What lies beneath? Chances are it could be a vertical drop, the vestige of the early miners who worked Bendigo’s goldfields. Grab a rope, we’re going in.

Writer: Sarah Harris – Photographer: David Field

As a stonemason Raymond Shaw might be expected to have an affinity with the underground, but his compulsion goes way deeper than bedrock.
Ever since he was a little kid Raymo, as his mates call him, has regarded the slightest crack in the earth, from wombat holes to old mine adits, as open invitations.
”I had my trusty Eveready torch and thought it was just grouse,” Raymond recalls of his early explorations. “Of course mum never knew. When I got a bit older I saw a lot of shafts around and started to wonder what was down there, so I taught myself to abseil and would drop in on a figure eight (belay device).”
These days when he takes a door downwards it’s a serious undertaking, complete with gas monitors, generators, exhaust fans, drills, lights, video camera and a crew of like-minded guys who make up The Victorian Historical Mine Shaft Chasers.
Given the prerequisite of hanging about in dark, confined places deep underground it’s not a hobby for the faint-hearted and most of the VHMSC members work in fields such as mining, rigging and earthmoving.
“All the guys understand the risks involved and know that this is dangerous, but the way I look at it, the road trip to an old mine can be more dangerous than actually going down and going in if you are properly prepared,” Raymond says…