ABERCROMBIE CAVES – 6 – 7 April, 2019
Ever since I started caving 10 years ago, all I ever heard from Jeff B was “you’ll never get me inside a cave!” Our trip to Abercrombie Caves this weekend probably wouldn’t be blog-worth except for the fact that Jeff actually went caving! And not some big-arse cave but he stuck his head inside tiny little holes!
The aim of this weekend at Abercrombie was to help Rod S find some missing tags … caves that had been found and tagged in the mid 80s (they didn’t have GPSs in those days, so just recorded the general vicinity of the caves, if that!) and some of the caves hadn’t been seen since. Rod’s been slowly trying to find them, and of the 100+ caves that have been tagged, he’s still missing about 30. With the Abercrombie Book in the works, Rod set aside two weekends to try to find some of the missing caves. Jeff B, Steve R, Alan C and I offered to give him a hand. I had persuaded Jeff and Steve to come along as they’re primarily bush walkers (even though Jeff’s a member of MSS he doesn’t cave), and I thought they’d enjoy what we call “surface trogging”.
We started out around 10am on Saturday morning, heading out for the Horse Run, an area that records indicated had a cave nearby.
We then headed up the valley, not sure if this was the area that was described as “North West Bluff”. We looked around in the creek and found nothing so headed further up the valley to a rocky outcrop which was in a roughly north west direction, and struck pay-dirt, 6 caves all in the same area. One was exceptionally big; we got GPS grid references for all of them. We still had 2 to find in the area, particularly A-42 which should have been where we were but we hadn’t found it yet. We’d given up by this time and were crossing the creek and walking up to the road, when the tag for A-42 practically jumped out at us.
After lunch we headed over to another area, just across from our campsite. We spent all afternoon there and didn’t find a single cave, more research needed. On the way back though, we found A-108, just off a walking track, it was camouflaged which is why it hadn’t been spotted it before. By this time we’d all had enough, so headed back to camp for beers and a hot shower … yes, they have hot showers at the Abercrombie campground.
On Sunday, Jeff and I headed out looking for more tags, this time on the South Grove Bluff and Rod and Alan went off to do some cave surveying (Mosquito Cave).
Jeff and I hunted around for an hour or so, found nothing, and were heading up to the top of a very, very steep hill where there was a likely looking rocky outcrop. All was going well until Jeff almost trod on a huge red belly black snake. Thankfully I didn’t see the snake and had no idea what had happened, but the next thing I knew, Jeff in his effort to get away from the snake that he thought was about to bite him, had overbalanced and fallen head over heels. I watched him roll down the slope, I thought he was falling to almost certain death, that’s how steep the hill was, and there was nothing to grab onto. He probably rolled/fell about 15m before coming to a stop. I picked up his hat and glasses and then got down to him to make sure he was ok, it was then I heard about the snake. He was very fortunate, only sustained grazes, cuts and bruising, could have been much worse. We decided that it would be best if we got ourselves off the slope it was just too steep (and away from the snake, who knows where it was), we had to drop down about 100m to get back to the creek and the track back to camp.
We spent the rest of the morning with Rod and Alan at Mosquito Cave, taking a brief walk through Bushranger Cave.
Snake and Jeff’s fall aside, it was a great weekend, and although I wouldn’t say Jeff’s hooked on caving now, I do think he’ll go again.
Thanks Rod for organising the weekend and thanks to you, Steve and Alan for your company!
Banner: me exiting A-58
Thumbnail: Abercrombie autumn colours.