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by Edward Tax
Published in Australian Scout, May 2008, pages 36-37
The 1st Eltham Scout Troop recently had an exciting weekend caving at Mt. Eccles in Victoria.
After a long wait we got the green light to go for a weekend caving at Mount Eccles.
A week before the trip, the Scouts came together for an information night about the trip. This meeting also taught the participants how important it was for cavers to know their knots. It was a small, but keen group.
On Friday March 14, we assembled at 17.00 hrs at the Scout hall. After loading the cars with Scouts, luggage and other things we needed for the weekend we were ready to depart to Mount Eccles National Park, near Macarthur.
Our first stop was Ballarat and after our tummies were satisfied we continued on our journey.
The 1st Eltham Scouts
We arrived at our camp site around midnight. The Scouts were excited and despite the early hour of the morning, the chatter continued well into the night. I think even the possums and koalas were glad to see us, as they joined in with the noise making.
At them it was time for breakfast, as the program started at 8.30, so we needed to make an early start. We started off at the oval in front of our tents. The Scouts from 17th Essendon, Narre Warren, 1st/8th Blackburn and 1st Eltham were split into four groups. This allowed them to show what they had learnt about caving back home with their Scout Group. The leaders were pleasantly surprised with their knowledge.
After that we walked to the first cave and began our exploring. On the way, we passed a big lake, which we were told was originally a volcanic crater. The caves in the area were also formed by volcanic activity
It was then time to divide the group into two. The first group walked to the second cave (Smoko), after approximately 45 minutes we arrived. Some of the Scouts were complaining that they did not sign up for a hike and that they were tired, but they quickly forgot all that when they switched on their torches and started the real thing. They even found a geo treasure. After crawling around for a while it was time to surface and meet up with the second group for lunch.
After lunch group two went to Smoko and then walked back to camp, while group one went to discover North Pole Cave and Cave 53. North Pole was more difficult, especially for the larger participants, but with some endurance all the Scouts and some leaders made it.
The environment and animals were amazing and the caving team made sure that everyone left the caves with no damage to the environment. Around 4 PM it was time to end this magnificent, but also tiring day. Back at the camp site we had some time to play ball games before dinner. It was a wonderful cold dinner, I did not know that cold food could be so nice. As it was a day of total fire ban, this was our only option.
The volcanic crater
Everyone went straight to bed after dinner, because it would again be an early start on Sunday.
On Sunday we packed up after breakfast and drove as a convoy to the caves of Byaduk. It was a hot day, but as soon as we reached the cave the temperature dropped and it became very comfortable. We saw some other caves, which were too difficult for the Scouts to access, from a distance, (more suitable for Venturers).
After a closing ceremony, it was back in our cars and heading for home.
I can say I have learned a lot about nature and caving and I think l can speak for everyone when l say it was a great weekend and everyone had a lot of fun. l want to thank the Victorian Scout Caving Team for their wonderful program and enthusiasm. If your Scouts or Venture Unit want to have a great time and do something different, email the caving team for more information.
It is an activity that will provide something different and guarantee fun for all.
Edward Tax is
ASL 1st. Eltham
Photographs by Edward Tax
BJ squeezing through a narrow opening underground
Jesse helmeted up and ready to go!
Jacinta emerging from the depths