The Victorian Speleological Association (VSA) aims to explore and chart the extensive cave systems in Victoria (Australia) and elsewhere, to represent the interests of Victorian cavers to the relevant authorities, and to encourage the preservation of caves in their natural state. There are over 800 caves in Victoria, many of them on private property. In addition to its exploration, campaigning and conservation work the VSA may oversee recreational expeditions underground for the general public.

The VSA has been actively involved with the exploration of sinkholes and caves at Nullarbor Plain. These have proved a rich source of megafauna fossils and the Association was instrumental in the discovery and recovery of a rare Thylacoleo skeleton in 2002. The significance of such discoveries was great enough to warrant a special report on the ABC science show, Catalyst which aired on Australian television in 2006.

The VSA is a corporate member of the Australian Speleological Federation Inc. (ASF) which is part of the International Union of Speleology. As a member, VSA must adhere to the ASF code of ethics, risk management and cave safety standards. More information about these and other standards as well as other information relating to ASF can be found on the links page.

Nargun Badge

Organised cave exploration in Victoria really began in early 1956 with a meeting between myself, then a member of the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club (MUMC), and the then president of the Cave Exploration Group of South Australia (CEGSA), Elery Hamilton-Smith. Elery was coming to Melbourne from Adelaide on a visit. By some chance I had heard that he would be over, so we had a meeting at Melbourne University cafeteria.

Elery had heard of a number of others in Victoria who were interested in caves and he put me in touch with them. A number of MUMC members were also interested, so there seemed to be sufficient numbers to form the nucleus of an organised group. The first organised trip was to Naracoorte with CEGSA: Ken Lynn from the United Kingdom took a prominent part. Following this we managed to put together a reasonable contingent to go to the 1956/1957 ASF Nullarbor Expedition.

The original VCES logo as designed by Ralph Warner. This was made into a letterpress printing block and was used on VCES letterhead from 1957 to 1958. The printing block has now been donated to the VSA records.

The Victorian Cave Exploration Society (VCES) was formed in early 1957 with Ken as president and myself as secretary. Elery subsequently moved to Melbourne and was elected vice-president. Shortly after the foundation of the group it was obvious that we did not have a suitable club badge like those used by CEGSA and the Sydney clubs.

Chris Warner, who was the first treasurer of VCES, suggested that her father, a prominent artist, may be able to design a suitable badge. The design produced was fairly heraldic in concept and was used on letterheads during the latter part of 1957 and into 1958.

During a visit to East Buchan in early 1958, we were in Mabel Cave [EB-1] looking out of the balcony when someone suggested that there was a good subject for a photo of a trog looking out over the Buchan River. Many different photographs were taken. One in particular was taken, probably by Les Southwell of the VCES. It was a slide photograph of me standing in silhouette at the main entrance of Mabel Cave. This photograph, when viewed on a screen at a club meeting, inspired Les to create and draw up the now well known Nargun badge as a sketch. This was promptly accepted as the most appropriate badge and it replaced the heraldic badge used previously. – Robin Bailey.

Photo of Robin Bailey in the entrance of Mabel Cave [EB-1]. Photo: Les Southwell, circa Jan 1958.

The sketch Les Southwell made from the photo opposite. Traced by Peter Ackroyd.

Nargun Badge as it is today. Embroidered Nargun Badges can be be purchased via the VSA Committee. 

Excerpt from NARGUN Vol. 28, No. 10, Page 73, May 1996. Thanks to Daryl Carr for extracting this information from the VSA Library.


Homeleigh is a former guesthouse and the original Buchan Pub in eastern Victoria, which was purchased by the Rimstone Cooperative in 1974. The cooperative was formed by members and friends of the VSA to secure a place for cavers to stay in the Buchan area at a discounted price.  The cooperative acquired Homeleigh and has been using funds from accommodation fees to maintain and renovate the property to improve facilities for its members and guests. If you are caving around Buchan, you are more than likely staying at Homeleigh.