Nov 292012
Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1983 (Part 3)

After a successful push into new territory in the third sump, the team still had to get themselves and their gear home again…back to and over Toad Hall, empty tanks into the three sleds and back 2.5kms to the first rockpile, over the first rockpile, and four sleds of empty tanks home to the surface lake. From there it was a quick march up the doline and more than a few loads of gear up the line to the desert above. Ron Allum sitting on his sleeping mat in Toad Hall, with his home made cave radio. This device provided underground to surface voice communication and allowed the Toad Hall team to report on the successful extension of the line [read more…]

Nov 222012
Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1983 (Part 2)

In 1983, twelve divers reached the first rockpile, carrying tanks over to the second sump. Six divers then swam the second sump to camp in the darkness in Toad Hall. And three divers pushed on, into the third sump. Rest stop in the second sump, sleds against the roof. Ron Allum on the left and Phil Prust on the right. The line dangling from the spare reg on the left is a neck strap. Welcome to Toad Hall. It’s a long way to the top, but less gear to be carried over for the third sump push with only three divers going ahead. The camping gear was taken to the flat section at the top of the chamber. Phil Prust [read more…]

Nov 152012
Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1983 (Part 1)

When Toad Hall was discovered on the 1982 trip, Cocklebiddy Cave earned the world record for the longest underwater cave penetration from the surface. So when the team returned in 1983 to push beyond Toad Hall and dive into the third sump, they knew they were making history. Dad took some great photos of the adventure, so I’ll be splitting the story of the 1983 trip over the next three Thursdays. L to R, Hugh Morrison, Robyn Allum, Simon Jones (back to us), Ron Allum far right. Ron explains his newly designed home-made aluminium sleds to the divers. Ron had become skilled in aluminium welding as he built a boat and made these in his back yard. Note the constant [read more…]

Nov 082012
Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1982 (Part 2)

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. Here Hugh and Ron park the depleted sled on the roof half way through sump 2, [read more…]

Nov 012012
Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1982 (Part 1)

The 1982 Cocklebiddy trip had representatives from both West Australia and South Australia. With new techniques for combining tanks into a sled, the trip hoped to push past the end of the West Australian line in the second sump and see what lay beyond. Left to right: Hugh Morrison, Ron Allum, unsure, Keith Dekkers, Simon Jones in yellow, unsure. The 1982 trip was led by Hugh Morrison from West Australia. Dad, still based in South Australia, knew Hugh from his FAUI instructing and invited himself along as trip photographer. The other South Australian representative was Ron, who was keen to get back to Cocklebiddy and came as photographer’s assistant. Various bits of gear have been hung on the shrubbery to [read more…]

Oct 252012
Cave diving through history: Cocklebiddy Cave, 1979 (Part 2)

Without delay, here’s the other half of the photos from the 1979 Cocklebiddy expedition. These were taken by my dad, Peter Rogers, with a Nikonos II and 35mm lens bought the previous year, a toshiba underwater strobe and a land strobe in a home made perspex box used as it had a remote trigger sensor in – advanced technology! Captions below each photo. Alan Grundy and Peter Rogers on the surface of the entrance lake, pre-dive. Orange fenzies and orange tanks…a cave photographer’s dream. Alan Grundy poses next to the stage tank. Given the length of the first sump, this steel tank was left on the line some way along. Given it was a (very negative) steel, and there wasn’t [read more…]