Jul 072014

Jenolan diving

About the site

Jenolan Caves are a huge tourist attraction up in the Blue Mountains of NSW. The extensive show cave system sees thousands of visitors every year. The local caving groups are still in exploration mode in the further reaches of the cave, adding to the map each year.

It’s been three years since I last dived Jenolan Caves. That trip was memorable for the first dive on Saturday morning being the only one we did – 10 minutes after getting into clear water, a tidal wave of mud turned up. Flooding rain meant diving was off for the rest of the weekend and with many of the paths flooded out and closed to tours we went for a wade through the show caves.

Swimming through Jenolan

This time the weather was much more co-operative and I suddenly had an idea of what I missed back then. On Saturday we did a brilliant through trip from the Blue Lake all the way to Upstream Lethe.

About the dive

This was a chain of dives and between each one we would surface under the show caves. It was surreal to come up and see people standing on the bridges and pathways waiting for us before ducking back down into the next leg. It was also great for photography – I was able to make adjustments and give modelling advice each time we surfaced. Finetuning the setup like this produced some shots I’m really happy with.

About the photo

The main challenge of photography here is the silt, similar to Elk River Cave 800kms further south. As well as being piled up on the floor like most caves, the flow of the river puts silt on the ceiling. Bubbles knock it down as we swim past. This means a very limited time in one spot before the water stops being quite so clear. For me it was about leading the dive and finding the largest possible spots to turn around. I gently pivoted with the camera to catch Adam behind me as he approached. The second challenge was finding a good spot to get both Adam and Andreas in frame. I love the top shot here for the framing, the shape of the rocks, and the fact that both the divers and the cave are well lit. The silt you can see gathering on the floor has yet to invade the rest of the photo. And the bubbles going up let you know that yes, we really are underwater!

The second shot was taken just as we descended into the next bit of underwater cave. You can see the line leading down and the cave reflecting the camera flash overhead. We also had a great dive on Sunday in Imperial – photos to come.

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