Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Mt Etna Caving 2008

Darryl and some of the others had been spelunking on Saturday, but the Sunday session was to include members from the Gladstone Bushwalking club. We parked at the beginning of the Mt Etna formed track, and walked to the bat cleft. From here we left formed paths and went overland, down and south around the mountain. The limestone is sharp and jagged, and thick gloves were necessary to protect tender hands.
By the time we reached the cave entrance, my thigh muscles were like jelly and I knew that I would be more dangerous to myself and others if I proceeded. The entrance to the cave was protected by a large shady fig tree. So, while the rest of the group went inside, I had morning tea, enjoying coffee and a snack, then spread my bubble-wrap (which Darryl had thoughtfully, and luckily, suggested) on a large flat, but sloping, rock, covered my eyes with my gloves, and promptly went to sleep! Gravity, of course, was intent on beating me and I slowly slid down the rock, but still I managed to get some rest, until I was roused by the sounds of the youngsters returning to the entrance.

To get to the next cave required more scrambling, around and up, and we passed close to the stairs built by the NPWS. The entrance to

Stairway cave was afforded either via a drop, (aided by a handy tree), or a squeeze-slide through some rocks. I choose the second, left my pack under a rock for protection from the passing showers, and ventured inside. The cave was an easy walk in, and we were soon entranced by spectacular flows, formations, and crystals (no description can beat the photos.

Once we had finished marvelling at the wonders, it was time to leave, and we had a bit of a scramble back to a formed track. I was fine until the downhill section, and my knees started to freeze, so I had to walk sideways down the path until reaching the Hilux. It was a very enjoyable trip, but I was reminded of it with every step for the next 4 to 5 days!

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