Kilsby Sinkhole is one of Australia’s most renowned freshwater diving facilities.
The site is also the only one of its kind in the country which facilitates access for entry-level recreational divers and freedivers in the non-overhead sections of the site, under the direct supervision of trusted, industry certified, guides and instructors.
Located on private property, access to the site is only possible through the provision of a limited number of licenses provided by the landowners. A licence is achieved under the terms of a detailed Site Access Agreement which clearly outlines the expectations of landowners regarding all aspects of safe and responsible access to the site.
Licenses are only sustained by those operators who assimilate with the landowner’s focus on safe diving practices, demonstrate strong diligence towards site rules, articulate strong knowledge and application of diving industry safety protocols and consistently deliver conservative and well-planned diving activity.
We are currently extending up to 6 licences, shared over the following categories:
- Freediving specialists – particularly those able to cater for existing and future demand in the Victorian visitor market.
- Scuba diving specialists – either recreational or technical/cave/cavern focussed commercial entities
- Not for profit, community-oriented entities who provide diving, freediving or other water-oriented activity
Our licence holders are required to demonstrate:
- Passion for fresh-water diving, the unique beauty of the Mount Gambier region and interest in promoting the region to a range of potential visitors.
- Strong awareness of the risks attached to diving in a sinkhole environment, including the specialised training required to access areas of the site of considerable depth or within an overhead environment.
- Respect for, and absolute adherence to, industry protocols which restrict access to sections of the site without specialised training.
- Support for the efforts of the landowner to diversify site access and a willingness to assist in the continual improvement of the safety framework and associated systems and processes.
Licence holders must also:
- Demonstrate the capacity and intent to visit the site regularly, maximising the potential of the licence to meet consumer demand whilst also maintaining updated and intimately aware of site-access procedures.
- Currently hold, or be willing to obtain, Public Liability Insurance for an amount of not less than $20,000,000 arising out of any one single accident or event to cover proposed activity at the site, subject to the terms of the access agreement.
- Nominate at least 1 certified and current industry recognised Instructor or Divemaster who holds appropriate
experience and a current professional insurance policy in respect of the diving activity they are undertaking.
Priority has been given to licence holders who:
- Have an existing track record and commercial reputation in the diving industry.
- Can build trust with landowners through the provision of consistent contact points, dive guides and instructors.
- Have experience in diving in a sinkhole environment.
- Have a solid reputation and positive track record in the industry.
Licenses will not be extended to:
- Those who cannot meet the requirements of the Access Agreement.
- Individuals, groups or operators wishing to access the site for personal recreational purposes only
- Operators who have previously held a licence which has since been revoked in the past 24 months.
Applications can be lodged by submitting an online form.
If you have any questions, please review the FAQ’s below or email mail(kombi)kilsbysinkhole.com
Frequently Asked Questions:
Will all 6 licenses be allocated as part of this licence offer? Not necessarily. We retain the right to offer all or none of the available licenses, depending on our assessment of the applications received.
If I don’t hold a licence, does this preclude me from diving at Kilsby Sinkhole? Not at all. There are a range of operators who can tailor access to the site for groups of many sizes. This access is under the terms of their own commercial arrangements (we don’t dictate their charges), and as a requirement of their access to the site, they must supervise all in-water activity.
Once I have a licence, I can determine the type of activity that is suitable at the site, right? While we expect our licensees to be in a position to professionally determine the suitability of their proposed underwater activity, we take the safety of our guests very seriously. Should we deem that diving industry protocols have been breached or if diving activity does not align to our expectations of a conservative, safety-focused approach, then this is a sure way to have your license suspended or revoked. The landowner reserves the right to conduct spot-checks at the site or review/investigate diving activity without notice.
If I’m successful in obtaining a licence, do I hold it indefinitely? Each licence is initially offered on a trial basis and over the past 3 years, while a number of licensees have developed a strong working relationship with the Kilsby Family, a number of licenses to have also been suspended or withdrawn. Due to the nature of our site access framework, we require the capacity to build and maintain a high degree of trust with those who manage visitation to the site. This trust is built and maintained through demonstration of consistent diligence towards access procedures, site rules and conservative diving practices. Consistency in this space is the best way to ensure that a licence is sustained.
How does the underwater environment at Kilsby Sinkhole support the range of activity conducted at the site? Compared to many sinkholes in the Mount Gambier region, Kilsby Sinkhole is a reasonably unique site which lends itself to a range of water-based activity. This is primarily due to 1) the accessibility and consistent clarity of the water; and 2) the availability of considerable sections of the site which have direct vertical access to the surface of the water. As a result, the non-overhead environment offers depths of up to 30m directly from the pontoon and 10m in the more shallow sections of the site. This has proven to offer excellent conditions for freediving activity and ample area to explore for recreational diving activity, without entering the overhead environment.
How often do licenses become available? Kilsby Sinkhole offered 4 licenses in 2017 and this will be the only public offer for licenses in 2018. Additional licences will be made available in 2019, subject to a licensing review which considers a range of factors.
Is there a fee to hold a licence? No, there is currently no charge, but there are expectations regarding the frequency of visitation to retain a licence.
Why is the insurance requirement higher than other sites that we visit or train at? This level of insurance is an industry standard attached to the delivery of adventure sporting activity on private property. While many of our licensees already fulfilled this requirement, those who were required to extend their policy identified this as a viable option.
I want to crunch the numbers before applying. What are the access options and fees? Kilsby Sinkhole offers 3 x 3 hour slots every day of the year, with a maximum of 12 divers per slot, including guides/instructors. We simply charge $20 per diver, per slot. This fee is also extended to guides/instructors.
What facilities are available on site? All bookings include full access to a range of facilities available at the site including toilets, showers, kitchenette, barbecue facilities, training space, picnic tables and extensive irrigated lawned areas.
Can divers stay on site before or after diving activities? Absolutely, visitors are welcome to stay on site and utilise the facilities as long as 1) a representative of the licensee remains present and 2) the activity being conducted aligns to the purpose of the visit i.e. a barbecue lunch after the dive or completion of theory as part of a training exercise.
Are there similar sites in the region that can be dived by recreational divers? Kilsby Sinkhole is the only site of its type that offers guided access options for recreational/open water divers. This said, located 15 minutes from Kilsby Sinkhole, Ewens Ponds is another unique alternative, with access for diving and snorkelling possible at most times of the year. Another unique site is Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park which offers snorkelling options – limited numbers and other conditions apply.
What accommodation options are available within the region? Our visitors enjoy the very broad range of accommodation options available locally, spanning from caravan parks to B&B accommodation. There are a number of diving-friendly options such as The Church in Kongorong and the Bellum Hotel offers country hospitality and group accommodation for up to 13 people.
Can non-divers visit the site? Recent developments with our insurance providers have made it easier for us to welcome non-diving guests to the site. We intend on creating a model which will make this access possible in the coming months. There are also plenty of other reasons to visit the region – visit Discover Mount Gambier for more information.
Any further questions regarding licence applications can be directed to mail(kombi)kilsbysinkhole.com