Agnes Milowka (23 December 1981 – 27 February 2011) was an Australian technical diver, underwater photographer, author, maritime archaeologist and cave explorer. She gained international recognition for penetrating deeper than previous explorers into cave systems across Australia and Florida, and as a public speaker and author on the subjects of diving and maritime archaeology. She died aged 29 while diving in a confined space.
Portrait at Melbourne Port Phillip Bay, 2010
23 December 1981
|Died||27 February 2011 29) (aged|
|Cause of death||Drowning|
|Education||Caulfield Grammar School|
|Alma mater||Victoria University, Flinders University, University of Melbourne.|
|Occupation||Technical diver, underwater photographer, author, cave explorer, marketing manager|
Early life and schooling
Born in Częstochowa, Poland, Milowka moved to Melbourne at an early age with her parents, attending Caulfield Grammar School from 1994 to 1999. At the school, she was a house captain, champion school rower and was a finalist in the statewide VCE achiever award. She received her graduate degrees in Maritime Archaeology from Flinders University (2007), Bachelor of Business, Marketing and Event Management from Victoria University (2008), Bachelor of Arts, History and Australian Studies from University of Melbourne (2005), where she was a president of the Melbourne University Underwater Club (2003–2005). In the summer of 2007 she completed an internship in St. Augustine, Florida, with LAMP (Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program), the research arm of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, where she participated in the archaeological excavation of historic shipwreck sites. This work would introduce her to Florida diving, where she would go on to explore extensive cave systems. During her schooling, she participated as the researcher and diver in a series of qualitative underwater archeological research projects.
In the effort coordinated by Victorian Speleological Association in 2009, she and James Arundale explored Elk River streamway cave system by an additional 1,400 metres (4,600 ft), which has potential to become the longest continuous stream passage in Victoria, Australia. In a 2009 expedition near Cocklebiddy, she reached the midpoint of Craig Challen’s 2008 line giving her the record for the longest cave dive in Australia for a female. She worked as an underwater grip in 2008 for a film by Discovery Channel Japan, "Water's Journey" by TV Asahi & Karst Productions. She was part of the National Geographic Nova TV Special expedition to Blue Holes of the Bahamas, in December 2008, as an underwater grip, followed by the expedition to look for similar sinkholes in Queensland, Australia in October 2009.
Milowka was a photographic assistant on the National Geographic Magazine expedition to Bahamas Caves, November–December 2009, resulting in a few of her photos being published by the National Geographic website. Her underwater photography has been included in multimedia library of the popular website creation software WebEasy Professional (since 2007), distributed by Avanquest Software.
In 2010, when living in Florida, she laid over 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) of line across a number of cave systems, the most significant of which was Mission Spring. In August 2010, together with James Toland, she made the connection between Peacock Springs and Baptizing Spring, Florida adding over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) of passage. She was the presenter and editor for TV series "Agnes Milowka Project" (2010) featuring underwater cave footage shot by Wes Skiles, Karst Productions.
Agnes Milowka was a speaker at a number of diving related conferences (OZTek 2009, EuroTek 2010). She acted as a stunt double for two female characters on the James Cameron-produced feature film Sanctum (2011) and worked during the production as cave dive instructor to the actors. In 2011 she was nominated as Dive Rite Ambassador. One of her last jobs was as a diving supervisor on BIRTH, a short film for the TRIMÄPEE fashion label. The movie has been dedicated in her name.
In February 2011, she ran out of air and died after parting company to explore a tight restriction, which necessitated going solo, in the Tank Cave near Tantanoola in the south east of South Australia. In recognition of Milowka's achievements and legacy, The Agnes Milowka Memorial Environmental Science Award has been established by Mummu Media for underprivileged schools in the area of science, marine studies or exploration. In May 2011 Agnes Milowka posthumously received the Exploration Award, in recognition of the outstanding and dedicated service to the National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section, USA. A number of geologic features have been named in memory and her original exploration work in Australia: "Ag's Dreamtime Passage" in the underwater Olwolgin Cave on Nullarbor Plain, "Agnes Chamber" in Davis Cave System, Bats Ridge, Victoria and "Milowka Canal" in Elk River Cave, Victoria. Her name has been featured in memoriam at 2011 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts AACTA and in popular sci-fi webcomic book Crimson Dark, the alliance starship has been named A.W.S. Milowka.
Milowka authored articles on the subject of underwater exploration, and her experiences and work as a diver. These include:
- Let's Talk About... The S Word
- Heaven is a place on earth
- Why Ginnie and I are like peas and carrots
- Virgin Territory: Devil's Eye past the restriction
- Deep holes in the ground that will blow your mind: Bahamas
- Mission Spring
- Cave diving in Victoria: Exploration of the Elk River streamway (co-authored with Jim Arundale)
- In the heart of Tiger's Eye
- Virgin Territory: Devil's Eye Cave System Beyond Restriction
- Deep Holes. Unraveling The Mysteries Of The Bahamas
- Mission Spring Exploration
- The Elk River Streamway: A hump to a sump
- Eye of the Tiger: On expedition in Tassie
- The Taming Continues: The Peacock to Baptizing Connection, co-author James Toland
- Heinerth, Jill (2010). Cave diving in the modern world (PDF). Chapter 1, Cave diving in the modern world: Heinerth Productions Incorporated. ISBN 0-9798789-4-2.
- CEGSA (2010). "CEGSA Annual Report/2006" (PDF). Cave Exploration Group South Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- Bishop, Leigh (February–March 2010). "Beyond Toad Hall: Cave Diving Beneath Australia's Nullabor Desert" (PDF). Diver Magazine, Vol 35 Number 7. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
- Bates, Cath (October–November 2010). "Talking Tech: Watching the girls dive by" (PDF). Egypt: Blue Magazine, Issue 7. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- Levy, Megan (1 March 2011). "Police struggle to reach diver lost in cave maze". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- MUUC (2003). "Annual General Meeting Minutes - 27 March 2003" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2011. Cite journal requires
- Flinders University Internships/Masters Classes (2007). "Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) USA/2007". Flinders University. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- Williams, Brian; Winslow, Karson; Milowka, Agnes; Raupp, Jason (2006). Port Albert Archaeological Project: Report of Investigations. Manuscripts on file at Maritime Archaeology Unit, Heritage Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
- Raupp, Jason Thomas; Winslow, Karson; Milowka, Agnes; Williams, Brian (2007). A View from Above: Archaeological Site Inspections in East Gippsland, Victoria. pp. 46-60, 2006 Program in Maritime Archaeology.: Shannon Research Press. hdl:2328/14589. ISBN 978-1-920736-26-2.
- AIMA (March 2007). "Wilsons Promontory Fieldwork February/March 2007" (PDF). Newsletter of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (AIMA). ISSN 0814-1479. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- FUMAN (2007). "Internship with Heritage Victoria's Maritime Heritage Unit" (PDF). Flinders University Maritime Archaeology Newsletter. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 April 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- Staniforth, Mark (4 February 2008). "Flinders University 2008 Field School in Underwater Archaeology". The Museum of Underwater Archeology. Archived from the original on 26 April 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- CEGSA News. "Past Trips From General Meetings" (PDF). Cave Exploration Group (South Australia). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- Richardson, Tony; Brown, Chris. "Cocklebiddy Cave Diving History" (PDF). Cave Divers Association of Australia. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- Kakuk, Brian (October 2010). "Hi Warg Mug Hi". Underwater Speleology, Volume 37 Number 4. National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- Sydney Project Dive Team. "Technically Speaking: Blue Holes Exploration Trip". Sydney Project. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- Milowka, Agnes (20 December 2008). "Blue Holes Project". National Geographic. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- Milowka, Agnes (23 September 2010). "Deep Dark Secret". National Geographic. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
- Holden, Adam (4 March 2011). "Dedicated cave diver perishes". Deep Blue Dive Magazine. Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Kappelle, Liza (28 February 2011). "Underwater caves a passion for lost diver". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
- Richardson, Tony. "Aussie Cave Divers Receive NSS-CDS Awards". Cave Diving Down Under. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
- Hose, Paul (2011). "Survey of Unnamed Cave Roe Plains, WA". Cave Exploration Group Western Australia. Cite journal requires
- Freeman, Peter (2013). "Davies Cave Atlas". Victorian Speleological Association, Australia. Cite journal requires
- Freeman, Peter (2013). "MPEMC Atlas". Victorian Speleological Association, Australia. Cite journal requires
- Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (2012). "A Year in Review". AFI Australian Film Institute. Cite journal requires
- Simon, David. "Crimson Dark". David C. Simo. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- Milowka, Agnes. "Let's Talk About... The S Word". Tech Diving Mag. 6. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- CDAA Newsletter Guidelines No 102 Dec 2007
- CDAA Newsletter Guidelines No 105 Sep 2008
- CDAA Newsletter Guidelines No 106 Dec 2008
- CDAA Newsletter Guidelines No 108 June 2009
- CDAA Newsletter Guidelines No 110 Dec 2009
- CDAA Newsletter Guidelines No 111 March 2010
- CDAA Newsletter Guidelines No 112 June 2010
- Underwater Speleology Volume 36 Number 1, January/February/March
- Underwater Speleology Volume 36 Number 2, July/August/September
- Underwater Speleology Volume 36 Number 3, October/November/December
- Underwater Speleology Volume 37 Number 1, January/February/March
- Underwater Speleology Volume 37 Number 2, April/May/June 2010
- Underwater Speleology Volume 38 Number 1, January/February/March 2011