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Facelift and safety improvements for Gunns Plains Cave


A combined effort from contractors and experienced Karstcare volunteers has resulted in significant infrastructure improvements to visitor facilities at Gunns Plains Cave.

The infrastructure improvements were identified by PWS engineer Tim Chappell last year. They included structural strengthening of the main viewing platform, walkways and steps throughout the cave and upgrading of safety barriers.

Building works supervisor Steve Overton said that visitor risk issues, including the installation of high visibility non-slip treads to stair nosings and the removal of non-structural timber and debris above walkways, were also addressed as part of the project.

Supersteel Constructions were the successful contractors for the $50,000 project and completed the works in only 13 days during June.

Karstcare volunteers then came onto the scene. The small but dedicated group has been responsible for a number of very productive working bees at the caves. Working in caves requires specialist knowledge and skills and the group’s expertise was put to use removing the rotted timber removed from viewing platforms and boxing for past concrete constructions, during the course of the structural work undertaken.

Northwest Region volunteer facilitator Stephen Mansfield said one difficult area near the shawl required rigging a rope off the handrail to safely remove old chipboard and rotten bearers.

“Tarps were used wherever possible to keep the mess to a minimum and to prevent falling debris. Several hundred kilograms of rotten wood and building materials were gathered and bagged for appropriate disposal,” Steve said.

“After a barbecue lunch and rest break, the arduous task of carting the debris out of cave began. Those familiar with number of steps into the cave would appreciate the effort required.”

Karstcare volunteers include Paul and Jean Van Nynanten, Paula Barrass, David Wools-Cobb, Julie and Rodney Gale and Kevin Higgins. PWS staff included Steve Mansfield, Barry Davies and partner Vicki and Resource Management and Conservation Branch karst officer Rolan Eberhard. Rolan helped out during the working bee and collected samples of cave fauna.


Photo 1: Paul Nynanten cleaning up under the end platform

Photo 2:Julie Gale Vicki and Barry davies

Photo 3: the group with some of the debris

Facelift and safety improvements for Gunns Plains Cave

The Karstcare group with some of the debris collected and hauled out of the cave.