Jul 272016
 
Overnight exploration in Elk River

We had an interesting weekend in Elk River with the longest trip underground to date. After multiple set up trips to replace empty tanks with full ones we headed in to use them. The trip was complicated by large floods that swept through Buchan two weeks ago. I wasn’t sure what effect the raised water level might have had on the cave, or the gear cached throughout. The first victim of high water levels was the first aid kit, laid out on a beach before sump 4. We found most of the items from the kit floating in the water just before sump 4 and were able to rescue them all. The bag itself had made further progress and was [read more…]

Jul 192016
 
Exploration and photography in Timor

The joy of Timor is the big tunnels. And the white walls, and the clear water. The karst landscapes creates a lot of dolines and only a few go to water – the countryside makes you work for underwater success. So when one of the beautiful blue surface pools finally does drop into massive going tunnel the elation is incredible. In this series of photos Dave and Sandy had carefully manoeuvred their way into an entrance pool they discovered last year. This time the water was still clear when they got in. Sandy was able to find her way through the small hole at the bottom of the pool and into the big blue passage beyond. This particular entrance pool [read more…]

Jul 122016
 
Split shots in Timorese air chambers

One of the features of Timor is the very soft limestone that I talked about last week. As well as exploding cave ceilings, this also leads to large breakdown piles in the cave tunnels. Which means that the big blue passages are periodically interrupted by collapses both underwater and above. As you can see from these shots, air chambers provide a whole new playground for cave photography. Taking split shots in the ocean means waiting for very calm days or finding sheltered spots. Underground, in a place completely enclosed by rock, there’s no need to worry about the weather rippling the surface. When the divers are still the water surface is completely flat. With a rock to stand on and not [read more…]

Jul 072016
 
Silt explosions in Timor

We are back in Timor this week, expanding the limits of the caves we have previously discovered and exploring new caves and new areas. Luckily for me, pushing new areas in known caves means swimming through previously discovered areas first. This makes photography possible – I know what the cave discovered last year looks like, and what’s going to happen when we get in there. I can plan my lighting and instruct my dive buddies for the best shots in otherwise challenging conditions. This Timor trip is the first one where the photography has really come together to show off the beauty of this new area. The limestone in Timor is soft and crumbly. It’s easy to see ancient and [read more…]

Jun 212016
 
Taking tanks into Elk River again

The weekend before last saw us back in Elk River. After an exciting push trip back in January and a subsequent epic tank extraction trip in March, it was time to start loading freshly tested and filled tanks back into the cave. Going downhill is easier than hauling tanks up to the surface. However the air inside each tank definitely adds weight and as we had a three day weekend on our hands we made good use of it. On both Saturday and Sunday Dave, Sandy and I humped a large tank from the surface to the beginning of sump 5. There had been good rains in Gippsland in the preceding week. I was hoping for slightly higher water levels [read more…]

Jan 192016
 
Elk River Exploration Report

All of that floating around in the pleasant tropical surrounds in Truk Lagoon had to come at a price, and it arrived last weekend with 32 hours of painful caving in Elk River. After multiple set up trips to load in tanks to the beginning of sump 5 last year it came time to use them. The plan was for three divers (myself, Steve and Ryan) to traverse sump 7 and emerge in the freshly discovered Hall of Crazy Horses on the other side. We would take through an emergency pack of camping gear, a rope for lowering gear down the 10m high waterfall, and a selection of 7L tanks for push diving in sump 8. I also intended to [read more…]