ABERCROMBIE CAVES – 16 – 20 September 2019
How many times can you visit Abercrombie Caves in one year? Well when your speleo club decides to write a book on the area, and you’re a soft touch when the word goes around to help out, the answer is “heaps”. However, this time it was much more interesting – at least for me.
One of the major activities for the book is resurveying some of the bigger caves, technology has changed since these caves were surveyed, so it was a timely exercise and Abercrombie Arch Cave – fyi the Abercrombie Arch is the largest Natural Limestone Arch in the Southern Hemisphere – was being re-surveyed. For Abercrombie to have such a spectacular Arch, the visitation by tourists is very low. Consequently poor Abers (as we call it), draws the short straw when it comes to government funding, particularly for maintenance.
I arrived on Sunday evening, and then Monday morning I set off with the Cave Surveying Gurus Alan P (who I knew only by reputation) and Phil M, to do some more surveying of the Arch.
Alan & Phil went home on Monday evening and then on Tuesday, Rod, Dirk and I had to leave the reserve (a pain in the butt because we had a lovely cabin to stay in and it was bloody freezing). Apparently, the reserve is closed down on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because that’s the ranger’s weekend (lack of funding to hire someone else). So, we drove off unsure where we’d stay the night or what we’d do.
We tracked down a rural property that Rod knew about that had a couple of caves on it. We “dropped in” on the landowner and made arrangements to meet up with him the next day, in the meantime, his wife gave us directions to a small “cave” that she’d found.
We made out way back to the cars, what to do now?
Dirk decided that he’d go home to Canberra. Neither Rod nor I was keen to camp so we drove to Trunkey Creek to check out the 100 yr old pub. Bonus … room (with shared bathroom) only $35/ night, plus we got to sit in the lounge with an open fire – didn’t have to hunt for fire wood and the publican came in every hour or so to put more logs on the fire. AND, their dinner menu was very good. We ended up staying there both Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Now that we’d achieved our goals of finding the caves on his property, Jeff said he’d show us some aboriginal sites. These sites had been authenticated by a man from the Wiradjuri aboriginal group.
Jeff explained that on part of his land, he has trouble with animals avoiding it, and when he took the Wiradjuri man there, he got really agitated and said that he felt that there’d been a massacre on the site. He wasn’t sure whether it was black/black, black/white or white/black, but something bad had happened. Wouldn’t surprise me, there was gold mining all along the river and the prospectors wouldn’t have taken kindly to the local aboriginals. The colonialists didn’t recognise that the aboriginals “owned” the land and basically forced them off the land that they’d cultivated for hundreds of years.
On Thursday morning Rod and I returned to the Abercrombie Reserve to do more surveying. We did a bit in Mozzie Pit (I did some excavating to enable me to get further in the cave … that was fun), and then on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning we did some surface surveying and found a few missing tags that Rod hadn’t been able to find. I think the memorable quote was …. “Rod, just go along there for 30m, it might be there” and sure enough it was.
I also did a bit of tidying up at the causeway. For a couple of years now, I’ve noticed how the lagoon at the Arch has silted up, in fact there’s silt everywhere from floods. The causeway is a major problem. Logs bank up in it and cause the flow of the water to slow right down, then you get the silt build up.
So, that was my week at Abers, not as adventurous as I like – except for excavating Mozzie Pit that is – but it was a very restful week away from phones and internet. Will be back there in November (with my shovel), looking for a small person to accompany me who can go further in Mozzie Pit than I can!