As I reported in my (forthcoming) April 2023 column “Southern Waters” in Dive Log magazine, I don’t have any cave diving experience myself, other than snorkelling in Piccaninnie Ponds and diving in Ewens Ponds.
(The header image was taken from a TV screen)
Me at Picaninnie Ponds
I only ever visited Little Blue Lake, Allendale East, Hell’s Hole, Englebrecht Cave and several dry caves.
I had worked on ‘cave’ reports for the MLSSA Journal in the past, including Fossil Cave (2006), Piccaninnie Ponds & Ewens Ponds (2006 & 7), and the Blue Lake (2008). I also found that I still had a report by two Czech cave divers who discovered and explored a new underwater section of Nettle Cave (now Stinging-Nettle Cave, 5L186).
Fossil Cave’s lake is situated in the dark alcove behind the two scuba cylinders at the far end of the collapse
(Photo taken by Peter Horne)
So I have now also learned how the CEGSA cave numbering system works. They are ‘5’ for SA and ‘L’ for Lower south-east, ‘U’ for Upper south-east and ‘A’ for the Adelaide region. Examples provided by Peter Horne include 5L47 (The Black Hole), 5L46 (Kilsby’s Sinkhole), 5L81 (Fossil Cave), 5L72 (Piccaninnie Ponds), 5L158 (The Shaft), 5L144 (Sheathers Cave), 5L42 (Ten Eighty Sinkhole), 5L13 (The Three Sisters Cave), 5L61 (The Pines), 5L11 (Allendale East), etc..
By looking at the CDAA website at https://www.cavedivers.com.au/dive-sites I see that the three ponds at Ewens Ponds are 5L159-161. All other cave sites are listed there. Nullarbor caves as WA sites are ‘6Nxx’, i.e. Cocklebiddy Cave (6N48).
At least three people that were involved in the making of the movie “Sanctum” later died in separate incidents. They are Wes Skiles (2010), Agnes Milowka (2011) and Andrew Wight (2012). Skiles and Wight were involved in both “Sanctum” and “Nullarbor Dreaming”. Wes Skiles was posthumously awarded National Geographic’s “Explorer of the Year” award, jointly with Kenny Broad, his long-time colleague and friend, in 2011.
DVD cover of Sanctum
There were two articles by me about Piccaninnie Ponds and Ewens Ponds between 2006 & 7, but only because the initial article in 2006 needed some corrections due to publishing errors. I attempted to rectify the problems in the 2007 Journal.
After reviewing the situation again now, I was unhappy about the results, so I have now republished one article in its entirety at http://mlssa.org.au/2023/01/09/the-flora-and-fauna-of-piccaninnie-ponds-and-ewens-ponds-including-eight-mile-creek/.
25th January 2023 was the 10th anniversary of Piccaninnie Ponds being declared a Ramsar wetland of international significance in 2013. Then Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke made the announcement, saying that adding the ponds to the Ramsar list is committing Australia to their conservation and wise use. “Ramsar sites are a matter of National Environmental Significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act,” he added. Peter ‘Puddles’ Horne, however, points out that conservationists then raised the water levels in the Piccaninnie Ponds swamp, “causing massive damage to the entire ecosystem and destroying the Ponds’ incredible, internationally renowned underwater visibility…”.
Little Blue Lake