Nettlebed (5L290) Select this option
Phone: 08 8391 8800
Address: Mount Gambier, 5290
South Australia Australia
Site Description: 

Nettle-Bed Cave (official CEGSA cave reference number 5L290) was named by Adelaide-based cave diver, Grant Pearce, after he and his diving partner, Chris Murphy, discovered it on 27 January 1990. They had laboured to remove hundreds of limestone stones which choked the south-eastern end of the popular diving doline known as 5L97 (Mud Hole), and their efforts revealed the presence of a body-sized puddle of dark, crystal-clear water which quickly dropped away under the wall.

Grant and Chris' early dives found them working their ways through the muddy entrance restriction in single file, emerging a few metres later in a wider, higher entrance passage (The Gallery) with a steep rubbly floor and numerous fascinating wall scratchings which initially were suspected of being human  in  origin.  (Subsequent  analysis  of  photos  and  videotapes  of  these  markings  by  three professional and semi-professional archaeologists resulted in their expressing the view that they were most likely caused by now-extinct megafaunal animals, although human effects were not entirely ruled out.) Some old sea-shells were found in this area of the cave, indicating that Nettle-Bed might well have been used as a habitation site sometime before the last Ice Age ended thousands of years ago,  and  Grant  and  Chris  took  care  to  avoid  disturbing  the  silty  ledges  or  bottom  rubble unnecessarily.

From The Gallery, the cave drops deeper and breaks into a large room which contains many large, dark silt-covered boulders and blackish walls, before dropping again into a low, white clay-floored passage which leads into a smaller final chamber. The cave is not deep by local sinkhole standards - just 28 metres or so in the final room, and with an actual penetration distance from the surface of some 80 metres - but the restrictive entrance and the need for divers to possess excellent buoyancy control (and near-perfect finning techniques) means that for the moment, Nettle-Bed Cave is deemed to be an "Advanced Cave" site.

Nettle-Bed Cave was the subject of exhaustive negotiations between the CDAA, the Government landowners (Primary Industries S.A. {Forestry}), numerous members of State Aboriginal Affairs departments and heritage units, archaeologists and representatives of the local Aboriginal community (South East Nungas) between 1990 and mid-1994, as all involved parties sought to ensure that every moral  and  legal  responsibility  and  obligation  was  properly  considered  before  more  generalised access arrangements were agreed upon. These negotiations were recently successful, but because the site might still prove to be of scientific significance in the future (and while it is still registered as a suspected Aboriginal site), all cave divers are reminded of their obligations under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (please refer to attached extracts) to avoid disturbing anything in the cave when they are visiting this interesting feature.

Please stick close to permanent guidelines which may be found in the cave, avoid touching the ceiling, floor and walls, and have a safe and enjoyable dive!

Access Notes: 

Book online via
Click the above link, and scroll down the page to find the BOOK NOW button. Here you can select a cave and date you wish to dive. Then it’s as easy as filling in diver details. Members can contact or 08 8391 8800 during office hours for support and assistance.

Forestry sites closed on Total Fire Ban days as per regulations.

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