October 16, 2008 at 12:24 AM #497
I first visited Bats Ridge in December 2004 with Tom, Doug and Greg. We had great fun (with me being newly back to caving at that time), but Tom and I were not impressed with the caves. In fact Tom has never been back, and declares that he has no such intention!
After a short time, of course, I realised that virtually all Vic caves are unimpressive, so Bats Ridge recovered in my estimation. My favourite caves there are probably the same as most other cavers conclude. River Cave is best, with its many entrances, varied nature and good through-trip opportunities. The Hut Cave through-trip is fun. Nearby Cave is interesting in having an obvious, though usually quite dry, streamway; and for its feeling of end-to-end length and knowing you must come back out the same damn way! Chimney Cave is a Bats Ridge classic, especially for the organised pseudo-caver groups, and I would still like to do its W-E traverse (currently blocked). Tom and I found some of the caves quite disappointing (eg Big Cave), and simply failed to locate several others.
After that first visit I collected more information (mostly from Susan) and began to analyse the lie of the land and its caves. The most striking thing is the exact alignment of Hut and Nearby Caves – only 10m of collapse prevents them from being one much longer entity. Also, the far end of Nearby really looks like it wants to go on, but the rockfall instability there is scary.
The most intriguing thing though is the way that several caves near River Cave are in tantalising proximity to River and to each other. The caves concerned are BR3, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31. Peter’s Pit BR32 of course DOES connect to River – Susan tells me that it HAS been humanly-negotiated, and I’d like to repeat that. Last weekend I (with Reto Zollinger) inspected BR26, 27 and 28 for connection opportunities. I expected BR27 to be the best place to start, but that confusing cave didn’t give away any clues and I now think that pushing the SE end of BR26 might be the go.
In October 2005 I went on my 2nd Bats Ridge trip. The highlight was exploring and surveying in the BR10/BR11/BR74 (private property) area. On the visit last week, Susan & Nicholas plus Daryl & Marg and I returned to 10/11/74 and we see that there is the likelihood of more cave being reachable. To me this seems the best prospect for more large and extensive cave at Bats Ridge, and I’m keen to re-visit and push those ends. We should survey-as-we-go, the resulting plans providing the best clues for where to look next.
My caving agenda is crowded for the next 3 months, but after that I’ll organise a trip. Bats Ridge is a friendly caving area (leeches, snakes and distance-from-Melbourne not withstanding) since it’s close to civilised Portland and provides generally easy horizontal cave-sport.March 10, 2010 at 2:20 AM #1353
Since the previous post I have had the chance to follow up on some of the ideas expressed.
First, I looked for the surface spot overlying the end of BR59 Nearby Cave. I expected at least to find a depression or collapse doline, but nothing! However, I’ve since done more careful work on the coordinates, and see that I could have been up to 15m out of position. That doesn’t sound much, but in the Bats Ridge bush density it could mean missing a feature altogether. So I’ll have another look sometime.
While Doug and I were in BR59 last weekend, we could hardly believe how quickly we got to the end and back, with only one point where we hesitated about the route. It’s funny how caves shrink …..
Also on BR59, I looked at a small lead off Hut Cave near the BR80 entrance. It points towards Nearby, as expected, but is hardly a digging prospect. That is a pity, since a Hut-Nearby connection would be really good!
A notable event on last week’s trip was that we went right through Chimney Cave: entered at BR1, passed below the Chimney, and went on to BR56 and 57 entrances. Previously this well-known route has appeared to be blocked, but now it’s obvious and easy. It looks rather like someone has recently re-excavated the connection squeeze.
The final issue to report is my failed attempt to connect BR28 into the River Cave system. As I had long planned, I dangled a rope, with bright pink flagging tape, down BR28’s shaft. While this shaft is, unfortunately, just too small to descend, it can be seen to reach the general base level of the caves. On the following day, at the southern end of BR26 River Cave, I tried excavating through the rubble in an effort to see the hanging rope, which I knew to be less than ten metres away. Unfortunately, after a while, it was roof-supporting blocks that needed to be moved, and that is very unsafe when up-close! Perhaps a gently rope-pull from the other side of the chamber would do the trick, but I have concluded that it is not quite worth the effort: since BR28’s shaft is too tight, a human-trafficable through-trip will not result.
My next target will be BR27. That cave also comes VERY close to BR26, and is worth a serious check-out with a view to connection. I have been in it, but with more knowledge now of both the BR26 and BR27 layouts I will better know where to look.
If anyone has any news or views on such opportunities at Bats Ridge, please write here.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.