Almost Caving, and Tourist Caving

The forecast was bleak — 10°C and rain showers.  So we abandoned our original plans and decided to go bush instead.  Last night, Hannah prepared an itinerary, including Mystery Creek Cave, Thermal Springs, Hastings Cave and Surprise Destination (at my suggestion).  This morning, we executed that carefully shaped itinerary, nearly perfectly.  Apart from wet clothes all day.  That was a bit of a dampener.

On the way down, we stopped in Geeveston to buy some food.  And happened to park right outside a huge lolly shop.  What a huge lolly shop is doing in a tiny little place like Geeveston, I don’t know.  Philosophical considerations were not top of my daughters’ minds.  They happily accepted the existence of this incongruous edifice, and came away with — I’m sorry, Joey! — lollies.

Bellies charged, we made our way to our first objective: Almost Caving.  I knew we were regrettably not adequately prepared for Real Caving, so instead we were aiming for Almost Caving.  That is, looking into the cave, shining torches around the entrance and wondering what was around the next corner.

Almost was still an adventure.  The track was muddy.  Very muddy.  Wind had brought many trees down.  Climbing over wet branches and landing in big mud puddles was a great introduction to the day.  Instantly soggy pants.  The rain kept coming down, soaking from above, while the puddles soaked from below.

Cleaning boots at the start of the track
Cleaning boots at the start of the track
Trees down
Trees down
Trees down
Trees down

We found a midden of abandoned boots and bottles.  Presumably collected and deposited there over time.  Creepy, according to the girls.

Midden
Midden

Then we arrived at an obstacle.

Initially, I did not think we would be able to cross: the river was flowing fast and I was not keen on getting even more soaked than we already were.  But then I found some exposed rocks and a fallen tree.  So crossed we did!  Apologies for the quality of the pictures and video.  They were taken on SoggyiPhoneCam.

First Raging Torrent Crossing
First Raging Torrent Crossing

Shortly thereafter, we arrived triumphantly at a quarry.  The rain decided to come down just a bit more heavily.  That didn’t stop the girls from checking out what lay beyond the rock piles.

Success!  Crossed the raging torrent!
Success! Crossed the raging torrent!
Quarry Exploration
Quarry Exploration

But on to the cave.  A couple minutes more trekking through mud and puddles, and we spotted it.  The river was not (yet) high.  So we were able to approach the entrance of the cave, and look into what lay beyond.  It was also dry, which was a nice change.

Almost Caving
Almost Caving
Looking at the cliff face above the cave
Looking at the cliff face above the cave
Looking into the cave
Looking into the cave
Looking into the cave
Looking into the cave
The mysterious beyond
The mysterious beyond
And out of the cave entrance
And out of the cave entrance

Lolly snakes all round, and back to the car.  With the crossing of the raging torrent, now a little higher.  But not more than any adventurous (nearly) 7 or 10 year old could handle.

Back to the car, super soggy
Back to the car, super soggy

Back at the dry and cosy car, there was unanimous agreement that we would head to the Thermal Springs for some additional warmth and recovery.  With car heater on full bore, your merry correspondent and his soggy herd proceeded thence forthwith.  And a fun time was had by all, steaming in front of open log fires, swimming, in the rain, in the thermal pools (much warmer than the rain), but cut short all too soon by the need for sustenance, and tourist cave booking.

Perhaps Newdegate Cave was just too tame, after the morning expedition.  Or maybe we were too cold and tired.  But the review of the cave, as expressed by Hannah, and not contested by the rest of us, was “it wasn’t as good as I expected”.  Still, we “did” the tour, saw a solitary glowworm, many stalactites and -gmites, shawls and curtains and straws, holes and flowstone and more, and, then more than a little cold, made it back to the car.

Amazingly, just enough time for the final Surprise Destination.  This Surprise Destination was augmented by a multi-dollar budget for each of the girls.  A Gemstone Shop!  The initial joy rapidly gave way to serious perturbation.  This was difficult.  So many pretty rocks.  So much choice.  Yet, finally, both girls came away satisfied, thanks to a friendly shopowner, who was willing to mix and match presorted bags to her appreciative and choosy customers’ satisfaction.  Amethysts, moonstone, mookaite and more.  And, from there we made our tired, soggy, smelly way home, stopping only once to buy drinks.

I expected the girls to collapse on arrival home, but they bounced in the door, greeted baby Peter, and exuberantly leapt into the bath.  And while I was off preparing Peter for bed, they set the table for a fancy meal, including candles, wine glasses (no wine, more’s the pity) and neatly arranged place settings.  Maybe lollies are good for them, after all?

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