Maroon Town

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Mar 02, 2003


Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, I. C. Conolley, M. Taylor

WPT 60/61, 3D Differential. Entrance 20m, az 55 deg from wpt's.

Maroon Town was the focus of the day's caving. The main target was the Roach Cave - Cup and Saucer Cave system, as this seemed easily findable, and also any other caves that we could locate. We had also looked for Tony along the rocky road up from Deeside, a man met last Nov. who knew of caves in this district, and although we hadn't found him had met a youth named Clive who also knew of caves. This district, north of Chatsworth, has had no visits by researchers or caving clubs in the past and seemed worth exploring. We made arrangements for the following morning and then carried on up to McBean's at the square in Maroon Town.

We touched bases with Mr McBean, and after having asked about a cave, "Prosper Rock Cave", that is listed in the Register as being quite close to the Maroon Town crossroads, almost under Mr. McBean's establishment, albeit with a very vague accuracy of 1 km, one of the men in the bar stepped outside for a minute and returned with "Lizard" aka "Junior", who told of us a cave he could take us to that was only several minutes away. He was obviously not to be trusted to any degree, but some questioning and a negotiation for payment of only 200 Ja$, along with the proximity, made it seem worthwhile. There are many caves in the district, all of which we eventually want to get into, and this seemed a fast way to bag another one.

True enough, the cave was closeby, at the base of a cliff beside bottom land near Maroon Town, and I used Lizard only long enough to point out the obvious entrance from about 100 m away. I'd left Ivor and Malibu back at the car with the gear while I'd made the quick recon, and after less than a minute of looking at the terrain around the entrance, I turned around and took Lizard back to the car. The inevitable happened on the way back, with the shifty Lizard trying to rush me for more $$, but I took some pride in the fact that it was only another 50 Ja$ he tried for. He was easily handled and I tipped him 20$ at the car for a grand total of 220 Ja$, (6.50 Cdn$). This was easy money for him, requiring an expenditure of only 20 minutes and a short stroll, and a good deal for me, it costing very little to get to another cave so quickly. I would warn any others who read these notes to avoid this character. I have a lot of experience with this game and others might not fare as well.

After loading up with gear at the car, Ivor, Malibu and I hiked back to the entrance. The cave that we were about to enter was unidentified by us at the time, but a good GPS position obtained at the entrance later revealed it to be Young Gully Cave, a previously mapped cave that is likely not to be confused with the unknown Prosper Rock Cave.

A small stream sinks at the entrance to this very broken-down breakdown cave. JU reports that the GSD found a large bat colony here in 1951, but this appears to be greatly reduced. Some bats were seen but certainly not a large colony. The cave has been invaded by American Roaches. Proximity to human habitation, and introduction by the local guano miners who have helped to eliminate most of the bats, are two probable sources. Possibly, some roaches walked there on their own, and some were carried in.

This cave consists of two linked breakdown chambers extending some 40 m into the cliff in a NE direction. The limestone in which it is found is particularly rotten and has formed a large hill in the center of the cave that seems more like a talus slope than a breakdown hill. Few large boulders are found and the rocks are all on the order of 10 - 50 cm. It was difficult to ascend this, to go further into the cave, due to a disturbing tendency for the rubble to start flowing and tumbling down under one's feet.

While Ivor and Malibu waited at the bottom of this rubbly slope, I eased my way as gently as possible up and over until I could see the far end of the next chamber descending to the floor. The ceiling in spots was less than a metre above the breakdown hill upon which I moved, and as the rope on my back lightly brushed the roof of the cave, rocks came off and tumbled down from my back. Everything seemed very, very unstable. It was obvious that any river passage that might carry on from the stream that sinks at the entrance is under many metres of rubble and not accessible. There was little life to be seen other than American Roaches and a few fruit bats. I decided that we'd seen enough and we should carry on to Maldon to find Roach Cave/Cup and Saucer Cave. A quick trip out, then across the bottom land, brought us back to the Lada.

The location of Prosper Rock Cave remains a mystery.
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