WOMBEYAN CAVES – 14 – 15 October, 2017
I’d heard about surveying caves, but didn’t have a clue as to how to do it, and MSS doesn’t do enough caving for me to learn “on the job” so to speak. So, I Googled cave surveying and found Mike L (from SUSS), who in the past had run courses. I asked around and there were enough people interested that Mike would run a course for us.
Cath H-H, Beth L, Marcia K and Heather R signed up and we had three instructors, Mike L, Jill R and Phil M. Mike suggested that Wombeyan Caves was the best venue as it had accommodation and was a short walk from the cave we’d be working in. This then enabled a NPWS Ranger, Laurie, from Wombeyan Caves to also join us.
We started out with compasses which gave you the compass bearing and then we used tape measures to calculate the distance. After using these, we moved onto using a DistoX which shoots a laser to a point and gives you distance, compass degrees and clino (or declination), much, much easier, we all soon switched over to DistoXs as the tool of choice.
All up we spent about six hours in the cave, taking a break for lunch in the middle, then we went back to the Cottage and did some more theory, entering in our data to a text file and then importing it into software, which took all our measurements and created a “skeleton” which was printed out and then we overlaid our cave drawing onto it to see what discrepancies there were.
It was interesting that each map produced was slightly different, including features that Cathi and I did not include, and we included some features that the others didn’t. We all now have the Open Source Software to create our own “skeletons”, and we can draw maps but the really cool thing would be if we were all proficient in software such as Illustrator to create maps that were more “professional” looking, but that’s further down the track.
The course was really worthwhile, and we’re off in a couple of weeks to do some surveying at Cliefden. If nothing else, having drawn a map, it will be much easier for me to actually read one in a cave, in the past I’ve looked at them and thrown my hands up in the air, they were a mystery!
When we’d finished just after lunch, and as it was Marcia’s first caving experience, Phil took Marcia, Heather, Beth and me through Figtree cave – through the canyon section at creek level that tourists don’t usually go through and then up to the tourist part which has spot lights on all the decorations.
The five of us (all members of MSS) are enthusiastic now to get in and do some “real” surveying, we’re thinking that resurveying of some of the Abercrombie caves may be in order – a big project!
A huge thanks to Mike, Jill and Phil, they were unbelievably generous in giving their weekend to us and sharing information, We’re all hoping that we’ll be able to join up with them in the future on some caving trips.