Southern Caver

Southern Caver

Material Information

Southern Caver
Series Title:
Southern Caver
Gregory Middleton ( suggested by )
Southern Caving Society
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Applied Speleology ( local )
Regional Speleology ( local )
Resource Management ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )


General Note:
The Southern Caving Society was formed in April 1965 and in July 1967 commenced publication of "Southern Caver" as its quarterly newsletter. At the time of the 1996 amalgamation of SCS with the Tasmanian Caverneering Club, it was agreed that Southern Tasmanian Caverneers would continue to publish "Southern Caver" in the form of an occasional paper as and when suitable material was available. The publication has in fact appeared approximately annually in recent years and has generally carried reprints of otherwise difficult to obtain reports relating to caves in Tasmania.
Open Access - Permission by Publisher
Original Version:
Vol. 10, no. 3 (1979)
General Note:
See Extended description for more information.

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
K26-03760 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.3760 ( USFLDC Handle )
21388 ( karstportal - original NodeID )
0157-8464 ( ISSN )

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Full Text
The Southern Caving Society was formed in April 1965 and
in July 1967 commenced publication of "Southern Caver" as its
quarterly newsletter. At the time of the 1996 amalgamation of
SCS with the Tasmanian Caverneering Club, it was agreed that
Southern Tasmanian Caverneers would continue to publish
"Southern Caver" in the form of an occasional paper as and
when suitable material was available. The publication has in
fact appeared approximately annually in recent years and has
generally carried reprints of otherwise difficult to obtain
reports relating to caves in Tasmania.


" SOUTHEHT avxi'P L Le Published Quarterly by tho Southorn Qving Sscioty Pmtal Address: PRESIDEllTr Mieke Vermeulen P.C. Bkx 121 Moonah, Tas. 7009 Club Rooms: 132 Davey St., Hobart. SECRETARY: PeterRussell EDITORS; CC TRE2lSURER: RonMann Daoe Elliott, Ran &M COn!MITTEE : Steve Hnrris, Graeme Watt 03VGRSs By courtesy 9f Grneme W3tt .Ad Rccister8d for posting as a periodical Category B. VOLUME 10 XUlvIBER 3 JAWY 1979 CONTENTS Pro & Post Traccon Trips in the ............. Bullarbor Area by Mieke Vormeulon....Page 4 Historical Reprint.. ............... .Extractad By *eve Harris. .Page 6 Glacier Chves On New Zealand Volcanoes.. ..... .By Kevin Kiornab.Pago 11 An Extract Fromr 'Thsmnia By Road And ~rnck?.. ............~... .By E-T-Emmette a.. 16 Society JTotes. .......~................................... .......Pa ge 19 SCS Ekecutive Office Bearers 1966 1979.. .................... ..Page 20


WACCON FIELD TRIPS. WLeigh Gleeson The field triis fu3l~wing the 12th 3iennial.Cohference of the Australian Speological Federation were lazgely in the South Western Region of W.A. The centre of most attention was tke Leeuwin-Naturliste Ridge area some 300 km South of Perth, Within this area there are five sub-areas but all can be served from Boranup Campsite. The caves ue considerable in number, typically dry, have limited stream passage develop. ment and are almost always well decorated. For most caves the duration of trips tends to be short. Access to the caves is generally straight forward, internal pitches are rather rare and those with entrance pitches present little difficulty. Nearly all caves are highly photo@nic and often have formation peculiarities not usually found in Tasmanian caves, One cannot fail to be greatly impressed with the beauty of the many cave systems. The Boranup campsite was continuously occupied for several weeks after the conference with as many as sixty cavers from all states present at any one time. The well organized WASG members made for leisurely caving on the part of the visitors. All trips were organized by an area co-ordinator who, with the aid of a large notiboard, provided an up to date list of current and proposed trips. The first feature of WA caving which appeals to Tasmanians is that you don't have to get wet and miserable to see tremendous underground scenery. WA cavers occasionally comment that they have no sporting caves by compa.rison with Tasmanian caves but even a short visit to the West will show that this is well compensated for by a multitude of rich and fascinating caverns. Th6 skills one needs in the West are not those of endurance andtenacity, for the cold stream caves with multiple shafts as in Tassie butnther the ability to move with great care and respect in what is often a very delicate enviromnt. Another region to command considerable alteration was Eneabba some 300 km North of Perth. In this ama the campsite is set on the perimeter of a lazge claypan. In the wetter months this claypan provides the source waters for a couple of phreatic horizontal cave systems both about 2 km long. Several sunrey te,ms assigned themselves th'e"la,sk of mapping one of these systems. The area is also characterized by large areas of Karst pavements riddled with solution pipes dropping away to shallow cave systems below, unfortunately these rsre nat always enterable. One oP the. skrangest caves. in the area is Aiyennu (A.N.u.) Cave which must surely possess one of the classic entrance' forms found anywhere in Australia. The entrance chamber would be approximately 13 metres deep and 20 metres wide. The doline is at that rar@'stage of development whereby the 1 metre to 2 metre thick roof has not collapsed yet, there are about 100 holes already in it, many of 'tbiem just large enough for someone to fit through them. The roof is thus like a very thin Swiss cheesk.' One enters by dropping a ladder down one of solution pipe type holes. If you elect to stroll across the roof of the chmber care must be taken not to step into a void. .. ,. . SOUTHEm CATER '(2) JANUARY 1979 . -, .,.


..I ..._._ The dry, almost semi-arid 'environment of the area pyesent s many fascinating vegetation types and is rich in wildlife, Four wheel drive vehicles are essential to reach many of the outlying caves. The Narnbung area 25Cb north of Perth has a number of small and horizontal caves that are often unusual and delightfully decorated. Apparently some of the caves have been mined on a small scale for Guano. The surf*@ karst of the ara is famous for the presence of limestone pinnacles. The other area visited during the conference was Yanchep (51 km north of ~erth). Once again the caves tend to be shallow and small but none the less well worth visiting. There is a range of other less popular areas to which one could go. In addition to the caves of the SW considerable time was spent both before and after the conference on the Nullarbor. In summary it would be fair to comment that all of the Eastern cavers were more than impressed with the many caves in the West and in particular with their beauty. SOU!EBRN CAVER JANUARY 1979


PRE AND POST WACCON TRIPS IN THE NULLARBOR ARFA By Mieke Vermeulen The Nullarbor Plain area which consists of the treeless plain proper and the semi-arid country further west of the Nullarbor station, proved a most rewarding place to inspect caves. The generally flat undulating country is broken in places by large collapse dolines, some with cave entrances at the base and some degrading to a smooth basin shape. The characteristic form is a roughly circular hole with one cliff face and a rubble slide on the opposite face. This situation caters admirably for the SRT enthusiasts who can do their thing off the cliff while those less inclined can ladder, or scramble down the other side. The many caves visited were both sporting and beautiful, some being quite new to us. Some were small m-named llblow-holes't which are round narrow solution pipes leading down into the cave systems below. These blow holes often become too narrow to go through at a depth of a few feet but must be connected to further systems as they have either a strong cold breeze blowing out of them or they are sucking hot air in. This breathing action is characteristic of many Nullarbor caves and the refrigerator effect is extremely pleasant in the heat of summer. An excellent example of how strong this breathing can be is in the Southerly Buster, which is not far from the entrance of Mullamullang Cave. The passage here is around I&I high and 3 to 3&n wide. The "breathingtt of the cave is thus constricted resulting in a gale through which only one person can crawl at a time as the sand is stirred up and gets blasted around. A pair of overalls can be blown out straight by the force of the wind. This wind is partly the cause of the 10m plus Dune behind the Southerly Buster. Mullamullang is the longest cave on the Nullarbor being 6 miles long and reaching a depth of 390 feet. The main tunnel itself is about 3 miles long with numerous side passages and consists mostly of sand passage with lots of rock falls which become fairly tiresome to walk over. The main side passage, the Easter Extension, contains many strange and wonderful formations of gypsum and halite. Also in this extension is a powdery formation of white and chocolate brown commonly referred to as "the Coffee and Cream". The trip to the Dome, at the end of the main tunnel takes around ten hours and the main difficulty is keeping the body fluids up. There is some water in several lakes inside the cave but like much of the underground water is far too salty for human consumption. The caves are fairly warm by Tasmanian standards and the possibility of dehydration is always present. SOUTHERN CATER JANUARY I979


Abrakurrie Cave at Eucla is another most impressive system, consisting of a degraded doline 700 feet lbngwith the entrance at the base of a cliff at one end,.--,.me -.n caveis 11 00 feet long and reaches a maximum depth of 230 feet, The resemblance this cave has to a railway tunnel is remarkable high domed roof and flat -sandy floo~?.s., (we threw frisbees and kicked footballs down there the place is big enough for a football field!!) This cave is also interesting as it has Aboriginal hand prints present on the walls not far from the entrance. One of the strange and wonderful experiences of the Nullarbor was swimming in caves not only voluntarily but actually for enjoyment. An excellent hole for this was Weebubbie Cave at Eucla which has a lmge main passage of 1100 feet going to a lake at a depth of 280 feet. The main doline is 150 feet in diameter and like many others in the Nullarbor, very spectacular. The lake in this cave is a delight to behold being very clear water with a light bottle green tint. The lake extends for some 300 feet and averages a depth of 30-40 feet. Unfortunately right in the middle of the domed roof above the lake is a nice round hole down which a pipe reaches into the water pumping out the drinking water for the township, The water is treated to remove the salt, empty beer cans, cigarette packets, dead torches and sweaty cavers. The locals know about many of the caves and are not particular where they drop their debris. This created an interesting exercise in Murra-el-elevyn cave which contained not only a Thylacine carcase but a whole truckload of 20th Century odds and ends, mainly beer cans. This cave was subsequently cleaned out by cavers heading back east after the Waccon field trips had finished. Many of the other caves were typical of the area having doline, rubble slope, broken rock floor sloping down to a lakw pool at the water table. Several were visited and in general were only an hour trip at the most. Finding 'lost" caves in Tasmania has sometimes been a problem with steep gullies, thick scrub etc. hiding a multitude of sins, but on the perfectly open grass lands of the Nullarbor it is no easier!! Four of us spent a considerable time with compass and written instructions cruising around the plain searching for a hole which had been "lost" for several years, We were in fact lucky enough to find the hole, Capstan Cave, which has a doline some B in diameter. You would not expect to lose a hole that big but on the Nullarbor it is quite easy and has been done on a number of occasions. Over all the Nullarbor caves provided a totally new caving experience for us as well as some amazing above ground scenery. Future trips would be highly recommended as the area offers much for speleo enthusiasts,?


Historical Reprint from: Johnston, R.M. (1 888) Systematic Account of the Geology of s as mania 1~ 40) W,T, Strutt, Govt. Printer, Hobart. Chudleigh The non-fossiliferous limestones are largely developed in the neighbourhood of Chudleigh, notably at Mole Creek, where there are numerous and extensive caverns. The Mole Creek traverses for miles in the underground channels oraves formed in the libestone. Extensive chambers also occur at a place called the New Cmes, which have at a former period, been produced by ancient watercourses. The chambers are often10 fty, ad their ramifications are wonderful and perplexing. Stalactites and stalagmites in all stages of development are found adorning the walls,roof and floor. The crystalline tabular ledges and Gothic-like pillars are all ablaze as the lights of the visitorst candles flash and reflex from the myriad crystal facets. When the lights are extinguished there is even still a wonderful display on roof and walls from the glow-worms, which everywhere abound in "clustered magnificencen. In one of these caves a new species of cave-inhabiting spider was discovered by Mr. Henry, and described by Messrs. Higgins and Petterd, of Launceston. In some of them are also to be found large deposits of mammalian remains, which are described as lying on the projecting shelves of rock to which they are agglutinated by thick stalagmitic incrustations. Still larger quantities are found in themevices of the rock; whilst the emthy and shalagmitic floor yields abundantly the remains of marsupialia, which have been determined to belong to &sting species, although giving evidence of considerable age. These remains will be more particularly referred torhen describing the deposits of Post-Tertiary Age. Circular Maxshes The non-fossilferous limestones in this p& of the district are often concealed by superficial drift, butthe presence of the underlying members of thegoup is indicated by the nunerous crateriforn cavities, mused by underground drainage into the subterranean channels of the limestone. Notes: 1) Johnston's volume has long been out of print. 2) The mudleigh area referred to is most likely that area near C aveside where Honeycomb cave and the Wet Caves are situated. SOUTHERN CAVER


3) The %on-fossilf erow limestonestt are of cburse now known to be fossilferous although many exposures have no obvious fosails, Those found in The Gordon. Limestone in the Mole Creek area include calcareous algae, conodonts, cephalopods, and a rich cordalline fauna. Ref r Banks, M.R. in Hwes T.D. (1 957) Limestones in Tasmania (monogr) Dept of Mines Hob, 4) New Caves, It is uncertain what this a, area .refers to. 5) The ttnew speciesw of cave-inhabiting spider described by Biggins and Petterd is Hicknaia -troglodytes (Higg. & ~ett.) Ref:. Riggins, EoT* Petterd, W.F. (1884). Description of a New Cave Inhabiting Spider, Together with notes on Mammalian Remains from a Recently discovered cave in the Chudleigh District. pap, and Proc, Rog, Soc. Tas. 1883 (1884): 191-1 92, 6) The Circular bshes axea is probably Mayberry where many dolines occur in the flat floor of an incipient polje, Many dolines occur in siliceous colluvium on the low divide between Sassafras rising and Circular Ponds. Boggy sphagnum marshes occur on the bottom of some of these dolines. 7) Johnstonels description of the Chudleigh Caves is imediately followed by an account of a visit to mves at Ilfracombe, West Tamar (~lowery ~ully). This account has been quoted in the following article: Kiernan, K.W. (1977). Flowery Gully An area found too soon, Southern caver 9, (1 ), 7-11. X Extracted by Stephen Harris SOUTHERN CATER JANUARY I979


RIFT CAVE (JF 341 By Leigh Gleeson Lying in the eastern section of the Junee drainage basin at an elevation of 600 metres, Rift Ca+e is one of the last in a-series of inflow caves which form the principal tributaries to the Junee resurgence. Although this connection has not been -f ormlly dmonst.ra8ed by deans of a fltiorescein dye trace, proven-connections from Growling. Smllet, Resaue Pot, Satans Lair and KhatadcDum to the Junee resurgence suggest it's inclusion in this system. Access to the cave is usually by means of an old forestry track starting a kilometre from the Maydena township and initially following the crest of the Junee ridge and then alternately contouring and climbing on the southwest side of the ridge. Walking time to the cave is from 2 to 2s hours (distance approx. 3 km). The track used is the same one as that taken to the Chairman and is 3 hour walk further along from this cave. Rift Cave is situated 100 metres on the north side of the track in a major gully. Thestream can usually be heard from the track and offers an obvious guide to its location. On the section of the track between The Chairman and Rift Cave there is a small creek which enters a doline on the south side of the track and this is the only water course which is likely to lead to any confusion in the location of the cave. ,' The cave itself has been very appropriately named with a spectacular goyge-like entrance leading into a high rift system which winds its way down to an estimated ileepth of 130 metres (see Kevin Kiernanf S sketch survey). In many ways the cave has an unusual form for the Junee area in that one can reach the bottom without the aid of ladders. It is virtually just a continuous boulder slope downwards at about 45'. The stream which enters the cave (approx. 0.1 cmecs) soon disappears into the floor and most of the system is dry. The large dimensions (average 3 or 4 metres wide and 3 metres high) make a bottoming trip down the 200 metres of passage a leisurely one hour Sojurne. The cave ends abruptly but there are still a couple of possibilities for further extension. The strong draught noted on Kevinfs survey was not evident on a recent trip. The fact that no gear of consequence is needed (short hand line Of 10 metres may be useful) means that Rift Cave makes a most enjoyable system to visit. It is not necessary to get wet and the route march to the cave is set in magnificent rainforest occupied by the rather rare Tasmanian Lyre Bird. @here may be an easier approach to the cave from the Junee Quarry Road refer Speleo Spiel No. 120 Page 2 ~ditoss) SOUTHERN CAVER S->, J~~ARY 1979


FURTHER NOTES ON KELLYS P011 Ron Mann The majority of this cave was surveyed during 1970/71 but the last section near the siphon had to be left d~e to lack of time. General notes cn Kellys Pot, with aslrvey appeared in Southern Cavw Vol 5 No 4 (~pril 1974). A trip was organised during Easter 1978 to complete the survey to the siphon and to check for possible leads. These notes are an update of the previdus article and include observations of aZranges noted at Easter 1978. The creek appeaxs to have changed its course slightly as part of the stream was coming into the normally dry passage above the ladder pitch. There is no way to avoid getting soaked as the passwe is= steep and narrow and the water flows over the pitch just where the ladder hangs. The water flowa into the talus floored chamber meeting up with the rest of the stream at the base of the waterfall and the stream is not seen again until just below the lmge sand bank, where the low roofed stream passage begins. Most of the stream passage'below this point is extremely low 0.5m to 1 metre high and only l. j to 2.5 metres wide in most places. A close watch would be to be kept on the weather as these passages would flood easily. In the section where a small tributary joins from the left the passage is much higher and there is another passage somewhere in this area which was not looked fcr on this occasion. It is an upper level abandoned stream passage which I think leads back in the direction of the entrance. The walls are crumbly, rotten rock and it ends in anaven which would more than likely have high level passages leading into it from high up. There may be other high level passages at the top of theaven if access could be gained. Careful checking towards the entrance and possibly on the surface may reveal these. , Sections of passage in the lower level had silted up since' previous visits and in one spot some of the cobbles on the flbor had to be moved aside to allow us to squeeze through. The creek was also flowing in this area on this occasion (this is not shown on the survey) adding to our difficulties. The siphon area at lhe end was checked out but there is no way on. SOUTHERN CATER JANUARY I979


The original survey has been redrawn, photoreduced and now includes the last section of passage to the siphon, It was noted in the previous article that the siphon must be close to Herberts Pot, however, an overland survey showed that the distance between the two cave entrances is about 1190 m and between the siphon in Kellys Pot and the upstream sump in Herberts Pot as about 760 m. J There are still some prospects for further exploration notably in the aven area. It seemed as if a lot more effort was required on this trip to bottom the cave compared to previous visits or else it is a sign that I should get my armchair recovered! SCS Represented at Waccon: The Southern hving Society was represented at the A. S.F. Conference in Perth by the President, Mieke Yer~len and Leigh Gleeson, In a letter, Mieke commented favourably on the Conference and the papers presented. In the Speleo Sports Leigh and Mieke came equal third, being beaten by teams from VSA and CEGSA that cam equd first, The course included a ladder pitch into the sea off a cliff, a swim and duck under rt piece of floating bamboo, etc, and a crawl of about 20 metres up a 23 ft. diameter storm drain which, she reports, wns quite amusing. On the my to m d frcm the Conference they caved on the ITullarbor and were not impressed by temperatures that were in the mid 40's C, ENGAGEMENT Ble take this opportunity to congratulate Kevin Kiernan and Karen Hughes on their reoent engagement. All members of the Society will wish them well. JANUARY 1979




GLllCZER CAVES ON ZEALAND VOLCANOES by Kevin Kiernan' /' Where ice and fire come together in a paradoxical clash of the elements the potential. exists for GaVo development in glaciers a;ld snowfields by intensified geothermalheat release. New Zealand is well known for its glaciated mountains and volcanism, but the two come together less than might be supposed, hd 'konsequently the potential for geothermal ablation caves is not as great as it might othemise seem. The high peaks of Mt. Egmon% and the Tongarirb region areke only sites where fairly permanent snow occurs at volcanic sites, but seasonally minor andtery temporary features might perhaps be found elsewhere. THE VOLCANIC SITES Lying at the junction of two lithosphere plates on the Pacific "Fhg of Firew New Zealand has been the scene of considerable volcanic activity in comparatively recent times. Three major extinct or dormant volcanic districts occur on the east coast of the North Island: Taranaki, with the shapely Mt. Egmont (2525 m) which was last active about 300 years ago; the~gion around Auckland were Rangitoto is the best known volcano andwhich is noted for its lava caves; & Te Puke in the Bay of Islands Kaikob volcanic district. Some minor atmospheric ablation cave development is 2ikely in the residual snows gf Mt. Egmont, but none of geothermal origin, while the other districts are well below permanent snowline, and the northermnos% 'never receives show. More recent activity, involving highly explosive andesitic volcanoes, ad sometimes loss of human life, has occurred along a line extending from White Island in the Bay of Plenty to the Tongsriro region in the central North Islaad, and is represented in the South Island by hot springs associated with the Alpine Fault. To the north it extends to the Kermadec islands and Tar~ga. White Island has a large crater which most recently erupted in Januasy 1979. To the south, the Okatain volcanic centre is best knownfbr the thermal activity of the Rotorua region, but on a larger scale is known also for volcanoes such as Harohara and Tarawera, the latter of which after 800 years dor wcy blew out a rift 15 km long 100-400n deep an&&out 200 m wide on 10 Jurle 1886, with the loss of 153 lives. Southwards, most of Lake Taupo lies fn a collapse depression dating from a huge series ofwents of many times greater magnitude than the infamous Krakatoa eruption between Java and Sumatra ini1883. AD 130 the great Taups pumice explosions decimated enormous areas of forest, and beneath the pumice layers logs may be found all lying in the same oriantation as widence of the force of the blasts. ~iver/Mumma (1971) have suggested that monitoring of geothermal ablation caves in Washington may provide early warning of eruptions,. with morphological change in the caves occurring compasatively rapidly in resporlse to variations in volcanic activity. However only one of SOUTHERN CATmR (11) JANUARY I979


these New Zealand areas miiht hold potenti'al for such study, Tongaziro by virtue of the snowline, is the only one of major promise to the glaciospeleologist, (1n addition although the lava flows are predominantly of the sticky, blocky aa variety and thus 1argelydeosid.of tunnels there are also limestone caves nearby) The Tongariro region comprises a number of volcdc centres, including three presently active vulcahoes, The largest is Mt. Tongariro itself (1968 m) a truncated cune 12 X 8 &m at its base, with many craters of which one the Bed Crater is semi active, while hot qrings bccur at Ketatahi on its northern flank. lYIuch of the mountain, which is below permanent snow line, has been blasted away. On its pzriphery, Nyauruhae has infilled the glacial Mangetopopo valley and farm a symetrical cone extending to 2291 m. It remains u,nstantly active, last erupting explusively in 1975, whbn two climbers had a narrow escape, being forced to shelter beneath an overhanging rock as hotblock avalanches and pyroclastic scoria flows set the surrounding vegetation ablaze: as they then fled to safety their fo~tsteps were pulverised by a further hot avalanche. (~00th 1975). The main vent is almost constantly active discharging ash and dust at times which may drift considerable distances by virtue of the windspeed exceeding the terminal velocity of the zmll particles, threatening downwind water supplies. The crater is about 450 m in extent, with a small cone builtwithin it on the western side, and.firn occupying a fosse batween it and the main crater wall, from which cave entrances have previously been described (~iernan 1978). Ruapehu (2797 m) is the highest of the three, Its crater is generally occupied by a lake some 22 ha in extent and flanked to the west by 40 m ice cliffs surrounded by large crevasses, Themters are glacially derived and qeothermally heated. Erupti,ns have occurred in recent years, involving initially the didplacement of the crater lake by lava frzquently leading to ~ahars, The massive flows of water mud, ash, scoria and rocks have been a mjbr factor in the development of a ring plain around Ruapehu. The power of these lahars is attested by the presence of a 300 tonne boulder of Ruapehu lava in the bed of the .. iimgitikei River near Bulls, over 190 lan distant. 'The Tmgiwai disaster of 1953 had such =an origin, but there have been lucki~r incidents: in 1975 a lahar swept down the \~Jhakapapa side at night with n, casualtiele but a few hours earlier 2030 people would have lain in its path on the skifield lower down the mount&, Thd lake itself drains out via a channel melted in the ice described by Ode11 (1955) and the possibility of glaciospeleological activity has been nLted by diernan (1 978). TONGARIRO REVISITm 7 In December 1978 Tongariro was revisited ta &'urther examine the potential for geothermal cave deve10,~ment in the firn of Ngauruhoe and the ice of Ruapehu, following a previous visit in 1977, SOUTHERN CAVER JANUARY 1979


Results at Ngauruhuewere disappointing. Whereas one of s number of long snow couloirs was ascended last year, virtually no snow was present on the flanks on this occasi~n rad the easier and shorter 630 m ash and scoria slope abcve the Ihgetopopo saddle was climbad. This rouke is reasonably easy but is ustable in places, aauple of hours after my descent another czinber fell 60 m injuring his back and had to be rescued by helicopter. '~'h; outer rirn of the main cr~ter was steahing profusely with lad high pressure hissing and gurgling nvises evident, but the main vent was somewhat less active than the previous year when it was impossible to sl;e acrass even the fosse, and fumes forced an early retreat. On this occasi-n it ms possible to actually descend a sho~t*distance -into the active vent, vhich is about 40 m wide and to glimpse the bottom some 60 m down. The sparse sn~w conditions on the flank were reflected witkin the fosse and the firn bank had retreated below the lexel of the entrances praviously sezn. The fosse itself is about 100 m wide and 3-400 m long, and the maxirmun depth appears unlikely to exceed 30 m. This diminished state appears related to climatic rat he^ than volcanic factors. It therefore appears likely that any cave developed on Ngauruhoe are at best only very transient features, occurring only within a very shallow firn bank which ma;y vary markedly in size fromeason to season, and that if thgy deve!Lop again they are unlikely to be more &an fairly minor. Results from Ruapehu were more encouraging. On 30 -,ecember 1978 the mountain was amended from Whakapapa village (1 1 .20 m) reaching the col at the head of the WhakapapaitL ?lacier (250 m) early in the morning. The Sharks Tocth (about 2750 a) md the highest peak of the Ruapehu massif, TaQurangi (2797 m) were too attractive under the perfect weather andmow conditions and sd were traversed before duscending to the crate2 lake outlet via the Whiano Glacier and the North-east ridge of Tahurangi. The present bfater is 1.2 X 0.8 km in extent, elongate B-S, with Tahurangi forming the southern rin, To the north-east a '-road summit. plateau occupies an earlier crater, giving rise to two glaciers, including the Whangaehu into which the lake drains. The Vhakapapa col is some 100 m above lake level and is spilled when lahars move down that side of the m~untain~aad a col at similar elevation may be qilled to the west, These two cols qe sparated by Paretetaitonga (2751 m). The two lwest crests are adjaceqt to the outlet in the SE corner and to the NE, both leading to the Whangaehu andseparted by Pyramid Peak, a mass of ash, ice andsoria rising 100 m above lake level. There is tm.s a largo area draining into the lake with the lake itself accessible mly near the butlet due to steep ice and rock cliffs. The entrance to the outflow cave proved comparativley easy of access, but with about 1 cumec of water dr-Jpping over a 3 n waterfall then cascading into a fairly flatmofed entrance 4,m high and 9 m wide. Inside the water cascades down rapids at 30 then the passage


veers easterly for a short distance before the $ream drops some 6 m intc; a sQray filled chamber down which solo exploration needed unavailable gear andastduter heart. Passage dimensibn in relation to stream size so& appears quite commodious and somewhat larger than nurmal terminal outflow passages in mast jther glaciers, presumably due to air currents heated by the geothermally warmed waters playing a considerable role in passage enlargement. This large passage size aay aid exploration, but it is worth bearing in mind it may also be due to sudden flow surges triggered by volc~sm. permitted Surface ecploration downvalley/a view down the Whangaehu and it appears the efflux is& least a cvuple of kilometres distant, with an average stream gradient of~dund 113.6. One spectacular tributary, originates frcjma second lake outlet flowing right under Pyramid Peak. It flows frdm one entrance 4m X 4m, then drops immediately as a spectacular waterfall 40m to a vast pit in the ice, 20m in diameter and of udaown depth to join the main stream. This thundering feature is one of the most impressive cave entrances I have ever seen, A somewhat sulphur~us smell is evident, but whether it is sufficient to be problematio deeper in the system remains to be seen. An interesting feature near the main entrance was a number of boulders up to 2m in diameter sitting on ire pedestals, the opposite of the usual situatiun in which differential heating of the darker coloured. rocks melts them into pits in the ice. In the imediate vicinity dark ash was widespread on the ice surface lcwering its albedo and probably accentuating melting to a greater extent, leaving the rocks at a higher level. In a study of the Lhakapapmui tilacier lower on the mountain, Kells (l 970) has suggested that an ash layer of up to 3 ded metres accentuates melting, whzreas much morz insulates qpinst solar radiati:n by comparison, At present the New Zealand Dept. of Scientific and Industrial Research monitors activity by lake surveys, seismicmonitoring, laser survey of the crater dimensions and lake dey;$h soundings. btudy of the a6tual cave morphology would probably be of little further aid to predictive effozts. lit least there should be sufficient DSIR data tu time any further explorativn attempts. The potential of the Ruapehu outflow seems considerable but further exploratiun would be a vefy seriousundertaking although it is undoubtedly feasible, As the lake is derived from glacial melt, winter wauld doubtless be the best time. Added t, the usual problems of gl&hr cave explor-ation i is the unnerving prljspect of volcanic activity precipitating a flood crest. The ascent to the crater lake was repeated on 31 December 1978, but in contrast to the grey, $ill, luke warm SOUTHERN CAVER (14) JANUARY 1979


waters ofihe previuux day, cluuds ofsteam all but obscured the lake surface, rising 50-60 m above it, while huge yellow upwellings spread from . the centre df the lake across its surface. Fo-teu; we were not sufficiently equipped to have to feel guilty about stealing quietly away,Gth just lingering glances frcn the sumroit of Paretetaitonga and the Plateau. Nineteen days $ater the nam ~in erupted, in a hydrothernal event reaching 600 m above lake level. BIBLIOGRAPHY ~i$0&(1979) minor Erupti,~n The Press ( ) 20 Jan 79:7 BOOTH, ~asil(1975) Ngaurube erupts. Geomaphical Mag. XLYII (7) April 1975~457 KELLS, B .R. (1 970) The Whakapapanui Glacier: Hydrological Budmt Studies and Associated Aspects of its Glacicjmeterolom. (M.A. thesis Massey Uni) KIERN~, in (1 978) Glaciosg leology 11: Geothermal AblaCjsn. Caves, Southern Caver 9 (2) 1 13-1 8 KIVEli E.P. & im MD t 1971 ) summit firn caves, Mt. Ranier, WashObservatims on its crater lake and glaciers. J lac. 2(18) : 681 OLLIER ~~q1'~anoes Intro. to System. Geom. 6 AMJ press. SELF, Stephen & BOOTH, Basil (1975) Pacific Eruptibns. Geographical Mag. XLVII (7) April 19752 446-450 SOUTHERN CATER


,,AN mum FROM "TASMANU BY ROAD AND TMCK" BY E.T. ElVIivIETT I walk to Mole Creek, find a wonderland, train an eagle to hunt hares, sprint through Paradise, find fault with the person who named Sheffield, and follow a "ghostt1 road. As I wahed along the road from Deloraine, bound for Mole Creek, I remembered a letter I had received many years+before from a Bendigo doctor. He asked me to describe this particulaz road under ore of the three headings %rxintere~ting~~, "medium", "extra good1!. He went on to explain that,lf description number one fitted i: he would motor; if classed it among the vlmedi&n goodt1 he would cycle or drive; but if the third description were used he would W&. Of course, the first adjective can be ruled out regarding agy Tasmanian road, but .I had a choice of the other two, & reply WES"extra goodtl,and the doctor informed me afterwards that he had thoroughly enjoyed every step of &e way. It is much too good a road to be rushed along in a wheeled vehicle? There is the 1vIemder River to keep you company on-the first mile, green fields the hillsides,. mountains form a background, and ever and anon one passes lovely old homesteads and crosses cool creeks, with many a mile of hawthorn hedges flanking fields of buttercups andhisies where browse the cattle, sheep and horses for which the area is re~owned. deck Th? name Mole Creek may seem rather repellent, but I for one woiLd not have it changed, for it is as apt a title as any. The creek that gives the township its name definitely burrows like a mo;e, and whike on its underground journey it performs feats that ars not equalled by any stream even in this island of surprises. Ha~ing noticed the little river in its sober journey through the vi;lage preparatory to losing itself in the turbulent Mersey, you wocder at its modesty when you learn of the exploits of its i@ancy, It merely prattles when it is entitled to shuut. Mole Creek and its tributasies have, like Coleridgels sacred river, literally run t'pough "caverns measureless to man". Nobody except the creek ixelf knows where it has been nor what miracles it has been performing. The explanation is, of course, that this is a lidastone country, and Cany a stream plays hide and seek among the hills. Caves are numberless. Some of them are owned privately by farmers) others &re exploited to attract sight-seers. Bottomsess holes axe so 'common that landholders hardly ever bother to explore them. aoticing that nearly all the fences were awry, I enquired whether BUTHERN CAVER ((W JANUARY I979


the district had been settled as long as the fences seemed to indicate. Well sir,t1 explained my informazlt, "the place is so riddled with caves that no fencer is game to sink a hole more than eighteen inches deep for fear of disappearing into the bowels of the earth.'' This is a sample of a lie that is not a lie. The Mole Creekers love to tell of the man who threw his cat into the river, and heard two days later that it had been found with only two of its nine lives lost, twenty miles away near Beaconsfield crawling out of the Flowery Gully caves. Eventually Tasmania will be known as the world's outstanding cave-land. A belt of limestone runs through the island from neax Beaconsfi~ld-in the north, through Mole Creek, Mount Field Nativnal Park and the Huon, terminating at Ida Bay. There are caves in the foot-hills of Adamson's Peak knowh as the Hastings Caves, as fascinating as those to be found anywhere. All except onesre sealed up, awaiting the day when thousands of sightseers will flock to wonder at them, Ten miles from Mole Creek the road dives steeply down to the Mersey at Liena. The hillside is riddled with aaves, some of which I entered,with the aid of a rope. It is eerie work crawling about these dmgeons of which the only inhabitants seem to be glowworms. These lower levels are, in effect, the suburbs of the w6llknown King Solomon Cave, where, though the m~narch my not be seen in all his glory, his palace may. No doubt the visitors thought'they got their money's worth in the days when acetylene was" the illuminant, but they get many times the value now that electric lighting is provided. If the King Solomon is not Austmlia~sS5nest then Australia is lucky. All the usual features are there p~~~ars, shawls, furze-bushes, menageries, cathedral chamoers and Dhe various freaks that emphasize the limestone wizard's weird skill and in addition there is glorious colour scheme. There is not an inch of blank space in the whole cavern. A few miles away in the foot-hills of the Western Tiers, lies immense Marakoopa Cave. A mile or so of chambers and galleries have been opened up, but nobody knows where the cave ends. The guides say they have wqlked for a day, and the passages still burrow into the uountain side. Why,t1 said the Boi;ts at the Holly Tree Inn, "it would be easiqr for them to tell of what they hadn't seen than what they had." And Boots spoke for me too, after qy ramble from Deloraine to the Mersey. lvIole Creek has practically everyting except volcanoes and glaciers. The caves would have been enoughg but there are also canyons, forests, fern glades, taterfalls, lakes, mountains, rivers. I ace camped a night near the mountain tops 'rvv the side ofaquiet little lake which proved that utility .. JANUARY I979


could be allied to beauty by furnishing tea in thefhape of a sixpound trout. It was on this trig that I discovered a practical use foragles. These monsters of the air very nearly the world's largest build their nests in the inaccessible crags of the Tiers, especially round about the wild spot known as Devil's Gullet. Just near here we started a hare, and soon afterwards one of my companions noticed an eagle swoop to the ground. We ~rinted to the spot and disturbed the winged hunter just about to administer the knock-out blow to the hare which he had buffeted half to death. That hare went well, jugged, next day; and we became celebrated as the campers, who, too lazy to do their own hunting, trained the eagles to do it for them. But though I admire the caves and the gorges and the big trees and the wealth ofthe fern, forest andwildflower, the waterfalls and the mountain lakes, the most lingering memory I have of the spot is Mole Creek settlement itself. Early in the morning, after a dip in the creek near the old water-wheel, I climbed the little hill that hides the Mersey and, resting under a clump of gums and blackwoods looked back andmtched Mole Creek wake up,msh, and dress itself ready f or &e ton of the d ay. Smoke curled from the farmhouses, the sun broke through the morning mists which had sponged the face of the earth, ploughmen came out into the fields, .. L cows straggled into milking yards, birds chattered andhistled, a motor lorry coughed its way up the hillside road, and amid the varkky of sights and sunds and scents I was sorry when the tinkle of the breakfast bell assured me that it was not only fancy on my part that the odour ofming bacon was mingling wi'th 'the perfumes of the bush, I took one W look and engraved on my memory for all time is that sweet prospect the tree-girt homesteads; the fields, some green with clover, some chocolate after plougking; the snake of willow and black-woods that marks Mole Creek crawling across the plains; the winding roads, the distant forest, ad beyond all, ,the lampa.rts of Western Tiers burnished by the strengthening sunlight, withhemand there a ptch of slow. EDITOR1 S NOTE P This extract from Chapter 6 of "Tasmania by Road and Track" by E.T. Emmett was reprinted by kind permission of publishers "Melbourne University Press" P.O. Box 278, Calton South, Victoria, and covers pages 57 to 60 of the 1962 Melbourne paper back edition, The book was first published in 1952. Incidentally, on page 62 there is a brief reference to the fact that Mole Creek was called Moleside River about 1832 when a &. Jams Backhouse journeyed through the area. SOUTH ERN CAVER (28iF JANUARY I979


MBNFRED RIDES AGAIN I. (A Film Review by our "at the Movied) During the quarter membrers of the Society enjoyed a social evening at the out of town Graeme Watt Cinenia for the --..-. screening of Kiddies' cartoons. On this occasion the evening was given ever to an interesting programme of German caving films in living colour. Many of the audience were erect in their chairs as scenes featuring most interesting formation unfolded. The films also featured horizontal passage exploration and associated techniques. Surprisingly, perhaps the director was able to introduce a Freudian element here and there, particularly we thought, in the film featuring cave bo ies Menbers were unanimous in voting the evening a great success, and.sone expressed the intention of trying some of the techniques demonstrated at the earliest opportunity. Editor's Note: The assi@;nnent,to review these films was given to Ron-Mann who, after viewing them declined the assignment, saying that it was impossible justice to the mbtle delicacy of the presentation. Because we liked the heading, and to prove him wrong, we provided a "ghost writer1' for the oacasion. SOC IETY NOTES: Gray Wilson, an original member of SCS and currently cf VtIA was in Hobart over the Christmas period with his wife and daughter. During his stay he renewed acquaintances with old friends and visited the clubroom. Steve Harris my be leading an exploration trip intc the South-West over the Easter period. Those interested in participating in the proposed trip will need to start training now as the terrain will not be easy. The Police Search and Rescue to Princes No. 3 Vharf (near available in a secure fenced Squad has moved from Patrick St. the Wheat silos) where parking is compound during callouts. (@d ) JANIJAR Y 1979


. .L.S. C.S. MECTJTNE OFFICE ErndaRSt FREBIDENT B .N. James B .N. James R.J.Cockeril1 R.J. Cockerill D. J.Elliott D.J.El1iot-t A .Terauds J .McCormck J .lhcCornmck S.Harris R.Mann M. Cole L.Glee son &Ve rme ule n R.J.Cockeril1 G.Davis B. Jarnes B. Jme S R.&nn R. Mann M. ~ole/~ .~ry G .vEltt M.Cole KVe rmeulen G .Tatt LRus sell M.Vermeulen P.Russel1 TRmSURm G.lWilsnn D.Elliott ~.~lliott D.Elliott R.Ahnn A. Terauds R. Cockerill G. Fry R.Mann R.nlhnn M. Csle R .NIann R .hnn R. &nu JANUARY 1979


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