Nov 292012
Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1983 (Part 3)

After a successful push into new territory in the third sump, the team still had to get themselves and their gear home again…back to and over Toad Hall, empty tanks into the three sleds and back 2.5kms to the first rockpile, over the first rockpile, and four sleds of empty tanks home to the surface lake. From there it was a quick march up the doline and more than a few loads of gear up the line to the desert above. Ron Allum sitting on his sleeping mat in Toad Hall, with his home made cave radio. This device provided underground to surface voice communication and allowed the Toad Hall team to report on the successful extension of the line [read more…]

Nov 262012
A convenient restriction in Tank Cave

About the cave Tank Cave is a fantastic site in Mt Gambier, with miles of shallow, interconnecting tunnels. Shallow is definitely better from a photographic point of view, as it means a lot more time to play around and reduces the impact of narcosis on the artistic vision. Another very handy feature in Tank is the way the character of the cave changes from area to area. As you can see from my previous postings, there are large chambers, long dark tunnels, small silty tunnels and bright white breakdown piles. This variety means a great selection of places to take photos, as well as the challenge of remembering to change camera and strobe settings as you swim from one area into [read more…]

Nov 222012
Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1983 (Part 2)

In 1983, twelve divers reached the first rockpile, carrying tanks over to the second sump. Six divers then swam the second sump to camp in the darkness in Toad Hall. And three divers pushed on, into the third sump. Rest stop in the second sump, sleds against the roof. Ron Allum on the left and Phil Prust on the right. The line dangling from the spare reg on the left is a neck strap. Welcome to Toad Hall. It’s a long way to the top, but less gear to be carried over for the third sump push with only three divers going ahead. The camping gear was taken to the flat section at the top of the chamber. Phil Prust [read more…]

Nov 192012
Blue water on Lonsdale Wall

About the site Lonsdale and Nepean Walls border the deep water channel that runs into Port Phillip Bay. They can be dived at slack tide each day, when the water balances inside and outside the bay and the currents stop running. The flow of water means filter feeders like the bright yellow zooanthids, sponges and soft corals can be found up and down the walls. Lonsdale Wall also runs a fair way into the bay and is protected in poor weather. As a result, it’s an easy dive to do when the swell is running and the wind is adding white caps on top. Which is convenient, but also means I’d dived the wall in terrible conditions and terrible vis [read more…]

Nov 152012
Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1983 (Part 1)

When Toad Hall was discovered on the 1982 trip, Cocklebiddy Cave earned the world record for the longest underwater cave penetration from the surface. So when the team returned in 1983 to push beyond Toad Hall and dive into the third sump, they knew they were making history. Dad took some great photos of the adventure, so I’ll be splitting the story of the 1983 trip over the next three Thursdays. L to R, Hugh Morrison, Robyn Allum, Simon Jones (back to us), Ron Allum far right. Ron explains his newly designed home-made aluminium sleds to the divers. Ron had become skilled in aluminium welding as he built a boat and made these in his back yard. Note the constant [read more…]

Nov 122012
Road signs in Little Blue

About the site Little Blue Sinkhole is a dive site and local swimming hole in Mt Gambier. Managed by the local council and found on Mount Salt Road, a set of stairs and floating pontoon make for easy access to the water. After an incident last year where a stolen government car was pushed into the water large rocks have been added around the hole to prevent future vehicles ending up in the drink. The council also periodically adds “Diving Prohibited” signs to the top of the cliff. I’ve inferred that this happens regularly by the sheer numbers of Diving Prohibited signs at the bottom of the underwater cliff. As I talked about in One Tree Sinkhole, Little Blue has [read more…]