EAST COAST OF NSW – 4 December 2021
Exploring sea caves isn’t easy, the tides have to be just right (low king tide); the low tide has to fall during daylight hours; and the seas need to be calm. Add to that the fact that most people that I know work and so to go with the, the low king tide has to fall on a Saturday or Sunday, what are the odds of that? There’s no fun for me in solo explorations.
I’d tried to see some of these caves a while ago and was thwarted by high seas, fortunately on this day the stars aligned and everything fell into place. I would have liked a bright sunny day, but you can’t have everything.
This was a HVNSS trip that I went on as I love sea caves. Garry S, during lockdown, had been travelling up and down the coast surveying sea caves. We accessed the caves in a number of different ways, driving to some, walking to others. For reasons known only to myself, the caves you see aren’t in the order that we visited them. But, you’ll get the idea and hopefully be awe-struck at the places that we went to.
To access this group of caves, you walk through a canyon, as the sea swell was calm, it was easy, there wasn’t water rushing through this like the last time I was here!
Accessing the second part of the cave we had to walk through knee-deep water.
I managed to be drenched by a wave just after taking this photo of Marcia.
The opening of the cave. This cave went quite a way back and qualified as a true cave because it had a dark section.
Off to our next cave we climbed the headland.
I had to have a hand-line to get up, some of the ledges were too high – lucky I took my own rope!
Crossing the headland, just off to the right is another cave in the making. Not very deep but in a thousand years it will be very wide and very deep.
We were a large group, 22 of us from all over Greater Sydney and the Newcastle/Hunter area. All cavers, some had been to these caves before, for others it was all new.
Last time I came to this cave the waves and swell were so high that we couldn’t get anywhere near the cave opening, this time, very calm.
This is a well known cave, the pink on the rocks is a coralline algae, which grows in marine environments in light that is a bit too dim for other organisms. It deposits calcium carbonate in a microscopic boxy arrangement (thank you Jill R for explaining this!) The cave is called the Pink Cave and unfortunately it’s been widely publicised on social media so gets a lot of visitors. This is one of the reasons I’m not publicising where the other caves we visited are.
At the end of the cave is a “dark zone”, and there’s a very narrow slot that you could climb up (with the right shoes and if you were skinny-as). Some of our group walking up to the end.
Not the best photo of Marcia – the pink of the rocks didn’t come out as pink as it should have and her fluro jacket just didn’t cut it!
Looking out to sea from the end of the cave.
Another shot from the end.
Imagine how many years the sea would have been eroding this cave. The rock is predominantly conglomerate.
So, another cave (new to me). This cave was partially unknown to our leader Garry. He’d surveyed part of it but couldn’t get to the back of the cave, so Tim, Rod, Keir and Phil offered to swim into it.
The rope came in handy getting down to the rock-shelf, the conglomerate rock was very slippery so Marcia and I used the rope. Mind you the walk to this point was a bit sketchy too! We were mere metres from the edge of the cliff. I’d fallen over and cut my leg so Anna and Marcia waiting behind with me while I bandaged myself up, consequently we were “finding out own way” and it wasn’t pretty!
By now the tide is starting to come in and the swell in the cave was building.
Whilst the four of them entered the cave, the rest of us looked on in awe. Some people are so at home in the ocean. I’d be scared to death thinking how I was going to get out!
Phil (out of image) found it a bit challenging getting back onto dry land when he swam through the chute. So, he got my trusty rope to enable Keir to make his way through the barnacles (nothing to hold on to) – I hope he had gloves on.
Bloody Rod made it look dead easy (as he always does), didn’t even need the rope. Tim didn’t like the barnacle route so swam through the cave and climbed up through a convenient hole.
Apparently there’s all sorts of interesting stuff in the cave, Garry will record it all and tell us about it later.
Another cave that we could walk to, it never ceases to impress when you visit it, although this time it was full of sand (evidence of high seas in the last few weeks/months).
Looking out from the back of the cave.
In the next section of the cave, eventually this column will disappear.
Then we visited the piece de resistance, a cave I had heard about but hadn’t visited before and frankly I’d looked at the area and thought that a cave there was impossible. You can only get to it at the lowest tides – trying to get there any other time would spell almost certain death.
We met another group there on this day, checking out the sea-life. The cave itself has 300m of large passage including a chamber which measures 80m long x 40m wide, extraordinary size for a sea cave. It’s the biggest one I’ve ever been in.
Apart from the entry chamber that we used, there are two other main entries for the sea, not exceptionally big but inaccessible from the sea side due to the waves/swell. Anna and I both crawled to the end of the main passage (on our hands and knees), the passage was filled with sand; it would be amazing to see how far it went if the sand wasn’t there.
A “window” at the side of the cave.
Exiting the cave, thigh deep water and another one of those pillars.
Cunjevoi over the sides of the entry passages – cunjevoi is a short marine animal growing up to 30cm that attaches itself on rocks below the high tide zone. It’s a favourite of mine as I love to tread on it and it squirts water to whoever is standing nearby.
So, another few caves crossed off my bucket list! I’m going to have to go back again though, my grandson Bailey really wants to see some of these caves!
There’s nothing glamorous about bushwalking, caving or canyoning, but it sure is fun! If you’re an armchair bushwalker, someone looking for new adventures, or one of my friends who just wants to see what I’ve been up to, this site is for you, sign up to get email alerts now!