Right, enough of the local stuff and back to the story! Following my muddy little grovel on our second day, we followed a tip from the local guy and went walkabout to look at a few laundry spots in the area. Just down the road and around the corner we discovered another huge doline with pools at both ends and a young woman having a wash in one of them (fully clothed!). After a quick free dive with mask and torch Stefan pronounced it good and we returned that afternoon with dive gear.
Having spent the day tramping through the bush, clambering around other holes and evaluating prospects we didn’t have too much time left, so Stefan dropped in with the dive gear to see if the tunnel kept going. His bubbles disappeared fairly quickly and I settled in for a wait. He returned an hour later having found line that must have been laid 15 years ago. This changed the story…Donovan’s recollection had understandably faded with time. Rather than the clear water he remembered filling up with mud, this site was mostly filled up with the detritus of years of laundry. It meant the muddy little hole I had wriggled my way down the previous day most likely didn’t go, and probably never had.
With some other investigations scheduled we returned three days later, tanks and camera in hand and keen to see the sights. We dropped down through the entrance restriction and past the piles of old clothes and plastic. The halocline shimmered at about 10m, reminiscent of the Rivers Run dive in Mexico where the freshwater flows across the salt layer. There was also noticeable flow through the narrow entrance. This must be responsible for sucking the rubbish inside, but the debris dropped off as we swam a little further.
White rock walls, large tunnel, shallow undulating passage and clear blue water looked very like Weebubbie. The only issue was my strobes which don’t like the hot water. I was restricted to a shot or two at a time trying to keep them happy and not burn out any more flash tubes. We surfaced in the internal chamber and looked up at the steep first rockpile – Nullarbor-esque.
At this point the strobes weren’t the only ones complaining about the heat. Tanks were a one-at-a-time carry up the rocky boulder slope to a long flat chamber with nascent stalagmites across the floor, and then down the other side to the not-that-cool water. The temperature meant that wearing the wetsuit was a recipe for heat exhaustion. Carrying tanks without one added a few more scrapes to my skin – next time I’ll be taking through gloves and kneepads in a pocket. The hanging roots up the top were very pretty, but I was definitely considering teaching some of our local guides to cave dive so they could come through and help with the tanks.
With everything in the water on the other side we scouted around for a line without success. Stefan unclipped his reel, and we reeled down into clear blue water. To be continued…