Monthly Archives: July 2013

Winter 2012

From my desk on a fine winter morning I admire through my window the special clear sunlight of Tasmania that has attracted so many artists and photographers to live here under the Great Western Tiers. As seen on Mole Creek Caving Club trips over the last few weeks, the winter has also rendered the beauty of the caves anew, with new washes of calcite over the speleothems, in white, cream, gold and russet colours. In the twilight zone of the large entrances, just before we emerge from the underground world into the forest, stalactites and flowstones are vibrant with emerald to aqua greens of the living mosses on the calcite substrates. These biogenic speleothems of minerals and moss growing together are one aspect of the close interaction of the world of caves with the surface world. Less obvious to our eyes are the hidden processes; the way the forest over a cave not only provides tree roots to stabilise the soil, but also provides the conditions that sustain the growth of cave decorations. Join a caving club, or learn more on a Wild Cave Tour.

Wild Cave Tours runs trips for holiday-makers, other trips tailored for groups and special youth educational and adventure trips. Since 2008, I’ve continued at University in environmental chemistry research while providing opportunities for people like you to enjoy the exploration of Mole Creek’s wild (undeveloped) caves. It’s a twist of irony that caving leadership requires specialised experience and knowledge, but a caving specialist in an off-the-beaten-track place like Tasmania must also have a day job.

I’m reminded this morning of how one’s caving leadership experience comes into play every single time a trip gets ready to go underground. We are always prepared to change plans as appropriate, according to the people with us, the conditions on the day and detailed local knowledge. This morning the media ran a news story about a group’s lucky escape from a Tasmanian cave due to high winter water levels they encountered, when choosing another cave or rescheduling the trip may have been best. Such sobering events serve to reinforce my commitment to Wild Cave Tours, and to upholding the highest in responsible caving leadership. To me, winter water conditions in the caves offer opportunities that differ from those in summer- to view exciting waterfalls, and offer explanation of the origin and destination of the underground streams, then detour from the river passages to admire and photograph drippy shawls and overflowing calcite pools, according to my local knowledge. The extensive caves at Mole Creek do have something different to offer in each season; I find the contrast delightful, and offer it for your enjoyment!

While leading clients into caves most visitors don’t see, I have learned how to explain concepts of ecology and geomorphology in ways that make sense and so enrich peoples’ experience, but I can’t explain everything. I am grateful to the people who ask me questions I can’t answer while we explore the underground. They remind me how mysterious caves still are; that we do not know everything there is to know yet, and perhaps we never will.

In closing, may there always be wild places that are so different from our usual human habitat, that we may only explore them by virtue of our preparedness and technology. May we always emerge personally renewed, awed and inspired to look after these places.

Winter 2008

Sampling water

Sampling water

Thanks to those cave tourists who have alerted me to just how long it’s been since the last newsletter! But I’ve been pretty busy. While maintaining the business, I have been back in education full time, starting a new degree in 2005, the Bachelor of Environmental Science. I am now in the second half of my honours year, studying the contribution of soil water storage to the Lobster Rivulet of the Mole Creek Karst system.


There has always been a strong science component to the Tours, whether joining me for a half day trip as 2 or 3 people or as part of a group experience, tailored to suit. In fact, it’s your encouragement as visitors which has helped push the ongoing development of incorporating science into the tour experience.
When delivered in a way that is more than just “infotainment”; in a way that treats the visitor as an intelligent, thinking person, science enables us to understand our place in the scheme of things, as a part of the ecology of the planet. Not as apart from it. So, by actually understanding the natural features we see on a Wild Cave Tour, we not only enjoy the experience more fully, but the insight also helps us to see how humanity may move forward into a new era of environmentalism together.
It is not a realisation that some ecosystem somewhere deserves protection, so much as realising the necessity of protecting OUR ecosystem, Planet Earth, to ensure our own survival. It’s that simple.

In the laboratory

In the laboratory

In the caves of Mole Creek, we can see in miniature an example of the interdependence of life systems and species, and how the abiotic world (water, fire, climate…) interacts with these systems. It is an encapsulated view of the Earth. Bite size is another way of looking at it.

Mind you, the size of the Tasmanian cave spider (as seen in our tour caves) demands respect for the size of THEIR bite! And yes, your intrepid guide has survived to document the effects. Not that YOU are likely to experience such a dubious honour. These are normally inoffensive creatures. It’s just that one day I was operating the lock of a cave gate. The padlock is enclosed in a cubic steel box, open only at the bottom to prevent bolt-cutters being used to gain illegal entry to the cave. The poor spider who happened to be trying to make its home in this cosy little box was almost squashed by my fumbling hand and of course you know what happened. Although the bite was painful, I realised by the next day there would be no lasting effect. But I can still see the fang marks! Impressive tale to tell!


The most fascinating aquatic creatures we see are the glow-worms and the cave shrimps. Thanks to modern digital technology, more people are now able to successfully capture quality images to remember these delights. Digital cameras also make action shots of caving a lot easier, since many affordable point-and-shoot cameras now take better pictures in low light conditions (their small inbuilt camera flashes are quite sufficient). So you can print off the best to show friends and family and to keep the memories fresh.


There is no such creature! It could be you. You could be a honeymoon couple, someone enjoying an active retirement going around Australia, a member of a corporate group enjoying company rewards for your hard work or a young person on the school trip of your life, sampling the wilderness of Tasmania. You could be an adventure nut, looking for that next thrill. Because each trip is different according to the interests of who comes, and at last you have found a green island at the end of Australia where people still treat YOU as a VIP, it will be a trip you will never forget. And because people like you keep coming, I keep doing it! Each trip is new for me, too.


If you have not yet experienced a Wild Cave Tour, I look forward to showing you the underground wilderness of one of the favourite caving destinations in Australia. My assistant, Paul, is also an experienced Mole Creek caver. Our collective experience exceeds 40 years.
If you have children too young yet to bring wild caving (under 14 years) then may I recommend the wonders of Marakoopa and King Solomon’s show caves at Mole Creek. They are some of the most beautiful and tastefully presented in the country.

Spring 2004

Hello out there! I’ve just crawled out of a hole to write to you. Since
the primary focus of introductory tours changed to an extensive use of
Honeycomb Cave, many visitors have been enjoying opportunities for full-on adventure (yet for others it’s the many easy options). Because of the intense physical adventure, some cavers have said pretty funny things in the Visitors Book:

“It’s fully sick mate! I had heaps of fun, I only got stuck a few times. Worth every cent. (Thanks, Zoe)”

“It was really cool and I did the Top Squeeze- it was a lot of fun and the food afterwards was delicious! (Cheers Debbie)”
“…..and after all the build up to the Waterfall Circuit from an old hand (Kelly)”

“Gerard said Was THAT it? so we both laughed at him and went on to have more fun….. (See you again, Gerard)”

Honeycomb, with its easy drive-up-to access, awesome views and large upper level chambers with daylight holes, is also an excellent venue for introducing the more timid to wild caves. Read this… the oldest visitor
has been 73 years old. And earlier this year I had the privilege of
conducting a blind person through the cave on his own special trip. This
enlarged my own horizons and helped to further develop my environmental
interpretation, as he was able to absorb the geohydrological information by
feeling the rocks.

Due to recent formal additions to the reserve system at Mole Creek, Wild Cave Tours has had access restored to Westmorland Cave, a beautiful cave that gives you a real sense of wilderness (whatever that is). It’s a short rainforest walk to get there, and a fun scramble through a boulder strewn water passage to a large chamber with a daylight hole far above, glow-worms and an optional trip from there to the sump (crawling and so forth). Sometimes we have morning tea under the daylight hole.
We still have Baldocks and Cyclops Caves and then there’s My Cave for
experienced people. My Cave is a serious cave trip, requiring previous
training in climbing techniques and ethical conduct. Then you can enjoy some of the finest underground scenery of all. My Cave? Read Don’s comments:

“We went through MY cave today and it was wet to walk through and a fantastic adventure- WACKO! P.S. I also allowed Deb and David to come with me.”

I have spent a year at Mountainside, an accommodation nature retreat
on Quamby Bluff near Deloraine (see previous newsletter) and established new clientele, a new cabin and infrastructure upgrades and enjoyed being on a spiritual place of ancient significance. I also set in train the process to establish a conservation covenant to protect its high conservation value forest forever and its native animal habitat. I retain the hyperlink to
Mountainside from this site. Mary is now there to welcome you.
Me? I am now entering university to study Environmental Science. In my life I have long worked for the protection of caves and the forests of their catchments, and will enjoy being able to continue, but with the right
qualifications to suit this new political era.
Meanwhile, the tours are so important to me and they will of course be
still running. However, from 8th February 2005, tours will be available
mostly only on weekends, public holidays and during the summer holidays. I advise to check with me for possible availability on other days. While full
day tours are again being offered since I left Mountainside, they will be of
limited availability depending on my current workload at Uni.

So, for now, that’s all until I SEE YOU UNDERGROUND!

Spring 2003

Changes and uncertainty in business have delayed the production of newsletters, hence the big gap between them! The good news is that in spite of the public liability insurance crisis, and licensing changes, I am still in business!

Now that I am aware of how I can operate for the summer season ahead, I have made the necessary changes to the web site. Apologies to any who may have been inconvenienced due to changes to the tours during this period.


After two dry summers in a row- my own house was threatened with bushfire last Christmas- we have had a good wet winter. Tours in Honeycomb Cave have greatly pleased visitors, who have loved the boisterous waterfalls and the wet drippy formations. The animals appear to be recovering from the big “dry”, with many of the large cave spiders breeding this year. Several males have been seen involved in their delicate, dangerous and complex courtship ritual. For those who haven’t been on my tours, don’t let the thought of these spiders put you off! They are so timid with humans you would not know they were there if I did not take you and show you. And their fearsome size betrays their non-aggressive manner. They are magnificent animals!

The glow-worms have been turning more of their lights on now that spring is advancing and food is more abundant. After all, they need their lights on to attract food in the dark. It will be a while before the large blind shrimps are seen- maybe late November if there is not too much rain.

As I write, there are still waterfalls in Honeycomb, but as the season dries towards summer, the water levels drop. More passages will be safe to explore and the waterfalls will vanish till the next really big rain.


The Mole Creek Karst National Park is now 7 years old, and its Management Plan is finally about to be released. There have been changes, and in some cases restrictions, in cave access arrangements. I have been adapting the tours to suit those changes. For those who, in the past, have enjoyed a taste of two different caves in the one half day tour, I am sorry to say that is no longer feasible due to the greater time needed to walk and/or drive to caves other than Honeycomb Cave.

Another change has been my decision to no longer offer full day tours. This is because as much as I love taking the tours, I needed other work as the tours alone do not provide enough. I am now manager in residence nearby at the most perfect bush retreat, Mountainside Accommodation. Half day tours get me back in time for cleaning up and evening check-ins. Check out Mountainside a bush retreat with self contained cabins.

I have had many commendations from clients enjoying a half day tour at Honeycomb Cave: it is the finest introductory cave at Mole Creek, and the tour seems more cohesive, not rushing around from place to place. We explore further than we could before, when Honeycomb usually formed the second part of the half day tour.

Over the next few weeks, new access arrangements are being finalised to other caves I have previously been licensed to conduct tours in. These will again be available as an alternative to Honeycomb or as second time tours: Baldocks, My and Cyclops.

I have been unsuccessful in appealing to the Premier over the withdrawal of my licence to Croesus Cave. Treasure your photographs if you have been there in the past, or join a caving club to get access in the future. Croesus Cave has long been a “Limited Access” cave, that is, normally only available to caving clubs. My licence has been withdrawn on this principal only as there have been no complaints about my conduct and no evidence of negative environmental impact of my tours.

Other news relating to the new Management Plan is that sooner or later, we will be able to visit once more Westmorland, Wet and Sassafras Caves. Access routes to these caves are still under negotiation with adjoining land owners. For those who are interested and may not know, largely because of the public liability crisis, caves which previously were accessed by convenient routes which partly crossed private land have been closed to access while legal public access is negotiated.


Autumn 2000

Most half day trips this season have been taking advantage of low water levels in two particular caves- Honeycomb and Wet Caves. Full day trips are only restricted by the extent of your imagination. We are still experiencing very dry conditions here, and while the glow-worms await autumn rains to bring fresh food supply, they are still glowing…. however for us humans, we can explore further in Wet Cave in greater comfort and lower down into Honeycomb Cave to see the lower pools and passages. I’m afraid visitors will probably still get wet feet! The best parts of the cave- the “must see” sections- do have some water. However, the fun sections of Honeycomb, where I offer the options of physical fun and challenges, are not very muddy and so it is easy to use cameras; to get those “people shots”- photos of negotiating spots that if you hadn’t been there under expert guidance would seem outrageous! I know just which angle to shoot from to create a big impression when passing the photos around after the holiday! The frequent daylight holes in Honeycomb are very stunning with their mossy ferny cliffs, and the roomy open nature of this cave is very easy to accustom to for first time cavers. The more physical challenges and confined spaces are all optional. We emerge on the far side of the hill to where we entered and people are surprised at how far we have come under the ground.

The countryside is very pretty just now, morning dews have greened up the grass and morning tea outside the cave under the gum trees is very peaceful accompanied by all the birdsong. The pace of the tour is very much tailored to suit the clients on the day, but I always find that the first cave stimulates a hearty appetite and calls for a break. Usually Wet Cave is the second cave, and it is colder than the more open Honeycomb. A very large and grand river tunnel, something different opens up around each corner, leading cavers on in anticipation. The almost still, wide pools of this cave at this time of the year tempt photographers to linger and capture the atmosphere on film. But don’t linger too long, otherwise we won’t get to see the tall canyons and massive crystal formations of the inner recesses. Testimony in my Visitors Book will urge to go “all the way”. Mind you, the water gets a little deeper with each bend in the river! It depends upon the willingness of each person as to how far we take it. The return trip is via the same route. Exploration of a full 1,000m in length is possible in this cave, and feedback consistently tells of a strong sense of peace and “wilderness” or remoteness that is experienced here. We need to allow at least 2 hours of in-cave time to fully appreciate this cave. A minimum of 1 hour will take in glow-worms, reflections and some very unusual mineral decorations.

Kind regards, and all the best.