As is often the case with caves in any area, there is some differing of opinion when it comes to the claims to be the deepest and longest caves in Victoria.
Up until a few years ago the deepest cave in Victoria was considered to be NG-1 (New Guinea Ridge Cave) which is located not far from Buchan, down a four wheel drive track. The 1985 Karst Index lists it as being 120 metres deep. However, the popular view is that this is exaggerated, and the real depth is less than 100m – more likely to be about 90m. Rudi Frank surveyed the depth as 78m. Also, interestingly, NG-1 is a horizontal cave with no gear needed, but due to its length of 700 metres it clocks up a fair but of gentle vertical development.
Or it might be….
In March 2006, the ‘Potholes Master Cave’ otherwise known as Elk River Cave was found by the Victorian Limestone Caving Team. This cave is the main drain for all of the caves on the Potholes Reserve (we think) and had been sought for decades. Sump divers including the late Agnes Milowka have mapped and surveyed the cave to 135 metres deep, and 3130 metres surveyed length. This puts it as a significantly deep cave on the mainland. There are two entrances to Elk River (See cave descriptions). There are 13 sumps that have been pushed through, so only cave divers currently have access to the whole system. A third entrance will be the most significant find since the cave was first found several years ago, and people are certainly keeping an eye out for it.
So the deepest cave is a little bit disputed. I suppose you could say in theory Elk River is the deepest but the deepest found and reported is NG-1.
Longest. For those who enjoy navigation.
The longest status has also changed recently and is the source of much debate and disagreement. The Buchan Show Caves system has been considered the longest system in Victoria – incorporating Fairy Cave, Royal Cave, Federal Cave and Dukes Cave. The exact length of the showcave system is around 3kms, but there is no exact figure I have been able to find. This has been the case for many many years – Fairy Cave was discovered in 1907.
The title for longest cave has also been claimed to belong to Shades of Death cave, in Murrindal near Buchan. However this has not been substantiated by an accurate survey, but the cavers who have made the claim are experts and reliable, so there could easily be truth to that story.
This was unchallenged until cavers from the Victorian Speleological Association under the leadership of Peter Freeman linked a large number of small caves on private property in Bats Ridge, near Portland in Western Victoria together to create a very large system. As of 2012, Davies Cave is 3511 metres long. The survey is accurate, and the project has been running for several years so there can be no doubt that Davies Cave is the longest in Victoria. However, it’s worth noting that it is long because it is a maze of small passages – in area or in a linear sense it is not long at all.
There are two other caves which we know for a fact are longer but they have not been linked to each other by a human. The first are DD4 and DD31, which are in Drik Drik. They are long stream passages which are definitely one cave but a section of rockfall which is not penetrable separates them. This cave is easily over 4kms in length. The second is Elk River, discussed previously as the deepest. Dye tracing has proven that Elk River goes to Dalley’s Sinkhole which is absolutely massive, and the two are a long way apart, so if that was ever formally connected and passed by a person, it would be very long, on an Australian scale. More info on both caves is in the descriptions area of this site.
Deepest and Longest in the world.
For interest sake, the deepest cave in the world is The Krubera Cave (or the Voronya Cave, sometimes spelled the Voronja Cave). It is located in Georgia (Between Russia and Turkey if you didn’t know that) Its deepest explored point is 2,191 ± 20 metres. Well known NSW caver Al Warild has been to the bottom of this cave. Al Warild is Australia’s cave mercenary and author of the book ‘Vertical’ which is in my opinion the best instruction manual on SRT and vertical caving.
And also for interest sake, the longest cave in the world is Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, and it is 643.7 km long and crosses several states. It is still going and if linked to another long cave nearby it will increase its length even further.
Nothing in Victoria is deep or long on a global scale, but having visited caves all over the world, and spent 2 years caving in the United Kingdom, I can truthfully say that Victoria does have world-class decoration in some of our caves. Nothing I ever saw in the UK was as beautiful as the decoration in Exponential Pot in Buchan, or many other caves.