FOREWORD: TENTH ACKMA CONFERENCE
When the delegates of the 10th Biennial ACKMA Conference assembled on the first evening at the Tropical Wanderers Holiday Village, Rockhampton, there was a feeling that this was far from a meeting of cave managers but rather a gathering of a large family. New friends were immediately absorbed into this special atmosphere, to which I am sure our New Zealand contingent from Westport will readily agree.
This was a conference of many firsts. It was the first time that a location in Queensland had been selected and all promises of brilliant weather and warm hospitality were fulfilled. This was also the first time that the ASF held their executive meeting concurrently with an ACKMA conference with the result that a new era of cooperation and understanding has been initiated. The Tropical Wanderers Holiday Village was also hosting its first ever conference and what an initiation. The delegates certainly appreciated the lush tropical setting, the swimming pools and the magnificent cuisine. Our hosts Kay and Noel Rixon and Helen Jackson are to be congratulated.
Attendance records were also broken with 62 registered delegates and several day visitors from the local caving fraternity. Our largest contingent came from New Zealand but we must congratulate our smallest contingent, our intrepid honeymooners from Thailand, Anchalee and Suwat Kumwong.
The proceedings were officially opened at Olsen's Caverns by Barbara Wildin, Chairperson of the Livingstone Shire, who warmly welcomed delegates to beautiful central Queensland. A total of 25 papers were presented on a range of topics and issues. Field trips were organised to the two privately owned show caves, Olsen's and Cammoo, to the Mt Etna Cave National Park and other geologically interesting features of the area.
The formal proceedings ended on Friday with the AGM. The 'unexpected' appearance of Elery Hamilton-Smith drew a round of applause as a testament to his contribution to ACKMA and his record that he had attended every Cave Management Conference since their inception in 1973.
The weekend provided a social interlude with some caving and more touring, including a day trip to Great Keppel Island. On Monday our group divided; some to return home whilst others continued north to enjoy the wonders of the Undara Lava Tubes and Chillagoe Caves for the post-conference Study Tour.
As conference convenor I would like to acknowledge and thank the following persons and organisations for their support and invaluable assistance towards an outstandingly successful conference.
First the local CQSS for their assistance with field trips and to Craig Hardy who accompanied us on most trips and added that local flavour. The Department of Environment and Heritage gave us their support and a particular vote of appreciation must go to John Toop, who facilitated a highlight not only for the delegates but large numbers of locals, when he mistnetted three ghost bats. Other thanks to Alan Barton from the Department of Primary Industries who accompanied us on the Mt Hedlow field trips and to Evie and John Trenneman for their wonderful hospitality at Cammoo Caves. This was the first occasion that all of Australia's private cave owners were together.
The final celebration dinner at Koorana Crocodile Farm is one never to be forgotten: a memory mix of giant prehistoric creatures, celery awards and bunny tails. For this our appreciation extends to our unparalleled masters of ceremonies, Brian Clark and Kent Henderson. Also a special thanks to Kent for all his support in the lead up to the Conference.
The study tour was a great success due to the organisation of the North Queenslanders: Gerry Collins and his super guides Val and Kay at Undara Lava Tubes; Lana Little and Mathew Widt and their team at Chillagoe; Peter Hensler from DEH and members of the Chillagoe Caving Club. Nor must we forget our great bus drivers, the Rothery brothers who transported us safely for thousands of kilometers during the two weeks and supplied a live in comedian for our northern tour.
My final thanks must however go to the staff at Olsen's Caves who worked long hours and enjoyed every second; to my wonderful family for their unequivocal support and patience and to two special people Dianne Vavryn and my husband Ken both of whom worked tirelessly and enthusiastically to ensure the success of the conference. Lastly to Peter Bell who has compiled and published these proceedings in record time.
We now look forward to our reunion in Tasmania in 1995 and extend our best wishes to Chester and his team as the next hosts.