|Mole Creek Caving Club|
|~ club history page ~|
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There had long been local caving interests at Mole Creek, at a low, informal and disorganised level. A lack of local access to caving equipment restricted the scope of exploration. There was also little opportunity for new cavers to be safely trained and ethically introduced to the activity at the local scene. Interest increased and demanded a greater degree of cohesiveness. The solution was to pool resources and expertise, i.e., form a local club. Our inaugural meeting was held the evening of 12th October 1991 at a private function room in the Mole Creek pub. This occasion was particularly auspicious; as, at an early point in the proceedings, some fierce stormy weather suddenly put paid to the town's electricity supply then, and for the rest of the night. Within minutes this was the only room in the town to have lighting, courtesy of our speleo-technology retrieved from our parked cars, which proudly beamed bounce lighting off the ceiling. The meeting resolved to form the club and collected inaugural part-subscriptions.
The first newsletter went out to members 12th November 1991. Our early meetings were held at the Mole Creek Community Hall. On 22nd November we met for the 3rd time with a drafted constitution and elected the first office bearers. The first trip entered in the log book was on 14th December 1991, vertical and horizontal caving at Honeycomb. Our first permit cave visit was to Lynds, 12th January 1992, under a Northern Caverneers permit. Within 4 months of inauguration, we were welcomed into the Australian Speleological Federation (ASF) fold as associate members, and received well-wishes from many clubs. Our first permit cave visit in our own right as an ASF associate club was to Genghis Khan, 29th March 1992. In some of the established Tasmanian clubs, there were quietly muttered doubts as to our long-term viability - however, we have proved them wrong with the test of time, and matured with our many achievements with new discoveries and conservation. In April 1992 our reconnaissance efforts were rewarded with discovery of Impressive Hole and Big L Pot on Dogs Head Hill. As winter set in, our meetings at the airy hall proved a little uncomfortable despite our bringing firewood, and we took subsequent meetings at members homes.
We started with about 20 original members, and held at around 15-30 members ever since. Members' personal backgrounds, caving experience and types of interests vary considerably; a diverse and friendly group. The first AGM was held in May 1992. We had already begun receiving newsletters from other caving clubs from December 1991 and started gathering our library together, keeping caving publications, journals and newsletters for free member access. We responded to other clubs' generosity in kind by distributing our own journal publication, Illuminations 1, in September 1992. We sold many other copies for personal use during the club's participation in Tas Trog, the ASF national conference held at Launceston and Mole Creek in January 1993. We presented 5 papers at this conference and hosted many field trips for visiting cavers.
In our first year we accumulated by donation, local manufacture, purchases using raffle proceeds and a bit of scrounging, forming a small inventory of equipment. We successfully applied for a Department of Sport & Recreation grant in 1993 and finally received a $1500 cheque in early 1994 after complying with their requirements. With this money we established a more serious equipment inventory, boosted with a 200m roll of 11mm caving rope, a complete set of SRT gear, various rigging gear, vertical hats and lights etc. We were always concerned with safety, and we were one of the first clubs to begin vertical caving with SRT rather than the more traditionally favoured wire ladders (although we did acquire ladders in later years). We performed Single Rope Technique and safety training days at Abseil Hole and Croesus Bridge, and began rescue exercises on our own and in collaboration with Police, Parks, Ambulance, SES and other caving clubs.
From inception, we solidly worked on conservation campaigns for the Great Western Tiers National Park, Mole Creek cave issues, the Tarkine, Exit Cave, and actively supporting many others. Each year we continue to represent and advocate for cave conservation in many forms including opposition to inappropriate developments, logging, pollution, unethical visitation, and other threats to karst. We have close supportive ties with The Environment Association, Australian Speleological Federation, Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, The Wilderness Society, and various similar groups and individuals with mutual interests. On a very practical level we have undertaken cave cleaning projects, towards remedying impacts of past visitors.
Our early discovery and exploration resulted in many new caves on Dogs Head Hill, another hot spot being Sassafras Ridge. Our finds include highlights like the long, arduous and pretty Their Cave, the geo-botanically significant Moss Palace, the depths of Thirteen Second Pot, Big L Pot and Mad Dog Pit, the wet Splits Pit and Mayberry Rift, pretty Womble Moondrop, Slime Slot and Possum Palace, tight Three Arm Pit, and dangerous Gimli Grotto. Many previously known caves have been relocated, such as the long lost Flowers Pot and Deewun Cave, with many being explored to new extents and linked to further entrances. We have worked on a number of scientific projects, and performed in-cave and overland surveying and mapping. Of course there have also been recreational trips ranging from novice to challenging in nature. Sporty trips included the exchange multi-pitch through trip of Devils Pot-Devils Anastomosis, and our photographic epics peaked with the 20hr through trip in Kubla Khan.
Recent club activities
We cave about once a month, sometimes more frequently with ad-hoc trips at various times, particularly in drier seasons. We have an ongoing cave exploration programme that includes searching for new ones, exploring, surveying, mapping, documentation, photography and research. At other times, we have introductory caving trips, training and skills practise days, permit trips, combined club trips, or search and rescue exercises. Our rescue expertise has been put into practice for actual cave rescues in recent years. We have built up an equipment store with gear for caving, rescue and surveying, and maintain a growing library. We actively seek opportunities for collaboration with other clubs, universities, police, parks, forestry etc., and welcome visitors from all over the world. Our interests are wide: bushwalking, reconnaissance, cave discovery, exploration, surveying, mapping, photography, sport, scientific studies, land management, conservation, rehabilitation, eating chocolate and education to name some. Although our specialty caving area is Mole Creek, we go caving all over Tasmania including the major karst areas like Mt Cripps, Ida Bay, and Junee-Florentine, and many minor karsts, coastal caves and pseudokarsts. Some of us have caved interstate and internationally, and our more senior members have over 30 years caving experience. As well as caving and reconnaissance trips, we have speleosports events, fundraisers, social activities, film and slide evenings. Our conservation activity remains strong. We continue publication of Illuminations, our journal that includes articles and research reports, and keep members in touch by monthly meets, member newsletter, phone tree and e-mail linkup. We have developed a web presence, and claimed the mole.org.au domain. We then developed a e-shop service and now accept online donations and payments. Our conservation and management influence has been recently enhanced with the formation of the Tasmanian Speleological Liaison Council, uniting the voice of MCCC with the other Tasmanian clubs (STC, NC and SRCC). Furthermore, in 2006 we were a founding member organisation of Environment Tasmania. The club became Incorporated in December 2006, and gained Corporate Membership of the ASF in January 2007. Also in 2007 we created and produced the first print run of club T-shirts, available in several colours and sizes, see our e-shop. We have established a new service in conjunction with Wild Cave Tours for youth outreach to school and youth groups offering presentations and cave activities. For more details, enquire using contact us page.