Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Saturday January 8 1972. 

I shut my eyes, stumbled forward about five steps and opened my eyes again.

I was in a giant room that looked like nothing on earth.

The light was strange, a soft but eerie glow, as if the room had its own atmosphere. A bit like being in a cathedral during daylight.

A shaft of fuzzy light poured from somewhere above and splashed to a stop in a pool of glittering white on something resembling an altar.

Icy columns rose white from a floor that was so starkly mirror-like, it must have been made of some strange reflective metal.

It was not a cathedral nor any kind of building. It was this.

We entered through a sharp descent - a vent into the earth - amid ancient stands of petrified Karri trees. We climbed down hundreds of stairs through an inky darkness lit by lamps strung down the shaft.

Now, at the bottom, in the great chamber that had stood just like this for thousands of years, I gasped at its sheer size and its haggard beauty.


We had arrived in Margaret River last night. It's a sleepy fishing village with a post office, a row of shops and a few hippie surfers with battered kombi vans plastered with smileys and make love not war stickers. A sign on the main road read 'Lake Cave, 8 miles' so we had decided to go and see it.


I stood silently in the cave, hearing noises. The drip, drip, drip of water. And a deep, busy rumbling, a subterranean gurgling, as if torrents of water flowing somewhere, nearby but where?

Then I realised that the reflective floor was water. It looked like still water but way below, water was flowing:

'The cavern floor is covered in water of depths varying from 0.5m to 1.25m, and the flow of water from East to West has been calculated at 23,040 litres per hour.'

The cave has been unchanged for millions of years except for the stalagmites that grew maybe half an inch every half million years.

Late in the afternoon, back at Margaret River, I surfed in the swirling ocean, thinking about caves and wondering whether I should become a geologist and travel the world investigating caves.


On the car radio:

look all around, there's nothin' but blue skies
look straight ahead, nothin' but blue skies

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

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