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"You get everything from small grotty things to big thundering waterfalls, and streamways and delicately, highly decorated caves."The Junee Florentine near Maydena is the deepest, I think it has the 17 deepest caves in the country."Tassie has a lot of multi-pitch caves where you have a little horizontal section and then one of these big drops and it can be a bit like a staircase of big drops going down and down, you might have 10 drops."Khazad-Dum is one of the classic caves, it's got 13 drops."The bottom six have a stream running down them so they are down in or beside waterfalls and you just follow them down to the bottom abseiling on ropes and you come back up the same ropes."Another favourite is a section in the Junee Resurgence dubbed "For Your Eyes Only" after the Bond movie.Tasmania was the home of Australia's first caverneering club which started in Hobart in 1946."In the 70s and onwards there was complete change," Dr Haygarth said."In modern times what happened in tourist caves was a much more scientific approach; the ecology of a cave - how things formed and the process of it."There has been hunger for wild cave tours."While the massive limestone karst system stretching across hundreds of kilometres of the Nullabor Plain is renowned for spanning two states, at 90 metres deep they are relatively shallow. The deepest vertical caves in Australia are in the Junee Florentine, where they drop to 380 metres.
He and colleagues unearthed evidence of Aboriginal existence dating back to the last ice age; it was evidence of the world's most southerly human occupation. Previously it had been thought the Indigenous population had been coastal but a rich archaeological deposit of animal bone fragments and tools, indicated it had been used as a shelter."This completely rewrote the known Indigenous history of the south west because up until that point there had been no evidence that Aborigines had occupied the south west and here he was standing on countless thousands and thousands of tools," Dr Haygarth said."This was at time when Kevin Kiernan and others were mounting expeditions in the Gordon-Franklin area looking for caves just to show that this was going to be a disaster to flood this area that this was an extraordinary cave system."It was a turning point in the campaign to save the river.
It was discovered in 1982 by cavers in scuba gear negotiating tunnels for the first time."You've got to dive through a 230-metre-long tunnel of water to get to that section of cave totally submerged in scuba gear," Ms Mc Kinnon said."That is probably the best cave diving in Tasmania.
The rest are interesting, exciting and challenging but not what you'd call scenic."There are very few places now on this planet that you can actually explore, that you can be first; even if you are not the first, you can be one of half a dozen people who have been there."Some of these places are just amazingly beautiful or powerful and impressive.
Local historian Nic Haygarth has delved into their impact both below and above ground.
With daily lives engrossed in screen devices and negotiating life above ground, many people don't give a second thought to what lies beneath.
But the early years left caves littered with debris, muddied tracks and roofs blackened by soot from lighting.