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Shoalhaven Bushwalkers Inc.

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Nowra NSW 2541

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Wee Jasper Caving Weekend - April 2000

by Sandra Kelley

Eight couples and two children attended this weekend, camping on the banks of the Goodradigbee River at Billy Grace Reserve, Wee Jasper.

Once set up, we went for a short walk along the Micalong River to view the many falls. Following lunch it was time for some to investigate the "Dig Cave", while others fished or had a little snooze. The cave had been used as a local tip and a large amount of broken glass is still evident in the entrance. The floor of the cave was very muddy and slippery and after turning off our head lights to adjust our eyes, we ventured further into the cave. We reached the 'Daylight' part of Section 2 then Ian led us through some narrow passages just to get a feel for what we were in for the next day.

Ian left early the next morning with John and Col to set up the steel swinging ladders needed to climb the 20 foot wall to the "Rathole". The rest of us followed and once harnessed began the tricky ascent. Most made it to the top with a few expletives being uttered on the way, then it was a crawl through the "'Rathole" into Section 3 (large hips are definitely not an advantage). The floor of this section is very uneven with a lot of scrambling and climbing necessary. At the far end, after a little searching for the hole, it was time to descend down a vertical shaft, so another ladder was secured and down we went. Then it was hard hats off and crawl your way inch by inch through the 'Wormhole' (approx. 18" x 2') and the final challenge - the 'Birth Canal' (20' x 2'). These last two names are not the actual names of the tunnels but apt descriptions of them. We entered a large cavern with some amazing formations - shawls, stalactites and stalagmites and cathedral shapes and all felt in awe as only a few people are privileged to see these. The only way out was to return the same way we had come in. During are exploration we were accompanied by bats and a couple of wayward blowflies.

Meanwhile the remaining members of our group, spent a pleasant morning following the Micalong River to where it joined the Goodradigbee. Thank you to Russ and Dawn for organising the weekend and a big thanks to Ian (Russ and Dawn's son in-law) for his expert guidance, patience and the loan of the equipment. This certainly was an adventure to remember.