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Orange Speleological Society Inc (OSS) in conjunction with the Australian Speleological Federation Inc (ASF) and the ASF Karst Conservation Fund is appealing for donations to fight the proposal to build a new dam which would flood and destroy the internationally significant Cliefden Caves and fossil sites.

The Cliefden Caves are under threat of flooding from a proposal to build a new dam on the Belubula River at Needles Gap in the Central West of NSW. This dam will flood many of the highly significant caves.

The Cliefden limestone was the first recorded discovery of limestone in Australia by surveyor G.W. Evans on 24 May 1815. In the 1950s Stevens was able to show that the limestone is Ordovician age, the first recording of this age limestone in NSW.

Cliefden Caves is one of the most cavernous areas of limestone in NSW with in excess of 60 recorded caves and more than another 50 karst related features. The caves consist of extensive caverns and networks of passages up to 3 kilometres in length.

Evidence suggests that the caves may have elements of both shallow (meteoric) and more deeply sourced hypogene

development (formed by rising ground water). A permanent warm spring located adjacent to the caves, one of only 3 thermal springs associated with karst in NSW, may be related to these processes.

The Cliefden limestone is rich in fossil material and the area has become known as one of the major international fossil sites.

"The Cliefden Caves - Belubula River Valley sites contain the best exposures of Late Ordovician island marine invertebrate fossil assemblages in Australia. The well documented faunas and biostratigraphy serve as the reference sections of the Late Ordovician in Australia and as a window to the Late Ordovician island arc biota. The sites include the type localities for over 100 species." (Australia's Fossil Heritage. A Catalogue of Important Australian Fossil Sites. The Australian Heritage Council, 2012).

At present there is no statutory protection of any form afforded to these caves and fossil sites. Fortunately the present landowners maintain an active interest in them and are well aware of their values, restricting access to scientific researchers and bona fide speleologists.

The caves provide important habitat for cave fauna, including threatened insectivorous

bat species together with rare stygofauna and troglofauna.

The flooding and ingress of silt into the caves will destroy these habitats, the cave's aesthetic values and potential for further scientific research.

Donations are needed for research on the caves and for the campaign to SAVE CLIEFDEN CAVES. All donations are tax deductible.


ASF Inc is an Environmental Organisation registered by the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Australian Taxation Office. ASF's Karst Conservation Fund (ASF Gift Fund) receives tax-deductible donations in support of projects relating to ASF's conservation and environmental objectives.

Directors of the Fund are: Maria Comino LLB (Brisbane), Tony Culberg OAM BCom, DipEd, TTC (Hobart), John Dunkley AM, MEd, BEc, DipEd (Canberra), Kevin Kiernan PhD (Hobart); Phil Maynard PhD (Sydney)

Fund Management Commission: The ASF has established a Commission, coordinated by Nicholas White, to provide the Directors with advice on projects and to manage matters such as fund raising and reporting.

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Contact us

Commission Chair,
Nicholas White
123 Manningham Street
Parkville VIC 3052

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