Exploring the ancient underground world #adventurecaving @CapricornCaves

Have you ever thought about crawling through Fat Man and Skinny Man’s Misery? No? What about being reborn through the C-Section? No? What about shimmying through “The Wedge”? No? Well, think adventure and you’ll be heading on the right track.

The above are some of the names given to caves in which I was lucky enough to explore with my two guides DJ and Courtney.  And when I say explore I mean, crawl, squeeze, shimmy and DJ did use the term “mermaid dive through” at one point during the caving adventure.

IMG_8095DJ, Me and Courtney. Ready to go exploring the caves.

Welcome to the world of adventure caving and the deep underground systems of caves, some small, some large and some richly embellished with stalactites, cave coral, straws and shawls.  During my downtime from writing I visited this wonderful place called the Capricorn Caves. This fabulous tourist park is a short drive, 23km just north of Rockhampton in Queensland, Australia. I highly recommend you visit here if you are coming to this area of Queensland.

IMG_7694Richly embellished walls with stalactites, cave coral, straws and shawls.

Before I talk about my experience let me tell you a little about these ancient caves nestled in Australian bushland, frequented by native wildlife and protected by the people who care so passionately about this wonderful natural environment.  These caves are millions of years old, and like all formations they have a geological story attached to them. That’s a story you can hear told by one of the amazing guides if you get the opportunity to visit. The caves currently have a threatened species recovery program to save a small tufted terrestrial fern. While this fern grows in other parts of the world the Capricorn Caves has the only known population in Australia.  There has also been fossils found here and the Queensland Museum has a preliminary dating of shells and bones at a point of age being 21, 000 to 25,000 years.

IMG_7688Ferns growing on the outside entrance of the caves.

What about bats? Yes, the caves are inhabited by bats. Little bent-wing bats, common bent wing bats, Sheathtail-bat, Eastern horseshoe-bat and Ghost bat are all Capricorn Cave microchiroptera bat species. Here’s a little bit of information given to me to share with you. These bats are beneficial to the environment. They eat large quantities of pest insects each night and they also feed on nectar which means they spread pollen. Some bats eat fruit and spread seeds. So let’s think about all the good bats do for our environment.

So what did I experience while visiting the caves?

This might only be my opinion but I felt there was something bigger than just the visual about these caves. I believe it had to do with time. The caves’ real time geological story required millions of years to unfold.  Imagine feeling the power of those massive shifts in the earth under your feet as huge segments of the limestone began dislodging. Hear the splitting of stone as massive pieces broke away and came crashing down into the chambers below. That is the power of Mother Earth’s movement. While I was there I allowed myself some time to appreciate where I was standing and what happened here millions of years ago.

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Huge segment of the limestone that had been dislodged thousands of years ago.

As most of my readers know I’m always up for a challenge. After experiencing the Cathedral tour with Judy (tour guide) that morning, and may I say she knows everything from the discovery of the caves by the Olsen family in 1881 to the fossils found and the geological story of the caves, I decided I wanted a deeper more face to face meeting with these wonderful caves. I wanted to take a trip on the wild side and get down into the real workings of the cave system. That meant I was going adventure caving!

I had two amazing guides. DJ was my experienced guide and Courtney was a junior guide. Okay, I was in very good company to get down and dirty. Actually, muddy would be the better word because it had been raining over the past week and everything was pretty wet inside the caves. That included the bat poo that carpeted the entire cave system. The first challenge was Fat Man and Skinny Man’s Misery. These two were a warmup for the more interesting challenges ahead.

20150131_113539Crawling out of a tight space in the caves.

Mention the underground world of darkness, the unknown, and throw in some challenge and you have me hooked. With only the light of our helmets DJ led the way explaining how to maneuver through the narrow passages and tunnels.  At one point in our journey I exited one hole and gazed around at the open area we had entered. Once Courtney was through DJ said “See if you can find our next point of entry?” I looked around the medium sized chamber only to find a small, dark hole not much bigger than our body size. Yep, that’s where we were headed.  GULP!

The very best thing about experiencing something like this is the feeling you get when you finish. Conquering any fears you might have had prior to beginning the adventure is empowering, liberating and fulfilling for both men and women alike. When I climb a mountain it’s the challenge of reaching the top that drives me along. It’s the same for an experience like this. Each of us are capable of doing more than we think. We can set limitation on ourselves purely by thinking we are limited for whatever reason we can conjure up. However, when we have a mindset that has no limitations then we are free to explore our true potential.

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Our after photo. Yes, we are covered in muddy bat poo.

#noprincessonthisadventure

While adventure caving might not be for everyone it was an experience I absolutely enjoyed. I’m sure I will go on to do more adventure caving in the future. For those who are more adventurous this guided experience is  a walk on the wild side. Imagine squeezing through small tunnels of rock of various different shapes and sizes with nothing but your own strength and focus to pull you through. Now, I don’t want readers to think it’s just for a small select few because DJ did explain that these adventures can be tailored to suit all types of people.

So if you are planning to make your way to Queensland please visit the Capricorn Caves. Tell the wonderful people there I highly recommended you visit this wonderful place.

To find out more about the caves and the park you can visit Capricorn Caves website. Just click here for the website.

You can find out more about the Capricorn Caves on YouTube here.

Another YouTube video here

Capricorn Caves is also on Facebook here

 So until next time. Be brave and bold in your chosen field of creativity. And never be afraid to explore new techniques.

Comments

  1. Wow, sounds like a bit of scary fun to me!

    • M, it depends on the person I guess. I don’t suffer from claustrophobia and I’m not afraid of the dark so for me it was an adventure. The challenge for me was being physically capable to complete the caving. I certainly needed a good bit of physical strength. I was very pleased to completed the adventure and thoroughly enjoyed it! 🙂

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