Caving is an interesting kind of phenomenon. It involves darkness, 3D rock climbing, crawling, wriggling and getting amazingly dirty. Some people ask why this is fun – well, for some, it just is. For others, it’s their worst nightmare…
MBOC trips sometimes go to Labertouche caves in Gippsland for a bit of after uni (or instead of uni) fun, which often results in further adventures involving getting cars bogged, riding bikes, hiking, and getting home in the wee small hours of the morning.
Labertouche is good because you can spend a good couple of hours underground if you try, it’s close to Melbourne, and there are reflective markers to help find your way out if you get lost. There are some other similar caves which are visited occasionally at Britannia Creek and a few other places. Here’s a tip – don’t take your backpack in a cave, especially Labertouche, if you don’t want it to have traces of red mud 4 years later.
Further afield are the Buchan caves, which need a weekend or longer to justify the 4hr drive, but the caver is rewarded with about a billion (ok, maybe more like a a hundred million) caves, almost all of which contain amazing formations of stalactites, stalagmites and all sorts of other limestone awesomeness.
There are also copious amounts of mud, long complicated caves, and a lot of vertical sections, with abseils of up to 40m being common. Hanging in mid-air in a huge cave in the dark with stalactites all around is a fairly unique experience! Other technical challenges for the experienced caver at Buchan include sumps and roof sniffs – areas where you only have a nose-width of space at the top of a waterfilled tunnel to breathe from. Better hope the roof smells good! Sometimes, SCUBA is also required, which leads to a whole extra skill set being required, not to mention lugging heavy gear for hours through a cave system to get to the water. Caving is an interesting sport that can combine a lot of different skills. MBOC has most gear to cater for beginners right up to where it starts to get technical. All you need to provide is a lack of claustrophobia, a good torch and a sense of adventure!
Caving Rep: Stephen Fordyce