Site: Piccaninnie Ponds, Mt Gambier
Dive Time: 53 minutes
Max Depth: 32m
Max Deco: 0 mins
SAC Rate: 11.98
Pics is one of those sites that I would put up there as one of the best in the world, hands down. At a really high level, you enter the water from a pontoon, to a basin pond about 10m deep, cross the far side of the pond through some reeds and stare down into where a chasm drops between two limestone walls down to 36 or so meters. From there.. if you descend to maybe 9m and make your way across the chasm, you find a series of holes in the rock, that once pushed through, open into a huge open limestone cavern called The Cathedral, that drops visibly beyond 40 meters and is a cavern full of overhangs and rock formations, all lit by the exit to the chasm at one end. All with unlimited visibility water. It’s absolutely phenomenal. The CDAA supplies the below map to help you make sense of it.
The site is governed by the Dept of Water, Environment and Natural Resources and so there’s a bit of process to get yourself an allocated booking slot. Then the conditions around diving the site are reasonably strict as well. Enter the site not before your allocated time and exit before the expiry time. Don’t dive deeper than 36.4m, be a member of the CDAA, don’t run line, and no deco.. (I thought, but checking the rules again, doesn’t say this.. oh well).
We rock up a little late because due to our early booking slot (8am).. our departure from Just a Bed meant that our tanks hadn’t been topped up. Thankfully we were both only planning to dive once that day, so my 170bar would suffice. Georgie, who had slightly less, but who breathes like a little sparrow was unperturbed as well.. this did mean there was some scrambling at the fill station before hand but meant we just geared up a little faster.
I love this site, and so the anticipation build as we jumped from the pontoon, kicked over to the reeds and stared down into the chasm. You can drop to depth here and explore a little section out of the chasm called the dogleg, but it means ascending again to 12 or so meters to go through the prongs to explore the Cathedral. We opted instead to drop to 9m.. head straight for the prongs.. descend through what feels like a mouth full of craggy teeth, get to depth and take our time in a circled ascent back up and out into the chasm.
It’s a really beautiful dive, and is again, the more comfortable you become with the site, a really meditative experience.