Participants: Corey Hanrahan, Oxana Repina (SUSS), Chris Bradley, Andy Waddell, Milie Maccallum, Jess Spargo, Riley Baird, Austin Zerk, Bradley Hearn, Laura Bewicke
Rising early, the contingent arrived at ANU Sport around 8am, then set off to Bungendore. In Bungendore, we found a nice cafe where we were able to get caffeinated and well-fed, then continued our journey on to the caves. Upon arrival, we changed into caving gear and headed to Main Cave.
Valiantly fighting our way through blackberries covering the entrance, we went into the cave, made seats in the mud and readied ourselves for Corey’s presentation. The presentation raised questions like, “Why are caves important?”, “What animals and food sources can be found in caves?” and “Do caver crumbs count as a food source?”. Answers were discussed and written down on small cards with highlighter.
From this point, we started exploring the cave. Starting from a relatively easy entrance, the difficulty steadily increased, as did the features to be seen. Stalactites, stalactites, columns and straws. Cafe graffiti dated to the 1970s. Long, slippery, muddy inclines we needed to pull each other up. A tunnel filled with water to crawl through, and an even tighter tunnel you need to crawl through on your back. Sleeping bats. A sump which stretches further than can be seen. And in the final chamber, cave bacon to replenish us.
Leaving the warmth of the cave, we proceeded to have lunch and take part in the next half of Corey’s presentation, where we were able to experiment with chemicals to observe how various rocks dissolve. For those of you playing along at home, chalk and vinegar is a highly recommended combination.
From this point, we split into groups to explore different caves. There was an abandoned mineshaft, which was easy to get through, and which looked awesome. We tried finding a cave called Fox Hole (MF12) on our maps. We found this, and in the process at least three of us climbed down a wombat hole thinking that we had the right one. Ed: It’s Mount Fairy, the wombat holes and caves are interchangeable!
For our last cave, we climbed a mountain and saw a hole in the ground. To get through this, we threw a ladder into the hole and began to climb. At the base, there was a good series of chambers with very bright cave formations. With this cave however, the real challenge was getting out. As it turns out, climbing up a swinging ladder through a narrow gap is much harder than climbing down. Nonetheless, we were all successful, and to the best of our knowledge nobody was left behind in the cave.
The caving being complete for the day, from here we returned to the carpark, sorted out our gear and began the drive back to Canberra.