What is Adventure or Wild Caving?

Adventure caves are not paved tourist caves with well lighted paths. Adventure caving is an exciting and physically challenging activity that involves exploring non tourist caves. These caves rarely have visitation other than cavers and you will find yourself walking, crawling, climbing, squeezing and scrambling over rock piles to make your way through the cave. You may have an opportunity to see some wonderful and spectacular cave formations and cave creatures. The caves can range from very dry and dusty to damp, and muddy. Some caves in South Australia also contain lakes and fossils, and if you're lucky you may come across all these features in one cave.

In South Australia, cave temperatures range from 16°C to 22°C and have high humidity often around 98%. Caving in Australia, and especially South Australia, although considered a High Risk Activity has a good safety record. This is mainly because of the isolated locations of caves, the permits required and regulations to follow to gain access. Most access requires you to be a member of a recognized caving club such as CEGSA (Cave Exploration Group of South Australia Inc). The caves are also restricted to keep damage to a minimum and because many are important for scientific research.

CEGSA when possible will run trips for community and school groups in the hope of educating young people about the wonders underground. The Club is also heavily involved in researching, mapping and exploring caves, often working closely with scientists, National Parks and the South Australian Museum.

Preparing for Caving

Caving is a physically strenuous activity and it is important that you have energy when doing it otherwise you may not enjoy the experience. Therefore, if starting in the morning it's important to have a good breakfast at least one hour before caving to ensure energy levels. You may also want to bring a small bottle of water and muesli or chocolate bars for inside the cave if you are going on a long trip.

Clothing and Footwear

All-in-one long-sleeved overalls are the best with a T-shirt underneath.

Or an old light-weight long-sleeve shirt and long track pants that aren't too tight.

Short sleeve T-Shirts, tank tops, tight jeans and shorts are not acceptable. Thick jumpers are also not suitable as you will overheat quickly when moving.

Footwear should be sturdy boots or sand shoes that lace up firmly and preferably cover the ankle bones.

You should bring a change of clothes to change into after caving.

Medication

If in particular you are asthmatic you need to carry your puffer with you either in a zip pocket or small bum bag. If you have any other serious health issues the Trip Leader must be made aware of this.

Lights, batteries and other equipment

In caving lights mean life. Overseas, people have died because of light failure.

You need a good quality robust torch with a strap or cord tied to it so you can sling it over your shoulder when climbing. $2 torches are not safe. You should also make sure that you have a spare globe for your torch.

Batteries are just as important. Make sure you use good quality batteries such as Eveready or Duracell and make sure your torch has a fresh set incontact titlepic it at the start of the trip. Also make sure you bring a fresh spare set. Again as with torches, cheap batteries are not suitable.

Rechargeable torches and batteries are also not suitable unless they are specialised caving lights.

A smaller second pocket torch is important should your main light fail and may assist in fixing it and as an emergency backup light.

You need a Helmet with chinstrap. Many caves involve some level of climbing so some sort of releasable chin strap is important

Gloves and knee-pads although not crucial make it a more pleasant experience

Each Trip Leader will carry a small First Aid Kit when underground. More comprehensive kits are held at the cave entrance.

Some Helpful Caving Strategies

What to do if lost or separated from the rest of the team.

Stay calm

Do not go wandering around the cave you may end up going deeper in

Conserve your light and listen for the sound of others

Conserve your food and water BUT water must be taken occasionally to prevent dehydration.

If you have a whistle, blow it every so often. You can also periodically tap on solid rock with another rock.

If you are starting to get cold sit on your helmet this reduces the cold travelling from the ground through to your body. If you have a space blanket, use it.

Under no circumstances start a fire, this could be fatal

Other important hints

Need to speak out if injured or feeling ill.

Need to ask for help if unsure you can traverse/climb a section of cave.

Lead the person behind you rather than follow the person in front; if people in the front are moving too fast pass the message on for them to slow down.

Single file

Pass gear – bags, torches, etc, when obstacles such as climbs and tight spots make it difficult to carry your own or team gear.

Try to remember the way out – look behind you to see what it looks like if travelling in the reverse direction.

Cave Conservation and Safety

No rubbish of any sort is to be left in the cave

No spitting

No touching of formations or bones

No throwing of rocks, sand or mud

No drawing or scratching in the rocks or walls

Caves are not toilets go before you enter or take an empty bottle to pee in and a strong large zip lock bag for No 2s (Girls may need to use a funnel for the bottle. You must then take this out of the cave and dispose of it properly.

CEGSA's Right Of Refusal

Participants who attend with inappropriate clothing or equipment are a risk to their own safety and the safety of others and CEGSA Leaders have the right to refuse their participation on the trip. No refund of any fees paid are obliged to be made.