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1st Puckapunal Scouts caving at Mount Eccles

(Author unknown, as published in THE BOOMERANG - Puckapunyal Community Newsletter - JULY 2007, pages 22-23, Edited by Di Grant, Used with permission)

On Friday the 19th May a combined 1st Puckapunyal and 1st Nagambie Scout Troop packed their bags and headed of to Mt Eccles for a weekend of caving. After a long 5 hour drive, which the weather threatened rain the whole way, Scouts arrived just before midnight. They immediately set about erecting their tents in their assigned camping positions. Mt Eccles National Park is located just west of the small town of MacArthur on the Port Fairy to Hamilton road. Huge Lava Rivers that flowed from the volcano formed the cave system in the area some 20,000 years ago. These caves were the reason for the long trip.


The Puckapunyal / Nagambie Scout Caving Team May 2007

Following, what appeared to have been only a short overnight nap, the Scouts were awoken at 0700 to the sounds of the local wildlife in order to get themselves ready for caving at 0900. Breakfast was reasonability simple with cereal, toast and fruit juice. Scouts then had to prepare their lunches as they were not going to be back at camp until late afternoon. Lunch for Saturday consisted of sandwiches made with a selection of cold meats, salad, and spreads, muesli bar, fruit juice popper, and fresh fruit.

Supervised by members of the Victorian Scouts Caving Team, let puckapunyal / Nagambie together with Scouts from 1*t Broadford, lot wendouree and lot Warrnambool / Tooram ventured fourth to enter the dark recesses of the earth. Once briefed on the safety requirements, Scouts split in three groups to explore a number of different cave systems in the area. Many of these have very descriptive names such as, Gothic cave, Cathedral cave and the Maze. Others are just known by a number, such as has. This number is always located just next to the entrance. An interesting feature of the area was the number of leeches. Unlike the last time Puckapunyal went caving a couple of years ago when these repulsive little creatures had a particular liking for the girls, this year they were more attracted to to. boys who received the majority of their attention. Scout soon found that the liberal application of salt brought a swift and safe end to their uninvited presence,


During the day Scouts visited a number of caves. Prior to starting, all Scouts
were briefed on the safety requirements of caving and tested on a number of
caving knots including the figure of eight knot, tape knot and alpine butterfly knot.
The photo shows Keely Lloyd emerge from one of the tunnels in Foote cave.

After a long days caving all three groups met to visit one last cave, the aptly named "Smoko cave". Unfortunately for the Scouts this was a ruse. Having arrived at the cave they were told that they were hiking back to camp. This hike sent them down the main lava tube following an old walking track. Although not a long way from camp, the hike along the lava tube was not an easy one. The floor of the tube is covered with moss encrusted rocks and is well vegetated with bracken and small trees. On top of that, the number of leeches made stopping a hazardous undertaking.

Once back in camp the remaining light was used to prepare the evening meal. For Puckapunyal this consisted of beef and chicken kebabs mixed with capsicum, onion, apple and fresh pineapple. Supplemented by corn on the cob and whole boiled potatoes the main meal was fit for a king. After cleaning up, the main meal was followed by a dessert of two fruits and custard, Most Scouts then took the opportunity to catch up on lost sleep. Next morning was another early start. A big breakfast of bacon and eggs, pancakes, toast, cereal and more, then back into the caves, Returning just before lunch Scouts were presented with their caving badges before having a quick lunch and packing up damp tents for the long trip home.

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