Oct 252012

Without delay, here’s the other half of the photos from the 1979 Cocklebiddy expedition. These were taken by my dad, Peter Rogers, with a Nikonos II and 35mm lens bought the previous year, a toshiba underwater strobe and a land strobe in a home made perspex box used as it had a remote trigger sensor in – advanced technology! Captions below each photo.

Alan Grundy and Peter Rogers on the surface

Alan Grundy and Peter Rogers on the surface of the entrance lake, pre-dive. Orange fenzies and orange tanks…a cave photographer’s dream.

Stage tank in sump one

Alan Grundy poses next to the stage tank. Given the length of the first sump, this steel tank was left on the line some way along. Given it was a (very negative) steel, and there wasn’t an easy way for a diver to attach it to themselves beyond carrying it by hand, it’s probably a good thing it didn’t need to be used. You can see Alan has both his torch and his back up torch ready to hand.

First rockpile in Cocklebiddy

We suspect this may be the first photo ever taken of the first rockpile in Cocklebiddy. The line running up the right of the image is diving guideline, which was run through the dry cave to assist transiting divers in case of torch failure. Dad took this photo to illustrate how steep the climb is. When compared to the photo from 1982, the rocks here are very clean and white.

Filling tanks in Cocklebiddy

Dad with a pack, stopped half way down the entrance of the cave for a chat with Russell Kitt (right). High pressure copper plumbing pipe was run from the compressor on the surface to allow tanks to be filled, although it only reached three quarters of the way to the water’s edge. The red cable on the right is Telecom cable used for a cave radio. The black box radio behind has regular power points on it – 240 volt was run all the way down to the water for charging lights.

Velcro and triple tanks

As I said last week, staging tanks through a cave was not yet standard practise, so the team was looking for new ways to carry more tanks with them. This particular configuration shows the third tank attached to the back of a manifolded twinset with velcro. The idea behind this system was that four (or six) divers would set off from the first rockpile, pushing into the second sump and hoping to reach the end of the West Australian line laid the previous year.

The push diving buddy pair would breathe from their velcro’ed third tank, while the support divers breathed from their twins. When thirds were reached, an underwater swap of velcro’ed third tanks took place, leaving the push divers with three full tanks while the support divers turned for home on their twins, carrying the empties. By the 1982 trip Hugh Morrison and the West Australians had invented triple tank bands, and this configuration became redundant.

A wider shot of the fill station inside the cave. You can see the copper pipe running into the split hose system. Peter Rogers on the left, Russell Kitt on the right.

Cocklebiddy dive planning

A council of war, planning the push dives. From left to right Ron Allum, Peter Stace (seated), Phil Prust in brown, Alan Grundy, Alan Joliffe, Russell Kitt, Peter Rogers. The small dog was Alan Joliffe’s, known as Woofer. There was a small incident where Phil mysteriously didn’t have enough weetbix left for breakfast, but Woofer had found weetbix to enjoy…Phil was not impressed.

Cocklebiddy fill station

The two compressors at the top of the cave, shown here at the end of the trip after tanks started to come out.

The gear pile

Pulling the gear out at the end of the trip, including the plumbing pipe. Russell Kitt on the right, Alan Joliffe in white, Alan Grundy’s wife, Jo on the left. The blue kombi van belonged to Ron Allum. You can see the dive harnesses attached to the twin bands at three points – between the top bands and to D rings each side of the bottom bands. Slip into the harness, throw the fenzy over your head and off you go.


In case you missed it, the first half of the photos from the 1979 Cocklebiddy trip can be seen here. This trip didn’t manage to lay line beyond the existing line in the second sump, laid by the West Australian divers the previous year. Coming up next Thursday, photos from the combined South and West Australian trip in 1982. The 1982 trip invented some sophisticated sleds, dived a long way past the known line,  and discovered Toad Hall, where Dad took the first ever photo in the famous chamber.

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