Jan 282015

Cave survey in progress

About the cave

DD31 aka Swain’s Cave was discovered and first entered in 2012. It extends to over 2.4kms of streamway passage leading to a terminal sump shortly before the expected resurgence on the surface. The entrance is in the same doline as DD4 Jones Ridge Cave which has been known for decades but this little gem didn’t reveal itself until very recently. Combined, the tunnels in DD4 and DD31 add up to over 5kms of passage. I had caved in DD4 previously when we inserted Harry into the terminal upstream sump and I was excited to have a look at the downstream half of the system.

Straws in DD31

About the trip

The first thing that struck me about DD31 was that there was a lot more decorations, and a lot less mud. Not to say that it’s all cleanwashed but DD4 was a spectacular mudfest (as you can see in the video here). DD31 is also known for the basalt boulders which are embedded in the limestone. These hang from the ceiling in the rooms through the first section and in some cases have straws hanging from them.

The aim of our little jaunt was to complete the survey of a small offshoot passage that was explored on a previous trip and confirm its direction. As I regrettably drowned my Lumix under Rye Pier shortly before Christmas, I was stuck with the dSLR if I wanted any shots. So I packaged it up into the pelican case and provided Peter, Nina and Moo with a strobe each. The first bit of caving was slow because decorations are awesome and it was hard to go past some of the early scenes. Further in we got into low, wet and rocky crawls – it would have been great to video these with the Lumix but I wasn’t prepared to risk the real camera so close to the water without a housing.

About the photos

The top photo here was actually taken on the way out. Peter is a determined cave surveyor (as evidenced by his waiting up for our return from Elk River trips to see what data was obtained) and produces stunning maps. I wanted to capture some of the fiddly, occasionally tedious work of mapping a cave. The small offshoot passage at the end that needed to be surveyed didn’t necessarily lend itself to cracking open the pelican case. As such I persuaded Peter to get the survey gear out all over again in this very nice chamber back near the entrance. I like the angle of this shot…next time we will have to have a go capturing the real thing in action.

The second shot is in one of those beautifully decorated chambers. This one was handy for photography because the stream dropped down, allowing me to shoot down onto the scene. Moo has one strobe on the ground behind her to provide the backlighting, and another in her hand to light the others. Peter is strobing the passage at the back though I’m suspicious that the strobe in question may need a service to improve the light output. I love the lighting here, and the big smiles, and the way the straws stand out from the background.

It was a great day underground, emerging just as the last of the light dropped out of the sky on a windy summer evening. From here Moo and I went on to Tank Cave for more artistic photography – coming up next week.

Jan 202015

I’m both amazed at how quickly Oztek seems to have come around again, and amazed at how many dive trips to exciting places I’ve managed to achieve since last Oztek. Oztek 2015 is on the 14th & 15th of March at Australian Technology Park in Sydney. As with Oztek 2013 I’ll be speaking. This time around my talk is around the joys and challenges of models in photos. I’ll be discussing about how to work with your dive buddies, persuade them to pull happy faces, and find the angle that looks heroic amid the chaos. The speaker schedule is now out and I’ll be in Room 6B on Saturday at [read more…]

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Jan 132015
MOD3 and 100m on the rEvo

Once we had progressed through the skills and drills dives discussed in the last post, it was on to the deeper stuff. This meant many of the same flashcards seen previously with the added pressure of extra depth. Rather than swimming out from shore we also added some very small boats to the fun. The second photo here is me fully geared up in my rEvo as we chugged towards the dive site. On arrival in the right location it was a sideways manoeuvre to get fins on and slip over the side of the boat. The driver then passed in my three stages and we did a floating S drill [read more…]

Jan 062015
MOD2 course - taking the rEvo to 60m

I have just returned from ten days in Bali, and nearly 20 hours of time underwater. After doing the MOD1 course on my rEvo in warm Indonesian waters back in 2013, it seemed like time to repeat the experience with a little more depth. I’ve done enough rEvo diving over the intervening period that I was comfortable with the combined MOD2 and MOD3 courses in one trip. The plan was for skills, drills, theory, work up dives and an eventual dive to 100m. First up was the MOD2 for normoxic trimix bailout. Of course, as per the MOD1 course the camera came along for the ride. I installed the deep [read more…]

Dec 232014

It doesn’t quite feel like the end of 2014, but apparently it really is. I’ve had an amazing year with some fantastic diving – from muddy sumps in Elk River and Tasmania to crystal clear tropical water in Komodo to secret caves in Indonesia and scalloped rocks in France. For Christmas I’m headed back to the tropics. Tomorrow I head off to Bali to complete my MOD2 and MOD3 rEvo courses with Marc Crane at Tek Deep Asia. I was very happy with the rigour and detail of my MOD1 course back in 2012 and with a few hours under my belt, these courses seem to be a fitting way [read more…]

Dec 172014
Diving Dreamtime sump

About the cave Growling Swallet is a major sink in the Junee Florentine karst area in Tasmania. Water from the river that rushes into the cave entrance has been dye traced to emerge in the Junee resurgence, several miles away. Unlike other caves in the area Growling has an entrance that doesn’t require ropes or SRT, just a few very sketchy free climbs. The name describes the noise of the river rushing in when in flood, and as you would expect caving is only possible in low water conditions. The way through the cave alternates between following the water and climbing up and over it. From a caving perspective this means [read more…]