It was an honour to represent local member, Minister Stuart Ayres to officially open the 17th Congress of the International Union of Speleology this week. I welcomed 450 delegates from 45 countries around the world including 140 delegates from Australia to Penrith- the heart of Western Sydney. 

The Congress provides an important opportunity for Australian cave and karst scientists and researchers to showcase speleology in Australia and the continent’s varied karst landscapes.

The Congress will consist of a week long program of scientific and technical sessions related to speleology, covering a diverse range of scientific disciplines including geology, palaeontology, biology, geomorphology, archaeology and anthropology.

The ICS is held every 4 years in a host country selected by a meeting of world delegates at the previous ICS. In 2013 at the 16th ICS held in Brno, Czech Republic, Australia was selected for the first time to host the event in 2017.


I am honoured that Australia was chosen to host the 17th International Congress of Speleology. The theme chosen for this year’s congress ‘Caves in an Ancient Land’, typifies the Australian continent and its geoheritage.

As a resident of the Blue Mountains I am proud that this event is being held in Western Sydney. Western Sydney is one of the fastest growing regions in New South Wales and is fast becoming a global economic powerhouse. It is also home to some of the world’s most beautiful and oldest landmarks including the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains and the Jenolan Caves. 

Australia is home to many spectacular and highly significant caves which provide us with a rare opportunity to see little explored parts of nature.

I am proud that Australia is a world leader in the conservation and good management of our precious cave and karst heritage. NSW, with over one hundred areas of limestone spread across the state, has a major role to play in conserving Australia’s scarce karst heritage. 


The 17th ICS has the full support of Business Events Sydney and its partners-the New South Wales Government, Destination New South Wales, Penrith Panthers and the city’s business tourism industry.

The 17th International Congress of Speleology is being held from the 23rd to 29th of July 2017, at Panthers Events Centre, Penrith, Western Sydney.