Buchan Caves

Shades Of Death Cave

Useful Information

Location: Main Road, Buchan, Victoria 3885.
15 km north of Buchan Caves.
(-37.405826, 148.211147)
Open: Several open days per year.
Fee: yes.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Devonian limestone.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=45 min. V=2,000/a [2000]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Dennis Rebbechi (2004): Shades of Death Cave Murrindal Victoria SOLD, ACKMA Journal 55 June 2004, p 21. pdf
Nicholas White (2017): M3 Shades of Death Cave Murrindal Victoria, ACKMA Journal 108 September 2017. pdf
Address: Murrindal Caves, Rimstone Co-operative Ltd, PO Box 2543, Mt.Waverley, Vic, 3149. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1900 discovered by Ernest Henham.
1905 Explored by Frank Moon.
1950s visited often by members of Victorian Cave Exploration Society (VCES).
1960s cave developed as a show cave and opened to the public.
1969 lease not renewed and cave closed.
1982 2 ha of land with cave purchased by Carol Rebbechi.
1984 opened to the public.
1993 cave managed by Kim and John Van Dyk.
2004 cave sold to Geoff Rebbechi.
2006 cave survey by Kim and John Van Dyk.
2017 land and cave purchased by the Rimstone Cooperative Ltd.


The Shades Of Death Cave is the largest cave in the Murrindal area, among cavers it is actually known as M-3. The M is for Murrindal, and that's actually a cadastre number. Murrindal is a grassy valley with a river of the same name, the name of a few isolated farms along the river, and the name of a karst area. The cave system was explored since the 1950s.

Through the door and down the first staircase, the guide explains the origin of the name. The explanation is famous to vary, dependent on the mood of the guide, the size of the group, and the nature of the people within the group. Down the next staircase the Helectite Garden is reached, then another staircase leads to the third level called The Hall of the Mountain Kings. The visitors then return to the surface at their own pace.

The cave was known to early settlers, Ernest Henham reputedly discovered the entrance in 1900, but did not enter it. He saw mist rising from the ground on a cold frosty morning, and thought it to be a ghost. It was warm moist air from the cave. The natural entrance was a deep pothole, and when he dropped stones into the hole, he realised that falling in would be deadly. So he had death and a ghost, at that time also called shades, and the name Shades Of Death Cave was born. Frank Moon was the first who actually explored it five years later. The cave was also known as Murrindal Moon Cave and Murrindal Caves.

During the 1950s numerous cavers explored caves in the Buchan area, which included the caves at Murrindal. Many of them were organized in the Victorian Cave Exploration Society (VCES). A group of four cavers, who fell in love with Shades of Death, began to develop this cave as a show cave in the early 1960s. They had a loose license Agreement granted by the lands department and leased the ground from the landowner. The group was headed by Jack McMahon, Grahem Shaw and Geoff Rebbechi. They blasted an entrance and constructed concrete paths and three steel stairways. The cave was open on weekends and during school holidays, even during the construction, early visitors watched concrete being poured and offered advice. In 1969 the cave closed as the lease was not renewed by the landowner.

In 1982, 2 ha of land with the cave on it where purchased by Dennis Rebbechi, the brother of Geoff Rebbechi. According to local lore, Dennis Rebbechi convinced his wife Carol that she did not really need new carpets and drapes and used the money for the purchase. In an article in ACKMA Journal 55 June 2004 he claims, that the land was purchased by his wife, another way to put it. Actually it was purchased in Carol Rebbechi's maiden name for secrecy, and she then leased a small area around the entrance to a partnership consisting of Carol, Dennis and Geoff Rebbechi, Graham Shaw and Warren Kennedy. They restored and modernized the cave, doubled the length of the tour path, and opened it again to the public. This ended when the couple moved to Queensland in 1993. Kim and John Van Dyk kept it open for visitors in the following years. But when Dennis Rebbechi tried to sell his house, people refrained from buying because of the cave, which they saw as an impairment. So he split the land in two pieces and sold them separately. Geoff Rebbechi purchased the cave, and has finally sold it to Rimstone Cooperative Inc in 2017.

Rimstone Cooperative Inc is a sort of code name. It was founded in 1974 by members and friends of the Victorian Speleological Association (VSA). The cavers lost the hut they used for accommodation and were willing to put money into the purchase of a place to stay. Unfortunately, the Victorian Speleological Association was not a legal entity at that time. So they founded Rimstone as a Community Advancement Society registered under the Victorian Cooperative Act 1996. They purchased Homeleigh, a former guesthouse and the original Buchan Pub. The funds raised from accommodation fees are channelled into maintenance and major renovation projects.

Murrindal valley has numerous cave reserves today. The Shades Of Death Cave is located in the Murrindal & Lilly Pilly Cave Reserve. Further south is the Potholes Cave Reserve, where Graymont Buchan Quarry, a mining operator tried to quarry limestone, another project of the Rimstone. And there is the Pyramids Cave Reserve with the Citadel Rocks.