Caving at Jaunta aka Blackberry Caving

JAUNTER – 5 – 6 November 2022
I’d heard a bit about Jaunter “tiny holes going no-where”, not even sure who said that.  But then, Rod put a surveying trip on at Jaunter and I thought it would be a good idea to practice, after all you can survey a small cave in just a day, so I signed up for the trip.  It’s out near Yerranderie, a long way for a weekend.

I picked up John G from Blaxland and we set off on the (roughly) 2 hour trip.  When we finally arrived, we met up with Alan C, Rod S, Jim, C, Onni and Cat & Garth.  As we drove through the farm gate and towards the house, I was impressed by how lovely the area was.  And the hospitality of Peter & Sharon (Ruby) D (on whose property the caves were) went way beyond generous.

Peter & Sharon, in order to protect, conserve and enhance the unique cultural values of the property, have created the Tricketts Arch Biobanking Conservation Agreement (developed in conjunction with the NSW Department of Environment & Heritage).  So, what is BioBanking?  To the layperson, it’s a convoluted program “aimed at helping to address the loss of biodiversity values by habitat degration and loss”.  Since the creation of the Tricketts Arch agreement in 2011, it appears to have evolved into a frustrating undertaking for Peter & Sharon, and whilst it may be working for developers wanting to clear land (they have to buy credits), it doesn’t seem to have worked for Peter & Sharon.  If you know someone with loads of money, or someone who needs biodiversity credits, point them in the direction of the Tricketts Arch Biodiversity Credits.

Driving up to the farm gate. Stunning weather. There was farmland all around the property, but Peter & Sharon’s property is mostly bush.

We arrived at 9am, had morning tea at the house and then headed off for the surveying. Onni at the bottom of the cliff where J1 is located – lots of blackberries – he has secateurs with him!

Rod and John walking me over to where the outflow of J1 (aka Tricketts Arch) is. Rod would be surveying the inflow section and I’d be surveying the outflow passage.

Garth pointing out the cave tag for me. I have to say I wasn’t all that keen about getting wet as I went in the cave.

Apparently, they spent a lot of time on the last trip getting rid of the blackberries and putting this nice “bridge” in place.

Catherine and I spent the next 3 hours surveying the passageway, which was about a metre wide and 1.5m high at the start and got progressively smaller, to the point that when Catherine and I were bent over (me trying to draw the map whilst standing in the streamway), we decided that enough was enough, we’d return during the next drought!

After lunch we headed over to where the others were at the influx. We made our way down to meet up the others, they’d had enough surveying too, so we all headed up to the top of the arch to scout around for some “daylight holes” that Onni had found.

Up on top of the ridge and much blackberry pruning later, we found the daylight hole and first Onni and then Jim did the “through” trip to the influx.

Garth (or maybe Jim) going down the daylight hole.

Onni and one of Ruby’s grandchildren at the influx after the through trip, they are surrounded with blackberries and behind them is the track/steps that Onni created to get to the influx.

The boys at the influx. They were the most delightful children, full of life and enjoying having cavers at their home.

Once we’d had our fill of blackberries, we headed back to the house, set up camp and then lazed around on the verandah enjoying life, and the rain passing through.

Next morning we all headed off to see what other caves Peter has – all of which need surveying.

Onni putting his head down a small hole.

Beautiful eucalypt tree, I’m not sure what species it is, the land covered by  Tricketts Arch Biodiversity Credits is broken up into various regions with specific trees on it, Narrow-leaved Peppermint/Mountain Gum/Brown Barrel, Ribbon Gum, and Snow Gum.

The first hole that looked “interesting”, Onni set up a rope to abseil down, but in actual fact it was just a downclimb, Alan went in after him and they both agreed “nothing much there”.

We headed over to another area where Peter was looking for a particular cave.

Whilst Peter was hunting around, Alan and Onni cleared blackberries – I think they had visions of something at the end of this blackberry road, but sadly nothing there – all they got out of the exercise was a lot of scratches.

If you were lucky, you could navigate your way through the rifts of blackberries on sections of karst, Jim making his way down.

John in one of the holes we found, I don’t think anyone went in here.

Onni and Alan setting up an anchor so they could safely go down something that looked interesting.

Whilst Alan and Onni were over at the other hole, John found a rift that needed to be explored, so Alan came over and abseiled into the void.

In the rift, this was definitely of interest.

Alan in one of the holes, not sure which one this was.

By now we’re thinking it’s time to pack up and head home (it was a long drive), so we persuaded Onni and Alan to return to the surface and headed back to the house.

Before heading home, Peter took me over to an area of the property where there were possible scar trees, evidence that First Nations people had lived in the area.

We said our goodbyes and headed off for the 5 hour (for me) drive home.  We’ll definitely be back for some more surveying – so much to do!  Thank you, Peter & Sharon for your hospitality we hope that your work with the Biobanking project and the Tricketts Arch Biodiversity Credits is successful and that you’re able to raise sufficient funds that you can do all the amazing projects on the property that you have in mind.

Native violets.

A native I think, when there were rifts of these, they were really colourful.

Terrestrial orchids – there are three – one of which is the Buttercup Doubletail, but I’m not sure which one of these yellow orchids is the Diuris aequalis. No matter, there were hundreds of them flowering when we were there.

I think this is a Tiger Orchid (Diuris sulphurea), another variety of the terrestrial orchid – this was the only one of this particular variety, this is a vary rare orchid..

Another terrestrial orchid.

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