Nov 082012

After leaving the other divers at the first rockpile, Hugh Morrison, Ron Allum and Dad pushed the 15 tank sled 100m into the second sump before returning and rearranging. A change of strategy from following the roof to swimming at a constant depth improved the buoyancy control. The sled was also deflated to be slightly negative, with the three push divers using their own buoyancy to compensate. With Ron and Hugh holding each side of the broomhandle and steering the front end, Dad took the back of the sled and pushed. Staying at a constant depth mid-tunnel, they made excellent progress through the second sump.

Parking the sled

Here Hugh and Ron park the depleted sled on the roof half way through sump 2, before moving to breathing their backmounted triple tanks and continuing down the tunnel, freeing Dad up to take photos again. You can see a full reel of line hanging off the sled on the left hand side. The diver in the foreground is Ron, with the knees still in his wetsuit and orange snorkel attached.

Ron and Hugh swim to the end of the line

Sled parked, Ron (left) and Hugh (right) take a reel each and swim along the line laid by the West Australians three and a half years prior.

Swimming in triples

Hugh Morrison, swimming the line through the second sump in triple tanks, reel in hand. With the sled parked, Dad is back to taking pictures with Ron assisting with the lighting.

End of the line

Hugh (left) and Ron (right) tie into the end of the line, 3.15km from the entrance lake and 1.9km into the second sump. There are three reels in the picture, with the reel that was left by the South Australians at their further point of penetration in 1979 looking slightly rusty around the edges. Note the silt percolating off the roof, and Ron’s off-camera strobe that has fired to light the scene. From here on, the three push divers were into new territory.

Reeling out

Hugh reels out as he swims. It’s likely that this picture was taken more than 3.5kms from the entrance, with nary a scooter in sight. Dad hadn’t used this lens before and this photo was very underexposed – new technology in scanning in the slides has worked wonders in bringing out the details.

The first shot taken in Toad Hall

Three thousand seven hundred metres from home, the trio looked up to see a surface rippling above them. After very little decompression they surfaced into Toad Hall. Dad immediately had the photographer’s problem – huge cave, very small light. This shot was taken sideways along the wall above the lake so that the strobe could light something up. He was using the 16mm Sea&Sea underwater lens which can’t focus out of water, and as a result the image is slightly fuzzy. The back of the head is Hugh’s. While they were keen to explore further, the push divers were aware the divers back at the first rockpile were timing their return, and would begin to get anxious if they spent too much time in this new air chamber.

Entrance lake

The entrance lake again, gear everywhere.

Group shot

Group shot of the trip. Back row, left to right: Robert Gaillot, Ron Allum, Peter Rogers, Simon Jones, Hugh Morrison, John Clarke, Ross Williams, Keith Cook, Martin Jones, Graham Morrison, Justin Burman, Lee Burman. Front row: Simon Groves, Lyndall Jones, Tim Williams, Keith Dekkers.


For a first person perspective check out the article Dad wrote at the time, published in The Scuba Diver: Cocklebiddy 1982.

In case you missed it,the photos from the 1979 Cocklebiddy trip can be seen here and here, and the first half of these photos from 1982 can be seen here. Coming up next Thursday, photos from the 1983 trip: the push beyond Toad Hall. In 1983 the team camped overnight in Toad Hall before diving the third sump for the first time, and the technology improved with aluminium sleds and a cave radio built by Ron Allum.

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  3 Responses to “Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1982 (Part 2)”

Comments (3)
  1. Yes I remember that trip very dusting, dirty and lots of bat poo in the caves ha. Didnt dive just support crew.

    • Hi Lee,
      You instructed me a couple of decades ago, back in the NASDS days at UWA.
      Are you able to send me an email to make contact? I’m trying to get a replacement Advanced Diver ticket.
      Derek Smith

  2. Front Row of group photo Kim Buurman,

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