The first British cavers to visit Mulu were part of a 15 month, multi-disciplinary scientific expedition which visited Mulu at the invitation of the Sarawak authorities. Spencer St.John (1856) and G.E.Wilford of the Malaysian Geological Survey (1961) had noted the existence of significant caves in Mulu and these observations resulted in the inclusion of a 6 man caving team as part of the expedition personnel.
During the months of March-May 1978, this small group explored over 34km of passage in Gunung Api and more than 8km in Gunung Benarat and began a highly productive partnership between British cavers, local people and the Sarawak Authorities which has now lasted over a quarter of a century and has resulted in the exploration and survey of the world’s greatest caves.
The findings of 1978 set a precedent for the years to come. In the Southern Hills Deer Water Cave, Mayday Cave and Bat Cave were surveyed together with the vast passage of Deer Cave and, across the ‘Garden of Eden’, its continuation – Green Cave was followed through the mountain into the Paku Valley.
Along the western side of Gunung Api, the obvious entrance of Cave of the Winds was explored and, close by, the cool waters of the Clearwater River were found resurging from the mountain. This led the way to the discovery of one of the world’s truly great caves, Clearwater Cave. Further north a team descended the daylight shaft of Solo.
On the other side of the mountain in the remote Hidden Valley, the huge, ancient passages of Wonder Cave and Prediction Cave were explored.
At the north end of the Park, the Terikan River resurgence was entered at the north westerly tip of Gunung Benarat whilst, at the foot of the mountain’s southern cliffs, the team discovered a small entrance and began the exploration of Benarat Caverns.
In 1977 there was no airport and there were no logging roads. Mulu’s base camp, at Long Pala, was a 3 day journey upriver in a canoe or a helicopter ride from Miri: the Park was remote and the depths of the caves were more remote still.