The ASF is the Australian Speleological Federation. It is the overseeing body for all caving activities and clubs in Australia. The following is a blurb directly copied from the ASF website (

ASF Inc. is an Environmental Organisation, registered by the Department of the Environment and Heritage in Canberra, with the primary objective of protecting the cave and karst environment of Australia. Formed in 1956, it is a national organisation consisting of about 30 clubs and 1100 individuals, where each full-member club has votes on the governing Council according to its size. Between the annual Council Meetings, the Federation is governed by an elected Executive. There is also provision for non-voting membership by individuals and organisations.

What exactly to they do?

The ASF co-ordinate a large number of activities:

  • Facilitate the production of a full conference with field trips is held every two years in a different State.
  • Provide the insurance for caving Australia wide. This is public and product liability insurance, and directors and officer’s liability insurance. This insurance is peace of mind for landowners, who will often demand to see evidence of the insurance and proof they will be covered if an incident occurs.
  • Produce Australia’s caving periodical Caves Australia.
  • Publish Helictite which is a speleo-science magazine, for those into the technical/geomorphological aspects of caving. 
  • Maintain the Karst Index, which is a compendium of information on EVERY tagged cave in Australia. This was in print format until 1985, but is now online only. It includes the vital information on each cave such as depth, length, characteristics, how explored the cave is, etc.
  • Administrate the Karst Conservation Fund, towards protecting caves and karst from any number of threats.

Do I HAVE to be a member? Yes.

Being an ASF member is compulsory in all caving clubs, and permits to restricted access caves is absolutely impossible without ASF membership. In some states the rangers will actually contact the ASF to verify that the applicants really are members. There are a several clubs that are really just friendship groups but have ASF membership so they can get into all the restricted caves. The ASF generally meet in Sydney which is the capital of caving on the mainland. They are not a club though, and do not directly run trips. It is possible to join the ASF directly if you don’t want to be in a club.

The ASF also are in charge of the codes and standards that all caving clubs and cavers must adhere to. The standards are aimed at all aspects of caving, especially conservation and safety. Outdoor rec companies are also bound by the standards documents that the ASF maintain. When applying for permits to gated caves it is important to refer to the standards documents, and to make sure that all participants are familiar with the documents and can adhere to their directives.

So as you can see the ASF are a VITAL link in the chain of caving. Without their hard work the whole structure of caving would fall apart. Organisations like the ASF exist in most countries, for example the BCA (British Caving Association in England).

For more information on the ASF see the link on the links page of this site.