Here’s What It’s Like to Go Cave Diving in Nullarbor, Australia

Australia isn’t called the Land of Oz for nothing.

There’s a sense of infinity of what there is to see and do on this side of the world. More so, its attractions aren’t exactly your typical caves, mountains and grasslands.

Let’s take Nullarbor for one. It’s a flat, treeless plain in South Australia. Those driving through wouldn’t even realize there’s another world underneath it: A complex network of caves smack in the middle of the desert.

None of these caves were known to man until the ‘60s, when the Cave Divers Association was formed. It was in the feat to save divers from themselves that the group was formed.

Ian Lewis, a hydrologist and one of the pioneering cave divers in this area recalls: “It was something no one had done before,” he said. “And the diving was breathtaking. The caves were enormous. The walls were pure white, so our lights reflected off everything. The water was crystal clear and pure. When we surveyed them, the divers were 500 feet apart and you could see them as crystal clear as day.”

Nowadays, it was Dr. Richard Harris who is doing more of the dirty work, describing cave diving as “swimming through air”. “Some people overuse the space analogy, but it’s really appropriate. You really do feel like you’re suspended in nothing,” he explains.

Of course, it’s a place that comes with its own perils. It has claimed 11 lives in a span of six years back in the ‘70s. Between 2010 and 2011, the Cave Divers Association also lost three of its members.

Despite the risks, the excitement trumps fear every time. “There’s a chance of finding new caves, and the technology to find them is getting better and better. There are 12,000 blowholes on the Nullarbor Plain. Air belts out of them or sucks in. Some may have a cave at the bottom, some may not. No one knows.”


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