Aims and Objectives

We foster the development, advancement, promotion, mapping, education, exploration, conservation, safety and research of underwater caves and related features.

Before 1973, cave diving in Australia was not regulated and training, if any, was rare. As a result, there were a number of fatalities. To address this concern a group of dedicated individuals formed the CDAA in September of that year. Today the CDAA has grown to be a world leader as it drives excellence in cave diving always innovating with new equipment and techniques to continually improve the safety of the sport and its members.


The CDAA is an Incorporated Association under South Australia law with a Constitution upheld by a National Committee of five directors.  National Committee positions are appointed by membership vote on a bi-annual basis.   The Committee appoints State Representatives and Office Bearers for various roles critical to the smooth running of the Association.


New membership is available to all qualifed Advanced Open Water divers who are accepted for the CDAA Deep Cavern (entry level) certification. An annual fee is payable to maintain membership status.


Read more about History of Australian Cave Diving and articles published by our members.

    March 2015

    Two highly experienced cave divers enter the water at Kilsby's Sinkhole, one drowns.This is the third fatality of a CDAA member in the Association's 40 year history.

    September 2013

    The CDAA celebrates it's 40th anniversary.

    Completed year long project to catalogue and scan all forty years of membership records.

    October 2011

    In the second fatality of a CDAA member in the same year at the same site, a highly experienced cave diver drowns in Tank Cave. This incident draws much media attention.


    February 2011

    After an impeccable safety record of almost 40 years, a highly experienced and passionate cave diver dies in Tank Cave, the most complex cave diving site in the southern hemisphere. This incident draws enormous global media attention.

    October 1978

    First Issue of Guidelines, the association's cave diving newsletter, published.

    January 1974

    The Cave Diver Testing Program was introduced to set standards for equipment and skills and test divers before entry into cave sites was permitted.  Three testing categories were introduced:

    • Category 1 - entry level cavern, sinkhole diving
    • Category 2 - cave diving in an overhead environment with dark zones and siltt
    • Category 3 - advanced cave diving in large complex cave systems

    December 1973

    Two divers enter Piccaninnie Pines intending to dive the 'Dog Leg' at about 60m, one drowns as a consequence of poor equipment, limited experience.

    September 1973

    Cave Divers Association of Australia established to introduce training standards and regulate site access.  

    May 1973

    In the worse tragedy in world cave diving experience equalled only once by a similar multiple-drowning the USA, 4 divers drowned in the most renowned sinkhole of Mt. Gambier, a cave called The Shaft. Consisting of a gigantic rock collapse chamber 120m deep and probably 200m in diameter or more, it magnitude and visibility (100m+) draws divers from all over the world.  One visiting group was a party of 9 divers with a plan for 8 of them to descend to 60m.  On this dive four divers did not return, running out of air.  At extensive inquest was held with much media attention.

    October 1972

    At the time, this multiple drowning was the worse in cave diving history in the world, and its repercussions caused a great deal of self-examination by diving clubs throughout the country.  October 1972 long weekend saw a large Adelaide Dive Club run a trip to Mt. Gambier to dive various sinkholes.  Four divers entered a cave, without a guideline and adequate equipment, the silt was stirred up transforming the clear water into impenetrable back within minutes.  The group became disoriented, three divers drowned and one only just made it out before running out of air.

    January 1972

    A diver drowns in Piccaninnie Ponds, a narrow water filled rift which at this point had never been bottomoed.  The site is now known to be approximately 120 metres deep.

    April 1969

    Two divers die in Kilsby's sinkhole, a site that is 20 metres in diameter at the surface with very clear water in excess of 60 metres deep.

    January 1952

    The first cave diving in Australia took place in 1952 at the Imperial Sumps of Jenolan Caves in New South Wales, when Ben Nurse and Denis Burke undertook a series of publicized dives using airpumps and hoses.