Apr 192016
Exponential Pot

Exponential Pot is one of the restricted entry caves on the Buchan Potholes reserve. Access is limited to one trip a year of just a few people, with the entrance protected by a metal plate and big padlock. I was lucky enough to join Peter Freeman and four other eager cavers on the 2016 trip. One of the trip objectives was to take some photos of this rarely-seen cave, and in that we definitely succeeded. Exponential Pot is highly decorated. It’s discovery was the driver for turning the Potholes Reserve into a Reserve and protecting all of the caves in it. As a result of the limited access arrangements most of the cave is in excellent condition. There are low [read more…]

Aug 222011
Surveying in Mt Hypipamee Crater

About the site Mt Hypipamee Crater is located in the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland, 25km from the town of Atherton. The crater is a volcanic vent, created by volcanic gases under pressure exploding out through weak points in the rock 100,000 years ago. Unlike the limestone caves created by the ground water in South Australia, Mt Hypipamee has walls of basalt which appear speckled pink underwater. Our week long expedition had taken several years to come together, requiring permits from the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management and permission from the Traditional Owners of the land, the Ngadjon people. A 1959 diving expedition had written up a report of dives to 61m in dark but clear water. The information [read more…]

Aug 082011
Bathtub in Piccaninnie Ponds

About the dive The eagle eyed may have noted an extra diver in the background of the last Piccaninnie Ponds shot I talked about here. The little white speck in the distance is actually a diver heading into the usually-forbidden depths of the cave. The photo was taken on a weekend reserved for research into some of the more unusual aspects of this unique wetlands and cave site. In particular, the team was checking on salinity monitors that had been installed in the cave on a previous project weekend. Piccaninnie Ponds is just over the sand dunes from the ocean, and a reduction in ground water flows following the recent drought may lead to salt water incursion from the ocean [read more…]

Aug 012011
Haloclines in Olwolgin Cave

About the site I’ve already talked about a couple of photos I’ve taken of unique features in the Roe Plains caves, including the Black and White Raft Room and the hanging roots. Cave diving in the Roe Plains provided the biggest photographic challenge I’ve experienced thus far – taking clear pictures in a graduated halocline. Haloclines occur where salty and freshwater meet, creating a mixing layer. Unlike the Mexican caves on the Yucatan Peninsula, the halocline in the Roe Plains caves runs at every level of the water. This means it isn’t possible to swim above it, and any diver movement through the cave mixes water of different levels of salinity. For those who haven’t dived in these conditions before, [read more…]

Jul 182011
F tunnel in Tank Cave

About the dive Tank Cave is a labyrinthian maze of intersecting passages, located in the Mt Gambier region of South Australia. First dived in the 60s, the challenging narrow and silty entrance meant exploration didn’t truly begin until the 1980s. Today, the cave has approximately 11km of mapped passage. The main tunnels run on an approximate NW-SE trend, and the cave develops a distinct character in the different areas. The tunnels are named by letter and number, and tags are placed in the cave on the permanent lines at key points to aid navigation. Tank Cave is generally shallow, with most tunnels being between 10m and 20m deep, allowing for long dives. This photo was taken in F tunnel, which is [read more…]

Jun 272011
Hanging Roots in Olwolgin Cave

  About the dive Olwolgin Cave is located on the Roe Plain, Western Australia, not far from Burnabbie Cave. As I posted previously, the Roe Plains caves are quite different from the white walled, blue water, big tunnels of the better known Nullarbor Plain caves. The first thing you notice is the yellowish tint to the water (but not to the walls) and the narrow, twisting, multilevel nature of the cave. With the water level close to the surface, tree roots from the desert above intrude into areas of the cave. However, the Roe Plains cave also have unique salinity characteristics. Instead of a single halocline with a distinct mixing zone between layers of fresh and salty water, like might [read more…]