Underground in the limestone cave » KathSwinbourne

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Apr 27 2013

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Underground in the limestone cave

Disappearing-through-a-tunnelFor somebody who gets claustrophobic in the M5 tunnel, I’ve done my fair share of exploring deep, dark places. And not all inside myself!

The area between Yass and Wee Jasper has quite a few limestone caves, and there are a couple on the farm. When there’s a lot of water around the caves can be difficult to access, and even if you do get inside exploring can be restricted because of the creeks running through them. So of course now that everything is very dry, we had to go and explore the big cave.

It’s called the big cave to distinguish it from the small cave – we have a unique naming system at the farm.

Spot the entrance to the caveI don’t know how anybody discovered the big cave. The entrance is hidden behind rocks on the side of a hill, and covered in brambles. You don’t have to go far inside to be completely in the dark, so it’s just as well our friends brought extra torches with them! I don’t think I would have been able to go through it if I had to depend on somebody else for light.

I remember going on an excursion to Jenolan Caves when I was in primary school, and then when I was in China I went through the Reed Flute Cave. What I remember from both is lots of colour, which must have been strategically placed coloured lights, because limestone rock doesn’t have a lot of colour in it – it’s mainly white.

Droplets-of-water-forming-on-the-end-of-the-stalactitesOne of the advantages the cave on the farm has over places like Jenolan Caves is the total absence of anybody else in the cave. You get to explore it at your own pace, and linger wherever you want.  And while you don’t have a guide to tell you exactly what you’re seeing this can also be an advantage – you get to work out your own feelings about what you’re seeing, without anybody else telling you what’s important.

The big cave has probably been there for millions of years. Or at least since the early 1900s if you date it by the graffiti at the end!

Walking through the cave, the torchlight disturbs the bats. Hundreds of them fly around you, protesting at being woken up. Luckily their radar/sonar is so good they don’t fly into you, and only one came close enough to my face to make me jump.

A better sight is the stalactites. As you watch, droplets of water form at the end of them before splashing onto small, white mounds on the floor. Large stalactites sparkle with glittery quartz in the torchlight.

BathsEven the floor has a story to tell, with ripples forming subterranean baths, and what looks like coral shelves.  In places it feels almost sacrilegious to walk over it.

The sheer wonder and majesty of it all overcame my fear. Well, almost. The bit where we had to clamber across a plank of wood hung across a chasm was a bit scary, as was crawling through small tunnels on our hands and knees.

The photos here are courtesy of our friend Deb – who didn’t forget to bring her camera with her!

 

 

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1 comment

  1. Red Nomad OZ

    I’m SO with you on the caving/claustrophobia thing … but there’s something about them that sucks me right in!!

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