Friends Of Buchan Caves (Inc.)
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Federal Cave, in the Buchan Caves Reserve was originally developed as a show cave, but was closed to tourists in 1970. For many years, the cave was basically left to its own devices.
The Friends have, over several years, made a substantial work of rehabilitating this cave. They have installed a wash-water system through the length of the cave's 'tourist' section, removed most of the decaying pre-war electrics and hand-rails and restored some of the exquisite calcite formation.
Federal cave now allows the Department to offer a different style of cave tour that focuses on interpreting the geology of this most interesting cave.
In October 1992, the Friends commenced a project of revegetation in line with the local Management Plan (Boadle, 1991) (currently in draft stage) by fencing off approximately 1 hectare of land on the eastern boundary of the Potholes Reserve, north of Buchan. Approximately 500 small seedlings raised from locally indigenous seeds were hand planted. The Friends' 1996-7 programme includes the expansion of this plot to approx. 4 hectares (complete), on-going management of the now established plants and planting of new trees in the expanded area.
This project, as well as being rewarding and fun, demonstrates the effectiveness of Friends groups in resource management. As well as reducing silt run-off and returning the soil conditions to their original state, the resumption of tree cover over parts of the Potholes Reserve will help promote the understorey plants and associated wildlife.
In Fairy Cave, there was a largely unused chamber - the Eastern Chamber. It had been closed to the public for almost fifty years due to difficulties with a low roof and frequent flooding.
In 1988 and 1989 the Friends started to remove old protective wiring and repaired the decrepit 32 volt lighting system. In June 1990 one member of the Friends, a civil engineer by profession, donated two weeks of his time to work exclusively on getting the Eastern Chamber up to a tour standard again.
In those two weeks the stream level was lowered and a new pathway with redesigned vertical alignment was drawn up and set out to permit the construction of a non-intrusive drainage system and to increase headroom. Two silt traps were designed and installed and all electrical and wash-water services were placed under the new concrete path. Particular care was taken to ensure there was minimal disruption to the natural drainage patterns of the cave.
A working bee at the end of the two weeks saw the new concrete placed and the project completed. Over 8,000 AUD was saved by having the design, planning and construction carried out by the Friends of Buchan Caves.
Floating a new path into the
The Friends have benefitted from the support of several government grants to help complete major projects such as revegetation, interpretation and education, but also encourage donations from the public through their information signs and donation bins in the Royal and Fairy caves.As well as funding their own activities, this money is sometimes used to support worthy community and other projects. Past recipients of such support include:
visitors in LC-4 Cave.
Early infrastructure development in show caves often appears as though it was done in a hurry; excavated material was often dumped within the cave, leaving a massive restoration task. In time, the infrastructure needs repair or replacement. Also, visitors to wild caves invariably cause damage.
A major work of the Friends throughout their existence has been the ongoing restoration of both managed show caves and remote wild caves.
|Although the picture at right may not suggest it, cave restoration can be a very delicate operation, requiring sensitivity and skill. The Friends are proud of their works in the Buchan show caves and invite you to see the improvements made to the Fairy and Royal caves at Buchan.
Drilling for the Friends, Fairy Cave, Buchan.
|The Friends' first publication was a pamphlet titled 'Cave Dwelling Bats of East Gippsland'. Available at the Buchan Caves Reserve for a small donation, this pamphlet describes these fascinating creatures. Check out the modified, electronic version! More recently, an important contribution to the Caves Reserve was the addition of interpretive signs to five interesting and important karst and heritage features. Because the Friends developed and installed the signs, the only monetary cost was the construction of the signs, which was covered by a State Government grant. The donation of time to research, design, write and illustrate the signs as well as the effort to install them saved the Reserve Management an estimated 57% of their value (11,500 AUD). An Adobe Acrobat rendition of one of the signs 'An Underground Stream' (PDF - 16 KB) has been included to illustrate the work.|
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Copyright © 1996, Friends of Buchan Caves Inc. All rights reserved. Written by Geoff Hammond with Peter Ackroyd, 1996 and modified 30 March 1998. Formatting changes by Glenn Baddeley, 23 January 2000, 29 June 2014.http://home.pacific.net.au/~gnb/fobc-bf/projects.html was last updated 29 June 2014.