World-class sinkholes attract divers to South Australian farms 🕳️ | Landline – Wild Rides

Caves don’t usually kill people they’ve
been there for a long time and I’ll be fair a lot longer. To the divers it’s
world class, to anybody’s sitting on top it’s just a hole in the ground
with a lot of water underneath. It’s a whole different world underground it’s
the closest thing you can get to outer space. The sounds and sights of divers
gearing up in the middle of a paddock seems out of place but this sheep farm
in the southeast of South Australia is home to one of the most spectacular cave diving sites in the country. It’s a whole different world underground It’s the closest thing you can get to outer space Kilsby’s Sinkhole is renowned for its
crystal clear water and rays of light that pierce through it on a sunny day. A
couple of hundred metres back into the cave and a depth of 40 to 50 metres you
can look up and still see the clouds. So that carry of the water is amazing. The
huge and dramatic cavity attracts divers from across the globe. Some amazing big
ones like massive ampitheatres that you get into and it’s like you’re
floating in the middle of the sky almost it’s just you’re the only one there and
there’s walls way off in the distance is either side yeah that’s just it’s real
thrilling to see that, yes. Owner Graham Kilsby says it’s not always
serene in the sinkhole. Back in the 70s the Defense Department leased this site
for weapons testing. They were actually punching sonar buoys under compressed
air into the water so rather than dropping them out of a plane at a very
high altitude they were actually punching these these Sonar Buoys into the water. Not far from the Kilsby’s place is a portal into the underwater world that’s so small equipment has to be lowered in separately. But the humble
entrance hidden among cows on a dairy farm is very deceiving. We’ve had people
that have dived all around the world who have come to here and I just couldn’t
believe the size of the room that we’ve got under our feet here, in the middle of
a cow paddock in the middle nowhere. Other places they go there in the side of mountains
and stuff like this but this is a perfectly flat land pretty well around
here and you can’t see water on the top of it
anywhere but there’s a lot under it. This is the shaft it’s the darkest and
deepest recorded sinkhole in the region dropping more than a hundred and twenty
metres It was discovered by the owners
grandfather when he was plowing a paddock and the horse put its foot
through the surface. This pile of rubble 35 metres down was the family’s
unsuccessful attempt to fill it. We tipped the stones down it and we really
didn’t have a clue how big it was underneath and we had no hope filling it
up it looks like an anthill down there and we have a thousand tons of stones down there. Like Graham Kilsby, owner Trevor Ashby is thankful to have ground water to grow pasture for his cows. But while he brings the water up, he has no interest in venturing below. There’s no value to me I’m not a diver on yes of the water underneath, we make a living out of that. To the divers it’s world class, to anybody sitting on top it’s just a hole in the ground with
a lot of water underneath. The excitement it does incite in divers from across the
globe is captured in a visitor’s book. But among the rave reviews is also a
poignant reminder of the risks Four Red Crosses alongside the names of
the divers who died in the shaft in 1973. Those four that did dive had no ropes or
guidelines or anything that day that when it did happen and they didn’t know
how big it was and that was just unfortunate that the way the caves, made
of the limestone formation, they just got trapped coming up. There is no doubt
this type of diving has a dangerous reputation. From 1969 to 1974, eleven
people died exploring caves in the southeast of South Australia but there
have been far fewer fatalities since a national cave divers association was set
up and training standards introduced. Caves don’t usually kill people. The
caves aren’t doing nothing, they’ve been there for a long time and they’ll be for a lot
longer so it’s the people that are entering, whether they make a mistake
or something like that, that’s where the problem comes in to it. And it’s when
things go wrong knowing how to cope and deal with those issues underground
that’s what gets you back again. As well as Kilsby’s and the Shaft, there are
around half a dozen other dive sites on farms and some clear signs below that
agriculture is the main pursuit around here. There’s an old Harvester that’s just
sitting on the bottom there, that’s interesting to go down there and see. Somebody’s obviously decided it was past its used by date. There are still parts of this extensive underwater museum that haven’t been explored divers hope land holders
will one day give them permission to open those doors. The challenge of a
new site is always fantastic. To put line in and have people follow
where nobody’s been before.

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