Great, you’ll never be the same again. This can be divided into a few sections. First of all is:
WHAT ARE YOU HERE FOR?
We have to say that the VSA is NOT a tour operator. We don’t take people wanting to do caving as a one-off. We offer caving experiences for those who think they may like the sport and keep caving regularly. If you are looking for a one-off adventure experience, we advise you approach one of the many commercial caving providers in Victoria.
Okay, just had to get that out of the way. Whats next….?
Speleology is the study of caves and that is what we do. Some of us do maps and surveys, some assist the scientists and reasearchers in their projects. These include identifying and counting bats, glow worms and crickets, taking mineral samples to understand the age and development of the caves and finding and identifying bones and fossils.
When you are a competent caver you may be called upon to assist researchers in their work.
FITNESS & AGE:
Caving doesn’t require high fitness necessarily, but bear in mind it is very physical, so those with limited mobility or very low fitness may struggle. All VSA participants must be caving with a guardian if under the age of 18. Having said that, people of all sorts of ages, shapes and sizes successfully navigate most caves – it is pretty forgiving. We aren’t macho about it, so its normally not a problem.
As a new caver you don’t need any really fancy gear. The main two items are a helmet and a head mounted torch. We use rock climbing helmets which are widely available and will set you back around $100. As for a light, there are dozens of choices – everything from cheap 10 buckers from the local $2 shop, to super bright waterproof whizz-bang lights that are $1000. Basics to bear in mind are: Is it waterproof? (Some caves have water). Is it durable and tough? (It will get banged around) and is it bright? (brighter the better!). You will also need a secondary light source, which can be a small hand held light.
Apart from that the gear is pretty simple. Beginners usually get some second hand overalls from an op shop. They are ideal. Gardening knee pads from Bunnings help the old knees when you are crawling. Gloves are good too, also the gardening variety. Some caves can be cool (more the caves in Tasmania than Victoria) but thermals are often worn underneath your over suit. For footwear many wear gumboots or rubber ‘dairy’ boots. They are both waterproof and tough, and have good tread and ankle support. A tough camera is a GREAT way to remember your caving adventures.
When you get more serious about your caving you will need to buy more gear but for a basic beginner this is all you need. Simple huh?
To come caving with us you will need to join the club. You can join as an ‘introductory’ member which is cheap, and covers you for 3 months. This membership allows you to borrow club gear, including helmets and lights, also covers your insurance with the Australian Speleological Federation (ASF) and gets you an ASF Magazine and the VSA Magazine ‘Nargun’. You MUST be a member of VSA to come on any of our trips. If you like caving and plan to keep caving beyond 3 months you will have to join as an ‘associate’ member which is $80 a year for an individual. This is a bargain compared to commercial operators.
The Victorian Speleological Association hold trips that are suitable for beginners regularly. These trips are often (but not always) in Buchan. All trips organised through VSA are led by an accredited Trip Leader. Buchan is a 4.5 hour drive East of Melbourne in East Gippsland. There are hundreds of caves in Buchan and the surrounds, some of which are suitable for complete beginners and ranging through to difficult longer, deeper and wet trips. Keep your eye on the calendar on this website for your next beginner trip. There is a caving accommodation named Homeleigh which we normally stay at, which is very comfortable (and cheap!). We normally car pool to get to and from Buchan. Trips are normally Friday night through to Sunday night, so that we get 2-3 different caves in for the weekend.
The caves in Victoria are not long or deep by international standards but they are very pretty. We have some world class decoration in many of our caves. We are also lucky enough to have Volcanic caves and granite boulder caves which are more rare.
(Dry) Caving is a very safe sport. There have been deaths recently in the cave DIVING scene, but the VSA is not a cave diving organisation, and while we do have divers in the club, our trips are not of that nature. There have been very few fatalities in Australian caves over the past 50 years. We also do everything we can to mitigate risk. Despite popular opinion, you are safer underground than on the road on the way to Buchan.
WHAT IS DOWN THERE?
You’ll see incredible crystal formations, long shimmering straws, awesome columns, stalactites and stalacmites, beautiful helactites, sparkling rimstone pools, underground lakes and rivers, massive caverns, crawls and squeezes just big enough to fit through, bats, and oh yeah – MUD. You won’t believe your eyes when you enter the underground world. The holy grail of caving is NEW caves – you have the opportunity to stand where NO human ever has before, and see things NEVER seen before in history. What other sport can offer you that?
If you want more info, go to the About Us page and check out memberships and how to start caving as a introductory member.
You can also contact us for more information.
We hope to see you soon. Caving is a rewarding and amazing experience. Happy caving!