Newcastle and Hunter Valley Speleological Society

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Newcastle and Hunter Valley Speleological Society Inc.
Formation1 May 1984; 40 years ago (1984-05-01)
AffiliationsAustralian Speleological Federation
WebsiteNHVSS Website
Logo design J.Whitby, adopted 30 July 1998

Newcastle and Hunter Valley Speleological Society (NHVSS)[1] is a caving club based in Newcastle, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.


The Newcastle and Hunter Valley Speleological Society formed in May 1984.[2] The Society became an "Associate Member" of the Australian Speleological Federation in late 1984 and a full "Corporate Member" in January 1986.[2][3] The Society's first organised trip in June 1984, was a weekend of simulated cave rescues at the Timor Caves, located around 150 km North-West of Newcastle in the Hunter Valley.[2]

NHVSS became part of the World Wide Web with the setting up of the society's website in mid 1999. This allowed members to access information on upcoming trips and provided contact details for like minded members of the public.[4] Then during 2003, NHVSS became an Incorporated Society, registered with the 'NSW Department of Fair Trading'.

In 2004, NHVSS received a NSW Environmental Education Community Grant to fund research and publish an up-to-date educational resource book on the Timor Karst and Caves.[5][6] Research field work was carried out between February 2005 and October 2007 with assistance of members from several other organisations and speleological societies.[5][7] During the field work, an additional 27 new caves were discovered and documented.[8][9] The book 'Timor Caves - Hunter Valley, New South Wales' was published in August 2008.[10]

In July 2009 the NHVSS lodged a class 1 appeal with the NSW Land and Environment Court (L&EC), objecting to the granting of a limestone quarry approval at Timor in the upper Hunter Valley, NSW. The NSW Environmental Defender's Office acted on behalf of NHVSS in appealing the "Stoneco Pty Ltd" limestone quarry approval by the Upper Hunter Shire Council.[11] L&EC hearings were held during November 2009 and again in May 2010. The court granted consent[12][13] for the quarry to proceed in June 2010, provided that strict monitoring protocols were implemented and imposed many additional conditions focused on the protection of Timor karst values and biodiversity covering the project site during the life of the quarry.[14][15][16][17][13] The conditions imposed by the L&EC set an important precedent for the types of conditions which may be imposed on similar quarries and mines in the future,[17][18][19][20][21][22] and the case has since been quoted in numerous development applications for coal, mineral and metal mines in NSW.


The society's activities include; exploration, survey, documentation, research and conservation of caves and karst. NHVSS has been involved in speleothem research in Australia,[23][24] palaeoclimate research on the Indonesian islands of Flores and Sulawesi,[25][26] Atiu - Cook Islands[27] and cave exploration diving.[28] During 2018 the society assisted on palaeontology research expeditions to caves in the Upper Hunter Valley NSW Australia, resulting in discoveries of significant Quaternary fossils, including five extinct Pleistocene megafaunal taxa.[29] A number of other research projects (e.g. bat monitoring and groundwater fauna) have been undertaken by the society at various cave and karst locations in NSW.[citation needed]

Since 2011, the speleological society has regularly assisted Newcastle University lecturers, by guiding geology students through the Timor Caves, on field excursions. The excursions provide students with a better understanding of cave geomorphology and highlights specific geological features covered in the university course.[30][31]

Currently the NHVSS have members engaged in a programme of exploration and surveying Bullita Caves[32] within Gregory National Park, Northern Territory, which to date has over 300 km of surveyed passage,[33] making it amongst the longest underground systems in the world.[34]

NHVSS members undertake a diverse range of activities, catering for a wide range of skill levels, from beginners to hard core veteran cavers. Horizontal and vertical caving skills of members, are kept up to date through regular training days. Other activities include canyoning, bushwalking and occasionally cross country skiing and white water kayaking.[35]


Newcaves Chronicles, ISSN 1325-0930. Newcastle and Hunter Valley Speleological Society Inc. Published twice yearly since August 1993.

Timor Caves - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, (2008). ISBN 9780646492858.


  1. ^ "Caving Clubs in New South Wales". Archived from the original on 31 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Lacey I., (1994) "The Newcastle and Hunter Valley Speleological Society - The Beginning of an Era", Newcaves Chronicles, Vol.3 P.14-15. ISSN 1325-0930
  3. ^ ASF 'Member Societies & Associated Organisations', Australian Caver (1986), No.110, P.1, ISSN 0313-413X
  4. ^ Whitby J., (2000), "NHVSS Web Page Waffle", Newcaves Chronicles, Vol.14, P.5 ISSN 1325-0930
  5. ^ a b "Environmental Education Community Grant (No.2004/ED/0019)" (PDF). Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  6. ^ Thompson F., (2006), 'Hunter's Hidden Depths Unearthed', Newcastle - Herald News, 15 December 2006, P.7. Fairfax Regional Media
  7. ^ Stuart A., (2008), "Bird Surveys of the Timor Caves Area 2005-2006" (PDF). Retrieved 5 September 2017. The Whistler, No.2 (2008), P. 44-48, ISSN 1835-7385. Hunter Bird Observers Club, New Lambton, N.S.W., Australia
  8. ^ Rutledge J., et al. (2008), ‘Timor Caves - Hunter Valley, New South Wales’, Newcastle and Hunter Valley Speleological Society Inc. ISBN 9780646492858
  9. ^ 'More Caves Uncovered at Timor', Hunter Valley News, 30 July 2008, P.7, Fairfax Regional Media
  10. ^ Taylor-Smith S., (2008), "Timor Caves Book Launch", Caves Australia, No. 175, P.5-6, ISSN 1449-2601
  11. ^ "Upper Hunter Shire Council minutes of ordinary meeting 29th July 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 8 September 2017. P.77-78. 'Approval of Development Application 308/08 - Timor Limestone Quarry'
  12. ^ L&EC Judgement (2010), "Newcastle & Hunter Valley Speleological Society Inc v Upper Hunter Shire Council and Stoneco Pty Limited [2010] NSWLEC 48". Retrieved 8 September 2017. Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, Australia
  13. ^ a b Strachan J. (12 July 2010) "Blasting on Hold", "Newcastle Herald" and "Central Coast Herald", P.13, John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd.'
  14. ^ NSWL&EC, 'Judgement' and 'Conditions of Consent', Newcastle & Hunter Valley Speleological Society Inc v Upper Hunter Shire Council and Stoneco Pty Limited (No 2) [2010] NSWLEC 104,
  15. ^ "Environmental Defender's Office, N.S.W. Annual Report 2009/10, P.39-40 & 60" (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Land and Environment Court of NSW, Judicial Newsletter (April 2010), Vol.2 Issue 2, P.20-21" (PDF). Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  17. ^ a b Smith G.K., and Rutledge J., (2011), "The Timor Quarry Case", Caves Australia, journal of the 'Australian Speleological Federation Inc'. No.185, P.16-19. ISSN 1449-2601
  18. ^ Fisher. D., (editor) (2016), 'Research Handbook of Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Law', Chapter 18. "The Judicial Development of Ecologically Sustainable Development", Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK, ISBN 9781784714642 {{citation}}: |author1= has generic name (help)
  19. ^ Scotford E. (2017), 'Environmental Principles & Evolution of Environmental Law', P.237, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 9781849462976
  20. ^ 'Mining and Quarrying', (November 2010), Chapter 10.0, P.72-73, "Rural Landholder's Guide to Environmental Law in NSW, 3rd Edition" (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2017. Environmental defenders Office (N.S.W)
  21. ^ Scoins D., (2011). "Treading Cautiously: How the NSW Judiciary Appear Reluctant to Apply the Precautionary Principle", IMPACT - A National Journal of Environmental Law. Issue 91, V.3, P.19-25
  22. ^ Kelly J., (2012), 'The Constitutionality of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act', Upholding the Australian Constitution Volume Twenty-Four, Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Conference of The Samuel Griffith Society, P.75-76
  23. ^ England B., (2000) 'Moonmilk Characterisation Project', Newcaves Chronicles, No.14, P. 54-55. ISSN 1325-0930, Newcastle and Hunter Valley Speleological Society, (NPWS Scientific Investigation License No.A2630)
  24. ^ Turner K., (2002), 'Chromophores Producing Blue Speleothems at Cliefden, NSW', Helictite, 38(1): P. 3-6. ISSN 0017-9973. 'Journal of Australasian Speleological Research'
  25. ^ "Large Cave Discoveries on Flores (Indonesia) July- August 2006", Australian Speleological Federation, 26th Biennial Conference Proceedings, January 2007, Sec. 28. P.1-10
  26. ^ Smith G.K., (2006),"Large Cave Discoveries on Flores (Indonesia)", Caves Australia, No.172, P.14-19, ISSN 1449-2601, journal of the 'Australian Speleological Federation Inc'
  27. ^ Smith G.K., Borsato A., Frisia S., Hellstrom J., Hartland A. & Faraji M., (2019), "Karst and Caves of Atiu – Cook Islands", Caves Australia, No. 210, P.11-18, ISSN 1449-2601, journal of the 'Australian Speleological Federation Inc'
  28. ^ OBrien R., (2018), Australian Cave Diving – New South Wales, P.68-69, 253-258, 267. ISBN 978-0-646-96785-1
  29. ^ Price GJ, Louys J, Smith GK, Cramb J. 2019. Shifting faunal baselines through the Quaternary revealed by cave fossils of eastern Australia. PeerJ 6:e6099
  30. ^ Rutledge J., (2012), 'Timor Caves (Uni Trip) 27–28 August 2011', Newcaves Chronicles, V.37, P16-17, ISSN 1325-0930
  31. ^ Rutledge J., (2012), 'Timor Caves (Uni & NBN TV trip) 12–13 May 2012', Newcaves Chronicles, V.38, P.29-30. ISSN 1325-0930
  32. ^ "Martini J., and Grimes K., (2012) Epikarstic Maze Cave Development: Bullita Cave System, Judbarra / Gregory Karst, Tropical Australia" (PDF). Retrieved 12 September 2017. Helictite, No.41, P.37-66, ISSN 0017-9973. 'Journal of Australasian Speleological Research'
  33. ^ Sefton M., (2017), 'Report of the 2017 expedition to Judbarra-Gregory National Park by members of the Judbarra-Gregory Karst Research Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Australian Speleological Federation'
  34. ^ Smith. G. K., (2018), "Australia's Largest Cave Systems in Judbarra-Gregory National Park, NT", Caves Australia No. 206, P.14-18. ISSN 1449-2601, journal of the 'Australian Speleological Federation Inc'
  35. ^ Smith G.K. (2018), 'Time Capsule of Ancient Life', Australian Age Of Dinosaurs, The Annual Publication of Australian Age Of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History, Issue 15, P.22-29, ISSN 1448-4420

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