December 19, 2007 at 5:36 AM #459
M65, in Wyatt’s Reserve, is a very interesting cave. My first visit was with Brett and some beginners in March 2006. Since we were using a limited quantity of ladders we only descended 2 pitches, but I knew immediately that this wuould be a cave of note. By the way, it is also connected with an intriguing Murrindal Potholes mystery – that of the missing M5. More on that another time.
My next visit in January 2007 with Tom bottomed the cave (Brett had also revisited and bottomed it since our first time there). I crawled a few metres along the VERY muddy tube that is about 1m above the cave’s base. I could see further, but I knew from VSA records that Peter Ackroyd had pushed that as far as it would go (he dug it, and possibly blasted it if I recall correctly).
On the opposite side of the shaft base was a small clear-watered sump. On that occasion I didn’t notice any water flow. There had been no recent rainfall.
Last weekend, after a further 11 months elapsed time, I revisited this spot with Chalky. We observed water flowing (albeit at a very low rate) across the base of the shaft into the sump, and heard dripping and trickling sounds around us. It was only then that I noticed a small passage ABOVE the sump and confirmed that the sounds were coming from that direction. Through some acrobatic use of Chalky’s back, shoulders and head, I managed to get up into there. After moving 3m forward with difficulty, I reach a right-angle right turn where I could look down and see the stream passage. I had bypassed the sump.
A continuation was visible for a further 3m, though too narrow for me to pass. At the most distant point I could see the stream falling into a vertical drop, although I could not discern how far that drop continued.
The stream level is ~205m ASL – not far above Elk River level. The cave’s stream was flowing despite the absence of strong recent rains.
Is this exciting, or what?December 19, 2007 at 11:00 AM #1235
Kick ass. Next trip – I’m there!December 19, 2007 at 9:19 PM #1236
When we made it to the bottom (quite some time ago now) there was no sump and no water (it was muddy though). We didn’t check out the two passages though because it was late. Did you explore the cave off to the left of the main pitch?December 20, 2007 at 12:48 AM #1237
I haven’t explored "the cave off to the left of the main pitch", which I assume means the various alternative descents from the landing above 17m pitch 4. It was, and maybe still is, on the agenda; but viewed from within pitch 4 they seem likely to join up with it. As you will recall, pitch 4 is easily the best in the cave – quite deep, spacious and with glimpsed complexities in the distance about half way down.March 10, 2008 at 11:09 PM #1238
After further research in the VSA records I found that the downstream passage has indeed been explored beyond my far point. Peter Ackroyd in 1986 reached the end, about 9m onward and 3 or 4 metres downward, where he reached a final and seemingly impenetrable sump. The way to there is EXTREMELY tight.
Unfortunately, therefore, it seems that we will probably get nothing more out of this cave. I do plan sometime to follow the muddy upstream crawl to its end (it was dug out in 1963). However, I wouldn’t expect it to go any further without excessive effort, and of course we are not as interested in that upstream direction.
M65 remains one of the more interesting Murrindal potholes. I plan to publish a description in Nargun in the future.
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