THE SYDNEY BUSHWALKER
A Journal devoted to matters of interest to Members of the Sydney Bush Walkers, Sydney, New South Wales.
No. 16. December 1933.
Publishing Committee: Misses Brenda Mite, (Editor), Marjorie Hill, Dorothy Lawry, Rene Browne and Mr. Myles Dunphy.
It certainly does not seem a year since I wrote the Editorial for the last Christmas Number, but the calendar, like the camera, never lies, so it must be.
Since then we have wiped off the debt on the Blue Gum Forest, and that lovely tract of land is safe from destruction for all time.
Our new project, and one that is just as close to our hearts, is the preservation of the Garawarra area. We could not with equanimity think of a promenade and week-end cottages, with attendant motor cars and rubbish, at Era or Burning Palms, so, by steady perseverance, we induced the powers-that-be to see our point of view, and have made a start, “and a good start, too,” with 1300 acres.
Most of the hard work in this connection was cheerfully done by Joe Turner, to whom our warmest thanks are due.
Now that the holidays are coming, lots of you will be taking on trips ranging from a few days to several weeks, and I am sure many of these will be well worth writing up for the February issue of “The Sydney Bushwalker”.
A party of girls, including two members of the publishing committee, will shortly be sailing for Tasmania as the guests of our friend and fellow-walker, Mary Harrison, and will not be returning to Sydney till the end of January. As one of these fortunate folk, I shall not be here to worry you for contributions, but am handing this office over to Dorothy Lawry and Jean Trimble, so please be kind to them, and let them have all articles in plenty of time for publication. Reports of Anniversary week-end may be given to me any time after 29th. January.
It does more; while up, it goes up and down several times, as you will discover when you finish the climb up the Knife Edge. Unless you have been there, you will hardly credit the diversity of scenery that mountain packs into its small compass - about 2 miles by half-a-mile, plus a spur running out at right angles for about a mile. There are tree-clothed tops, and scrubby tops; steep gullies and enclosed valleys; swamps and running creeks; steep slopes, spurs, and sheer cliffs; camping caves, and one small but beautiful fern glen.
While I know of three lots of permanent water on Mt.Solitary, I agree with Mr. Maxwell that it would not be really safe to count on any of them in, say, a hot, dry February. Still, from about April to January these creeks can be depended upon, specially the one in the large, enclosed valley that we call Singajinglewell. The flat, silted-up floor of this valley provides plenty of camping space if the cave should be occupied by another party.
And then, the sheer cliffs that wall this “Happy Hunting Ground”! One particular spot NB named “Squirm Cliff” for an angle made it possible to see the face of the rock (a chinless one) and to look dawn to the trees below made the hackles rise and the marrow in our backbones squirm. At another spot Wilbur reckons the sheer drop at 800 ft. for they took a rock the size of his head, dropped it over and timed it, and it powdered when it hit a tree 10 seconds later - and broke off a branch twice as thick as his arm.
I haven' yet climbed to the top of that sheer cliff you see from Katoomba - the one just east of the big “V” cleft - but some day I hope to, for the view from up there must be marvellous. Though the back is steep but not sheer, that cliff from the bottom of the V up is just an upturned knife-blade, for a creek flows west behind it for about a quarter mile and empties out through the cleft. Where it turns in the cleft is only about 30yds. to 50yds. from the edge. Some day - who knows when, tomorrow, or a thousand years hence? - that piece of Mt.Solitary is going to fall off; and then there will only be two lots of permanent water, and the thirsty climber will have to go right to the eastern end of the mountain to get a drink!
You photographers above all, when you go, give yourselves lots of time; take lots of film and gadgets; and pray hard for misty mornings and fine days. Then you'll get some wonderful “shots”, and even better memories!
by Jean Austen.
After a very satisfying lunch with the Capereros we helped in the kitchen and played a little with the babies. It was a hard job breaking down their shyness, but we succeeded at last and took some pictures of Daphne and her very large Teddy Bear. Time was flying, so we bid our host and hostess adieu and promised to pay them another visit later. We waded across the river for the last time and passed on up the hill to Kelehear's. As we arrived in sight of the house on the top of the rise we saw Bertha at the wash-tub at the back of the house. We coo-eed and there was much excitement. They made a fuss of us and were greatly relieved to see us safe and sound. Bertha went to the telephone and passed the news over that the “women” were safe and in one piece. They were greatly perturbed on hearing of our night in the bush and thought we were rather wonderful if a little mad.
These people, that is, the women folk, seldom go beyond their own or their neighbour's kitchen. Bertha Kelehear is looked at askance by the others because she rides with her husband over the hills occasionally. She or he takes the boy on the front of the saddle and the girl has her own pony. She also rides over the range alone to visit her people on the Allyn. She also helps on the farm.
Keith set about fixing a camp spot for us under some lovely Casuarinas down on the flat by the river. He already had a supply of wood in for us. We had our tea at the house that night. They gave us eggs, milk and cream, in fact anything we needed. We had a lovely spot - the Casuarinas are covered with mistletoe and there are thousands of small birds in this spot; we had our home in a veritable aviary and it was just glorious in the morning with these birds flitting and twittering above and around us. The little pigs - there were 16 babies - came and inspected us and were very charming at a distance, but ran squealing when we made advances. We had a very pleasant four days here and rode about a little, went for the mail unaccompanied on horseback.
We had a thrill on Sunday when we visited Capereros again. We took only one horse on which to cross the river. Afternoon tea was served in the Sitting room from a lovely Dresden teaset. The appointments were very charming and would have done credit to any city hostess. Mrs. Capereros spent some years in Sydney. Returning at dusk Peter brought his horse, a lovely animal named “Game Boy”. Peter is one of the crack riders of the district and he looks after his horse and keeps it well groomed. After transporting the party in relays across the river, Peter took his little girl on his saddle in front. She clung with her arms around his neck, and they made a fine picture as they went dashing over the boulders in the river bed three handsome animals, and I shall never forget the jay on the face of the child as she clung to her father. We expected to see them crash at any moment, but these horses are very sure-footed over the boulders.
I was given the privilege of riding home. We had been presented with a rabbit, and I had it in one hand and started off up the hill. My horse, as is the way with horses, on finding his head towards home, made his own pace and found his own place on the road. He chose the very outside edge overhanging a very steep bank, and after about 50 yards I had dropped the rabbit and was wondering how soon I should follow it. We flew up the hill. I clung on somehow and we came to a standstill at the gate. I fondly imagined I had guided him thence, and after a few breaths I gathered up some more courage and opened the gate, and of again went the horse towards the stable, which is situated, like the house, on the top of a high bank. The river is a long way below, across a flat. I had visions of galloping or sliding down this bank, and tugged hard on the reins; the horse in his surprise almost sat down, and I really don't know how I stayed in the saddle. I did my best to assure the horse that I was not nervous, but always arrived in that manner, and dismounted with as much dignity as I could muster, and found great lengths of turf ripped up where we had skid.
The rest of the party arrived and were surprised to see that the horse and I had arrived together. There was great laughter at the sight I had presented flying up the hill and much chaffing at the evidence of my panic in the torn-up turf. How was I to know that the horse always gallops over to the stable and would on no account have gone down the bank? These horses know a mug and I believe he enjoyed the fright he gave me.
There came some visitors one night to play cards. Anice sat in but I have no fancy, for cards so played on the piano. Bertha's sister who was staying there is a very keen player and they had a wild night. One day Bertha came with Anice and me for a riding trip up Boonabilla Creek to the edge of the Brush. We took our lunch and Anice and I bathed in the usual style and had hardly clothed ourselves when we met one of the neighbours who had been up in the bush cutting nettles off the track; he was rather disconcerted at our scant attire, and we hoped that Bertha's reputation would not suffer in consequence. We gathered orchids, ferns etc for a rockery I had promised to build for little Aylsa. The horses objected to the flapping staghorns on the way home and I almost had another thrill. Anice usually rode “Tommy”, Aylsa's pony. He was a knowing old fellow and behaved badly mostly, and would stop half way across the river at the crossing and Anice had a worrying time of it.
The night before we planned to leave, we had a message from Mr. & Mrs. Ninness, Bertha's parents, who live on the Allyn River, to come and spend a few days there on our way home. As we had decided to call on Mrs. Joliffe, an old friend who had been good to us on our previous trip with Mouldy, we arranged to walk dawn the Paterson and cross over the Range at Mt. Rivers where Mrs. Jolliffe lives. Ivy, Bertha's sister, was to ride home across the range higher up at Carrobolla.
We left early in the morning and had called at the Post Office to say good-bye and were out on the road again when we heard wheels on the road and looking back saw a lovely waggon coming towards us. This must be Peter, so we decided to be polite and open the next gate, so we hurried thence. Not being at all uppish on a hard road and a hot day, we gratefully accepted Peter's lift, as it was about 15 miles to Mt. Rivers. We climbed aboard and had a marvellous day. Peter told us of his parents' pioneering days and the hardships he and his brothers had endured taking produce and oranges to market 25 miles along the river to Gresford, before the road was made and there were many, many more crossings. These people have my deepest admiration. These people I have mentioned are all descendants of old Oliver Jolliffe who settled at the junction of the Paterson River and Boonabilla Creek, cleared the bush and built his home.
It was very amusing to sit high up on the front of the waggon, on a seat which was too high to allow our feet to touch the floor, and at each urge given by the driver to the horses, we were almost thrown off. We saw a bull who was a “mad bull” and I was very thankful we were not on the ground near him; he was telling another superior looking bovine in no uncertain manner that he disapproved of the way in which he encouraged his lady friends to hang around that portion of the field. I fancy he was lucky there was a fence between him and the subject of his wrath, as he was very young and about half the size of the other.
At midday we stopped and Peter took the horses out of the waggon while Anice and I made a fire and some tea. We had a nice lunch by the river. The road follows the river all the way, and it was a delightful trip winding along and across. The Paterson is a very twisty river and we made many crossings. We passed Mr. Bird's farm and I was reminded of the time when Ernie, Mouldy and I were invited up by the master and we found ourselves not quite so welcome, Mr. B. had asked us for tea and to spend the night, but his lady is a shy quiet little soul and the sight of my very short white shorts and sleeveless shirt left her absolutely speechless. In fact it was not until that occasion did I ever realise that I had legs, but I certainly became conscious of them that evening, so I chose a safe subject and talked of my hone and mother, and the dear lady thawed on finding that I was an ordinary daughter after all. I made such good headway that before we left I had been shown the pantry and store of preserves etc., and invited to come up after tea when we “got Some clothes on.”
We collected some milk and tomatoes and departed for the River, where we had our tea and “dressed” and returned for a formal visit. But to return to the waggon. We arrived at Mt. Rivers at about 4.30 and were given a very warm welcome by Mrs. Jolliffe. We stayed the night there. Mrs. Jolliffe lives here with a maid, and her husband spends most of his time at the old homestead with his sons drawing timber for the mill. Mrs. J. is a Londoner who came to the Paterson as a young bride and chose a spot in the bush to be cleared for the home. Their youngest son Colin and his family now occupy the house. We said good-bye and thanks to Peter, the lift had saved us a day.
Next day after lunch we set off over the range to find Ninness' farm, had much fun talking of the queer ways of the people and the strange accent they have developed. We found we had almost lost our identities, as I was as much Mrs. Duncan as Mrs. Duncan was Mrs. Austen. It was a good climb with a lovely view from the top, of the Paterson winding away amongst the hills and the road peeping out occasionally. This part of the river is more closely settled and we saw several farms from the top.
Ninness' place is nestling immediately under the point where we crossed over, and as we slid and ran down the last ridge we saw Ivy riding home. She had left Bertha's in the morning a day after us and we arrived together. Another warm welcome. Mrs. Ninness is a big lovely mother who mothers all and everybody. They are a large family and very devoted to one another. We spent a long week-end here and had more riding and much enjoyment in lots of ways. I was delighted when Mrs. Ninness complimented Anice an her ability to speak our language after 6 years residence in Australia and assured us very seriously that she could understand Anice quite well. We lived on pork and eggs here - Anice had lost her vegetarian outlook for the time being. Mr. Ninness drove us to West Maitland and we caught a bus to Newcastle where we had several hours to fill in. So we gave the Newcastle residents a treat in our knickers. I nearly bought a fight on the beach.
We inspected Nobby's and the southern end of the beach as well. Caught our train to Sydney and thus ends a most varied walking trip and one of the most enjoyable. I can thoroughly recommend the Allyn, and Paterson Rivers for hospitality and beauty, with the Barrington Tops for solitude and mists.
In her article on Mt. Solitary Dorothy Lawry refers to it as being “on the map.” For the information of those who were not present at our 6th. Annual Concert or the repeat performance, I am giving below the words of our latest song hit, which will explain the reference.
“Put me on the train for Era. Pack me on the train for Era. Era by the sea,
That's the place for me. Put me there and I shall be As happy as can be.
When I leave my work behind me,
That's the place where you will find me.
There's places on the map, But I don't care a rap,
For Era's just the place for me.”
“old Billy - battered, brown and black,
“With many days of camping,
“Companion of the bulging sack,
“And friend in all our tramping.”
- J.L. Cuthbertson.
What better wish could walkers have than that they might continue to be on good terms with their billies? And so Paddy's wish to all Bushwalkers is:
May your Billy continue to be
companion of the bulging sack
and friend in all your tramping”
this Christmas and in 1934.
And turning to mundane things, Paddy would remind you that a visit to his place might solve some of your gift problems, and of course you know where to go for last minute odds and ends for yourself. Concerning gear generally, Paddy has laid up good stocks of tents and rucksacks, groundsheets, capes, billies (tin and aluminium), tucker bags, tent pegs, Nally mugs, butter jars, buckets, billy bags, frying pans, sleeping bags, shirts, shorts, hats, dried vegetables, maps, cord and all the other odds and ends of camping.
“BUSHWALKING AND CAMPING” is the title of a new booklet dealing with camping from the walker's point of view. It is written by Paddy with contributed articles by “Mouldy” Harrison, Bob Savage, Myles Dunphy, Dot Lawry and R.H. Graves.
It contains a specimen gear list and food lists for different periods. It is profusely illustrated. It should prove of interest to old hands as well as beginners in walking.
The price is 6d.
321 George Street, (Opp. Wynyard Stn.) SYDNEY. Phone: B 3101.
After reading the adventures of Ay-noo-men, I'm minded to relate a tale of wonders, the experiences of Anole-mem and Doo-em.
Anole-mem and Doo-mem had arrived at the age of responsibility, so on the fifth evening of the fortieth week of the year 1933 they shouldered their burdens of raiment and victuals, and That-Which-Was-Their-House, and left the houses of their fathers. That night they travelled far, by various means, and in the company of three others of their tribe, until arriving at the Port of Kat-oom-bah, (your pardon, Barney), they forthwith endeavoured to gain further courage at the house of Falling Waters. Strengthened somewhat they fared forth into the deluge, disguised as camels by large covers.
In this wise did they proceed, until in the late hours they did arrive, after much arduous travel, at the ruins of an old public house. Here they pitched That-Which-Was-Their-House, and fell into a troubled sleep. Early on the sixth day they did wake to prepare food, with all the customary rites; then in the silence that was their custom did they partake of their preparations. With the first quarter of the sun they did take up their burdens again and marched for many leagues through the silent valley and over verdant hills till they came to Black Pot's Ridge, where Anole-mem and Doo-mem, being fleet of foot, did leave their companions and did come to a river all swollen and turbulent. 'Twas here they awaited their slower brethren and found that the copious flood bore the name of Cocks River.
The sun was in the zenith, indicating that a meal was necessary, and they fell upon their supplies like hungry men. When they did recover from the orgy, That-Which-Was-Their-House was erected against the threatening of the elements, and they did then go about the business of conquering the torrential flood. Anole-mem, Doo-mem and Anon-mom did succeed. How, I will relate.
Anon-mem, being a man with a middle of iron, did brave and conquer with the aid of a steely wire. Anole-mem and Doo-mem did fight with all the skill and agility they did possess. Many times did Anole-mem rescue Doo-mem from the clutching flood; by the aid of a long stick did he drag her out of the very teeth of the waters; and as many times it took their combined efforts to reach yet another isle of safety, till they did reach the farther bank all dripping and exultant.
Elated by their prowess they gambolled and sported up through mellow fields, amid abundant nettles, and along granite gorges of Little River, till the approach of darkness drove them to retrace their steps. Anon-mom again breasted the steely wire, while Anole-mem and Doo-mem crossed the raging torrent once again by employing feats of balancing on fallen logs, and by prodigious labour did they regain ThatWhich-Was-Their-House.
Early an the afternoon of the sixth day did another member of the tribe join them, providing an abode for the, till now, homeless ones. The drying of raiment and the preparation of the evening meal made their harem a hive of industry until darkness fell upon them. Then did the elements vent their wrath upon the intruders, belching forth much water. But of such stoutness was their equipment that Anole-mem and Doo-mem and their brethren did enjoy a sound sleep for many hours, even until the noon of the seventh day, when they did arise much refreshed. They did then cast off much spare raiment, emerging from That-Which-Was-Their-House like descendants of Apollo. Still the heavens wept, but Anole-mem and Doe-men fared forth, following the banks of the turbulent river until they saw a mighty torrent join forces with the Cocks River. 'Twas the river of Henry. Intrepidly did these two breast and again conquer the mighty Cocks, until they were on the banks of the Henry.
Here they did again gird up their loins and venture into the treachery of the roaring waters, fighting the strength of the tide until at last they did find themselves an the other bank, exhausted. The gorge did then get narrow, so by the aid of fallen trees they did cross and re-cross the waters and did travel most laboriously along the hazardous sides of the torrent until sheer walls made them relinquish their exploration. Wherefore they did turn and retrace their footsteps until the tumult of water meeting water did assail their ears. Great was their rejoicing when again Anole-mene and Doo-mem did stand on the home side of the Cocks. Here they did consult with the prophets and did decide to follow the Cocks river until a certain time, which did permit of them to return to That-Which-Was-Their-House ere nightfall. On and on did they go, sure of foot, through the darkness of forests and over large outcroppings of rock, the flooded river making them climb high along the mountain sides; many times were their lives in peril, and they were only saved by the grace of God and their own agility. Thus did they travel until the noise of, and then the creek itself was before them. It was the Creek of the Morning Meal, never had Anole-mem or Doo-mein seen it so, and great was their wonder. The hours were passing and they had to make all haste to return. Again, through the leafy darkness and over the treacherous bluffs did they clamber and, with the fall of dusk, did come in sight of the glowing embers of cooking fires, and their brethren at task with the evening meal.
Then did Doo-mem don fresh raiment, and turn to the cooking fires, to put forth all her skill in the preparing of a toothsome dish with which to appease the pangs of hunger. Ravenously did they gorge themselves and then did cast forth the silver eating dishes and compose themselves to rest.
Early on the morning of the eighth day did they rise. Beneath large spreading trees they did bathe in the river and anoint their bodies in sweet smelling unguents. Wherefore they did then go each to his separate tasks, Doo-mem to dry spare raiment, Anole-mem to dismantle That-Which-Was-Their-House, and ere the sun had risen a quarter Anole-mem and Doo-mem and their brethren bade farewell to the home of happy memories and did march along the banks of the river towards its source until they did come to a ruin among large trees. Many times they were almost hurled into the flood and did skate much upon their extremities over slimy granite.
Valiantly did Doo-mem, after a short rest, attack the long weary hills; Anole-mem being a man, did cover much ground with his long limbs, and did pass Doo-mem, while their brethren came slowly but surely behind them. At length, as the sun reached the zenith, Anole-men and Doo-mem came to a small house of worship in a large valley. Here they didst put down their burdens and regale themselves with a strong potion while they awaited the rest of the tribe. One by one came their brethren, and when the last had come Anole-mem gavest them of the strong potion and they were much refreshed. They did then consume all that was left of their depleted stock of food and did take up their burdens for the last time and did traverse again over green hills and through leafy glades till they did come again to the ruins of the Old Public House. Here did Anole-mem and Doo-mem leave their brethren, going by way of Glen Nelly, their brethren preferring the Haunt of the Evil One.
Through the darkness of leafy caverns, over stony hills, splashed by leaping waterfalls, trudging through running streams, did they climb ever upward, till a wondrous scene came before them, and they did see large mountains and deep valleys overhung by gathering storm, and they did stand in awe at the beauty of it till the deluge did make them tramp back to a civilised world.
Like large camels they did come again to the port of Kat-oom-bah, where they did proceed to enwrap themselves in fresh dry raiment, and did then foregather at the house of Falling Waters. While they were at feast, a strange apparition like unto a fish did come before them, putting a large fear into their hearts, but more of their brethren camest, camelwise, and Soshul Sek did allay much fear. A dire-consuming steed did carry them back to the town of their forefathers, and they did take leave of each other, each going his separate way to begin many days of teary toil.
Thus endeth the tale of Anole-mom and Doo-mem.
29th. Sept. to 2nd. October 1933.
(From the diary of Chas. Pryde.)
Morrie, Fred and I had decided some time ago to have a trip, but until recently nothing definite was settled, but we thought of going to Blackheath, Blue Gum Forest and around somewhere, but final arrangements were made eventually and food lists etc. made out. We planned to get the 7.15 p.m. train on Friday night, and I got to the platform in very good time (about 6.35) and tried to keep two other seats. At 6.45 Morrie came along and we had an argument about going, as the weather for the last couple of days had been bad and there was a prospect of it lasting. We went to the barrier and the three of us talked across it - to go or not to go. However, to decide, we tossed, and to go won. Then there was a scramble as the other two had not brought their packs along, so Morrie rushed for a taxi and went to his office for them while Fred got their tickets. We saw several membersof S.B.W. and other walkers and hikers, and had a few words with some of them. Got seats luckily together about 7.10 although there was a good crowd on the train. A little man opposite me was interested in our packs and asked me if I “knew the road to Babylon.” Afterwards he explained that that was a North of England saying. Fred got into conversation with a girl in the corner beside him who smoked cigarettes and had coloured nails. Next to Morrie was a young fellow in a corner who played patience. Morrie had been working almost continually for 36 hours and had a short sleep while I worked out a crossword puzzle. The patience man saw us watching him and suggested playing Euchre or 500, and told us he was spending the week-end at Leura with four girls, and gave us some details of his family history. Getting up on the mountains there was a very thick mist. At Katoomba the train nearly emptied. At Blackheath Morrie and Fred changed into bush wear and packed their own clothes into a port which I took to the station master's office and asked for permission to stay in the waiting room over night, as it was such dirty weather outside. This was kindly granted. There was a bit of a fire there that we soon improved, and after some supper all stretched out on the floor and slept between the trains. It was a scrappy sort of sleep, but we were warm and dry.
Sept. 30th. (Saturday):
Left Station about 6.30 a.m. and went about 1.5 miles along road where we had breakfast and a wash. Great trouble getting a fire going, as all the wood was so wet. Sun trying to break through mists. Morrie went back to get some food stuffs and when he returned we really started on our trip. Out to Evan's Look-Out leaving our packs at the top of Neat's Glen. Visibility very poor and the light no good for a photo. Fred maintains that some of the points on the sun dial are wrongly marked. Neat's Glen looked very pretty with ferns and trees so fresh and clean after all the heavy rains. Plenty of water in the creek and dripping from the rocks overhead. At the junction with the Grand Canyon I nearly got a ducking through losing my balance on a rock. I had not been through the Canyon before, and was much impressed with the curious formations. It's really a canyon within a canyon. Some wonderful ferns and tree-ferns. Very wet in parts and plenty of drips from overhead. Fred and I each got a couple of photos. We again had a terrible job in getting a fire going for lunch, but eventually got the billies boiled. A party we'd seen on Evan's Lookout passed. There were occasiohal glimpses of sunshine, and we thought the sun was making a big effort to stay out. Beauchamp Falls were a magnificent sight. From here on the travelling was good: We made camp on a nice grassy flat about 4 p.m., I changed my wet shoes and socks and went down to creek for a wash and some water, and slipped in, so had to sit before the fire to dry out. Then Fred slipped in the creek, and Morrie says he had a swim and lost his soap. Had a good big camp fire and sat at it until about 9 p.m. Morrie had his mouth organ going and Fred and I sang.
October 1st. (Sunday):
Through the night I was wakened by something moving over me and I soon wakened the others. By torchlight we saw it was a little bandicoot which got quite as big a scare as we did. It was raining pretty steadily then (2.30 a.m.) and at daylight was still at it and looked very dirty. We argued until about 8.30 about what we would do, without coming to any decision, so Fred turned out and after a big struggle, in which he used a number of “Meta” blocks, and got a sheet of bark and the centre wood of some sticks, got a fire going and made breakfast. As he got wet he gradually discarded one garment after another until –. Three fellowd bound for the Blue Gum Forest passed us about 1 o'clock. We had some more arguing about one thing and another, and then played cards until about 1.30 p.m., when Morrie and I told Fred there was no sense in us all getting wet, and that he had best get lunch going, which he manfully did. Argued and slept through the afternoon, and then Fred made tea about 5.30. The creek is up about 18 inches since last night. Turned in at 9 with the rain still coming steadily dawn.
October 2nd. (Monday):
All slept well through the night and there was no excitement. While I made breakfast Morrie built a huge fire to dry out our things. Got on the way about 9 a.m. and left our packs at a cave at the junction of Govett's Leap Creek, and went on down to the Blue Gum light. Met several parties on the way. The rain had stopped and the sun broke through. All were delighted with the trees and got several photos. When back at the Junction we had lunch and then at 2.15 p.m. Morrie left us, as he wanted to catch a train about 4.30, of which more later. Fred and I took it easily up the glen and admired some of the view spots and got a couple of photos of falls. The main Gavett's Leap Fall was very fine, with a good flow of water coming over and drifting about like smoke. Fred was in very bad form and at times could hardly make the grade, particularly up some of the steps and ladders near the top.
Whilst near the big ladder there was some very vivid lightning and heavy thunder right overhead, and the valley got inky black. We wondered how a man and woman we'd seen well down the glen were getting on. The mist was driving up the valley against the cliffs like great clouds. Just as we made the top rain started in earnest, and we hoped some of the cars there would offer us a lift, but our luck was out. One car, however, had a ribald crowd who tried to poke fun at us. Changed in some bushes near main road and got to station at 5.35 and found Morrie there, as he had just missed the earlier train. Fred and I went as far as Leura, but broke the journey there to pick up the suitcase sent from Blackheath, but got another train 15 minutes later and had a carriage to ourselves. A big number of hikers and bushwalkers beside others travelling. Coffee at Penrith and so to Sydney after a good, although wet, trip.
On considering such a subject the first thing that came to my mind was; “What has literature to do with bushwalking?” but that, on second thought, proved a foolish question since literature has to do with everything that is of interest to man and his correlative, woman. The question should have been “What has bushwalking to do with literature?” Decidedly nothing, since Clancy's mate who wrote with what looked mighty like a thumbnail dipped in tar, could quite possibly have made as good a Bushwalker, though not perhaps as interesting a companion, as the late Professor Le Gay Breretan, that learned yet human Landloper.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that urbanised people who spend their leisure exploring the great open spaces, develop a love for reading of the like experiences of other people and a desire to communicate their own experiences to others. It may be an extension of the spirit of Good Fellowship, a sort of modern development of the old letter-writing habit, whereby you tell your experiences, not to a favoured few, but to all who chose to read (Note how many of the old travel books were first written as letters to friends!). Maybe, also, that the bush quiet of the day's end engenders meditation or, if you prefer it, thought, and so novel an experience in these hurried times demands recording. However that may be, it would seem that if every man who runs may read, every man who walks must write.
Certainly there is now a definite literature of walking and at that no one can cavil, but there is one danger in this conjunction of literature and walking, for with so much talk it may develop into a cult pursued by queer people not for itself alone but in some weird worship of the Road, the Wind on the Heath or the Great Open Spaces, whereby an unkind African poet said, was most likely meant the gaping mouths of the farmers.
The world is too full of such fads, quasi religions and obsessions already. This simple life business can become one of the most annoying of complexes.
If you would have a philosophy for your Bushwalking, then you will find it in the concluding words of Goethe's “Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister” -
“These Times were very good times only I cannot but smile to look at thee; to my mind thou reseMblest Saul, the son of Kish, who went out to seek his father's asses and found a kingdom.”
Life has that engaging quality of unexpectedness. We do not do half of what we planned but we do things of which we never dreamed. We arrive at unimagined adventures by accidental routes. So it is with Bushwalking. But do not think I am belittling Bushwalking in comparing it to seeking for one's father's asses. Both have this in common that they are good earthy occupations demanding clear heads and physical fitness; and when Bushwalking leads quite unexpectedly to an appreciation of natural beauty and the experiencing of new emotions and thence to a need to find the perfect words to describe such beauty and to share those emotions with people across seas and across time, then it has made one ruler over a kingdom where one can dwell with pleasure long after one's last Bushwalk has been taken, the kingdom of Imagination and Books.
Final plans were made on Friday night 16th. December 1932, the meeting place for the morrow being the Luggage Booking Office at Central Station and the time 7.15 a.m. Tom arrived a bit late awing to a slight mishap with his car but still in good time to catch the 8.10 a.m. train to Tallong. The canoe was weighed with all due ceremony and the freight (12/-) paid, then all aboard and away we went. Seventeen glorious days ahead of us and not a care in the world.
Shortly after leaving Sydney we took an inventory of our gear to make sure nothing was left behind. The axe, one pair of sand shoes and one toothbrush failed to answer the roll call. The axe we decided to dispense with as this was a summer trip but the other articles being indispensable had to be made good at Moss Vale. During the ten minutes stay Tom did some high speed shopping whilst I laid in a stock of eats for lunch.
Tallong was reached at 12.10 p.m. without mishap and after a wait of a few minutes our transport arrived in the form of Mr. Kettle's lorry. Mr. Rumsey had arranged with him to meet us as he had to drive a party of cricketers round.
We had one close shave on the way out to the Lookdown when the stern of our boat grazed the branch of a dead tree. Had the bough been two inches longer our trip would have ended there. It gave us a sense of satisfaction to see our boat and loose gear on the ground at the start of the trail down to Badgerys Crossing. We felt that now the success or otherwise of the trip depended entirely on us.
Having paid for the lorry (8/-) we said good-bye to Mr. Kettle and went for a walk out to the Lookdown. There is a marvellous view of the Shoalhaven Gorge to be obtained from here, with the river a blue thread broken in places by short patches of white which were rapids. Two thousand feet to the bottoms and the distance barely two miles of rough track.
We started the descent at 1.20 p.m. It was hell carrying the canoe and all out gear down that shaly slope, devoid of vegetation save for stunted gums and Burrawang Palms. The first load consisted of our packs and the two kerosene tins of food. This made an awkward as well as a heavy load but was nothing compared with the awkwardness of the canoe. All possible ways of carrying were tried with little success. Our arms were nearly breaking by the time We reached the gear, so we sat down to think it over. It was at this stage that I was struck with a large idea. I explained it to Tom and he thought it worth trying so we selected a suitable tree, tore it dawn and commenced operations. The stern of the boat was rested in the fork, the two sides of which were lashed along the gunwales of the boat. This left the trunk of the tree poking out astern to act as a tail skid. A few more lashings and we were ready for a trial. It worked!
The gear was now the hardest load and as the distance was covered the halts increased in length. At length we reached the top of the final steep descent to the river. We lay down and Tom immediately fell asleep. After resting for a bit I set off alone with my pack and the two tins and after a number of spells reached the bottom utterly exhausted. I peeled off and waded out to the centre of the rapid and lay in the cool bubbling water until in danger of getting a chill. While drying off Tom hove in sight and on reaching me repeated my performance.
The time was now 5.30 and the boat was still halfway up the hill. Camp must be made immediately if we were to get settled before dark and the canoe would have to wait until tomorrow. There are some other folk camping down here, but as the camp site we eventually selected is some way from them we have not made their acquaintance. Food was now the order of the day, after which we smoked a pipe and turned in at 8.45 tired out and aching in every muscle.
Sunday - A day of rest - save for bringing down the canoe.
We set off at 10.30 a.m. and reached the “Joy” at 10.55 fairly tired from the climb. Fortunately the day is coolish with a fair wind blowing. A spell was called and it was not until 11.10 that we commenced the descent. The tail skid still worked well although the trail was considerably rougher. Some very awkward parts had to be negotiated and it was not until 12.26 p.m. that our boat floated for the first time on the Shoalhavan River. We got aboard and paddled to the top of the one and only rapid between us and camp. There not being a great deal of water in the river, we had to disembark and float the boat through empty. The tail end of the rapid seemed narrower and deeper so we had a go at it. We managed it alright except for a minor graze on the gravel just at the last. Two hundred yards paddling brought us to our camp which is situated in a beautiful little grove of casuarinas a little way downstream from Badgerys Crossing.
The balance of the day was lazed away in the shade of the trees smoking and talking, with a dip in the river to wake us up just before tea. The weather had been perfect so far, bright sunny days tempered by a fairly strong cool breeze, with white fleecy clouds chasing one another across the azure dome of the sky. We intend sleeping out tonight as there is now not a cloud in the sky and it is beautifully cool in the shade of the trees. The flies are rather a trial but as there are no sandflies or mosquitoes, we should consider ourselves lucky.
Monday - An early start after a good breakfast saw us facing the problem of stowing ourselves together with our camping gear and a fortnight's tucker aboard our little twelve foot craft. Two attempts were made before we succeeded in stowing the stuff so that the centre of gravity was sufficiently law for comfort. We went aboard at 10 a.m. and headed away downstream. The day was perfect, a replica of Sunday, clear blue sky and warm sun.
The river proved to be a series of pools anything up to 200 yds. long, linked by more or less short rocky shallows over which the water flowed with no little force. Had the water been a few inches deeper our task of getting through the shoals would have been ever so much easier. As it was however, much straining and grunting was the invariable accompaniment to a passage through the rapids.
After negotiating the ninth rapid we sighted the tall rocky spire at the junction of Tallowal Gully and the Shoalhaven. The time was now about midday, so we were on the lookout for a suitable spot for lunch. This we found on the right hand bank after passing the next rapid. Lunch was soon disposed of and we were on our way again at 2.9 p.m. At 2.50 we passed the mouth of Iron Pot Gully and after the 13th. rapid came to Tallowal Gully. We both remembered this spot, having been there with Maurie Berry in October 1929. The spire previously mentioned is a splendid landmark and is situated at the junction and on the right hand banks of both Tallowal Gully and the Shoalhaven River. Two more rapids and we selected for a camp a sandy beach just above the 16th. rapid.
The river from Tallowal Gully to our camp was most beautiful, especially when seen as we saw it with a low afternoon sun glinting on the stretches of broken water and forming a golden pathway over the broad stretches of deep water between. Whilst lazing in the warmth of an ample camp fire, I noticed what I thought to be a spark on the ground sheet. When just about to brush it off, it went out. A second later it flashed up again and again went out. I drew Tom's attention to the phenomenon and got my torch. Our spark turned out to be an insect about the size and shape of a small blowfly, and the flashing was coming from a yellowish white patch on the underside of the abdomen. Later we found out that it was a firefly, one of the stages in the development of the glowworm.
Tuesday - 10 a.m. saw us on our way again. Three rapids in quick succession then a deep, rocky pool. The rock formation at this point is rather interesting. The strata on the left bank being quite horizontal, whilst on the right it is folded out of all recognition. This nonconformity would seem to indicate that the river is following a fault line at this point. One more rapid, the 19th., and we paddled into our first really large pool, a fine sheet of water flanked en the left by the heavily timbered slope of the mountain which runs sheer into the water, and on the right by an extensive sand-bank an which we landed for a spell. After the 20th. rapid, the river widened out and large boulders made their appearance. The inner man was now calling so we stopped for lunch on the right bank just back of a clump of reeds.
On again at 1.50, negotiating five rapids or rather, falls, in quick succession, which brought us to the 26th. rapid, the largest so far, which took a great deal of care to negotiate. The river now flowed swiftly through a deep channel, flanked on the left by a wall of rock about 60 ft. high and on the right by a bank of lapstones 12 ft. high, quite dwarfing our poor little craft. It was now 4 p.m. and time to be making camp. Not a promising outlook but a surprise awaited us just above the next rapid, in the shape of an ideal grassy bank, just large enough for the tent, wood laid on and quite close to the river. The sort of camp one dreams of but seldom sees. The sky had been overcast but the weather mild, and as I write this the clouds are clearing away and the sun is breaking through and gilding the lofty crags surrounding us on all sides. The while a Lyre Bird entertains us with his liquid notes from the mountain opposite.
(To be continued)
Answer: When it is not marked on the Walks Programme with an asterisk.
This “chestnut” refers to Eric Moroney's official walk of 12th. & 13th. August - Kurrajong - Colo River - Little Wheeny Creek - Kurrajong.
As a matter of fact, it was marked “easy” - distance 30 miles. This sounds a fair distance for an ordinary weekend, especially a Winter one, and believe me it was!
We caught the 1.37 p.m. train from Sydney to Richmond on the Saturday, and went per “Pansy” to Kurrajong. The countryside looked wonderful - some fruit trees in blossom and all the citrus fruits hanging like golden balls against the dark foliage - mile after mile of undulating land moved past us as the “train” rattled on to its destination. A motor lorry met us at the station. We piled our packs and selves aboard, then did some more rattling for 5 or 6 miles along the Comleroy Road, passing gardens of sweet-smelling stock, till we came to Wholohan's Farm.
Here we left the lorry, changed into shorts, and started down the road 13 strong- we staggered up that road next day, 13 very weak!
When we reached the bridge over Wheeny Creek, we thought it a bit early to camp, and decided to follow the Creek down for a while till we came to the next good camp site. “There aint no such animal”. Still, we found enough partly cleared spaces for some of the party to put up tents - the rest of us didn't bother, but concentrated on collecting sufficient firewood to keep us from what the locals had predicted, namely, freezing to death. Wood was far from plentiful, but we scratched round among the thick bracken and undergrowth, and eventually found a fair mount. We had finished tea, and were settling down at our several fires, when we heard the sound of new arrivals - this was Jean and Richard who had come by a later train and walked the whole way out.
Eric said in his description of the route that the way “through Wheeny” is mainly occupied by large mosquitoes and semi-wild cattle. He quite forgot to mention the “more-pork” who made noises for hours and almost spoilt my beauty sleep.
We were up and away bright and early next morning, the “Foxpaws” in the lead. We followed the Creek for about 6 miles, sometimes pushing our way through dew-wet greenery, and at other times keeping well in the open. It is a very pretty valley, reminding one somewhat of the Nattai.
We had several rather interesting crossings, mainly on logs of varying stages of infirmity. At another crossing, just as we were getting towards the swampy part of the Creek, Richard carried me over his shoulder - and my nose was much closer than his to the smell of something very, very dead!!
On we went, and shortly after, came upon the advance guard sitting admiring a swamp (not Dunc), and eating oranges. We joined in, and after an eat and a smoko moved on, the rest of the party having now arrived. At last we reached an elbow of the Creek, where the track, according to Eric, “is generally hidden beneath very muddy water.” That's the worst of these strong, silent men - anyone else might have mentioned how far beneath the very muddy water the track was hidden. But perhaps he thought the semi-wild cattle or the large mosquitoes would have drunk the water down to a reasonable level before he led the official trip there.
Be that as it may, it was well above the belts of all except the very tall members of the party. Some got into bathing costumes, others crossed in their walking clothes and changed into dry things on the other side, while I was in luck's way again as Richard crossed, dumped his pack and returned to do the St.Christopher act on my behalf. All this had, of course, taken a fair amount of time, and we were told that lunch was still a long way off, so we set out manfully to cover as many miles as we could before the afternoon. We came to a house, and the parting of the ways. Our road led to the left, but there was no sign that those ahead of us had gone that way, so more time was occupied in trailing them up - their unerring instinct had led them to an orange orchard, hence their failure to appear.
Never, I think, in the annals of the Club has lunch been despatched in such short order - the usual hour or so was cut down to less than 20 minutes! Think of it! And all because there was a last train to catch many miles away! And all road miles, too, except a few hundred yards through a cornfield and over a paddock to the little school on the hill. Here we slaked our thirst at the tank, to some of the mandarins we had acquired earlier, and waited for the tail of the procession. Then, “On, Stanley, on.” Up a stony apology for a road we wended our way, much to the surprise of a young couple in a baby car who were coming down. When the road reached the top of the ridge the going was much more pleasant, breezes fanned our heated brows, the views were rather fine, the road (much less rocky now) was bordered by great clumps of bush flowers, notably Dilwynnia in full bloom, and altogether the world didn't seem such a bad old place, only - we had to go down again to the Creek level at the bridge over Wheeny Creek, and up the other side!
By now we knew that there was plenty of time to keep our appointment with the Lorry driver at Wholohan's, so the last few miles were a gentle stroll, briskening occasionally as the evening air grew chill. Once more we piled on the lorry, and wise were they who had put on all their warm garments, as the winter wind was much more unkind than man's ingratitude - it's a habit it has in the middle of August.
We arrived at the station in due course, and there was our old friend “Pansy” awaiting us. The driver, or fireman, or somebody very nice, volunteered to make a couple of billies of tea for us. This offer, of course, Aunty accepted with alacrity and a smile. As Wally would say: “And so to Richmond”, where we picked up the train for home, and gave our fellow travellers an exhibition of how bushwalkers can eat when hungry. Well, this may not have been a “test walk” according to specification, but ask anyone who was there and the answer will be: “It plurry well felt like one”.
Clang! clang! “Sufferin' pole-cats” comes from the next tent. “What a hell of an hour to wake a bloke.” But blokes must be awakened for at 6.30 am. this fine summer morn the “Warrior” sets sail for Nor' West. There's a turtle factory on Nor' West and girls! Oh! the loveliest bronzed Apollos! Word has gone ahead to warn them that a bevy of beautiful women are about to invade their haunts - and they are to put some clothes on! Clang! clang! again calls the piece of iron got from the wreck of the “Cooma” against the galvanized wall of our temporary kitchen. “Sting” is hitting hard and swearing under his breath - Not because he has an ear for music - he hasn't, but because the lazy blighters won't get out of their beds and here he is hanging round waiting to “dish up”. This island “stunt” is no holiday-business to “Sting” I can tell you. He is the official potato-peeler and dishwasher on the trip. He is a very small grizzly little fellow of an indeterminate age. Rumour has it that drink and the devil have done for the rest!
Whatever he is or whatever he was Nature fashioned him a “born comedian”. I remember the time we returned early from a day's outing. The crowd had elected to visit a neighbouring island but we took a tin of peaches and the tin-opener. I say the tin-opener because it was the only one on the island (there were, of course, a large supply of other openers). We had to deliver all sorts of recommendations as to character etc. before “Cookie” would give it to us. We strolled into the galley for a “drop o' lime”. Sting was digging a hole - a last resting place for his precious potato-peelings and reciting verbatim “Alas! Poor Yorick”. I have seldom heard Shakespeare done such fine justice! He noted our surprise: “Oh, I'm pretty good on old Will” he explained airily, “We were lads together.” He then followed his last remark with various other fitting little phrases which we ourselves have discussed at various public examinations and let rest at that! “When the spuds get too much for me I have a few words with old Bill” he added confidentially. I asked him if he were double-jointed. He looked it - and such a strange mask for a face - the most amazing mobility of feature. His life was one big grimace! and as the cynic dropped more skins into Mother Earth he became more dramatic and confidential. “I can drink a pint of beer standing on my head.” Then in answer to my look of incredulity - “I don't expect you to believe that without seein' it. Come along to the 'Blue Bell' as soon as we get ashore.” We promised. Ashore - Gladstone - the strangest of strange N. Queensland towns - where a man got more than a glass of beer for his fourpence (or is it fivepence?) He got several hours' free entertainment and might even win a crab in a raffle. But we never saw Sting's superlative effort for Fate decreed otherwise. We had scarcely touched land before the liquid which flows so easily through glass pipes had, in some mysterious manner, rendered our star performer otherwise indisposed. It appears he had had an excellent education, that he had come from a fine family of Q'land pioneers. Strange how fortune smiles and frowns!
Clang! clang! Clang! “Get up” I roar at my tent mate. “Brek's ready and if you don't want to eat turtle you'd better get a move on.” “Yes” murmurs Kath sleepily - very sleepily - from the midst of our suit cases. They were stacked round the bed. “What's all the noise about?” “Oh, wake up” I growled. “We're off to Nor' West. Would you like a drop or two of cold water?” The sleepy delinquent decided in the negative. There is a glimmer of intelligence - a gathering of the scattered wits and lo! Here is my nymph, fresh as the dewy morn, already with one foot fair on my pet corn. She reaches abstractedly for her basin. “Here” I say, pushing her out of the tent. “Eat first and wash after if there's time - if you've got to leave either, better your face than your food.” We both ate heartily despite the turtle, for we were too late for anything else. There was a glorious odour of fish, but upon mentioning this Sting remarked that you can't expect a mere potato-peeler to have the oil about the “loaves and fishes act.” We decided to leave the poor fellow in peace. Back we scrambled to the tent. Out came the little rubber bags, 7.5d. at Coles and oh! so handy on the trip; now a towel, powder compact, comb, - “might meet someone interesting m'dear” murmurs Kath, “and you mightn't want to look too much like a ship wreck.” We had, in fact, been looking like ship wrecks for over a week now. “Oh, going in for turtle butchers now, are you?” I asked; as she dropped her mirror into her bag. “Well, you'll not have a heavy wash on Mondays, but, my dear, won't you find the climate trying?” She was about to make some caustic reply when Uncle Alfie's voice was heard: “Hurry up you two - everyone's on board.” Down we rushed into the dinghy. The corals were gorgeous and look! there was a perfectly blue sea-star! Kath wanted to dive in and get it but Charon wasn't having any - not even for a mermaid! Up over the sides we went, willing hands pulling us aboard, and the little craft moved forward, her white sails ballooning in the breeze. Mont made for a shady corner. “If I can get to sleep before I get sick I'll be tickled to death” was his explanation. Out an hour and Pat made a cup of tea. Ah! the fragrant herbs The milk was tinned and the sugar had been forgotten, but how delicious. It was nice to lie on deck and sip his brew from an old cracked mug - to feel the gentle roll of the little ship and deep, restful blue above with cool green below - “Rolled to starboard, rolled to larboard and the tide is swirling free.” How natural all this! The primitive is really very close to the surface. It varies. Some forget they are civilised in a few days away from it. The cities were far beyond. It didn't matter if one lazed that day or the next for there were three more glorious open-air weeks. Three more weeks of Halcyon forgetfulness. Could we have any troubles? Could we ever have had any troubles? A dozen seagulls circled above my head. A Cawk! Cawk! Cawk! and they were off. Oh! to be a bird! There was a two-hour trip ahead! All was still, the lions, having fed, were dozing. A wild idea entered my head and I turned to Kath. She was trying to mend a huge rent in the khaki shorts which happened as she cleared the top rails. “Wouldn't it be funny if we all suddenly disappeared - this boat and all of us. We could make for an island, settle there, forget everyone and everything: No one need ever know. There's enough food round these islands to feed a regiment of soldiers. Wouldn't it be strange if we started a new life and made a new race?” “Funny thing”, said Kath, “I was thinking much the same myself. Everything is so quiet and peaceful, nothing seems to matter. My mind seems almost a blank. Yet it's not a blank - for it's never been clearer. I know - we've lost the weight of that pettifogging detail that clogs the mind so in the city.” She looked at me earnestly. “Do you know I feel so well that at times during this week I've felt I've had almost too much energy.” - I marvelled at this - from a girl who had had far from the best of health during the past year. “Wouldn't it be wonderful if everybody on this boat decided to do what you suggest - Oh, it seems almost too divine. Just a completely natural existence. There's a magic about these islands, they give you new and abounding health and make you feel you want to keep it. Imagine what we'd look like after even a couple of years.here. Tons of food!” “Yes” I returned gloomily, “it's a wonder the Japs haven't taken advantage of all that ere now. What darling little stepping stones these islands could provide and a splendid fish diet at the same tine.” We stopped our philosophizing for there was a stir. The Island of Dreams had been sighted. We were almost on her. There she was - another little plum-pudding, bobbing up out of the sea of blue sauce. Kath clutched my hand. “I wonder what'll happen here,” she exclaimed. I had told her ham on a previous trip We had reached an island only to find a police boat in charge. They were, in fact, looking for buried treasure. They had reason to believe stolen goods had been planted there and before we left some were recovered.
How often the fairy tales come true! The cry “Photographers first” rang out and when all the really important folk had left, we nondescript “and others” filed over the side. But there was a little craft at the jetty. Kath was tense with excitement. “It's not likely to be a police boat though,” I warned her -“That sort of thing doesn't happen every day.” We were soon informed that it merely belonged to a turtle trader. He met us on the beach. I have never seen a healthier specimen, big and bronzed and handsome. Of course, everybody talks to everybody in places like this. There is never any need for introductions. We donned bathers and had a swim. These waters are like crystal. Our turtle man joined us, told us he was a Swede and little by little we began a very interesting conversation. We sat on the side of his little boat and dangled our legs over and he made us delicious tea. Then he sat dawn too and told us wonderful tales about the sea. He had been a sailor all his life and looking at those clear blue eyes I felt I had never seen anything quite like them on the land. They seemed to search out horizons. He told us haw he had served at the mast round Cape Horn. We became like little children, breathless with excitement at his tales - and then We would all laugh. It was all so strange and yet so natural! He appeared very amused at us. He said he hadn't met any little school-ma'ams for years - that he only had visions of the basilisk type who wielded a cane with a very strong forearm. But all good things have to come to an end and at 4 p.m., having spent the whole day chatting with our new found friend it was time to make for 'home'. We felt like babies when the circus is over. How we wanted to stay and hear more sea-tales. He was of the sea as is the very salt itself. He too was loth to say “Good-bye”. It was a long time, I think, since he had exchanged schoolboy jokes and listened to such a deal of giggling! We all had had such a happy day! “He's a real Viking” whispered Kath and after that we always referred to him as “The Viking”. And then, thrill of thrills: He said he would accompany us some distance of the way home. So both little ships were gliding through the foam. It was a perfect afternoon. We stood hanging to the mast and fresh winds fanned our sunburnt cheeks as we occasionally shouted a remark to our fellow traveller.
But the shades of night began to fall and he shouted a last Good-bye. Of course we were going to write. We were just full of our new found sailor-hero! Before long we were forbidden to mention his name in camp, so tired were the other male members of our party at hearing our eulogies. “What's wrong with the men on this island?” laughingly asked the leader.
Then Home in the Shape of Sydney. Another sea-trip and a big long dirty train trip and we were dropped at dusty Central Station. It was all over: Back to the drab and the ordinary. “Do you know” said Rath, “if I told my people our experiences I don't think they'd believe them.”
It was about three months later that I got a telegram from a friend in Q'land. “Your Viking shot dead. Letter following.” And so just another ship passed in the night.
The Sea - dark and mysterious had added just another mystery to its toll.
Now Kath has a little boy to tell stories to and at night in the winter in the country, in front of the glowing embers, she tells him about a wonderful sailor man who climbed the masts around the Horn and who, tiring of this, carried turtle soup in his little boat from Nor' West Islet.
As we stood an the summit of Mount Bimberi in the Federal Capital Territory, we saw the pointed tops of the Jounima Range rising clear and challengingly across the blue intervening hills and valleys. A few weeks later we had answered their challenge, and were hastening by car from Yass up the lovely vale of Tumut, up the renowned Talbingo mountains to the turn off to the Jounima State Forest, just before Yarrangobilly. The car was parked at the cottage of the officer in charge of the plantation, and we set off through the young pine trees and thence by the blazed track through the bush to the Jounima (branch) creek, where we camped amid the desolation of burnt trees and dead sticks.
The forester had predicted rain in a little over twenty-four hours, but there was nothing to show the truth of his prophecy as we scrambled up the hillsides next way through burnt bush with blue sky showing between the brown branches overhead. Eventually we emerged on the first bare rocky top, but it was the lower end, and so we walked to the highest part. We searched in vain for the cairn and then discovered on looking across the next valley that Jounima proper, a bunch of heaped, black rocks, lay still a long way off. Down the slopes we went, across the col and up the rocks, and surely now we were on top. The snow-gum excluded the view, and we climbed each highest group of rocks, still to find there was no cairn. On the final group we caught a glimpse outwards, and there was the elusive Jounima still across yet another valley. Down we plunged through the criss-cross of dead and living snow-gum, mixed up with undergrowth and huge boulders. We were glad to get out onto the heaped up boulders which formed the final route to the top. They provided quite good rock- scrambling, but we were not sorry when we eventually heaved our rucksacks out in front of the cairn. From here, the Jounima Range spread out northward, while away to the east was our old friend, Mount Bimberi, a rounded summit wholly lacking in distinction, and away on the south western horizon lay the crystal snows of Jagungal and the Kosciusko (Kosciuszko) Plateau.
We left our camping gear at the bottom of the next deep col, and then climbed the steep rocks of Big Plain Bogong. I succeeded in getting one or two quite hair-raising photos of my friend clinging by her eyelids from the face of impossible precipices, just like they do in the pictures of mountaineering journals. Below us lay the marsh and grass of Bull's flats, a delightful upland glade whose choice indicated admirable taste on the part of the bulls who presumably gave it its name, while it in turn apparently gave its name to Bogong above the Big Plain. From Bull's Flats we climbed the Pillared Rocks, not a peaky summit like the other two, but providing the very best rock scrambling we had done in Australia.
We had used the limit of our daylight and there was a rush to get back to camp before dark. The wind had risen in the afternoon and we tied an extra stay to the back of the tent, but there was still nothing to show the fulfilment of the forester's prophecy. We woke about 4 a.m., to a howling tempest which threatened to carry the tent away. The rain dribbled in freely where out backs touched its sides, and, while the back stay held, the back tent poles had fallen down, so that our feet protruded together with eiderdown sleeping bags. When we put our heads out we found we were in a wilderness of driving mist. There was nothing for it but to pack up and set back by compass, and it takes a lot of faith in science to follow the compass blindly when all your commonsense urges you another way. Once we stopped on the top of some slimy, slippery moss-covered boulders wondering if we dare venture from the direct route to find an easier one for our rubber-soled shoes, when a dreadful thing happened. The mist-curtain parted for a few moments in the valley beneath, and we saw a series of unknown ridges and gullies which were certainly not there when we came, and yet the compass needle pointed inexorably across them. Were we about to plunge down into the pathless gullies between Jounima and Canberra? Ought we to go to the right or the left of the way the compass pointed us? An awful feeling of utter loneliness came over us, alone with the drifting mist, the fury of the storm and the desolate, trackless heights. Then for the fraction of a second the mist parted on the further hill, and we saw the familiar flat-topped rocks across the unknown ridges and valleys, and right in the direction of the compass! Our teeth were chattering in the wet and icy wind, our feet frozen in the snow-drifts, but the feeling of desolation had gone, and a warm faith in the compass lighted the way over the phantasmal, non-existent ridges that the mist had conjured up. It is unnecessary to give the details of that wet and windy tramp home, or the hail that came dawn like small bullets when we crossed the flat-topped rocks. We reached the forest plantation in less time than it had taken to come out, feeling that the compass was the most wonderful thing an had ever invented - next to fire!
Our bedraggled appearance caused peals of laughter on the part of Mrs.-the-forester, but her husband, who had long since resigned himself to heading a search party on the morrow, was too relieved to do more than smile. Needless to say, they were hospitality itself, and two hours later, with their chains on the tyres of our car, we were warm and dry, and on our way home.
Marie B. Byles.
The previous two months have been, from a social point of view, the most important in the Club's year, awing to the 6th. Annual Concert, and this year we repeated same in aid of the Garawarra Primitive Area Scheme.
Mr. Colefax came along from the Australian Museum and gave a most interesting and illuminating address to the Members on the Marine Life around Sydney. This was Mr. Colefax's first visit to our Club Rooms, but we hope it will not be his last.
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable evenings we have spent was that on which Bob Savage showed us his photos taken during his Canoe trip down the Kowmung River. This river is probably the most popular with Bush Walkers, and they are never tired of looking at pictures of it and talking about it, to say nothing of making trips there as frequently as they can manage.
Our 6th. Annual Concert was from every point of view a great success. The consensus of opinion is that from a point of view of entertainment, the 6th. Annual was by far the best the Bush Walkers have produced to date. The Members of the Boys' Ballet were voted quite the dearest little things, and added further to the Laurels gained last year. The attendance was the largest we have had so far, and the profits are expected to be considerable. On the 16th. November the concert was repeated in aid of the Garawarra, as mentioned above, and the concert party had he pleasure of playing to another appreciative audience. There will probably be a profit of £7 odd to give to this fund.
The 17th. was spent by Members “Twirling the Light Fantastic,” the evening being a Social and Gift Book Night in aid of our Library. What with Community Singing and the usual small talk at which the Bush Walkers are not backward, they spent a very pleasant evening. Mr. F. Rice's Snapshots entitled “Familiar Scenes” were extremely beautiful, and rather gained than lost by being true to title and in every way indeed familiar. The River Scenes were lovely, and some of the 'photos of the Outback Homesteads were delightfully rural.
The Club extends its hearty congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Roots on the latest edition to their family, Miss Daphne Vivian; we hope she will prove as good a Bush Walker as Gweneth and Walter junior.
The latest epidemic, as reported by our First Aid Expert, is marriage. Those suffering from the complaint are: Jess & Tom (Mr. & Mrs. Williams); Oscar & Esme (Mr. & Mrs. Armstrong); Dorman & Jean (Mr. & Mrs. Hardie). We wish these three couples the very best that life has to give, and may they live long to enjoy their wedded happiness.
The Social Secretary draws Members' attention to the forthcoming Annual Xmas Treat for Poor Children to take place on the 17th. December. Subscriptions are urgently needed - 3/- pays one Child's train fare and also feeds it for the day; also help with the children on the day is necessary, and if some of the men would come along and help it would be greatly appreciated.
The Federation of Bushwalking Clubs arranged an outing on Sunday 26th. Nov. to the Garawarra Primitive Area. There were quite a number of people invited to be the guests of the Federation. The cars left the G.P.O. Sydney at 2 p.m., and took the party to the Governor Game Lookout, where they walked along the track - a distance of about 2.5 miles - to Bulgo. Here they were given afternoon tea by your Social Secretary, ably assisted by a band of helpers including the 1st. Concord Boy Scouts. There were some short and interesting speeches delivered, and Mr.Atkinson, the Secretary of the Federation, read a letter in which he was informed of the grant of 1300 acres to us as a reserve. Cheers!
After the speeches, the party, numbering about 50, walked-to Lilyvale where they were given tea, and they generally seemed to enjoy the alfresco meals and atmosphere of good comradeship which abounded.
This outing was also on the Official Programme for Health Week, and from that point of view was an innovation for Walking Clubs.
The Social Secretary extends her very best wishes to all for the happiest of Christmas Seasons and hopes we will all have good weather and good camping.
For the Social Secretary, Rene D. Browne, Hon. Social Secretary.