I spent last week off the grid, merrily moving tanks from one location to another and back again. By the end of five days on site we had relocated over a tonne of dive gear from the east coast to the Nullarbor, from the vehicles to the water, and from the water’s edge to over 4kms inside the cave. The cave of course, is Cocklebiddy.
The quick trip had a goal – to return to Toad Hall with my Dad, nearly 34 years after he was the first diver to surface inside it. It was a family trip with Mum, Dad and I joined by Steve and Ryan and a film crew. You can see our documentary early next year on Red Bull TV. It’s part of the series called EXPLORERS – ADVENTURES OF THE CENTURY. Until our episode arrives, you can discover other explorers and their adventures in the latest season which is available online here: http://www.redbull.tv/…/AP-1JXZDZE8N2111/explorers-adventur… The windsurfing ep in the last season was shot in Tassie by our film crew from The Construction Site and is well worth watching.
I’ve been hearing stories about Cocklebiddy since I was a kid. To finally get to see the big railway tunnel of the second sump with both my parents on scooters beside me was pretty cool. It also gave me a new appreciation for exactly how much gear was dragged over each rockpile by the original explorers.
We had a mixed team of rebreathers and open circuit with individual bailout and team spares. Between six divers we took a ridiculous number of scooters, mostly DiveX. The two Pirahna P2s on the trip performed admirably – top speed on a P2 makes short work of the 200m long entrance lake! When said entrance lake has very cold freshwater for the top two metres, a rapid exit is the best thing to happen at the end of a long dive.
The second sump is a beautiful place. With the constraints of filming I wasn’t able to set up the photoshoot I would have very much loved to do. Rather than being flat, square and boring like I had imagined, the second sump is some of the most scenic tunnel I have had the privilege of diving. It varied between huge fallen blocks and sunken road formations, between craggy ceiling features and gently rolling floors. All of this set off by brilliant white walls, great vis, and miles and miles of cave unrolling before me. A return photographic trip is definitely in the works.