Nov 142011
Diving the SS Yongala

About the site The SS Yongala is regularly touted as Australia’s best wreck dive, lying 12nm offshore in Far North Queensland. Given the task of driving over a tonne of dive gear 3,000km to Mt Hypipamee for the expedition, Nat Kenyon and I took a two day break from sitting behind the wheel for an inspection of the famous wreck. 2011 is the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Yongala, who went down on March 11th (close to midnight, so possibly on March 12th) 1911 in a tropical cyclone. 122 passengers on board perished, as well as an unknown number of children who were not recorded on passenger ships manifests in that era. The wreck was first dived [read more…]

Nov 072011
Balancing the light in Kilsby's Sinkhole

About the site Kilsby’s is a Deep Cavern site in the Mt Gambier region, reaching depths of 60m in the back corners. It’s renowned for the crystal clear water normally only found under a roof, as sunshine in freshwater encourages algal growth. The daylight zone is huge, and you can look across a space the size of a football field and watch divers hanging out on the far side. The centre of the sinkhole comes up to under 20m depth, and as it gets deep on each side you swim under a roof, and can look back from the dark into the daylight. About the dive On this particular occasion, KA and I had already done two dives in Piccaninnie [read more…]

Oct 312011
Split shots in Engelbrecht's Cave

About the cave Unlike other caves in the area, Engelbrechts Cave is located in the middle of Mt Gambier and the system runs under several streets and houses. There are two different water filled entrances, known as Engelbrechts East and Engelbrechts West. As you travel closer towards Mt Gambier, the water level is further below the ground. This means that while caves like Pines and Tank Cave only require a few steps down a 5m drop to access the water, Engelbrechts has significantly more stairs. When combined with 50kg of dive gear, the stairs present a bit of a challenge and these caves don’t get dived as often as they otherwise might. Visitors are also able to go on tours [read more…]

Oct 242011
Outcroppings on Lonsdale Wall

About the site Lonsdale and Nepean Walls form two sides of the shipping channel through the Heads of Port Phillip Bay. With such a narrow opening to the large area of the Bay, the channel is also known as the Rip for the speed and volume of water that flows through it when the tide is running. A couple of times a day, the tide levels inside and outside the Bay are balanced, and the current stops for around 45 minutes…perfect for a dive. Slack water timings are based on mathematical calculations by the Bureau of Meteorology and nature doesn’t always co-operate. Inevitably, if you’re running late at the boat ramp, slack water will be running early. It’s also important [read more…]

Oct 172011
Reflections of Underwater Photographers in Tank Cave

About my buddy As I mentioned last week, following the CDAA AGM and symposium I was lucky enough to spend a week over in Mt Gambier diving in Tank Cave and Piccaninnie Ponds with our international speakers. The first of these was Brian Kakuk who runs Bahamas Underground, a cave diving oriented training and adventure facility in Abaco, the Bahamas. The Bahamian caves are highly decorated with some extreme stalactites and other formations, so it was no surprise to discover that Brian’s buoyancy and awareness of the cave were better than excellent. If you’re looking for some tales of adventure and cave discovery, Brian writes these up in the “Exploration” section of the Bahamas Cave Research site. After a break [read more…]

Oct 102011
Action shots in Tank Cave

About the cave I’ve talked about Tank Cave before…over 8km of interconnecting, labyrinthian tunnel in my somewhat local cave diving region of Mt Gambier. Tank Cave is a single level system, with tunnel depths varying from about 6m down to just over 20m at the far end of the cave. There’s great variation in the cave characteristics, from pure white breakdown rooms with flat ceilings, big dark chambers with air pockets, tight silty tunnels with scalloped walls and long, low flatteners. The shallow depths and clear water are great for photography, with well-marked permanent lines helping you to resume navigation after peering through the viewfinder for a while. About the dive Following the CDAA AGM, I was lucky enough to spend a [read more…]