Jul 222014

Jenolan diving

About the site

Today’s photos are from the Downstream Imperial section of Jenolan. Jenolan Caves up in NSW see nearly a quarter of a million visitors each year. The show caves and pathway system are extensive and tours run frequently. From a diving perspective, this means timing our entrance so as not to interfere. For Downstream Imperial we moved off the beaten track and down to the water through an area known as the Woolshed.

About the dive

Unlike our through trip on Saturday, this Sunday dive doesn’t allow us out the other end. And instead of swimming upstream against the flow, we were swimming downstream. There are two main rivers in Jenolan that both emerge into the Blue Lake. You can see this distinctly in the surface photo I took back in 2011 – the flooding rains had started to emerge from one stream in muddy brown water, but the second one was still running clear. Our through trip started in the clear stream and went up into the cave. Divers in Downstream Imperial are very close to emerging in the muddy water of that picture (which was clear this time around). Unfortunately the cave flattens down far enough that divers don’t fit, so starting in Blue Lake and doing this dive from the other end is not yet possible.

Greg Ryan in JenolanAs we weren’t surfacing in any air chambers along the way the photography was correspondingly more difficult, especially when the off camera strobes refused to work off the bat. After a bit of stop and start we got the sensors positioned in the right place to really show off this part of the cave.

About the photo

I love the rippled effect of the rocks here. I could live without the giant cloud of silt rapidly moving up behind us. Every little ripple contains a teaspoon of ultra-fine silt and once it’s disturbed the flow moves it downstream with the divers. The water clarity therefore wasn’t quite as good as the previous day’s upstream diving. The cave here is a bit larger but with the silt cloud rolling along we had limited time to manouvre multiple divers into view. Adam Hooper is hiding back there in the silt…I don’t think he saw much on this trip!

I particularly like the top shot for having two divers clearly separated. Greg in the front is very sensibly reaching for the permanent guideline with his right hand, anticipating that it’s all about the go dark. And Andreas is just surfacing out of the silt cloud behind into the clear water. The second photo doesn’t have that same clearance between the divers but it does have the beautiful ripple effect front and centre. It was a great dive – I can’t wait to get back to Jenolan again.


  2 Responses to “Downstream Imperial in Jenolan Caves”

Comments (2)
  1. Hi I’m a full cave diver currently in Sidney. How can I go diving there?

    • Get in touch with SUSS, the Sydney Uni Speleo Society. Being a caver is more important than being a cave diver for this type of sump diving, so access will depend on your experience more than your certifications.

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