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Issue 407, Page 1Speleo Spiel, MarchApril 2015
Speleo Spiel 407MarchApril 2015
Newsletter of the Southern Tasmanian Caverneers Inc., PO Box 416, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7006, AUSTRALIA ISSN 18326307
Speleo Spiel, MarchApril 2015Issue 407, Page 2
Speleo SpielIssue No. 407
MarchApril 2015ISSN: 18326307
Published August 2015
Newsletter of theSouthern Tasmanian Caverneers Inc.
PO Box 416, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7006ABN: 73381060862
The views expressed in the Speleo Spiel are not necessarily theviews of the Editor, or of the Southern Tasmanian Caverneers Inc.
STC Office BearersPresident:Sarah GilbertPh: 0449 184 233 (m)[email protected]
Vice President:Alan JacksonPh: 0419 245 418 (m)[email protected]
Secretary:Phil JacksonPh: (03) 6243 7038 (h)[email protected]
Treasurer:Geoff WisePh: 0408 108 984 (m)[email protected]
Equipment Officer:Geoff WisePh: 0408 108 984 (m)[email protected]
Librarian:Greg MiddletonPh: (03) 6223 1400 (h)[email protected]
Editor:Matt CracknellPh: 0409 438 924 (m)[email protected]
Search & Rescue Officer:Andreas KlockerPh: 0437 870 182 (m)[email protected]
Webmaster:Yoav BarNessPh: 0468 360 320 (m)[email protected]
Front Cover:Janine prepearing forArmageddon. Photo by RicTunney.
STC was formed inDecember 1996 by theamalgamation of three
former southern Tasmanianclubs: the Tasmanian
Caverneering Club, theSouthern Caving Societyand the Tasmanian Cave
and Karst Research Group.STC is the modern variantof the oldest caving club in
This work is STC copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for thepurpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permittedunder the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any processwithout written permission from the publishers and the inclusion of
acknowledgement of the source.
ContentsEditorial/Stuff 'n' Stuff 3
Trip ReportsJF4 KhazadDum Alan Jackson 3JF30 The Letterbox Alan Jackson 3JF8 Junee Cave For Your Eyes Only (FYEO)
Trafficking tobacco Janine McKinnon 4Checking out JF30 & JF31 Janine McKinnon 6IB11 Midnight Hole, beginners through trip Petr Smejkal 7JF4 KhazadDum Alan Jackson 7
Other Exciting StuffReview: Crane & Fletchers Cave Greg Middleton 7
SurveysJF30 The Letterbox Alan Jackson 10
Issue 407, Page 3Speleo Spiel, MarchApril 2015
Stuff 'n' StuffNTR
EditorialMy apologies for the lateness of this issue of the Spiel.It has been low on my list of things to do due to severalfactors. However, this time I can't blame computers oroverflowing email inboxes.Spiel #407 contains some trip reports. You should allthank Alan for politely (yes politely!) reminding me ofmy responsibilities.
Trip ReportsJF4 KhazadDumAlan Jackson1 March 2015Cavers: Alan Jackson, Chris Sharples & Petr Smejkal.This was meant to be the last trip improving the boltingsituation on the popular route in KD. Electronics got in
the way, with one drill battery apparently havingrefused to charge. The second streamway pitch is nowfixed (though none of the new bolts has been testedyet) but the fourth and sixth streamway pitches andfinal pitch are still to be done.We left all the rope in the cave (but stripped crabs andsome tapes) for the next trip.
JF30 The LetterboxAlan Jackson6 April 2015Cavers: Alan Jackson & Anna Jackson.Rolan contacted the club in March to inform us thatwhile assessing karst values for a proposed reroute ofthe Junee Cave walking track to the northern side ofthe river he had stumbled across a spring and a nearbycave (probably JF30 and JF31) that could do with avisit to see if there were any outstanding values thatmight need protection from the impending rabble. Thisis a fabulous example of our public service striving totrim the largesse outsourcing its responsibilities to avolunteer workforce. It keeps the Liberals happy andthe cavers busy and, thus, could be described as a winwin.I researched JF30 and JF31 and the publishedaccounts (Goede 1971 & Annan 1977) seemed to agreewith Rolans guess. The spring sounded awful by allaccounts but the dry horizontal cave sounded prettybenign. I figured it was time to get Anna to step upfrom tourist caver to productive caver and teach herthe art of surveying she is eight now after all.With Rolans GPS waypoint the cave was easily found.Once Anna recovered from the psychological effects ofpassing in close proximity to large cave spiders and hadmoved to a safe distance (i.e. greater than 100 mm) shedecided they were fantastically beautiful things whenthey werent moving. After the initial three metreclimb/slide a small horizontal crawling passage (allmud floor and walls with tree roots dangling down)was followed for 30 m. Here the nice passage endsand a tighter passage off to the right is followed,ascending, to a small chamber of interconnectingperpendicular minirifts/canyons. This was the squeezeId read about. I hadnt been concerned about thesqueeze, as Anna was going to be able to fall throughanything I could get through, but it proved to be nastierthan I thought. It was quite awkward for me but tooconfronting for Anna, as it had a slot beneath it andopened out over a second perpendicular slot. Instead Ifound an alternative route which was too tight for mebut was just a flat out squeeze with a nice slab bottomon a 20 degree slope. Anna had to take her helmet offbut she scrambled through without any fuss.Beyond here the cave gets a bit larger (I could standupright most of the time!) before quickly terminatingin a small sump. The sump isnt very inviting but isprobably big enough to entice someone stupid like
Janine. No running water was observed in the cave andit would appear that it acts as a highstage overflowperiodically. All the evidence of previous explorationwas gone, with the exception of a single boot print in aclay bank just before the sump. The water must cascadedown the ~2 m drop in the area of the squeeze and thenback up, evidenced by the 100% mud coating of thelower section and piles of froth at the squeeze.We commenced the survey, with Anna ahead choosingstations (wed done both a theory and practical sessionsurveying the house that morning). Twenty two legs(and 80 m) later we were back on the surface in therain. I had a quick look for the tag but acres of mosscovered rock and the precipitation deterred me so Iterminated the survey at a piece of pink tape jammed ina rock crevice and left that job for later.So far as values are concerned, I saw no bones, noAboriginals, only a couple of tiny speleothems (straws),very few beasties (Hickmania and one lost surfacespider) and not particularly fabulous cave fauna habitat(plenty of mud and flood sediments but no runningwater most of the time). (Of course I dont claim to betrained or competent in any of those fields.) Thanks tothe entrance slope the cave is probably more of adanger to humans than humans are to the cave.Further reading of Goede (1971) and Annan (1977) hasraised a slight issue with regard to cave numbers. Thecave numbering report in Speleo Spiel 61:2 and theensuing trip report on page 3 (Goede 1971) state JF30is the horizontal dry cave and JF31 is the waterfilledspring down beside the river. Annan (1977) puts thecaves the other way round, with JF31 the dry cave andJF30 the riverside spring. I think its likely that theoriginal is correct (Ive not seen Albert make a mistakeyet, at least not one which hasnt been fullydocumented and corrected at a later date and Iveread EVERY Spiel several times ). Clearly we need tofind the tags to put the issue to bed.Postscript I supplied a copy of the final map andfindings to Rolan and promptly received a thank youfrom Mark Pharaoh (Parks and Wildlife Service) for theclubs assistance with the planned walking track reroute.
ReferencesAnnan, A. 1977. Exploration of the Junee River Caves,JF 30 & 31. Speleo Spiel, 121:3Goede, A. 1971. Junee Area 21, 22/8/71. Speleo Spiel,61:3
Speleo Spiel, MarchApril 2015Issue 407, Page 4
JF8 Junee CaveFor Your Eyes Only (FYEO) trafficking tobaccoJanine McKinnon12 April 2015Cavers: Janine McKinnon & Ric Tunney.There has been a rather unsightly gear stash shoved inbehind a very nice formation, a short distance intoFYEO, for a couple of decades. The bright bluetarpaulin is very colourful, but not really a good firstimpression of the chamber.This was pointed out to me by recent cave divingvisitors from the mainland.I have looked at this eyesore every time I have been inthere, but did not know (maybe that is remember) whohad put it there, or for what purpose, although I didknow it had been there a long time. Anyway, I did notfeel that I should unilaterally decide to remove it, muchas I may have wanted to. Over many trips, I must admitthat I have stopped really noticing it, or thinking aboutwhether I should follow up ownership and/or discussremoving it with Rolan. It became a blind spot to me inthat respect, although I still always noticed how uglyand inappropriate it was.Call me blonde, or maybe senile would be moreaccurate.The visitors mentioned it to Rolan and he commentedthat it was a cache put in by Nick Hume when theywere pushing the second sump. I did a search of thearchive and could find no trace of a report about takingit in, however I did find a trip report by Stefan(Eberhard 1991) which mentioned, in passing, theweights left near the second sump. The cache wouldhave to have gone in at around the same time as thoseweights, as the purpose of both was connected. So, itwas sometime in the 1980s, probably around themiddle of the decade. It has been in there a long time.Anyway, I offered to remove it. Today was the day.We arrived at the car park via Junee Quarry Rd at 9:45am, noting that the old gate 50 m from the car park wasnow locked with a shiny new padlock. The JF gate keyfits the lock.We organised fairly slickly (after all, we have done thismany times), and I was at the dive site ready to go by 11am.
Interestingly, there were no footprints on the beach atall, which means that the water levels have been veryhigh, enough to cover the whole beach, between nowand when the mainland divers were here on 22 March.I was carrying an Aspiring pack, which I hoped waslarge enough to get all the gear out, and was trying drygloves for the first time in the cave. They wouldcertainly keep my hands dry and toasty warm, but Iwas unsure how well they would work with all themanipulating I would need to do out of the water. Onedoesnt have a lot of feel or dexterity with them.The plan was that Ric would go out and return at 12:30pm. I anticipated that 12:30 1:00 pm was my returnwindow. Ric wouldnt start getting nervous until 2 pm.Panic would be after 3 pm.The flow in the river was not particularly high and Ihad a pleasant swim through to FYEO, taking 17minutes for the run. I checked the line as I went and alllooks good.The removal of the stash went pretty quickly, butgetting it all into the pack was an achievement I amquite proud of. The blue tarp was huge, and the orangeone wasnt petite either. That achieved, I went for anenjoyable wander up through the chamber to theweights near the second sump.I always enjoy being in FYEO by myself. It is a wholedifferent experience than when others are there.So, there were three sets of weights on the bank. Twowere each a pair of 1.5 kg ingots tied together and witha carabiner. The third was a single, large weight of 4kgs. I clipped the two with crabs to my harness andcarried the third in my hands. It was a somewhat lesseasy stroll back down the stream way with these (plusthe 3 kgs on my harness) extra weights. I also noticed asuspicious dampness in my left hand (still in drygloves, remember) as I progressed down the stream.Back at the start of sump one (FYEO side), I decidedthat bringing all the weights out would be too much, soI put the loose one in the pack and left the others on thebank, out of sight but near the start of the sump.All sorted, I put my tanks etc back on and started out.It was 12:25 pm nicely on target. It had all been tooeasy, hadnt it? I managed to drag the pack under thelip of the start but it was so, so buoyant that it wasjammed on the ceiling. I couldnt move it no matterhow I pulled. Damn. Back to the chamber. Kit off, go
JF30: Anna in the "Letterbox".
Speleo Spiel, MarchApril 2015Issue 407, Page 5
get the other weights, attach then to the handle of thepack, re kit, and try again.It is now 12:45 pm.Did I mention that my left hand was feeling very wet?Thats one dry glove down. The water was leaking pastthe pressure equalisation cord in my cuff and makingmy arm wet but warm.Even with 10 kg of weights the pack was still a littlebuoyant, but I could drag it down, and behind me.All goes tolerably well (hard work pulling/pushing thepack but manageable), until I get down around 10 mdepth. Then buoyant becomes weighted. Veryweighted. It sank like a stone. It was now very, veryheavy. I assumed that the air trapped in the bag hadnow been expelled, after compressing, plus somewaterlogging of the materials inside. I couldnt lift itwith one hand. Lifting and shoving it over rocks in thefloor was a pain. I was very slow, churning up clouds ofsilt as I dragged it along. I was making very slowprogress, breathing very hard, now in zero visibility,and not really enjoying myself very much. I struggledalong like this for a while and then decided this was notgoing to work. I was going to run out of air before Istruggled all the way back like this.Why didnt I bring a lift bag for the job? Very goodquestion. Stupidity pops to mind as a possible answer.So, I decided to leave the two weight packages withclips. I had a use for them in the sump anyway,repositioning the line by a little bit. I removed themand attached them to the line at a line anchoringweight about a third of the way out should be easy tofind.Progress was still slow, heavy and painful from here,but manageable, which was the important thing.My only other problem came as I ascended towards theend of the sump. Once I reached around 3 m I now hadthe problem that I had started with at the other end,before I retrieved those extra weights for ballast. Thepack very rapidly became buoyant as I ascended, and ataround 4 m shot to the roof (which was fortunatelyonly 1 m above me), dragging me with it. So the air hadnot been ejected from the pack as I had descended backat the start of the sump, just compressed by pressure.Oh joy. It took me several minutes to battle it downfrom the roof, and get it up the last 10 m along the cavepassage.What a pain of a trip, literally. I had a thumpingheadache from CO2 build up from the exertion. Still, itwas done. It only had to be done the once. If I have todo anything like that again I will have to come up witha better plan.The time was now 1:15 pm. It had taken me 29 minutesto get out. 12 minutes SLOWER than the inward leg.This is an outflow cave (hence Resurgence). It has asignificant current. I thank god (figure of speech, I wishto emphasise) I wasnt coming out against the current.I had used 40 bar from each tank going in, and 70 bareach coming out almost twice the air. Usually I useabout a quarter on the outward leg. An example of thevalue of the rule of thirds/quarters.
Ric was waiting, and started helping with packing (asusual), whilst I wandered out with the gear I waswearing and the Aspiring pack. He ferried two packsworth to the entrance and I returned to pick up oneonce I had dumped the gear cache.Time for lunch. Tea and a Jackman & McRoss Easterbun fixed everything.
PostscriptWe weighted the pack when we got home and it was 10kg, without any lead weights. We cut open the tyretubes used to keep gear dry and found:
a. The gear wasnt dry it had gotten wet on the tripinto the cave (some twentyfive years ago) andbeen sitting, sealed and wet, ever since.
b. An interesting mix of spares, including 2 packets ofvery wet tobacco, but no food. Fascinating, isnt it,what peoples priorities can be.
The leaking dry glove was found to be due to a smalltear near the plastic ring fittings. But wet drygloves are warmer than wet, wet gloves.
ReferencesEberhard, S. 1991. Cave Diving: Junee Resurgence &Lawrence Rivulet Rising. Speleo Spiel, 269: 11.
JF8: Anthropocene gear stash.
Speleo Spiel, MarchApril 2015Issue 407, Page 6
Checking out JF30 & JF31Janine McKinnon14 April 2015Cavers: Janine McKinnon & Ric Tunney.Alan had sent me an email about a recent trip he haddone to some holes just off the track to the JuneeResurgence (JF8). One was a short cave with a sump atthe end and the other was a nearby hole filled withwater. He suggested I have a look. So I did.We checked out the waterfilled hole first, JF31. It wastagged in 1971 by Albert Goede & Kevin Keirnan(Goede 1971). We couldnt find the tag. It appears tohave been first entered several years later (Annan1977). They report it being a head high wade for adistance, ending in a tight squeeze. I found it sumpedat the start of the horizontal passage (that is, standingin the hole). I had brought a bit of dive gear to have aquick look at the end of the wade. It was used at thestart. To have a quick look, I progressed one bodylength into the submerged passage and could definitelysee that it continued at least a few metres. That was theextent of my light beam in the water.That was that job done, in five minutes.Next we moved around to JF30 entrance, tagged on thesame trip by Albert & Kevin in 1971 (Goede 1971). Richad planned on coming into this cave too but we hadfound that his light didnt work. So it was just me.I was still in my semidry suit, and was carrying a divetorch, mask and snorkel, to have a quick look in thesump. The squeeze mentioned by Alan, and referred toin the old trip report (Annan 1977), proved a minorobstacle to negotiate, and took me several minutes towork out how to get through it. It really is quite tight.No big chested cavers will get through here.The sump was a short distance beyond, and was clear. Iwas able to get a good look for a few metres along theunderwater passage, and it looks wide and not tootight. So, it goes. For at least 3 m.That exercise took me about half an hour. Ric hadspent the time trying to find the tag, with no luck.We will return to:
a. Tag both caves.b. Dive JF31. Even though the report says it stops at a
restriction 30 m in. It needs surveying anyway,and a looksee wont hurt.
c. Depending how the dive in JF31 goes, try from theJF 30 side.
ReferencesAnnan, A. 1977. Exploration of the Junee River Caves,JF 30 & 31. Speleo Spiel, 121: 3.Goede, A. 1971. Club News, Cave Numbering. SpeleoSpiel, 61:2.
Ric taking a break
Speleo Spiel, MarchApril 2015Issue 407, Page 7
Other Exciting Stuff
Midnight Hole, beginners through tripPetr Smejkal18 April 2015Cavers: Milos Dvorak, Niall Macdonald and Cat, PetrSmejkal & Nirved Upadhyay.It has been a while since our last beginners trip and Ithought it was the right time to give it a go and trysome new cadets for STC.Nirved and Niall are both doing research at UTAS.Nirved is working on his postgrad degree and Niall ishere as a postdoc on a three year contract. They wereboth interested in trying a bit of caving. Nirved haddone some caving before and was keen to try more of itwhile he is here in Tasmania. Niall has never beeninvolved in anything cavingrelated but he is keen onclimbing and parkour and he doesnt seem like guy whowould have any troubles underground.I organised a couple of training sessions for Niall andone for Nirved and Nialls fiance Cat. As their skillsseemed up to a trip to Midnight Hole, Milos and Iorganised the trip to this cave for Saturday the 18th ofApril. I also took this trip as an opportunity to testMiloss rigging skills for our planned trip to Ice Tube.Saturday weather was cloudy but there was no rain andwe had the promise of a fun day in front of us. It wasntthat much fun in the end as we did not manage withoutsome troubles. The biggest hiccup in our perfect planhappened on the way to the Midnight Hole entrance.Nirved jumped down one of the fallen trees that weclimbed over, and he slightly dislocated his knee. Hehad pain but no restrictions in his movement so wedecided to continue the adventure.The way through the Midnight Hole was long but with
no troubles. Milos was rigging and he did an excellentjob. I was at the end of the group making sure thateverybody was using their SRT gear correctly, andtrying to help with getting into the descents.Surprisingly Matchbox Squeeze was fun for all of thetrip members. After we reached Mystery Creek, thebeginners were feeling tired and ready to get back tothe car. It took us four and half hours to get to MysteryCreek, which made me quite tired too but in a differentway. On the way out we still managed to have a look atthe waterfall next to the Broken Column chamber andwe stayed for a little while watching glow worms.Altogether six hours underground ended with threevery tired beginners. Well done to all on a great job!
JF4 KhazadDumAlan Jackson25 April 2015Cavers: Anna Ekdahl, Alan Jackson, Janine McKinnon,Michael Packer, Ric TunneyA continuation of the bolting efforts. Ric toddled down
behind testing the recently installed bolts and applyingtags. Pax and I shot to the streamway and installed theLoxinreplacing bolt on streamway pitch four (thechute pitch), an approach line bolt on streamway pitch6 and two bolts at the top of the divide on the finalpitch. Janine and Anna ambled in the middle, assistingRic at times.
IB11: Fresh looking cavers at the entrance.
Book ReviewCrane & Fletchers CaveGreg MiddletonA few months ago a friend at the University ofTasmania alerted me to an upcoming seminar CaveGenres/Genre Caves: Reading the SubterraneanThriller. Not at all sure what this would be about especially as it was being held in the EnglishDepartment on Friday, 27 February, I dutifullyattended (the fact that wine was offered had nothing todo with it). The seminar was jointly presented by RalphCrane, Professor of English at the University ofTasmania and Lisa Fletcher, Senior Lecturer inEnglish. For the most part it seemed to be a ratheresoteric discussion about peoples interactions withspaces under the Earth. The thesis was presented thatpeople's usual initial response to caves was fearstemming from apprehension about the unknown anddarkness. If they had a continuing interaction with orexperience of caves their response supposedly changedto a feeling of security and even protection, presumablyfrom Mother Earth. There followed a series ofoutlines of recent novels dealing with caves and howthe main characters had responded to the
unaccustomed environment. While it was noted thatmost of these characters had been brought into contactwith caves by forces beyond their control, rather thanentering them because they liked the idea, it seemed tobe assumed that their responses were typical of peoplegenerally. The discussion then went on to considerrecent films dealing with caves, once again consideringthe responses of fictional characters to the challengesof their underground experiences. My primary thoughtas I came away from this seminar was its amazingwhat academics can find to study. Although mentionwas made of the fact that a book was in the offing, Iwasn't going to be waiting around with greatexpectations of it. It did occur to me that it was slightlysurprising, given the fact that there is only one cavinggroup in southern Tasmania, that, to the best of myknowledge, neither it nor any of its members had beenapproached by these academics for any sort of input tothe studies they were undertaking, in our midst as itwere.I thought no more about the book until a friendmentioned he had seen a copy of a book called justCave in Hobart's Fullers Bookshop. (Maybe its titleis Cave: Nature and Culture which it sort of has onthe cover, but only Cave appears on the spine and on
Issue 407, Page 8Speleo Spiel, MarchApril 2015
the title and halftitle pages.) On the next availableoccasion, 23 June, I checked it out and of course,bought a copy (despite the cover, of which more later).Its fair to say that, at first glance, I was agreeablysurprised by this publication.Cave is actually an attempt, within a small book (15 x21 cm and 222 pp), to encapsulate much of whathumans know and think about cavities under the earth.Far from being an obvious product of an EnglishDepartment, the book is part of The Earth Seriespublished by Reaktion Books, London and is classifiedas popular science. Its official publication date is 1July 2015.The preface points out that caves are fundamental tohuman history. They are simultaneously places ashelter and places of deep, dark danger. [Ah,something that harks back to the seminar.] They areplaces of birth and of burial, dwelling places andsanctuaries from persecution. They are a humanhabitat and the home of mythical monsters.Chapter 1 demonstrates that the term cave is far fromstraightforward. They quote definitions fromdictionaries and speleological works, showing that it isnot easy to define the meaning of the English wordcave. It is said that an isolated subterranean cavitycannot be a cave but goes on to acknowledge the termentranceless cave it says a rock shelter or cliffsideoverhang is not a cave unless it contains mineralformations typical of a true cave, or provides habitatfor organisms which populate caves in which case itmay be described as a borderline cave. I thought itwas only cavers who indulged in such pointless nitpickery (but perhaps the issue has to be raised). Surelybetter to just accept that a cave is a cave if it looks likeone and you want it to be. Fortunately they go on tomake some interesting points about caves and how wesee them and how they have been seen throughhistory.At this point I have to say that, sneaking a look ahead, Iwas somewhat disappointed, given the Tasmanianabodes of the authors, that the book doesn't have moreTasmanian associations or references it is asinternational as the publishers no doubt required it tobe. Skimming through the reference list in this casecompiled chapter by chapter using those annoying littlesuperscript numbers that students of the humanitiesare so prone to use (and emphasising that it is not aproduct of a Science Department) and the briefselect bibliography, one is struck by the few Australiansources that have been utilised. Dave Gillieson (Caves:Processes, Development, Management 1996) is cited at least seven times (but this was published in the UK),Elery HamiltonSmith but twice (from his entries inGunns Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science) andArmstrong Osborne only once. Steve Harris, DonRanson and Steve Brown get a guernsey for their paperdescribing the hand stencils in Ballawinne Cave. Of ourown Carey, Goede, Kiernan, Clarke and Jacksons nary a mention, nor of national speleological authorslike Trickett, Woods, Jennings, Spate, James, Whites,Grimes, one could go on. Finlayson & HamiltonSmith (Beneath the Surface: A natural history ofAustralian caves) rates a mention in the selectbibliography but didn't provide one fact worth citing inthe text. This is the only Australian book in thebibliography apart from Shaws History of CaveScience which it manages not to acknowledge waspublished by the Sydney Speleological Society. In theacknowledgements section Elery HamiltonSmith isthanked for generously sharing his knowledge of caveswith us and Deb Hunter for caving trips. It's good toknow they actually went on some. The volume islavishly illustrated, nearly all of the photographs andgraphics coming from overseas an exception is SteveBourne who contributed nine photos (including one Iwas surprised to find myself in!) Unfortunately, many
of the photos seem just to have been inserted to breakup the text and do not relate directly to it.This digression was prompted by my noting a quotefrom Adrienne Eberhards poem Earth, Air, Water,Fire. Given the significant contributions to Australianspeleology of Stefan and Rolan Eberhard, it is perhapsironic that it is Rolans wife who rates a mention in thisbook, rather than either of them.I shouldnt give the impression the book is not aboutscience, there are many scientific details given about abroad range of caves, many of them from impeccablesources, but some facts just appear out of thin air. Forexample, we are told that Bungonia Caves haveunusually high levels of foul air due to thedecomposition of masses of organic matter washed intothe cave during heavy rainfall and a lack of ventilationbut there is no reference to the source of thisintelligence. Sadly, they fall into the trap of contrastingtrue karst with that now outofvogue in informedcircles term pseudokarst (Eberhard & Sharples 2013) nevertheless, they show a good general grasp of karstcave development concepts (though I dont thinkhypogenic concepts (Klimchouk 2007) get a mention).Volcanic caves (in the form of lava tubes) rate only twobrief mentions, though they are featured in a couple ofthe illustrations (perhaps without the authorsrealising).Chapter 2 presents a fair introduction to speleology(very largely, and with acknowledgement, drawn fromthe writings of Trevor Shaw and where better tostart?) Early cavescientists are introduced, along withterms such as karst, phreatic and vadose and anumber of major caverelated texts. Speleology is notjust a multidisciplinary field, it carries overtones ofexploration and adventure. The authors are fascinatedby the metaphors drawn on by people trying to describecaves: decorated chambers are galleries, cave floors
The cover of Cave. Nature and Culture alsoappear here but they are apparently not
part of the title. Its hard to imagine a worsecover for a book about caves.
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are repositories, entrances are mouths, twistingpassages are bowels. Their comments are verging onthe critical as though we should have come up withnew words for these spatial elements. There are someinteresting observations on cave maps and theirlimitations they point out that caves are not reallylimited to the spaces we can walk or crawl throughbut are just the more open parts of much largersystems of interconnected spaces. Despite the fact thatthey are probably the features people associate moststrongly with caves, speleothems dont get much of amention. A quote from Tom Sawyer serves to explainthe process of stalactite formation and how slow it is.The interesting range of other speleothems is ignoredas is the valuable role they (especially stalagmites) canplay in revealing past climates and in dating climaticevents.The third chapter deals with the adaptations ofanimals, including humans, to caves. It is acharacteristic of this book that it does not just relatethe scientific facts but strays off into deadends suchas Linnaeus erroneous ideas about Homo nocturnusand H.G. Wells imaginary flesheating troglodytes, theMorlocks. There is a lot of attention paid not just toobserved facts, but to ideas and concepts relating tocaves, even those that are purely the imaginings ofnovelists, presumably based on the assumption thatthese give us insights into how people perceive aspectsof caves. That said, the treatment of the developmentof biospeleology, and particularly its changing systemsof classification, is well put together and seemsaccurate, despite more literary diversions (does adiscussion of the nature and depiction of TolkiensGollum really have a place here?). David Attenboroughcomes in for some criticism for his perpetuation of thetraditional perspective of caves as islands. Theimplication is that caves are linked in many ways to thesurface and deeper mesocaverns, so are not reallyisolated but it is true that for some species the daylitspaces between caves and the more or less solid rocks especially nonkarst ones, do isolate them for suchspecies the islands analogy is valid.While cavedwellers get fair recognition, there is nomention of the role caves can play in preserving theremains of earlier life, particularly vertebrate remainsas in the remarkable deposits at World Heritage listedNaracoorte Caves and the Nullarbors Flightstar. Idont think the word palaeontology gets a mentionanywhere.Cave explorers, from early humans to moderndaycavers, form the subject of chapter 4. A 1991 poem isquoted in relation to speculation about whether cavepainters were actually explorers and then we move onto the early scientific explorers of Europe and then toMartel, the father of modern speleology and hisimpact on British caving. Casteret receives a nodoubtdeserved page. Development of European and UScaving is traced Floyd Collins gets a mention, theNSS was set up in 1941, a mapasyougo ethic fortrips into new caves was developed, cave rescueorganisations sprang up, new depth records wereachieved. There is a rare error on page 84: sometimeTasmanian caver Jason Gardner is quoted explaininghis love of underground exploration and it is statedthat Tasmania has the longest and deepest caves inAustralia sadly only the latter is true (Bullita in theNorthern Territory has held the longest record for anumber of years now and the Jenolan system isprobably second longest, pushing Tassies Exit Caveinto at best third place more may be longer). Therefollows a section on cave diving not outlining thegreat achievements of this admittedly dangerouspastime (other than by Casteret), but cataloguing aseries of fatal misadventures.Monsters and magic: Caves in mythology and folkloreis covered in chapter 5. It doesnt tell us much about
caves, but perhaps provides some insights into humanfears and imagination. Chapter 6, on the other hand,deals with the reality of cave art both art in caves andart featuring caves. This is a fair coverage of the subjectwith Australian Aboriginal art getting a mention, fromKoonalda on the Nullarbor, finger fluting in caves nearMt Gambier and even, in Tasmania, Ballawinne in theMaxwell River valley and Wargata Mina (JuddsCavern) in the Cracroft.Chapter 7, on caves in literature, is where we wouldexpect these authors to excel and we are notdisappointed. Coleridge gets a good run, of course, butthey might have brought it back to reality by totting uphow many actual caves, or parts of caves, havesubsequently been named after Kubla Khan or hisXanadu. Also mentioned is Audens poem, In Praise ofLimestone, which I have to admit is a favourite ofmine. They go on to find caves in Shakespeare, Hardy,Steinbeck, Forster, Defoe, Tolkien, Verne, Twain andmore recent fiction but it is all fiction (and did EnidBlyton really deserve a mention?) Again, this chaptertells us nothing about caves, but something about somepeoples ideas/fantasies about them.The next chapter, on religious use of caves, does bringus back to real caves. While it is true that there hasbeen widespread use of caves by a range of religiousgroups around the world, I have to say that of themany cave shrines and temples that I have seen, almostevery one has resulted in degradation of the naturalfeatures and beauty of the original cavern or grotto.Never is there any thought for protection of the caveitself always it is painted, decorated, concreted,excavated, disfigured and modified in ways thatdemonstrate no concern or interest whatsoever in whatthe worshipers surely should have seen as wondrousexamples of their deitys handiwork. While the authorspoint out that many holy caves have become touristattractions, never do they acknowledge the enormousdamage that religious conversion has wrought oncaves.The final chapter deals with show, or tourist caves. It isperhaps the most informationrich chapter in the book,with not a lot about perception and few references toliterature. Theres a historical treatment, beginning, ofcourse, with Postojna, working through Europe and theUSA to Australia, then back to Europe before getting toAsia, where there is (thoroughly justified) criticalmention of the use of unnatural coloured lights andbright neon signs. (If the authors appreciate thetravesty of this practice, how did they allow athoroughly awful photo of such a cave to besmirch thebooks cover? I think it may be the worst cavebookcover I have seen.) Jenolan gets a good wrap, especiallyfor its range of tours, even to mentioning its NettleCave selfguided one and, of course, they pick up onthe commentary being available in Klingon). JCH&PSgets a plug.On the first page of the chapter we are told that showcaves can also be called tourist caves as far as I wasconcerned, the commonly accepted wisdom but atthe end we are told that adventure caving has blurredthe use of these terms (how can one blur the use of twoterms that are the same?) because tourist caves canbe undeveloped, or only minimally developed whileshow caves common hallmarks are lights, pathwaysand interpretation. This distinction, I suspect, is asartificial as the lighting in most Chinese cavesdeveloped for tourists.Appended are 1) a list of Notable Caves (presumablyto avoid that nowconfused distinction betweentourist and show), 2) the references (divided up intochapters, littered with ibid and giving journal volumenumbers in Roman numerals!), 3) a (very) SelectBibliography, 4) a list of relevant associations andwebsites (in English) though missing the KarstInformation Portal
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Note full resolution version is avaliable from the STC Electronic Archive onrequest. Contact Ric Tunney: [email protected]
(http://www.karstportal.org/about), the digital librarylinking scientists, managers and explorers with qualityinformation resources concerning karst resources, 5)acknowledgements (it appears that EHS was the onlyspeleologist actually consulted and Deb Hunter theonly cave guide), 6) photo acknowledgements and 7) areasonable index.While Ive been about as critical in this review as I everhave been in a caverelated book review, I found muchof interest in this little book and it is certainly wellcrafted (if one can overlook the ghastly cover).Nevertheless, I cant help but feel this book would havebeen better had it involved someone with a longrelationship with cave exploration and/or studies. Thetitle implies it is going to be the definitive book on thesubject its not (though its probably not a bad effortby a couple of outsiders). No doubt there are benefitsfrom having a subject reviewed through other eyes. Asthe endnotes say: this book examines the allure of the
subterranean world perhaps it should have beentitled The Allure of Caves. I wont say everyspeleophile should have a copy on his or her bookshelf,but I dont doubt many will.Cave is published by Reaktion Books, London, July2015, in their popular science Earth Series, RRPA$29.99.
ReferencesEberhard, R. & Sharples, C. 2013 Appropriateterminology for karstlike phenomena: the problemwith pseudokarst. International Journal ofSpeleology, 42(2):109113Klimchouk, A. 2007 Hypogene speleogenesis:Hydrological and morphogenetic perspective. SpecialPaper No. 1, NCKRI New Mexico, 106 pp.