A Journal devoted to matters of interest to Members of the Sydney Bush Walkers, Sydney, New South Wales.
No. 23. February 1935,
Misses Brenda White, (Editor), Marjorie Hill, Dorothy Lawry, Rene Browne and Mr. Myles Dunphy.
I don't think I can do better than to make this editorial a very urgent appeal to members for contributions for the second Annual, which is due for publication in April.
There very nearly wasn't any February issue, as a week before the due date the only article on hand was Jock's and a definite promise of one from Barney. I was getting quite alarmed, but fortunately several people came nobly to the rescue. Paddy can always be depended on to give us a page of interesting reading, and Aunty Rene always comes to light with the social notes. I generally find time (and a certain amount of inspiration) to write an editorial, and sometimes round up something for the “poetical corner” - but an editor cannot edit what he doesn't get - and that's the moral of this story - so please let me have your contributions for the Annual as soon as possible, as there is a lot of work to be done and not very much time in which to do it.
An article is always more interesting if accompanied by a map of the route, or a photo of either the party or the landscape - so that's an idea, you camera fiends and draughtsman, produce your best-loved map or snap, and if you cannot write a story round it, surely you can induce some member of your party to do it for you.
We want this Annual to be something rather special, but that depends largely on the amount of assistance we receive from members, so please don't let me appeal to you in vain.
Bob Savage wishes to purchase a copy of numbers 2, 5, 7 & 9, “Sydney Buskwalker”.
Being an account of the adventures of some Sydney Bushwalkers in the wilds of North Queensland - written in the Brisbane-Express between Kyogle and Grafton.
By “Jock” “Crusing in the Whitsunday Passage” on February 22nd. at S.B.W Clubroom.
I don't want to write this really, but I know if I don't, Mister Barnes will; and after having spent about fourteen days in his company and, moreover, having plumbed the murky depths of his Godless soul, I shudder to think of the probable consequences if I didn't get in first.
You may remember that a month or so ago I, in what I now regard as a misguided burst of confidence, told the Sydney Bushtalkers that there were vacancies in my cruise through the Whitsunday Isles. Well, several of the tribe decided on a spot of relaxation (!) in the Blue North, and duly paid over the dough (less 20%) to the Manager. I am not, by the way, the manager.
S.B.W. section was comprised of the Moir, who isn't as bad as she looks; the Dunk, who is worse than she looks; Barney, about whom the less said the better; the Savages, who traded on their injuries and the finer feelings of the rest of the party; and an unfortunate youth called Pinky of whom I knew very little, except, that numerous people sidled up to me on various occasions and said “Don't take him; he's worse than Barney event” They were wrong; emphatically they were wrong; for whilst I don't mind admitting that Pinky is something of a wart, an excrescence, and a blot on the landscape in general he is certainly no worse than Barney. Nothing is worse than Barney, at least, nothing living, anyway.
The other vacancies were filled by two rather nice girls, and a couple of others who were dubbed the U.S.A's by Pinky, who appears to know all about such things.
Some of them came by boat; some by train, the former arriving without incident, though I'm happy to relate that Harry Savage lost his girl within an hour or so of landing. The train people arrived on us with horrible suddenness. A storm, the first in months, had blown up, and slightly rocked the “Cheerio”, the boat in which they crossed from the mainland.
As her nose touched the beach - it was high water at the moment - I meandered down to murmur a few words of welcome, - and a hard feminine shoe came in contact with my ear. It was Dunk's, of course, and she chased me along the beach screaming: “Brute! Brute! You said it'd be as smooth as a mill-pond”. I managed to elude Dunk at the top of the strand and returned panting when Pinky assailed me. “Fifteen hundred miles of gumtrees” he wailed: “Fifteen hundred miles of gumtrees, and them we nearly get drowned”. I was about to tell him it was a pity he wasn't, when a pitiful spectacle arrested my attention. It was a woman, a poor forlorn looking thing they were lowering over the side, who looked just like a bag of potatoes which had been tied round the middle and trailed through the sea for a day or two. Then it smiled wanly, waved listlessly to its “public”, and I recognised the truesome exhibit to be our Thelly.
After they had all been fed and groomed, the Bushwalkers were heard to admit that the place wasn't so bad after all. And then the blow fell. They discovered that our boat, the “Defiance” was green, and that there would be thirteen aboard her during the cruise. Barry Savage, however, nobly rose to the occasion and with commendable presence of mind (his lost love was to remain on the island) dived into shallow water and carefully injured his spine just enough to necessitate his remaining near the doctor (and the tabby) on Hayman.
So we left without our 'Arry; left him devouring great quantities of chocolates and fancy biscuits, drinking many kinds of refreshment, and telling lies about his “untimely accident”. By sail and power (when the engine was functioning) we headed down the Passage, passing at Lindeman where we met and fed with Mel Ward. We saw the famous Smith Group and wondered at the enlightened soul who conferred the names Goldsmith, Locksmith, Silversmith, Coppersmith, Blacksmith, etc. on the isles of which it is comprised. And as though he didn't want his famous Smiths to remain in idleness, the donor of these extraordinary names scattered a few tools in among them - hence, we have Pincer, Anvil, Hammer and Tongs, etc. nestling in the same group.
And so on to Bushy Is., a glorious little spot of dazzling green close to the outer Barrier, and over 100 miles from our starting point. We skimmed under white wings over the various gradations of blue in a sea bounded by luxuriant pine-clad isles and a mainland of mangrove-flats and jungle-peaks. We flushed tiny flying fishes, and passed barren rocks covered with thousands of snowy terns. Now we were becalmed until the “sick” engine carried us vibrating onwards; now we were racing under sail and engine before a stiff breeze towards our southern goal.
And all the time Pinky's unpleasant voice droned on. We heard the one about the commercial traveller, the one about the barmaid, and perhaps forty about Mrs West. And then Bed Savage, who had previously been too busy eating to say much, narrated the astonishing adventures of the Weejah-bird, and I began to offer up short prayers for one of three things. (a) That the two U.S.A's be made deaf, (b) that Pinky and Bob be made dumb, or © that the Lord send Aunty Rene among us and so quell the indomitable Pinky - because I certainly couldn't! However the Lord sent a storm and rough waters fortunately broke up what threatened to be a rough party, and I offered up a snappy prayer of thanksgiving because I had been tempted to relate the one about my friend Jim and the cake of Rexona soap.
Bushy, a pseudo-atoll, or coral cay, was reached at sunset. We waded across the reef, splashed through the shallow lagoon, strode up over the snowy beach; through a belt of pandanus and pisonia trees, and so on to a beautiful clear green camp near the centre of the isle. Everybody was delighted to have the opportunity to explore in life what they'd all read about in adventure stories - a real dinky-di coral isle a la R.M. Ballantine. The lads pranced along the beach - no other word fits their extraordinary actions, and with loud cries of innocent childish delight they found a turtle about to lay. The old skipper and the Savage butchered it, and as our meat had been thrown to the sharks as unfit for even Bushwalker consumption (though how they could expect a self-respecting shark to eat what a Sydney Belly Worshiper turned down, I can't imagine) the turtle steak was very handy, though the eggs, taken from the carcase, were voted a failure by all save the crew.
Then the Lord, as punishment for the wickedness of Pinky and Bob, tried us with a storm. I was happy to see all the S.B.W. tents go down with the first blast and to see mine stand. But not for long. The southerly buster struck the atoll with almost unbelievable fury, making us fear for the safety of the “Defiance” which was anchored just outside the reef. We smashed our way into the shelter of the tangled pisonia forest, and there re-erected our tents whilst white-capped noddies, attracted by the torches, fluttered out of the branches to our feet. Pinky here distinguished himself by remaining like a log under his fallen waterproof tent until all the work was done. Which proves that Pinky is not nearly as stupid as he looks.
The night wore on, as nights usually do, and after a second blow at two in the morning, the storm blew itself out. Morning dawned bright and clear; we surveyed the wreck, tidied things up a bit, and then went collecting. The U.S.A's collected plants, Barney and Bob collected photographs, Thelma and Dunk collected data on Herons, and Pinky and I collected birds. Barney was also deputed to make a mineral collection: he collected three pieces of rock after a great amount of pressure had been brought to bear on him - and then left them behind in camp when we departed.
Our stay on the island was full of interest, and nobody could say that we lacked diversion. Take Bob Savage, for example. Bob thought the party needed pepping up a bit, so he borrowed my much cherished tomahawk (brand-new and a Xmas gift) and went down and covered it with gore from his thumb. Naturally I was wild, for in addition to having my axe bloodied by his thumb I had to leave my dissections at a most interesting point to mend the thing - his thumb, I mean, for the axe was luckily undamaged. I used matchsticks for splints, and with Dunk to help, made a fair job of it and was able to get back to my work.
Then the story oozed out. Bob, fired by the tales of the skipper about turtles and things, had decided to take the shell home to show his friends. Being of a very indolent disposition Bob was still in his pyjamas, and so that he wouldn't splash tern with turtles blood, he took his pants off, draped them over a nearby bush and commenced to back away at the defunct turtle. Turtles is tuff. Axe slipped, and Bob wasn't. Bob looks at streaming finger……. curses softly and plaintively….looks at his pants on the bush…, thinks of the women in the camp. He hesitates…and then does The Big British Thing! Yes, rather than embarrass the girls, Bob, with praiseworthy presence of mind, manfully bore the pain much longer than strictly necessary; and with a blood-dripping hand climbed heroically into his pants. “Greater love hath no man…” We left the same afternoon for Hayman, and medical attention for our hero. As I, the leader of the party, was against the scheme to maroon Pinky (on the grounds that there was too much natural food available for him to starve) he was allowed to plague us again on the home trip. So endeth the first part of the cruise. The second part of the trip, to the northern part of Whitsunday Isles, was more interesting ornithologically, but as there were only two Bushwalkers present, is not of outstanding interest to readers of these columns.
Glancing over these lines I can't help feeling that I've spent too much time on individuals and not enough in poetic descriptions of blue lagoons, verdant isles and the star-spangled skies 'neath which we sailed. That I have given no attention to the scents and sounds of the sea and the isles, and have dismissed the sturdy little “Defiance” in a few words when I could have written of the mind in the rigging, the creak of seasoned timbers and the slap and splash of wave against hull in the night watches.
And then I glance at my companions in the carriage, at the southern European, redolent of garlic, lounging heavily in a corner; at the fat bloke in the centre who looks like a broken-down publican; at the anaemic looking kid on the left and his toothless “Aunty Ada” (I learn) next to him; I feel not in the slightest poetical and would refer you to Bob Savage for further details. Perhaps he'll tell you about his friend the Weejah-bird.
All “PADDYMADE” Rucksacks are made from Water ..proof Duck, and have solid leather shoulder straps.
|“JUNIOR”:||17“ x 19” flat 6/6. or with 2 pockets||9/-|
|“SENIOR”:||19“ x 22” flat, with 2 pockets||13/6|
|“BUSHMAN”:||This 'shaped' bag is designed to hold 35 lbs. of gear, with 2 pockets||16/-|
|or with 3 pockets||18/-|
|“PIONEER”:||Extra large 'shaped' bag designed to hold 45 lbs. of gear. The side pockets each hold a loaf of bread. 2 pockets||18/-.|
|CANE FRAME RUCKSACK.||Suitable for camping or snow-sports. Holds 35 lbs. gear. 3 pockets, fitted with waist strap and inner storm proof flap||37/6|
|STEEL FRAME RUCKSACK:||Holds 50 lbs. gear. 4 pockets outside and one inside for money||47/6|
|DE LUXE MODEL:||Special heavy canvas bag. Chrome leather straps, complete with blanket straps and waist strap||60/-|
|GROUNDSHEETS:||(proofed Japara). 6' x 3', weight 12 ozs||6/6|
|CAPE GROUNDSHEET:||6' x 4', weight 18 ozs||8/11|
|ditto with collar||9/11.|
TENTS: All tents made from best quality Japara.
|One-man||6'6“||4'||3'||1 3/4 lbs||22/6|
|Two-man||7'||5'||4||2 1/2 lbs||26/-|
|Three-man||6'||8'||4'||2 3/4 lbs||30/-|
|WALL TENT||7'||5'||4'6”, 18“ wall||3 3/4 lbs||37/6|
|QUEENSLAND TENT||Holds two, 2 1/2 lbs||30/-|
|TENT PROOFING||Tents proofed from||4/-.|
|Proofed||3/- per yard|
TENT PEGS, etc. 8”, Steel Wire, 8d. doz., Aluminium 2/3 doz. Angle Alumin. 2/6 doz., Peg Cases, 3d. each, Billy Hooks, 1/2d. each, Guy Slides, lid. each.
SLEEPING BAGS 5'10“ long. Mixed Down 40/-, Pure Down, 45/-. Fitted with 8' Zip 12/- extra. Special sizes and shapes to order.
NEW LINES. ALUMINIUM CAMP OVEN: consisting of Frying Pan, Plate, Plate fits inside pan for carrying and when inverted fits on top of pan for baking damper. etc. Weight 5 1/2 ozs. Price Complete 2/6
NEW MAP NATIONAL PARK 1/-. NALLY POT MUGS, weight 4 1/2 ozs Price 2/6
F. A. PALLIN. Camping Gear for Walkers.
312 George St., SYDNEY. Opp. Wynyard Stn. Phone B 3101.
On Friday night 25th, January I made a rapid decision to join the working party in the Blue Gum Forest, and when Saturday dawned exceptionally fine I was only too anxious to board the train and be on my way. At Central I was subjected to the usual amused criticism on the part of the civilised holiday makers, and the appearance of three Bushualkers greatly relieved my feelings.
Apart from the repairing of certain belt loops on shorts in preparation for the strenuous exertion of the week-end the train journey was uneventful and we took the bus to Govett's Leap to gain time. From the Leap to the Junction we made record time. Personally I lost all control over my legs and seemed to hurtle through space urged on by the terrifying yells and stamping of my hob-nailed companions. Ross Easdown attempted to steer round a sharp bend in top gear but the width of his rucksack changed his plans and he gave an elegant exhibition of tight rope walking on the edge of the path.
As we reached the edge of the Blue Gum the sun sank beyond the topmost hills and the valley was steeped in that glorious dusk of delicate colouring and soft shadows which is part of the indescribable spell of the Forest. The welcome scent of a camp fire was followed by the Coo-ees of Joe Turner and his “merry men” who had struck camp early in the day.
After pitching the tents tea was our foremost consideration, as lunch for our party had been a scrappy affair, and we did justice to everything on the menu. The rest of the party had started the camp fire long before we had consoled the inner-man.
In pensive mood I was glorying in the peace and beauty of the starlit night and the glow of the fire on the stately gums when I was rudely wakened to realisation by a volley of loud bangs and much laughter from the direction of the fire. Curiosity took the upper hand and we ran towards the scene of revelry. Quite a novelty in the way of camp fires was the sight which greeted our eyes. The “merry men” had built a furnace inside one of the big dead gums lying across the river at the Western side of the Forest. The artillery effects were being produced by throwing wet stones into the flames. Edgar and Ernie sang duets to the accompaniment of intermittent explosions until about 10 o'clock when Joe suggested bed in view of the hard day on the morrow.
Sunday morning we wakened to hear the customary twittering of birds interrupted by the rhythmic beat of an axe. Ernie Austen was already attacking one of the big gums which were to be the centre of attraction for the next two days.
By 9 o'clock all hands were in the river, in fact Evelyn, carried away by her enthusiasm, deposited the main portion of her person in amongst the debris we were piling up to form part of the dam. Girls will be girls, and after a comparatively short time we retired to watch proceedings from the bank.
From my point of vantage the busy bees were highly amusing. Two boys partly submerged were using a cross-cut saw on a log embedded in the river sand, several were playing woodpeckers on the main tree across the river, while others were in varied positions in the water digging a channel to divert the flow away from the bank, or reinforcing the dam which had been constructed as the keynote of our work.
The real fun began when the first charge of dynamite was set. Nobody seemed to know just how far the pieces would fly, so I retreated behind the largest trunk I could find. The more venturesome souls waited in the river near the banks. The actual sight of the explosion I must confess was lost upon me, as I closed my eyes so tightly that it was a few seconds before I could see straight. Small chips were raining from the sky but the damage did not realise our expectations.
A halt was called for tea and bread and jam, but the busy bees were soon at work again with renewed vigour. Lunch time saw a big gap in the main log, and at the call of “tools down” for the day the second bite was lying in the river ready to be rolled to the side the next day.
By this time we were quite used to the explosions and Ross, our Powder Monkey, was working with a shorter fuse wire each successive blast until he cut his retreat a bit too fine and received a lump of mud in the face. I unearthed a fishing line which we cut into lengths, dug worms, and an enterprising fishing party adjourned to the river. Bites came far too slowly and after Wally had retired with four whales fully seven inches long, and I had lost two hooks, a foot of wire, and very nearly my balance on a log, I gave up in disgust. The camp-fire was a drowsy one, and all welcomed an early night.
Daybreak saw Ernie again playing Umslopagas to shame the others out of bed. All efforts were then concentrated on the remaining portion of the big tree which had to be cut from its resting place and allowed to fall into the river bed. The saw or the axe would have meant a day's work, so Ross charged it with all the gelignite possible and we waited for the final shot. When the smoke and flying chips cleared we saw with relief that the log had fallen into the desired position and the week-end's work was done.
Whether the next floods will destroy all the good work is yet to be seen, but I am sure the fight against erosion is not so hopeless when we have on our side the zeal and determination of those men who answered the call to protect our beloved Blue Gum Forest.
The birds, the trees, a song in the breeze,
As I am tramp, tramp, tramping along,
And the old church bell, I can hear so well,
In the distance ringing ding dong,
No thought of care, just free as the air,
To take my time night and day.
That's the reason why, I no longer sigh,
For more than the great highway.
Though my clothes are worn, all tattered and torn,
What do I care, such a wonder-er as I,
Folk just pass me by, Yet my friends there, are all
The birds, the trees, a song in the breeze,
The church bells ringing ding dong,
They're my friends in need, and my friends indeed,
As I am tramp, tramp, tramping along.
These are the words of the song which was such a hit at the last concert - learn them in time for the Annual Reunion which takes place in a few weeks' time.
Once upon a time there was a man who made maps so that people might know where he had been, and sometimes, where they were - and how to get home.
Then some of his friends thought, “This map-making is a good game, specially when we picture bits of the country which have not been drawn before. It makes us feel so important to name the places we have seen.” So they all began to make maps, and before very long there were so many maps that a special Government Department was formed, collected the maps, added the map-makers to its staff(?), and made more and more maps.
Now, some of the maps were good, and some were not so good; some were bad, and some were very bad. And one of the bad things about the maps was the way the same name had been given to ever so many different places - which was very confusing, as everyone had to admit. But the people who went to these places often overcame this difficulty by the simple process of giving the places new names. Some folk said this was very wrong; and some folk said it was sensible.
How could a party be sure of meeting if its rendezvous was to be “Boat Harbour” and the maps showed no less than three places of that name within fifty miles of each other? On the other hand, how could the members of the party be sure of finding their way to “Maitland Bay” when no such name appeared on the maps? It was a knotty problem. Still, they found that many people had heard of the wreck of the “Maitland” in the “Maitland Gale” many years ago; quite a number of people had a fair idea of the locality in which she piled up on the rocks; and some fishermen and yachtsmen even remembered seeing the boilers of the old “Maitland” still lying on the rocks off a certain point - so the party did assemble at the rendezvous.
Later, another difficulty appeared, The leader proved to be a strict conservative, and insisted on calling the place “Boat Harbour” as per map, though most of his followers were rationalists and persisted in claiming to have been at “Maitland Bay”. Now, what is going to happen if any of them want an alibi? More were they that week-end?
And how is it to be designated in the Deed of Gift? For it is the expressed intention of the party to give the place away to a certain zealous advocate of its reservation as a recreation and camping area. Why give it away? Merely because of the enthusiastic welcome they received from the local inhabitants! Positively overwhelmed the visitors were, and yet, in spite of their shrinking (and moaning), these shy strangers could not tear themselves away from so beautiful a place…
For years past the greeting between folks meeting casually in this “fishermen's paradise” has been, not 'Good day', but 'How are they biting?', and those who had only been there in the cool weather thought, in their innocence, that the query referred to the fish. Now they know better. They bite enthusiastically, and successfully, even through khaki drill shirts - the mosquitoes of “Maitland Bay”.
Why will fishermen leave dead fish lying around on the beach for weeks and weeks and weeks?
“Let us go out to the boilers again” “How long ago was she wrecked?” “What happened?” “Were there any survivors?” “How many were drowned when the 'Maitland' went down?”
No matter how gay the party, how bright the sun, how fresh the breeze, how sparkling the waves in the perfect curve of the bay, not for long can the thoughts dismiss the mental picture of that ship in distress.
What tremendous force there must have been in the waves which destroyed the ship and carried those four great boilers forty or fifty yards across the reef, almost into the deep water of the bay! How terrible to have been one of the puny men tossed and broken by those waves! And yet, man's work has withstood the buffetting of wind and waves for thirty years or more; for many years to come the great, rusted boilers will lie there on the rocks, a memorial to the men who go down to the sea in ships.
Sentinels, adding a touch of stark reality to the beauty of the bay, and a sense of the joy of conflict to the pleasures of a lazy summer's day; from the spirit of the boilers come drifting across the bay, starting a responsive chord drumming in our ears, the words of John Masefield -
“My road calls me, lures me
West, east, south, and north;
Most roads lead men homewards,
My road leads me forth
To add more miles to the tally
Of grey miles left behind,
In quest of that one beauty
God put me here to find.”
- D. L. -
Bullook-drivers have a reputation for being hard cases, but the team of “most expert bushmen” that Joe gathered to go to The Blue Gum Forest over the Anniversary Day week-end would give any bullocky a good go. The bullocky would have an advantage of a wider range of words - we were somewhat restricted as we could only dam and blast, occasionally someone would combine the words so as to emphasize, for instance, when the cross-cut saw struck, you might hear “Dam the blasted thing, it's jammed”, but this was tabooed as being “Grosely” unfair.
The team filtered down to “The Forest” by twos and threes during Saturday. The four that came by Docker's Pass had stayed at Hat Hill overnight and carried down equipment lent by Blackheath Council - saw, axes, auger, fuse, gelignite, detonators, etc. Even with all this gear the 7ft. snake was done to death by sticks instead of being blown to bits or beheaded with an axe. After lunch and a dip an inspection was made of the river banks to see what could be done, and after much arguing a plan of work was mapped out. Then we had another dip and lit fires in a huge hollow log. Morrie was a good stoker and qualified by wading up to the end of the furnace to push in wood, and then ducking right under water to cool. Afterwards he was ably seconded by Ron and Wally - when the log was well alight someone hit on the bright idea of throwing in wet stones - as they dried the blasting began. At dark the whole company sat on the opposite bank and there was a bit of a sing-song in which Ernie figured prominently. Joan could not have been more thrilled if the fire had been started for her special benefit.
On Sunday morning Joe got us started early, and we were soon at work on the main trouble - the two big and several small trees at Govett's Leap Creek. Ross was made Powder-Monkey and he blasted all day. Marge, Evelyn, Steve and Joan were told off as cooks while the rest of us dammed and took spells with the axes and saw. It was hot heavy work but great fun splashing about in the water. When one of the cooks came to ask about food stuffs there was difficulty in finding sufficient cover and it was laughable to see some of the team trying to burrow into the river bed.
The dinner spell was welcomed and afterwards it was noticeable that there was not the same rush to start work again. No one would think that Joe could be such a hard driver, but he kept us going all the time by example and cheer. He did work hard and certainly deserves his place as trustee.
Tea time showed a big change, as several sections of the trees had been shifted and the river was running strongly in its new channel. At night the various parties stayed round their own fires, as all were too tired to make a big blaze - Jeff entertained our lot with tales of his war experiences, etc. until we turned in about 10 p.m. By the way, Joan went fishing at dusk and hooked something that varied between 6” and 3 feet, but she was not able to land the catch.
On Monday morning no one seemed very willing to get to work, but there was a little more to be done and a few more blasts shifted the remainder of the logs. Ernie and his girls started off early to go up by the Grand Canyon, while the rest of us stayed until about 2 p.m. Joe and Jeff went up Docker's Pass to get a car at Hat Hill, while the balance went by Govett's Leap.
It was a change from dam and blast to puff and pant. Ross, Edgar, Joan and Ken rushed past Morrie, Wally and Charlie while they were having tea at the top and told them they would miss the train, but they reached one end of the platform just as it got to the other.
Jock Marshall is a man of parts as you are all mare
And to his fertile brain there came this grand idea -
He'd see the Queensland Barrier Reef and find some rarer birds -
And with his cheery smile he said these fateful words:
“The reef is calling, boys and girls, and you and I have ears,
So you must follow me and shake off all your cares;
And then with tales of fish and coral, sand and gleaming strand
He tempted us to go and see this lovely land.
The idea sounded extra good; I turned it round and round
And then decided, gathered all my friends around.
“Hear well what Jock's to say” quoth I,”and come along with me
For I intend to go - there's many things to see;
There's coral and there's shells, there's fish of every shape and hue
And tropic seas with palms, trepang and turtles too,
The while in golden splendour rides the sun in sapphire shy,
A molten copper ball afloat in azure dye“.
Bob Savage heeded first and vowed a vow he'd be along,
And this decided Harry, who, in accents strong
Proclaimed his wish to join and start a crowd of S.B.W's,
While others rushed about and spread the gladsome news.
Then in came Pinky Webber, gently nurtured from his birth,
Not quite so big as Bob nor half so round of girth,
But all the same a good “stout fella”, happy with his snigger.
Thelma then arose and cried “The ranks are bigger,
I am coming too, hoorah! but I must have a lady friend,”
Then Dunc thought once again, for she did not intend
At first to think at all of going, but was gently lured
By talk of many snaps, her dithers thus being cured.
We travelled north by train through thirteen hundred miles of trees
To Proserpine, a township close by tropic seas,
And Pinky moaned throughout the ride, with many a sigh as well,
For many miles of trees to him were just plain Hell.
'Twas Christmas day we shipped to Hayman, isle of promised jay,
And yet the voyage was not all bliss without alloy.
At first the sea was calm and even Thel felt very well
But soon the waves grew bigger and the boat dipped to the swell.
From breeze to wind and mind to gale the air began to hurry,
Thelma's face being turned to hue of mottled curry,
'Till at last in accents weary she began to sing
“Dear God, I wish to die, so sink the - thing”.
But all was well by noon for the boat was truly manned
And just in time for lunch we anchored off the sand.
Now Monty's to the fore, a lad of weird and craggy build
With nobby knees and legs, whom someone should have killed
When young enough to swot, for rushing madly to the sea,
Gesticulating mild and free he yells out “Wheeee!”
Until the sea birds quail and the eagle moans in pain,
For Monty's glad we've come - he's met the boat again.
Our Bobbie stood as large as life, most beefy on the sand,
While Harry dived in fun and foundered out of hand.
He'd bent his neck upon the beach and sprained some vertebrae,
And Doc arrived at once and parked him in the sick bay.
Now Jock was there in all his glory - battered pants and hat -
And 'ologist of note who murders birds - and all that!
He likes his little self and so do we, and all the maids
In ones and twos and crowds upon his hut made raids
To gaze upon him hard at work with scissors, jars, and wogs',
Once but a scientist he's going to the dogs.
Along came Daisy Booth and Penny who were two teachers stern,
With looks of deep intent to see what they could learn.
Midst many folds of wonderous costumes, bloomered to the knee
They staggered under yards of cloth - a sight to see,
And when in time they courage took and slept upon the beach
Alone in splendid state and firmly out of reach,
They queried what to guard against, and Jock in elfin glee
Just laughed a laugh and said behind, his hand to me:
“I'll tell them now about an awful danger, and the joke'll
Tickle them to death - beware the Local Yokel”.
Shortly on the pulsing air their girlish screams arose;
'Twas hours before their snores did show their calm repose.
Now Chappy and Es were girls of extra young and tender years
Untroubled by mock modesty or foolish fears.
They came aboard the lugger just as bold as bold could be
Attired in shirt and shorts for all the world to see,
The same as Dunc and Thel who never give a jolly hoot;
They only wear what's cool and that is all there's to't.
The engine popped, the sails strained, and we were off at last
To far off Bushy Isle, it not so very fast,
For soon the popping stopped, the engine was a cheap old Ford,
And Bob the cook said 'blast' and 'damn' and “Please Oh Lord
Do extricate me from this blanky engineering curse”.
We travelled like a snail as slow as any hearse,
While Bob and Bobby too both tinkered at the works.
Once more with vain regret and in spasmodic jerks
With strangled grunts and plops at last it chugged along 'in top'
A credit to the “Bobs” and plus an extra knot.
We called at Lindeman to see Mel Ward with whiskers long .
His head a mass of chestnut hair, and stature strong,
Yet handsome in his wild array, a smile on kindly face,
And Mrs. Ward, a girl of very charming grace.
She paints and works with Mel and often helps him in his lab,
For he's an 'ologist too who hunts the predatory crab.
We sailed all through the following day the wind abaft the stern
Until by sundown we could dimly just discern
One tiny tree-clad island in infinity of sea,
A reef-girt gem in Lilliputian majesty.
The tide was quickly ebbing as we anchored by the reef;
We splashed across the coral, up the beach so brief
To find a decent campsite for our night among the trees,
To leeward on the isle and sheltered from the breeze.
The skipper killed a turtle and the steaks proved good to eat,
Although the eggs were not so favoured as the meat.
The darkness settled like a pall upon our island home
And through the inky blackness we began to roam
In search of turtles, when without the slightest little warning,
Quicker even than the storm, of Christmas morning
Heaven loosed its very worst with thunder cracks and lightning,
The wind in screaming squalls and sounding very frightening
With the rain in beating torrents lashing us around,
The tents being merely rags all flattened to the ground.
Next morning very early we were breakfasted and out
Upon the shore to roam at will and gaze about -
The day, a day of burning heat with sun of brassy shade,
With nature's fantasy in glamorous light arrayed,
The reef around us lay perhaps a thousand yards or so
To south and west a wave-washed sea plateau,
With an its edge a rocky islet rising sheer
Its outline etched in bold relief quite stark and clear.
To this we made our way midst coral pool and sand
With many-coloured crustacean on either hand.
We saw great stars and urchins, clams with multicoloured lips
Of scarlet, green and brown, while fish like tiny ships
Cruised in and out of fairy gardens gay with weed and shells
The while anemones and crabs in limpid wells
And crevices of sun flecked light all foraged for their food,
And sea birds wheeled with cries above us where we stood.
The morning passed so soon we gave no thought to time or tide -
The stretch of coral seemed so very safe and wide
But when the ebb was full and it began at length to turn,
We had recourse to hurry for in some concern
We saw the channels ever deeper and the white capped seas.
Much like an octopus, its hunger to appease
Engulf a little fish - encroach upon us fast,
But very wet and tired we struggled through at last.
Our lunch was past and o'er and Bobbie'd vanished from our ken
To hack a turtle shell from off a turtle, when
Right back to camp he crawled a gory mess of sand and blood
For with a mighty swipe he'd come an awful thud,
The turtle's what he meant to hit, instead it was his thumb,
The girls turned very pale, they thought he'd shot his “tum”
For Bobbie being a cleanly soul he wore just hat and shirt
To save his pants from soil of turtle blood and dirt,
And when he'd swung his axe on high and made his famous swipe
He struggled in his pants - though not a modest type -
With one hand spouting blood but he couldn't work the belt,
He looked an awful sight - you'll realise haw he felt!
They patched him up at last with match sticks, rags, and heaps of brandy,
Now he is immortal, just like famous “Sandy”.
There followed then some days of slothful ease and perfect bliss
In swimming and meandering about, but this
Was only a prelude to further inter-island cruises
Each one doing as he pleased, for what amuses
One or two is not a joy for all the crowd; while some
Collected birds for Jock, a few just wished to come
With collecting bag and knife, or camera to “shoot”
The varied objects found mad pleasing scenes en route.
But when we made a happy run to Grassy and the Cones
Our Dunky had to leave for home, with many moans,
And Pinky in her wake with sighs for his beloved trees,
The party thus depleted carried on at ease.
But our time, too, was drawing nigh, and with regretful smiles
We went aboard the launch again and left the Isles
In sunkist tropics, taking with us mem'ries ever green
Of all the wond'rous reefs and ocean glories seen.
The usual Xmas treat for children was held at Lilyvale on the 16th. December, 1934. The weather was very stormy, but in spite of that the children, of whom there were 64 had an excellent day. The cakes, lollies, fruit, etc. provided for the children's delectation were made the most of, the sports programme was contested with its usual vim, and the Xmas Tree with its accompanying burden was a great success.
The crowning happening of the day was that which occurred on the trip home. One of the children being of an enquiring turn of mind decided to find out what would happen when the communication cord of the train was pulled. He found out. So did everybody else on the train. There was 10 minutes excitement before the porter gave up trying to find the culprit. We only hope they will not repeat the experiment every year.
The Annual Xmas Camp held at worth Era was about the best held by the Buskwalkers since their inception, with perhaps the possible exception of the first Xmas Camp. There were between 40 and 50 members present during portion if not the whole of the time. There was a very jolly spirit prevalent and everybody enjoyed themselves thoroughly, and although there were a few storms, the weather generally was quite good.
The God of Love has been very busy amongst Bushwalkers this last month or two, and Cupid seems to have shot his arrows very straight. We wish to congratulate and give our very best wishes to Elsie Robinson and Reg Hewitt, Peggy Hugill and Jim Cranitch, and Hilda MacCartney and Rupert Blunt. We sincerely hope these couples will be very happy and have the very best that life can give them.
In alliance with Cupid, Mr. Stork has also been busy, and we have to announce the birth of a son to our erstwhile Treasurer and his wife Esme. We hope that Esme will teach him to stand on his feet and that Oscar will assist him with the call of the Jaguars. Here's Too'ee, John Oscar!
RENE D. BROWNE,