get back to Jenolan again.


Jul 152014
Swimthroughs in Bicheno

About the site I was down in Bicheno for some reef diving at the start of June as part of the Combined Clubs Weekend. I posted before about the gorgeous orange and yellow sponges and prolific seawhips on the granite boulders down there. The water was blue for the six dives I did, but I gathered from the locals that recent storms had stirred things up. Certainly the weather wasn’t great while we were there and these photos were taken in fairly surgey conditions. This was our last dive of the trip and we were up shallower than the morning dive. Add that to these very cool boulders leaning in [read more...]

Jul 072014
Diving Jenolan Caves

About the site Jenolan Caves are a huge tourist attraction up in the Blue Mountains of NSW. The extensive show cave system sees thousands of visitors every year. The local caving groups are still in exploration mode in the further reaches of the cave, adding to the map each year. It’s been three years since I last dived Jenolan Caves. That trip was memorable for the first dive on Saturday morning being the only one we did – 10 minutes after getting into clear water, a tidal wave of mud turned up. Flooding rain meant diving was off for the rest of the weekend and with many of the paths [read more...]

Jul 012014
Mud, mud, mud in DD4 cave

About the cave DD4 is a streamway cave in western Victoria, close to the South Australian border. Unlike the crystal clear sinkholes of Mt Gambier DD4 is a small stream winding its way through limestone…and lots and lots of mud. There is a lot of walking passage through the cave, as well as a lot of areas where rockfall leaves you climbing over or under. And then there’s the mud. Lots of it. About the trip We visited DD4 for a reason – to follow up on sump exploration there from several years ago. Agnes Milowka put nearly 70m of line into the terminal sump of the cave and reported [read more...]

Jun 242014
Exploration in Elk River

I’ve been a little busy recently, as you might have gathered from the sporadic updates to the site. I’ve been bouncing from Victoria to Tasmania to South Australia and back again caving and diving. So instead of posting things in the order in which they happened, I’m going to start with the most recent and fill in the gaps over the next few weeks. This photo above is my favourite from this weekend just gone – the moment of triumphant return with empty reel in hand. The photo was taken (and the line was laid) in Elk River cave in eastern Victoria. As per previous posts here, here and here, [read more...]

Jun 172014
Seawhips in Bicheno

About the site Bicheno is a small town up on the northern end of the east coast of Tasmania. With prevailing south westerly winds through winter the waters are relatively calm and the diving a (very) short boat trip from shore. If I was living in Bicheno I’d strongly consider buying a nice underwater scooter rather than a boat. If you were feeling enthusiastic the dive sites are swimmable distance. But we were there for the 2014 Combined Clubs Weekend and had the pleasure of going out with Bruce from Bicheno Dive and his very nice boat. About the dive The shot above is from the first dive of the [read more...]