Free Diving Kilsby’s Sinkhole

Yes, there is a sinkhole in Australia with natural beauty and water clarity akin to Mexico’s cenotes! Jessie Cripps from Underwater Ally Adventures shares with us her freediving adventures…


When I was a child, I vividly remember watching a BBC documentary of divers exploring the Mexican cenotes.

Fast forward a decade or two, I was on a backpacking trip through Central America and I found myself within reach of the cenotes.

As I scuba dived my way through these huge cave systems with spectacular light, I was blown away. It was better than I could’ve ever imagined.

That same backpacking trip, I watched ‘Sanctum’, a Hollywood blockbuster about cave diving. When I learnt that a lot of it was filmed in Australia, I started to research where. It was then that I stumbled across the cave diving scene in Mt Gambier.


Just when I thought I’d ticked an item off the bucket list, I added another.

Years passed and it wasn’t until recently when my friend, who is driving around Australia, mentioned it in passing. I jumped at the opportunity and naturally, invited myself along.

The main problem I’d encountered previously was that the caves were heavily regulated and only accessible by certified cave divers and members of the Cave Diving Association of Australia, until recently.

In 2014, the Kilsby family started a range of trials allowing access to the property for snorkelers and open water scuba divers.

Access to the site is only possible through prior arrangement with an instructor who holds a licence to guide dives.

While you still can’t enter any of the enclosed caverns, the main open area is enough to make the trip worthwhile.

Nearby is also Ewens and Piccaninnie ponds which are part of the National Park.

Together, they all make for a perfect weekend adventure for the novice diver to be blown away.



A bit about Kilsby’s Sinkhole…

It’s located in the middle of a sheep grazing paddock on a farm located 10 minutes from Mount Gambier.

Once little more than a watering hole for traveling stockmen who would throw a bucket into water below and haul it numerous meters back to the surface to quench the thirst of their cattle, the sinkhole has since been central to 4 generations of the farming activity of the Kilsby Family.

The site is used as a training site by the South Australian Police Divers who return to Kilsby Sinkhole annually to complete a variety of exercises.

The site was one of the first sinkholes to be dived in the Mount Gambier region, with recreational diving activity commencing in the late 1950’s. The site attracted a large number of people who flocked to the site on news of its natural beauty and renowned water clarity.


In next month’s episode, we check out Ewens and Piccaninnie but for now we have dedicated this entire episode to Kilsbys - because it’s worth it!

Follow Jessie, Nikki Watt and Nicole Burko:

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