Caving in Australia, January, 2000

Chillagoe Caving Expedition --  Queensland, Australia

 January, 2000


The greatest density of caves in the world is said to exist in the remote Australian outback of Queensland.  Here, 400 million years ago, in the Devonian era, warm seas resulted in extensive limestone formations.  When the seas receded, the limestone began to erode.  Over the eons rain began to form channels.  Eventually these channels became tunnels and finally, large caves.  As the erosion continued towers resembling the tepuis of the Gran Sabana in Venezuela were formed.  Vertical caverns were formed when sections of the limestone collapsed. Some of these were lighted by openings to the sky, while others remained dark.  The caves were populated by a few species: bats, spiders, and crawling insects.  The first humans appeared, these aboriginals were probably fearful of the dark underworld and apparently did not venture far inside.  Nevertheless, they left their mark by drawing symbols resembling animals in a few areas reached by light.  Thousands of years later, other humans came who had the technology and curiosity to light and explore these dark caverns.  They experienced their beauty and even developed a few caves as commercial enterprises, dynamiting entrances to make it easier to climb down.  By the mid-1900s the population fell drastically as mines and smelters were closed.  Now, except when lit by a few inquisitive  explorers, the caves are dark, with the exception of two lighted caves maintained by the park service for tourists.


To find caves in Queensland, one merely seeks limestone towers dotting the countryside.  Once a tower is located the caves can be reached by climbing the tower or perhaps from ground level.  Climbing must be done with care because the limestone is cut in many grooves about one inch apart.  The tops of the grooves are extremely sharp so gloves and thick hiking boots are a necessity.  Also, you will need a cave helmet and light.  Although one can camp out here, it’s better to stay indoors for two reasons.  Firstly. it can be very hot here so air conditioning is a plus.  Secondly, when rain comes, it comes in a deluge.  Chillagoe has been flooded to a depth of several feet at times – it would be dangerous to get caught in such a flood in a tent.


During 1999 Jay Goldenberg, Jay Tolson, and Jay Smith, members of the Explorers Club,  planned an expedition to this remote Australian outback.  We would take with us all of the gear necessary for caving.  Our goal was to visit representative caves and explore unexplored caves, if possible. We also wished to look for any special life in the caves.  Dr. Nick Sullivan, a renowned cave biologist knowledgeable about this area, led the expedition.  He is a past president of the Explorers Club and a Catholic Brother [St. Mary's Order in Philadelphia].


Chillagoe, our destination, is located ~250 KM west of Cairns in Queensland.  Its a town of only ~100 people.  Our route was to Sydney, then north to Cairns. We rented a 4WD vehicle in Cairns and drove ~250 KM to Chillagoe.  The area around Chillagoe has seen two main uses:  cattle raising and mining.  Cattle were allowed to range free and then herded at Mungana for their trip to markets.  Cattle still roam free here, so you still need a fence to keep the cattle out, not to keep them in!  This area used to have towns with many thousands of people working the mines and smelters.  However, they have mostly played out and the population has plummeted.


January 7, 2000. Friday

Jay Tolson [JT] & Jay Smith [JS] were to meet early in LA to have dinner and catch the Sydney flight, however JT's flight from Philadelphia was late and he nearly missed the Sydney flight.  Because the LA flight was also very late we also nearly missed the subsequent Sydney to Cairns flight! Upon arrival in Sydney, we had to transfer from the international terminal to the domestic terminal – this delayed us considerably.  As we raced through the Sydney domestic terminal,  our names were being announced over the terminal PA system!  Fortunately, they delayed this flight a while for us, probably because both flights were on Qantas.


                                      Jay Goldenburg >>>

At the Cairns airport  we met Nick Sullivan [NS] and Jay Goldenberg [JG].  We promptly rented a 4WD Toyota [to go to Mareeba over smooth paved roads] and started toward Chillagoe [which was on a dirt road].  JS drove as he was most familiar with left-hand-side driving and roundabouts.  After passing over the heavily wooded Kuranga mountains, we entered a rolling countryside.  We stopped for lunch at the largest town in the area, Mareeba.  Although there were restaurants, we could not find one open  on this Sunday afternoon, only the pubs were open!  Finally, we noted a Kentucky Fried Chicken where we got sandwiches.  To improve the atmosphere, we took our food to a pub filled by people resembling those from the old West; everyone wore a hat and had a lot of character.  Some were playing pool, others were at the bar.  By this time we were almost too tired to eat, however!


From Mareeba the road was an alternating combination of pavement and dirt.  Streams sometimes went right over the road.  During rains these roads become impassable.  We stopped in the settlement of Almaden, population 23, at the Railway Hotel to view the pretty secluded garden kept by the owners.  There were banana trees with protective skirts on the clumps of fruit to keep off birds.  A fence surrounded the garden to keep out cows.  Everything was lush and green here as compared to the country outside the little hotel.  Proceeding further west, the road became mostly dirt.  We passed a small green mountain with a house and abandoned car with the word ‘Zappa’ painted on it. This was a former town where railroaders lived to maintain the tracks. Driving further we began to see gray limestone towers like medieval castles near the road.  Their jagged tops resembled ramparts.  The caves within were analogous to the passageways and dungeons of castles.


Arriving in Chillagoe by ~16:30, we checked into the Caves Lodge where Coober and Marcia would be our hosts along with BD, their friendly red cattle dog.  This dog is definitely rated # 10! The lodge has a small dining room and a bar.  Didgeridoos made by Coober are on display and for sale.  There are about a dozen rooms and even a small swimming pool in this lodge!  [BTW, it’s for sale so here is your chance to move to the outback!] 


Chillagoe does not need stop signs or traffic lights!  It has two pubs, the Post Office Hotel [POH] and the Black Cockatoo, sometimes called the Black Cockroach! There is a post office, a school, and a fire station. It even has a small ‘hospital’ with a nurse and an air strip!  From the town, one can observe several high limestone formations of gray rock including Dome Rock.  In the early 1900s Chillagoe had perhaps ten thousand people employed in the mining industry, but the main smelter closed in the early 1940s and the population fell drastically.  You can observe the smokestacks of the smelters [located on a high hill] from ‘downtown’. 


Later, we visited the pub in the POH and met the colorful locals wearing Aussie hats.  They were very friendly and talkative.  Vince Kinnear, who had documented >300 caves, came over.  However, he is too weak to explore caves at his age.  The pub has a limestone bar and on a post you will see a 4 foot-high-mark showing the water level of the 1927 flood.  The walls are covered in graffiti left by many visitors.  It is amazing to see how far people will come to get to Chillagoe!


10 January, 2000, Monday

We had a hearty breakfast at 7:30 and walked to the ranger station at 8:30 where we met the chief ranger, Lana Little.  She explained that their duty is to protect the national parks and ensure the safety of visitors.  Her maps of the area are impressive, showing thousands of hectares to monitor.  One thing they do is to make protective burns to keep fires from destroying large areas or homes. 


Later, we drove west of Chillagoe, past cattle stations and the former towns of Zillman and Mungana, which used to have three thousand people each.  Continuing several KM west, we turned right onto a narrow dirt road leading to aboriginal drawings of a red snake made under a rock ledge.  They were possibly thousands of years old but there is no agreement about their age.  Afterwards, we proceeded to a 'lost cave' found earlier by NS but since lost.  The entrance was in deep brush growing right up to the sides of the limestone formation.  We explored several tunnels formed at different angles and different widths.  One could see how and where water had carved these into the rock.  These caves have many features: false floors, columns, stalactites, stalagmites, and smooth pendulous hangings formed by many floods over the millennia.  We noted that sunlight at a specific angle had weathered the limestone in grooves parallel to the direction of the light, this is called phytokarst.  In other areas, sunlight had fostered the growth of green lichen on the walls or floors of caves.  Outside, the weathered towers of limestone reminded me of the tepuis on the Gran Sabana of Venezuela.  Of course, there were no waterfalls here because there is considerably less rainfall.  Exiting this cave we searched for yet another 'lost' cave discovered by NS.   We explored many tunnels in it also.


Next, we visited a mine that was abandoned c. 1910, called the Lady Girofola Mine.  It once had a thousand people that were served by railway.  NS said that in the 1970s there was much equipment here but it was gone now, only a few iron bars and buckets remained.  Houses once were numerous in the area, but they were nowhere seen. It was easy to see that human presence vanishes quickly, once an area is abandoned.  We climbed down into the mine, traversing steep slopes, but it was dangerous footing. Then, JG was stung apparently by wasps, so we did not remain long.

<  Aussie barperson.


Afterwards, we drove back to Chillagoe, where we visited an abandoned quarry of white limestone.  Here, giant 8-foot square blocks of pure white stone lay outside the quarry.  Inside the quarry one could see where hundreds of blocks had been removed.  The drill holes for splitting blocks were clearly visible.  Leaving the quarry, we drove to Dome Rock, a 150-200 foot high concave rock of smooth granite.  JG and JS climbed to within 10-20 feet of the top, where the sides became steep and too dangerous to continue safely. 


We lunched at the POH pub and visited the General Store grocery that afternoon.  There were more Bassett Hounds in the store than customers!  Deliveries from Mareeba were weekly.  All the meat came from Mareeba also as the town’s only butcher had vanished!  There were no low-fat foods, for example, the milk was ‘full-cream’ or 4% milk-fat.  The proprietor of this store was very entertaining and funny.  Later, when she saw us walking from the Black Cockatoo to the POH, she accused us of “pub-crawling”! 

<  Aussie barperson {“rabbit hat”}.


We had steaks for dinner at the Caves Lodge.  Exhausted from our travels, we retired early!


11 January 2000, Tuesday

We breakfasted on sausage, eggs, and even grits cooked by Marcia and brought by JS!  These were almost certainly the first grits cooked and eaten in Chillagoe!  By 8:30 we were at the ranger station and proceeded to Trezkinn and Donna caves.  The ‘kinn’ in Trezkinn represents Vince Kinnear, one of the discovers.  These caves are maintained by the park service and are lighted.  Generally, they have very high vault ceilings and many stalagmite formations.  One stalagmite was perhaps 15 feet high but only 6 inches in diameter!  One could see fossilized bones in a coral reef formation.  These were deeper caves with steeper entrances than those we saw yesterday.  Afterwards we proceeded to Balancing Rock, an interesting and hard-to-believe formation.  A large rock perhaps 20 feet high and 8 feet in diameter narrowed substantially at its base, where it was perched on another rock.  The balance was perfect but weathering at the base will surely allow the rock to fall over at some point.  The question is when?


We lunched on hamburgers at the POH pub, where we joked with the locals.  One Aussie began to refer to JT as ‘the cardinal’, apparently believing that he was the boss of NS!  JS pretended on camera to be seeking a job as a bartender in Chillagoe,  Donna the owner gave him instructions and demanded that a dress should be worn.  Another duty would be to ‘show a little leg’ outside to attract customers!  After lunch, JT & JS visited the Chillagoe smelters, whose smokestacks could easily be seen from 'downtown' Chillagoe.  During the early 1900s, thousands labored here to extract metals from ore.  The smelters were closed during the early 1940s.  During the subsequent 60 years, the presence of man has been much reduced.  Gone are the houses, buildings, and most equipment.  The slag heap,  smokestacks, and incinerators are all that remain.  The high smokestacks on the hill, together with the remains of the smelters are a well-known site for beautiful panoramic photos and have been a sight for professional photographers.  If you see information about Chillagoe, a picture of this area will almost certainly be included.


After viewing the smelters, we drove to a hill on the other side of town which had a nice overlook.  There was also a large water cistern and meteorological station there.  From the overlook you could see all of Chillagoe.  NS pointed out open areas where thousands of people once lived.  But there was no visible trace of their dwellings now.  One thing that does remain is the concrete and brick vault of the Australasia bank across the street from the POH, this vault is invincible and could be used again with a little maintenance!  There is nothing left of the bank building, however, so that would need to be re-built.


Later that afternoon, JS visited the Chillagoe library, housed in the old courthouse.  It was open 2 days a week and one can order books from Mareeba.  Sylvia Cockburn, the  librarian, was delighted to show off her facility.  She was very knowledgeable about the history of Chillagoe, and showed me several books with pictures and narrative about the town in early 1900s.  At one time, there were 10 hotels in Chillagoe!  The number of bars and pubs at that time is uncertain but probably >10!


For dinner we had roast chicken and a salad served by Coober and cooked by Marcia at the Caves Lodge.


12 January, 2000, Wednesday

This morning we had our customary breakfast of cereal, eggs, sausage, bacon, and grits!  By 8:30 we headed toward Castle Cave, which was beyond the aboriginal drawings past the ghost town of Mungana.  To reach the cave we had to summit a high ridge of limestone.  It was not too difficult to climb up but you needed gloves because the grooved rocks would cut you easily.  Climbing back down we found ourselves in a thick forest of brush and trees that was hard to traverse.  Finally, we entered an area surrounded on all sides by high, towering rock.  It was quite spectacular, like being in a cathedral.  Continuing under an overhang, we came to another cathedral-like area, whose floor was littered with debris and mud.    JG and JS climbed a 10 foot ledge that was a fake floor.  We had to stand on someone else’s back to get to the top of the ledge!  Following another tunnel, we came to a deep ravine with high rock walls. Although we could peer down into the ravine, it was too steep to go further without a rope.  So we carefully climbed down the ledge.  Exiting the cave NS suggested we return via an easier route.  Traversing the heavily overgrown area in a different direction, we had to climb a 30-foot treacherous ridge, which led to woods.  But we were out of the rocks!  But we had no idea about how to get out of the woods, we were lost!  After walking for perhaps two KM, we encountered a road that JG and JS took. We eventually found the aboriginal paintings and then the truck.  We got in the truck and on the way out we drove past where JT and NS were waiting in a moment of humor. JG deliberately held a bottle of cool water to his lips as we passed by!  When we turned around to pick them up they were standing in the road exasperated!  So our “shorter route” had been well out of the way! 


It began to rain as we drove back to Chillagoe. At the POH pub, an interesting character had arrived who wore a hat with a skinned rabbit {or was it a giant Aussie rat?}. After hamburgers, the owner, Donna, gave us a tour of the hotel.  They had re-finished 3 rooms and were working on others.  They were also working on the gardens.


Later in the afternoon, the three Jays drove out to the abandoned Red Dome Gold Mine.  The gates were locked so we had to park and walk 2 KM to reach the huge 900 foot shaft.  The road for excavation spiraled down into the deep mine all the way to the bottom of the pit.  However, this circular road had washed out from huge landslides and it was no longer usable.  A sign remained claiming that one million ounces of gold was extracted.  There were no buildings left and only one abandoned hoister.  We left abruptly because of rain and numerous bothersome insects!



13 January, 2000, Thursday

This morning we had our customary breakfast.  When we asked, the owners claim not to know about pancakes and waffles!


This morning we left for Carpentaria cave, again toward Mungana, turning right at the Arches Cave sign.  We continued past the aboriginal drawings and took narrow dirt road to the left.  Entering the cave, we found a confusing warren of routes to many chambers.  Once could get lost here easily.  NS fell so we continued on our own.  The routes led to several chambers, some completely dark, others with small light sources at the top.  Previous visitors had left signs in this cave:  X-roads, 3-Ways, Pixieland, Flag-Pole Cavern.  There were no directional markers however. 


We came to a very low passageway that we had to crawl through on our bellies.  Afterwards, JS lost his camera and we searched for about one hour for it.  It was later found in a secret pocket of his backpack!  Next, we attempted to exit the cave but found ourselves repeatedly lost.  Luckily, however, we studied landmarks and found our way out.  NS was resting by the truck and took pictures of us covered in mud!


We stopped at the POH for lunch [without taking a bath or changing clothes] where we found the same crew drinking XXXX beer {which the Aussies refuse to export because it is too valuable!}.  We had a lot of fun swapping Aussie and US slang.  For example, the Aussies say “take-away” instead of “take-out” in restaurants.  We became experts at saying “Good-day, mate.”  The “mate” is pronounced “mite.”






At 14:00 JS & JT drove toward Mungana to reach Arches cave.  This cave had several caverns open to light and was easy to traverse.  Green lichen had colonized the walls and there was also phytokarst.  This was a pretty, well-lighted cave.


On the way back to Chillagoe we stopped at a large limestone formation on the right of the road where we looked for more caves.  After climbing the formation we encountered a deep shaft too steep to traverse.  This may have been a cave called Haunted Cave but we never found out for sure.


After returning to the lodge we found NS engaged in a conversation with two dedicated cavers who had been north of Chillagoe.  They said they left the roads completely and went into remote areas searching for caves.  They took all their food, water, and fuel with them for survival, staying for two weeks.


14 January, 2000, Friday

For breakfast we had pancakes and sausage!  So our mention and request for pancakes had paid off!  These may have been the first pancakes served in the Caves Lodge!


                                      Fossilized clam in cave rock>>>

At 09:00 we walked to the ranger station where Lana and two rangers joined us.  Our destination was Spring Cave.  We proceeded toward Mungana and turned left on an overgrown trail through an area with high grass.  After about 15 minutes of difficult travel, we parked and walked left toward a rock ridge.  There was a hint of a path but it was mostly overgrown.  We climbed a low rock ridge and turned into a forest.  Here we crossed a picturesque stream that would have made an incredible location for a house! It was heavily shaded and was filled with boulders and well-worn rocks.  Blue butterflies flitted over the banks of the stream.  We then climbed up a dirt and rock trail until we ascended another ridge.  From the top we saw an enormous vaulted cave entrance that was must have been 150 wide and 100 feet high.  This was the largest entrance we had seen.  The floor had to be reached by climbing down about 50 feet over large boulders.  Reaching the floor, we found many rocks covered by green lichen.  We spent about an hour exploring several high, vaulted caverns.  There were good examples of false floors and tall, thin stalagmites.  This was definitely one the largest caves we encountered; the exit was spectacular as the sky was framed by the huge entrance.  Lana pointed out where decades ago, someone had blasted several rocks there, perhaps to gain entrance more easily. 


Returning to Chillagoe, we lunched at a combination gasoline station, bar, and restaurant.  Later JG and JS climbed one of the tall pinnacles across from the Black Cockatoo for a nice view of the town. 


At dinner we enjoyed digeridoo music together with an enactment of the Crocodile Dance played by two aboriginal children, a boy and girl.  In this dance, the crocodile pursues the girl on the river bank and takes her for his wife.  We filmed the event and gave the kids and their mother some Power Bars as a treat!  Our lessons on the didgeridoo were a disaster!


15 January, 2000, Saturday

                                                          <<<  Beginning of stalagmites

At 9:00 we met Lana and two rangers with their wives to go to Geck Cave.  It was reached by turning left from the entrance to the Red Dome Gold Mine, then following railroad tracks to a field where we parked.  We walked down the tracks for ~1KM and turned left through grassland.  After 15 minutes we reached the cave entrance.  This cave had visitors from the railroad many years ago.  We saw rotted remains of ladders leading down the steep entrance.  After traversing a tunnel, we reached a large cavern with a muddy floor like a quagmire.  After exploring several tunnels, we climbed out of another entrance to the cave.  This entrance was surrounded by high walls and was not a good way to get out.  Re-entering the cave we found a dead-end with a ladder that led to a remarkable formation like a wide stalagmite formed by dripping water.  This formation was bright orange!  We then came through some very tight tunnels that we were barely able to get through.  Eventually, we ascended the steep entrance through the rubble and make our way out.


So we walked the deserted railroad tracks again back to our vehicles.  Reaching the POH, we found the same cast of Aussie characters as always!  This included rabbit-hat who had an ongoing battle with his dog that wanted to enter the pub!  We spent the afternoon chatting with the folks at the pub, preparing for our return to Cairns.  We wrote our message on the pub wall:  "Greetings to Chillagoe from the 3 Jays, those dirty guys from the states & Nick, their confessor."   I also added my e-mail address, the first on the POH wall!  One notable fixture at the bar area is the control panel from a theatre in Chillagoe that was running in the 1920s.  This panel is about 3 feet square and its back is of heavy white marble. Several voltmeters [6 inches in diameter] and hand-thrown switches are attached to the marble. It is a nice example of early electrical engineering!




16 January, 2000, Sunday

We had our customary breakfast of eggs this morning.  We always used our special sauces that we brought with us: Tomato Pickle and Tabasco. The Aussies always put Vegemite on the table and JG is the only one who will eat it!  By 7:30 we are saying goodbye to Marcia and Coober, our delightful hosts.


Leaving Chillagoe we pass the now-familiar towns of Almaden {23 people}, Dimbullah {an Italian town with an impressive cemetery of brick mausoleums}, and Mareeba.  Arriving in Cairns by 11:00  we stop by the huge cane fields and the house of Tom Robinson to drop off Nick's books.  After checking in our hotel, the Mercure, and dropping off our luggage, we returned our vehicle to Budget to swap it for a station wagon.  We had washed the truck in Chillagoe with JT’s torn shirt! It  was now hanging on the front of the truck as an emblem!


Next we stopped at a tourist desk and booked scuba dives.  JS was to take a scuba SSI course at Down-Under Diving, while the others would go diving or snorkeling on a boat going to the Great Barrier Reef. We returned to our hotel and met Jay Kaplan, the 4th Jay in our party!  By 18:00 we were dining at Charlie's, a seafood buffet recommended by Nick.  We had a delightful dinner there, said our good-byes to Nick, and made our way back to the Mercure Hotel on the Esplanade, ready for sleep!


17-18 January 2000, Monday & Tuesday

JS took the first two days of the scuba course, partially in class and partially in a 16-foot deep pool.  The 3 other Jays went diving or snorkeling.  A total of 12 people started the scuba course but 3 dropped out.  JS was the only American in the course, most of the others were European.  This course was intense with a lot of practice on emergency recovery from loss of regulator mouthpieces and facemasks.

                             Balancing Rock near Trezkinn cave >>>


19-20 January 2000, Wednesday & Thursday

JT and JS boarded the Scubaroo transfer boat that would take us some 70 KM out to the Atlantic Clipper near the Great Barrier Reef.  The AC is a brigantine that was built in the 1980s; it was battered and re-fit in  storms early in its career.  We started our first open-water dive by 13:30 at Nicholas Cay.  There was a large technicolor fish hanging around the anchor chain.  We dove to 14M depth and practiced mask and regulator removal and retrieval on the bottom there.  Next we proceeded to the Atlantic Clipper and Norman Reef.  At 16:00 we did another dive with a similar practice session.   On Thursday we did a 6:30 dive and concentrated on buoyancy control but no more mask or regulator replacements.  We moved among the reefs which were shaped like vast canyons.  We saw blue starfish, sea whips, and lots of fish.  A one-inch transparent fish traveled up and down the sea whip, never leaving it as we moved it around.  This dive was our last certification dive!  We then moved to Saxon Reef where JS and JT dove together.  Moving between and over the reefs, we spotted many colorful fish including those living within the coral for protection.   


By 14:00 we boarded the Scubaroo and headed back to Cairns.  We had dinner at the Taste of China.


21 January, 2000 Friday

After breakfast in the hotel and shopping early downtown, we drove north of Cairns for about 70 KM to Port Douglas.  The drive was along a spectacular winding road nestled between the mountains and the sea. The mist from the rainforest made everything a deep blue or purple color.  There were superb beaches but no swimmers.  This is because of the stinging jellyfish that can be fatal.  They had 'fenced off' some areas with mesh nets where people did swim.  We stopped at a spectacular resort,  the Sheraton Mirage, on the way up.  This resort had a 5 hectare swimming pool that wrapped around buildings.  The pool even had bridges across it.  There were few guests here, however.


Arriving at the marina in Port Douglas we saw beautiful sailboats but it was very hot for sailing!  After an Italian lunch we walked through a shopping center where one shop sold many brands of Cuban cigars. 


We next drove to the Daintree Forest, a beautiful example of a rain forest on a mountain.  We walked down paths to a small river that flowed over giant smooth boulders, about 15 feet high.  This was a very picturesque place to swim and relax.  Leaving the Daintree, we drove back to Cairns and had dinner at our hotel.  This was the last dinner the four of us would have together because JG and JK were leaving for the wilds of New Guinea the next day.  The were traveling to Port Moresby and on to the Sepic River and eventually to Mt. Hagen.  Note: if they get lucky and make it back to the states, information about their experiences will be added as an addendum to this journal.  Otherwise, condolences will be in order.



22 January 2000 Saturday

On our last day JT and JS drove downtown to do some final shopping. We spent time in an aboriginal shop talking with a interesting man who was half Scottish and half aboriginal.  He explained aboriginal totems such as the crocodile, the bird, and the roo.  He also described how walkabouts take place.  Finally, he played the didgeridoo for us!


<<<Dining at Charlie’s in Cairns-Nick Sullivan & the 4 Jays!


That night JT and JS dined at Tawny's which was the best restaurant we had tried in Cairns.  It has excellent seafood and we recommend it highly.  We retired early to make our 6:30 a.m. flight on the next day.


23 January 2000, Sunday

Today we were to proceed some 12,000 miles to the east coast of the US.  At the Sydney Airport we could only find one place to eat on the international side and wondered how they would feed folks coming to the Olympics!  On the Sydney to LA flight we were both lucky and had open seats by us!  Arriving in LA, we claimed our luggage and said goodbye after this incredible journey!


JS returned to Atlanta, finding the city locked in an ice storm with no electricity!


                   Jay Tolson exploring false floor of a cave.>>>



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