Table of Contents
The Sydney Bushwalker.
A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bushwalkers, C/- Ingerso1l Hall, 256 Crown St., Sydney.
No.212. July, 1952 Price 6d.
|Editor||Jim Brown, 103 Gipps St., Drummoyne|
|Production and Business Manager||Brian Harvey (JW1462)|
|Sales and Subs.||Gladys Roberts|
|Typed by||Jean Harvey|
|Editorial - Bushwalkers in the News||1|
|At the June General Meeting||3|
|In the Steps of the Explorers||By Kevin Ardill||6|
|Did the Ducks Eat Your Rice?||10|
|…And All Points South||By Jim Brown||12|
|Summary of the Probable Causes of Bush Fires for the Year 1951/52||15|
|“Hikers Lost in the Bush”||By “X”||15|
|The Shape of Things to Come||19|
|Federation Notes||By Allen A. Strom||21|
|The Sanitarium- Health Food Shop||5|
|Siedlecky's Taxi & Tourist Service||9|
|Leica Photographic Supplies||15|
|Scenic Motor Tours||19|
|News from Paddy||22|
Editorial - Bushwalkers in the News.
The Search and Rescue Section of the Federation has scored a notable success with its swift discovery of the party astray on Cox's River early in May. It was all the more satisfactory because the Section has survived in an atmosphere of frustration for some years, with repeated instances of missing parties walking out just as the alarms were ringing.
In its way this has been a tribute to the common sense of the organisation, which has consistently refused to panic until there was real justification for action, and provides a healthy contrast with the premature alarm when some Victorian walkers were delayed by fierce weather toward the end of April. Time out of number it has been proved that a reasonably experienced walking party will make its way out unaided, even though delayed, unless one of its members has suffered serious injury, or the party committed the ultimate sin of splitting up.
Search and Rescue comes into its own when the missing party is comparatively inexperienced, is lost in the kind of country we know, and a search has to be prosecuted over a wide area. The Police searchers, often unfamiliar with the country, and hamstrung by lack of walking equipment, move slowly and are frequently compelled to limit activity to extended “day walks” from base camps. In the recent case, conditions were ideal for “our” kind of search and, since the party had not persevered in its efforts to walk out, it was located in very short order. It would not rate as a difficult search, but it was quite a valuable one.
Perhaps the most important result has been the wave of favourable publicity about bushwalkers. We could continue with our conservation works for years and perhaps perform prodigies in the service of the public - and still receive less complimentary press and radio comment than that evoked by the exploits of the ten bushwalker searchers, five of whom were from this Club.
Bushwalkers must be a grave trial to the press and many of the public, of course. We have no acknowledged “stars”, no spectators, no betting ring - none of the customary trappings of sport (the word is used here in its purely economic sense!) The devotees of our strange game are not addicted to publicity-seeking, and so bushwalkers are very unorthodox and mysterious creatures to those who do not know us. Gradually, however, some are coming to realise belatedly that there is an assemblage dubbed “experienced bushwalkers”, which, so far as that same public is concerned, merely means they are only in the news when they go searching for some not-so-experienced “hikers”.
The important thing now is to keep face as “experienced bush-walkers”. We should have no need of hunting horns, Verey pistols or other gadgets recommended by people who enjoy airing their uninformed opinions in the daily press, provided we carry map and compass - and really know how to use them.
We learn we were in error in one detail in the June Editorial. There were actually six enthusiasts who provided the inspiration and finance for the first edition, in June, 1931, the odd man out being Frank Mort. If our June Editorial, which neglected to mention him, has come to his notice, we offer our apology, and hope this will make amend. - Editor.
The Twenty-Fifth Birthday of the Club - the Quarter Century Party.
At the Dungowan.
Friday, October 17th, 1952.
Social Secretary in charge of arrangements.
At The June General Meeting.
The meeting promised at the outset to be a thoroughly ordinary, common or garden one, with no developments worthy of the name. Part way through, however, the recurring decimal cropped up. More of that later. The gathering was about 60 in number when the President opened proceedings, and minutes were read. Len Scotland wanted to know if we were going to give away Kurnell without further battle, and seemed most disconsolate to learn we didn't propose to join such an unequal struggle.
Correspondence went quietly, but when the Federation notes were read, Neil Schafer was horrified to hear that Federation had turned its back on a cool £100. Couldn't we, he suggested, come to an arrangement to pass the prize money on to Federation, first making sure that there would be so many competitors from affiliated Clubs that we couldn't miss? There was no motion.
The Conservation Secretary read (with annotations) a report of the Club's sub-committee on bush fire control. Having written in the first case to sundry political, agricultural and industrial figures and bodies and received many encouraging replies, the report stated, an interview with an officer of the State Bush Fires Committee had been arranged. The sub-committee had discussed the matter again and now submitted the following recommendations:
(1) That the club write to the Premier, with copies to Mr. Kingsmill and the Bush Fire Committee, making the following suggestions:
(a) Many Councils have not exercised their powers under the Act, so fully-trained District Fire Officers, under the control of the Bush Fire Committee, paid by the State Government, should be appointed to:
i. Stimulate local authority into action.
ii. Help to police the Act.
iii. Help Councils, Fire Captains, etc. in recruiting and training of volunteers, caring for equipment, co-ordination of Brigades in the District, co-ordination. of spotting and fighting, circulation of information.
iv. Keep in touch with new developments.
v. Develop bush fire education in the district.
vi. Issue permits for.burning off, burning breaks, etc.
Districts would need to be small enough for the District Fire Officers to know their districts thoroughly.
(b) That arrangements be made for fire fighting and spotting forces to stand by on “blow-up” days and that they be paid for time spent standing by and fighting, to compensate for loss of wages. The rate of pay might be that paid volunteer firemen under the Board of Fire Commissioners.
© That full arrangements be made for the Army and R.A.A.F. to play a full part in fire spotting (at present a very weak link) and fighting and standing by on “blow-up” days as one of their special duties. Both Services to be trained in this duty and equipped for it.
(d) That the Army and R.A.A.F. be used, not only in the protection of private property, State Forests and Crown Lands, but that they be specially charged to protect Parks and Reserves, as these have practically no manpower, equipment or funds available for fire prevention.
(e) When considering the cost of fire control, the damage caused by fires (at least £6 1/2 million in 1951/52) be kept in mind.
(2) That the Club write to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition urging the training, equipping and use of the Army and R.A.A.F. for fire fighting as a special national service.
(3) That the Sub-Committee remain in being to follow up matters already decided and to make further recommendations as it sees fit.
The Report was adopted, and thrown open for discussion. There was only one subject of comment, for Len Scotland wanted the incorporation of a request for rangers to be issued with a really impressive warrant - something with a big crown an it, he suggested. Gil Webb thought the addition of such a tag may detract from the reasoned and reasonable recommendations of the sub-committee. Bill Henley said rangers should have a suitable badge or authority - he'd been a ranger for years without any badge save a notification of appointment. Kevin Ardill said yes, a large authority, plus a magnifying glass so that the shortsighted could read it, and at this stage Allen Strom threw a spanner by pointing out that cards of authority were issued by various departments: the complications were evident, so Len Scotland agreed to suggestions to withdraw his motion, and bring it up in general business.
The meeting promptly adopted the recommendations of the Report, and very soon we were back to general business and the matter of rangers' badges. Some members had sharpened their knives in the meantime, and Dot Butler pointed out that the Rangers' League had discussed the issue many times, and reached no decision. It was suggested that the motion was out of order, since we couldn't compel rangers to do anything, and apart from that, there would be a host of people to furnish with authorities - including Police, School Teachers, a great array of voluntary Rangers.
At this stage the motion sustained an amendment, which limited its scope to those walkers acting as special bush fire patrols under the Federation/National Park plan. There was further discussion, in the course of which Allen Strom produced a veritable library of rangers' warrants, and the President read them to the meeting. The amendment was carried, and Federation will be duly asked to arrange for suitable authorities to be issued to our patrols. After some further brief discussion, the amended motion (in effect simply the amendment) was also carried.
Brian Harvey appealed for support for the magazine advertisers, remarking that paper and covers costs had increased, and advertisements may be a way of avoiding price increase: he also sought a Subscription Assistant, and Gladys Roberts volunteered for this duty.
Tom Moppett drew attention to the latest amendment of the Act protecting native plants, which outlaws the sale of cut flowers of the Native Rose, Pink Boronia, Rock Lily, Giant Lily and Woody Pear, and also requires growers to submit returns showing the quantity of native flowers forwarded for sale.
Bill Cosgrove had two matters to complete the evening. He felt we should express our appreciation to the Parks and Playgrounds Movement (and especially its Secretary, Mr. Hume) for the dour fight up to save Kurnell from the oil refinery. Certainly it had been a lost cause, but it was still a game bid - and the meeting agreed. Bill also queried whether we were in order in placing a time limit on replies to our circular to Era fund donors. The President said we were, yes, we had legal advice, and in fact everything was quite all right.
Which was the end of the session for another month. It was 9.15 p.m.
In The Steps Of The Explorers.
By Kevin Ardill.
I made two mistakes - I laughed too loudly, and I resurrected some colour slides for the last Club Slide Night. The loud laughter was indirectly the innocent cause of my showing the slides, and the said slides provoked some questions, so I thought the best thing to do was to tell the story. Its quite ancient, so am I, the hour is late, the fire is warm and so is my little cot, so, roaming countrymen, lend me your ears.
Secretary Jim Brown started it all. Correspondence at the monthly meeting included a note from Paddy Pallin advising that the Blue Mountains City Council was sponsoring a re-enactment of the Blue Mountains crossing by Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. The Federation of Bushwalkers was supplying the personnel and Paddy was seeking applications from anyone interested. Did we laugh - and who laughed loudest? Not me - not much! Bushies walking along a tar road for thirteen days! Pardon me, Mr. Pallin - such humour.
Early next morn I'm assisting my brother with some repairs to his house and having nothing to do except suck my thumb every time my brother mishits with the hammer, I think of Paddy's proposal. By the time the job is finished I am sick of sucking my thumb and I have also missed the train to the week-end walk at St. Helena. Why did I ring Paddy? Frankly, I don't know. By some freak he himself answered the 'phone so what could I do but ask him about the re-enactment joke? “I'd be in it myself but for business, etc. - the trip of a lifetime, don't miss it, something to tell your grandchildren about…” Whoa! there, Paddy! This is Mrs. Ardill's little boy, Kevin, free, semi-white, and a little over twenty-one! A bachelor, fond of children I admit, but honest, Paddy, I haven't any grandchildren. Paddy apologies for his lack of knowledge, but will not budge an inch in any other direction, so after bashing my head once more on the roof of the 'phone box, I submit my name. Looney, of course.
A meeting of those interested came next. Meet Mr. Dick Gadd, Publicity Officer of the Council, meet Frank Rooney, news reporter. How-do-you-do, twice. One hour later I staggered into Pitt Street, the new Gregory Blaxland. Never was explorer so well equipped, complete with itinerary, list of hotels we were to honour with our presence, and I even had the date of our arrival at Mt. York. The trip was to start in about six weeks' time and growing a beard was a priority. Growing a beard has two disadvantages. It takes time and you've got to grow it where you intend to wear it. A snag indeed, but one has to face such things. A joke with whiskers on it.
I travel to and from work by train. Trains have people in them. People think. I become a champion thought reader. Thought of the week “Why doesn't the dirty blighter have a shave?” By the end of the second week I have learned never to be away from home base without a newspaper, book or periodical. I have also learned how to crouch low in my seat and am even thinking of buying a hat. With the fear that I shall look SINISTER, I refrain. With three weeks' growth the suspicions are confirmed “It's a beard - wonder what the idea is? He's too old to be a Uni student - I wonder??” Keep on wondering fellow travellers. I'm getting used to looking and feeling dirty and I've found that meeting friends is quite entertaining. After some conversation friend buzzes off, noticeably NOT remarking on the beard, but quite obviously noting inwardly “Maybe he's got a disease. Tactful, what! Didn't appear as if I noticed it”.
The next couple of weeks the going was easier. I had even got to the stage of staring back at people, picking mostly old women and children for retaliation. A prize for the brightest remark to the friend who inquired quite seriously if I “went out at night with it on”.
We had some difficulty in getting our clothes, but as the starting day neared we completed our wardrobes. The party comprised seven members, Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth and four servant companions, plus four pack horses with saddle bags and equipment. Our civvy clothes were to be carried from point to point by car and our walking clothes were old tight trousers, odd check shirts, spotted 'kerchiefs round the neck, large felt hats and big boots. I had an old gun, Bill Gray as Lawson had a blunderbuss and Eric Dehn as Wentworth had a horse pistol at belt. The servants were without weapons, but with a horse apiece - I suppose they were expected to desert their masters in an emergency. For our night exploration, the explorers had glamour clothes, tight pants, velvet waistcoats, cutaway coats buckle shoes and white cravat with black bow. Wouldn't it? The servants, Joe Gore, Charlie Homan, Ray Cooper and John Polglase had convict suits of yellow and black halves and were separated from their horses as a special favour.
The trip was to start from Emu Plains, so we travelled thence on the Tuesday evening, where we were met and motored to Huntingdon Hall for the night. Some of the guests were enjoying a dance. We joined in and, after treading on all available toes, retired for the night. A certain amount of hilarity in a pre-breakfast session on John Polglase's beard. Too young to cultivate a growth, John had purchased a lump of hair about three inches square. Van Dyke beards not being a la mode, the boys pulled the square into various narrow bits, covered his face with spirit gum, and then bearded him from ear to ear via the chin. Bits of that beard fluttered to the roadway with such regularity that by the time we reached Springwood we were sick of picking up the tufts, so John showed a clean face for the rest of the trip.
At our starting point we met for the first time Mr. Galway, the Mayor. We planted trees and we listened to speeches, including one by Paul Barnes, our own Federation President. Finally, accompanied by the cheers of the people we were an our way. We never did work out if the people cheered us as we went, or because we went, but as all the school children received a day's holiday, we had hopes that their cheering was genuine.
When we arose in the morning it was cold and as we stepped out along the road the bodies became warm so by the time Lapstone Hill was reached we were hot. Passing motorists were entertained with the spectacle of the explorers removing their undergarments (top half). We didn't stop for the change over, but near the top of the hill a barrage of whistle blasts halted the exploration. Dick Gadd had informed us that Boy Scouts would be posted at the Glenbrook turnoff (lest we get lost) and I'm darned if we hadn't arrived an hour early. We sat in the bushes while Scouts, Cubs and Guides rushed about preparing for our arrival, and we then proceeded as far as the Air Force Headquarters. Would we accept the hospitality of the Air Force? “Fall Out the Guard” and up the drive went the exploration party, escorted by a guard about 20-strong. A pause while I blush.
Air Vice Marshal McCauley met us, introduced us to his officers, passed the sandwiches and gave us a choice of tea or beer. Well, you know how awkward it is balancing a saucer on the knee. Couldn't take the risk of an accident in such a comfortable lounge, so we were forced to drink beer.
The stay was short but when we came out into the sunlight the personnel of the station were lined up, the Air Vice Marshal made a peach of a speech, the guard fell in and we went out - into the army of Cubs, Scouts, etc., who had boiled up a large billy of tea to wash down mounds of pikelets. Too full for words, and led by a small band, we became part of a procession into Glenbrook, where we were greeted by hundreds of people, quite a number in period costume.
Peter McGregor, with the A.B.C. Mobile Broadcasting Unit, met us, a fine bunch of chaps who helped to put some very green explorers on the air. We were welcomed and I managed to stutter a few words of thanks. We planted trees and then planted the official luncheon. Can the Glenbrook ladies cook! The oldest residents were asked to speak and in doing so each took advantage of the presence of the Mayor and aldermen to complain of the lack of Council attention to the district. A very bright session, and at the conclusion we were introduced to our respective hosts, as we were staying at Private homes.
Charlie and I had the pleasant experience of staying with Mr. Tom Latimer and his wife. A retired planter from New Guinea, he has a beautiful home palms, swimming pool 'nall. Briefly we rested, afternoon tea 5 p.m., dinner 8 p.m., off to the Ball at 9 p.m. If we created an impression in our glad rags I felt we earned it. My pants were so tight I couldn't sit down. We danced, had supper buffet style and then witnessed one of the funniest turns of the trip. A dance was in progress when a volley of shots rang out. Ned Kelly and his gang, suitably attired , were holding up the dance. With the persuasion of a loaded revolver the orchestra was stopped and Ned demanded the surrender of the Mayor. The “gang” ceased rifling the pockets of the dancers and dragged Mr. Galway into the spotlight. A rope was flung over a rafter with Ned on one end and the noose and Mr. Galway on the other. An interesting situation promised when someone shouted “Here comes the Police”. The Mayor was definitely airborne before Ned released the rope and vanished into the darkness with the gang.
It was 2 a.m. before we stiff-legged our way homewards to hot drinks, supper and slumber.
My only knowledge of horses (alas) being gained at Randwick and Rosehill, I am only capable of vocal aid as the servants caught and saddled the horses next morning and, with an Air Force band in the lead, left Glenbrook in fine style. We detoured around the lagoon so as to pass Pilgrim's Inn where we were welcomed by the Blaxland residents. Oh yes, we planted more trees on the way to Warrimoo, where I had the pleasure of planting the tallest tree of the trip - a beaut almost six feet high, and, believe it or not, I planted it in ARDILL PARK. In case you think the people went off the deep end completely, I'll explain that the Park was named after old G.E. Ardill, a distant forbear of mine, who was very prominent in the district.
The food and welcome was fit for a king, and we were half an hour late when we left for Springwood. Being bushwalkers at heart, and the only pedestrians in the procession, we “stepped on it” and were only four minutes late into Springwood. Traffic was diverted and with Police escorts we went right through the town and then returned to the school ground. The kids gave a maypole display, I gave a speech, the crowd cheered like mad when I finished (or because I finished), someone said beer, seven said Where?, and then we had the official luncheon.
Five of the boys were at a hotel and Charlie and I were roughing it at the doctor's residence. An immense car with Stan Gatehouse at the wheel took us on a tour of the district. Mr. and Mrs. Reid entertained us for dinner, which was barbecue style, chops and sausages cooked outdoors on a fire ten feet long and eaten on the floodlit lawns. We returned with Dr. Roberts to his home and donned the glad rags for the dance. More speeches, supper (I hate food). I repeat - I hate food - I repeat. And then to bed - and that's what I'm doing right now. If the Editor reckons you can take it, you'll get the rest of the trip next month - even if it kills both of us.
(Will the explorers be able to stand the punishment - or will their gastric juices let them down? don't miss the next thrilling instalment which relates how they discovered the floodlit falls at Katoomba, the wireless mast of 2KA, and the other unknown features of the hinterland.)
Did The Ducks Eat Your Rice?
There has been quite a song and dance lately about the failure of the rice crop - which failure has been attributed to the depredations of ducks. Talking with Allen Strom the other night we heard a rather different story, along these lines:
- So far as the Wakool area was concerned it would have been a poor crop anyhow, mostly because of drought.
- When the young rice was growing in the flooded irrigation bays the poverty of the crop resulted in large areas of open water being left.
- Various wild fowl landed on this open water - particularly the so-called “black duck” (actually a variety of goose) which can land only on open water. Where the rice was growing thickly, the black duck could not land. The lure of open water brought many birds to the rice growing area.
- In landing and taking off the birds did cause some damage to the crop.
- Some rice was eaten by the birds but it is virtually certain that the crop was a failure even before they appeared.
All of which goes to show that, if you want to organise an open season against some particular creature, it isn't difficult to transform it into a pest. And you can't expect the gunman to distinguish between species which are numerous (such as the “black duck”) and those in danger of extinction (the red-eyed duck and teal duck, for instance). It all goes to make creature protection a very complex business.
The outer wrapping of newspaper around our luncheon sandwiches the other day proved to be a “Sunday Sun”, vintage 28/10/1951. It contained a report that a London accountant was offering for sale the original, genuine hunting horn used by John Peel. We seem to recall that walkers have been urged to carry horns (J. Peel type) for summoning aid when lost, and this seems an opportunity for some walker to be a thorough snob. The news item concludes: “The horn is buckled and battered around the base. Huntsmen say this means Peel must have used it for opening gates.” Provided that the horn can also be used for shutting gates, as set out in the Code of Ethics, we feel the idea may have some merit after all.
.... And All Points South.
Ha! Ha! Ha! They all thought they were going to walk down the Nattai River, but I fooled them! Of course, I couldn't give the full facts in the Walks Programme. How do you think Committee would have reacted if they had read “Conducted tour of little-known railway stations, Southern Line, Mileage 4, to WET. 5.10 train to Colo Vale” as the official weekend walk for Anzac?
Amazingly, there were 12 in the party when the 5.10 hurtled out of Central so abruptly as to shed a pack from the rack. Reading from the engine in a northerly direction, we were Frank Rigby and prospective Brian Anderson: Neil Schafer (quote “full of strange oaths and bearded like a Blue Mountains explorer” (misquote): Gladys Roberts, prospective George Gray, Edna Garrad (with pack descending immediately above), Wyn MacKenzie, Jean and Brian Harvey, Bill Cosgrove, Kath (the missus) and we, the august (neither July nor even September) leader and editorial plurality. The night was fine, and the other eleven poor dopes thought they were going to have a pleasant walk. Ho! Ho! Ho!
It was nice going to Picton when some five hundred people boarded the tin hare (rail motor) for the loop line. In all the confusion some poor belated soul was battling to enter the front door and a character with a rifle told him patronisingly, “All right, mate, we're going to squeeze up and let you in”. Said the latecomer “You'd better. You won't move till I do”. We made way for our driver.
The tin hare made heavy weather up the grade, shedding its human freight at various stops and leaving not more than a couple mortally crushed on the floor. To my dismay the stars were bright in the crisp night when we piled out at Colo Vale. It looked as though we should actually have to walk down the Nattai, but cleverly disguising my chagrin I led the party along a darksome country road, halting after about a mile and a half to point out our water supply for the night: we would camp on the slopes beyond (we crossed four more creeks after leaving our water point).
The camp site was a little trouncer. Scrubby, with sand and stone, which was either too soft for tent pegs or rejected them altogether, it was the perfect “first-night-out” spot. So, a cup of tea and to bed, while a kind of misty rain drifted down from an apparently cloudless sky. During the night the wind got up, blowing rain-laden clouds out of the south, and when I went the rounds at 6.30 a.m. it was clear that Edna and Wyn at least had “had” it. Faintly writhing bodies were moulded against the sleeked green japara, and a steady tide washed through their sagging tent. The Harveys and Gladys Roberts were in little better case. I proposed a strategic withdrawal to Colo Vale Station, and rubbed my hands together - the victims probably thought I was cold.
The windy downpour continued as Wyn and Edna withdrew, then Gladys, then Bill Cosgrove, Kath and Myself in that order, followed by the Harvey menage. The younger males were of sterner stuff and elected to stay on for a time. I earnestly entreated them to consider the certain flooded state of the Nattai, and urged them not to proceed to the river. Why, they might elude me and actually do the walk as programmed!
Back on the platform we found a welter of wet tents and groundsheets, sodden sleeping bags and socks. In all the rot there was one bright spot - across the road in a shed four men had a fire going and as we arrived, severally, we despatched our lubras to obtain billies of tea. Apparently we drained their supply of water as rapidly as it heated. By the time the rearguard of four men oozed into the station and joined the tea queue we had elicited that one of our benefactors had no front teeth (probably through gnashing them at his own tea-less state).
I was in my element. The tour proper had started, and as we swung into our new environment, Neil carefully read aloud from the Railway By-Laws exhibited, to discover there was no regulation concerning lighting of fires on railway stations. We discussed future movements. There was a rail motor south to Mittagong about 1 p.m., another north bound at 4.23. Whichever way, you still joined the main line train due in Central at 7.5 p.m. That is, if we were going to Sydney. I was urged to make an official statement, as leader, then checked and told to appoint a spokesman. At this moment great excitement because the sun had been sighted - well, a dim brightness where the sun should be. Then the debate on which way to travel was resumed, until Bill Cosgrove, in his best general meeting manner, pinned us down to “Mittagong or else”. He almost told us we were wasting our time.
At this a breakaway element declared itself for Mittagong (this group embraced those with sodden sleeping gear mostly). Although Mittagong station was not included in my itinerary, I had not the heart to say them nay. The rest of us resolved to play at Captain Stayput until the 4.23 motor, when we would go up to Couridjah if the weather had improved. This, ostensibly with the idea of carrying out a curtailed walk, but actually, of course, to add another station to the day's bag.
As the Mittagong contingent joined the railmotor and bestowed pitying smiles on us, succour came. The local resident who operated as Station Attendant, impressed by the zeal of Cosgrove and Schafer at sweeping out the waiting room, invited us to her home. So the seven who remained sat by an agreeable log fire, swamped down much tea and talked walking - with emphasis on wet weekends, flooded rivers, ice and snow and all sorts of things pleasant in retrospect.
The sky was growing clearer and the westerly wind colder as we returned to the platform: the crew of the rail motor greeted us joyously, regaling us with the adventures of the breakaways who had got on to hot soup at Mittagong. This was supposed to make us envious, but we only pitied them for having to return home after seeing only Colo Vale and Mittagong stations. Of course, Mittagong is really so civilised that almost any tourist can “bag” it.
Couridjah saw us under almost clear sky, and the party swung packs on to shoulders and said “Which way?” They actually believed they were going to walk. I smartly disabused their minds, and pointed to the excellence of the wattle grove beside the station gate. Why, we had only just arrived, and you can't really get to know a station in a couple of minutes.
Two noble fires burned near Couridjah station that night. The sky was growing brighter, and the fresh, strong wind was veering about, carrying showers of sparks. After chatter around the fires, most of the party elected to trust their tents again but since it seemed likely we should really have to walk in the morning, Kath and I determined to make the most of the station, and we slept on the floor. Nice resilient floor boards at Couridjah.
About midnight the rain resumed - gentle misty stuff, growing more concentrated until at dawn it was blowing a ragged gale with scourging showers. We vaguely wondered how the tent crews were faring and just as I was inspecting the grim scene from the partial shelter of the station awning, George clumped on to the platform. A hint of conjunctivitis, coupled with the repeated dose of storm, had sapped his resolve, and he was giving it away and joining the 6.20 rail motor. Two local residents arrived and discussed the position with us, as we lay in our sleeping bags. The motor came and went, and I said “And then there were six”.
I worked out the next stage of the trip and went on tour of inspection at 7 a.m. The tentees were much better off than on the previous morning, but they didn't argue when I referred to bush-bashing on Little River and more flood conditions. It was agreed we should extend the trip to embrace Tahmoor station two miles away on the main line.
Bill and Gladys joined us in the station building for breakfast, while Frank and Neil actually started a fire, and brewed a tea billy for us. At 9 a.m. we were away, to walk a whole two miles, sighting Bargo River in flood, dodging express trains in the cuttings near Tahmoor and reaching that station at 9.55. Time for inspection was limited as we joined the Sydney bound train at 10.05, but with three stations in a little over 24 hours we couldn't really complain. About this time the rain finally stopped.
You really mustn't miss our next Tour of Stations. It will probably be on the Western Line with special reference to such unattended platforms as Hartley Vale, Bullaburra, Warrimoo and Blaxland. Don't miss it! Book now!
The Wrong side (?)
Were they on the wrong side? Bob Chapman and team, returning from Anzac Week-end at Colong Caves, were floodbound on the west bank of the Wollondilly until the Monday.
These lucky people actually eked out their trip to gain two days of brilliant sunshine, while other parties all over the landscape retreated in dismay after a couple of dreary days of rain and gales.
In such cases who shall say which is the right side of the River?
Summary of the Probable Causes of Bush Fires for the Year 1951/52.
(Data from the Annual Report of the N.S.W. Bushfires Committee for the period ending 30/4/52 - reported by Alex Colley.)
|Motor Vehicle Exhausts||14|
Hikers Lost In The Bush.
For me it all began with a 'phone call from S & R contact nan, Jim Hooper. Could I possibly get away that night to search for a party of school boys three days overdue on a seven days trip down the Cox?“ “Yes, providing the Master was agreeable.”
He was (without pay, of course), so after purchasing the requisite hard tack, and cancelling all engagements for the next few days, I made my way to Strathfield Station, from where we were to be driven in Police cars to Katoomba. Jim Hooper and I showed our usual modesty by turning up after the press photographers had pressed the button that put the rest of the S & R party on the front page of Wednesday's “Herald”.
Wentworth Falls in about two hours, there to have our first taste of the Great Press Quiz, and to give Jim a chance to get his face in the late edition. So far our experience of the Press had not been unpleasant, for it was not until Katoomba Police Station that we met “Rumboogie” and the “Red Nosed Reindeer”. These two characters were the star turn of the Press delegation, Rumboogie chewing his pencil, and the Red Nosed Reindeer playing with his camera (what a waste of a good camera) between swigs from a bottle of O.P. “Beenleigh”. Swaying gently to the murmur of the Police Sergeant's voice Rumboogie endeavoured to make notes of our plans. His note book was soon filled with the cryptic symbols of true journalism. Each page went something like this: “Bu……………
A cup of tea and we were into our sleeping bags about 2 a.m. The Station Sergeant had produced blankets from the cells as underbody, there was plenty of coal for the fire in the Court House, so we must have been the first bushwalkers to be really comfortable before the Judge's dais.
Before we settled down, though, Rumboogie came in and spoke kindly to us. It appeared that the Press Moguls in Sydney, comfortable in their well padded chairs, between puffs from their Corona Coronas and sips of Scotch, had ordered a photographer, the Red Nosed Reindeer, to go out with one of our parties. Despite Tom Wardhaugh's blank refusal, Rumboogie insisted that the photographer must go. No, he had no equipment or food, but with an Army greatcoat and a bottle of rum what more could he want? Anyway, if we wouldn't co-operate with the Press in the enlightenment of the public, he would write us up as a “pack of so-and-so no-hopers” who didn't know what we were doing.
Eventually he left with the promise that his photographer would be waiting to follow us in the morning. Gone, but not forgotten, for just as we dozed off, the “Red Nosed Reindeer” woke us up with two flashlight shots.
True to his promise, at 4.15 a.m., when we boiled the billy before starting off without breakfast, there was our shadow, waiting for us, fully equipped with an unopened bottle of rum. The boot of their car must have been fuller than Sammy Lee's cellar (Mr. Davey, please note!)
It was planned to send out three parties: Ton Wardhaugh, Norman Allen and Russel Kippax going out along Narrow Neck and down Black Dog: Jim Hooper, Frank Young and Keith Armstrong going down Kedumba: Eric Dehn, John Thornthwaite and Mr. “X” travelling over King's Tableland. The Sergeant drove us to our respective starting points.
Tom Wardhaugh's party was first out followed by four Press cars. A thick fog covered everything except the “Red Nosed Reindeer's” facial adornment, and the enthusiasm of one local photographer, whose plaintive cries of “Fair go, fellers!” were rapidly left behind in the eerie half-light of dawning. While Tom was delaying the Press on Narrow Neck, the other two parties were setting out from Wentworth Falls.
Some two hours after starting along the Tableland we had breakfast, filling the billy from the non-perennial stream flowing along the middle of the road. Breakfast over, we plodded on, mist from Kedumba Valley swirling about us, and preventing the searching R.A.A.F. plane from seeing anything below.
As all who read the news reports know, the searchers, all expert bushmen with extensive knowledge of this wild and ragged country, had to fight their way through the almost impenetrable jungle that covers the area. Well, we battled on, only stopping to accept a lift from a Water Board Land Rover. The driver was going on for another five miles and we were chatting so pleasantly that it was a shock when we realised we had travelled several miles past our turn-off. To make it worse, we later discovered that our turn-off was only a few hundred yards from the point where we had got our lift. Don't blame us altogether - the Tableland now has a network of timber roads connected with the Warragamba Dam project.
The Press was certainly right about the inhospitable nature of the country, because at one timber-getter's hut we were called in and they could offer us only a cup of tea. Realising it was our duty as bushwalkers to be friendly with the locals, we accepted, and after several cups of tea and hearing of our progress on a radio news bulletin, we battled on.
When we turned off on to the right track we were joined by two Police constables on a motor cycle and sidecar, and they provided a great exhibition of riding, as the bike wove in and out of the bush. This trick-riding topped off the morning, and the five of us had a late dry lunch several hundred yards before The Jumpback.
The cyclists could go no further, so Eric, John and myself said goodbye to the Police and carried on. By this time the fog had lifted, and we had a delightful view of the Cox Valley and Mount Solitary wreathed in cloud before we scrambled, slipped and cursed our way down to McMahon's farm, there to be greeted by the (in)famous Norman Allen.
Yes, he (they) had found the lost party, hungry but well, just on the other side of the Policeman Range. Tom and Russel had stayed with the boys to feed them and get them over the range to Moody's, while he had come on to McMahon's to pick us up, hoping we would be able to go back that night with him. With darkness approaching, however, we decided to stay at McMahon's that night, going up to the boys in the morning and bringing them out to meet the Police rescue party.
We cooked our tea on Mrs. McMahon's fuel stove and slept on one of their nice soft beds. Such were our hardships.
Norm was in his element. The 'phone ran hot with all the Sydney newspapers clamouring for his story, and greatly disappointed because the lost party had no broken legs, had not been living on wallabies or suffering any dire mishaps. All the papers wanted to ring through to Moody's (about 6 miles away, long deserted and roofless) to speak to the school boys. Norm assured them they could - provided they used telepathy.
One evening paper wanted to send in jeeps to bring the boys out that night before the Police got there, so ensuring a scoop for the afternoon edition. Despite Mr. McMahon's insistence that it couldn't be done, he was dragged out of bed at five o'clock next morning to the 'phone. “This is the ……. (a city newspaper) here. We're somewhere in Burragorang, and lost. How do we get to your place?”
Early in the day the first of the Press arrived, a reporter and a photographer, then another reporter, then Rumboogie, with his trousers rolled up, wet to the waist, his shoes slung around his neck, and being led by a photographer from a rival paper. When we saw him approaching, we hurriedly left on our way to the boys, but I had to slip back for a photograph of his countenance. He must have had some hangover the day before!
Did we rescue the boys? Why was Rumboogie wet to the waist? I shall have to tell you all this in another charter.
(Mr. X closes this episode on this note. We note that Mr. X does not Xplain why Xperienced Xponents of the Xercise of walking were Xpended on an Xtended Xpedition on King's Tableland. The Xoteric may Xclaim at such an Xtraordinary Xhibition, but no doubt the Xigiencies which Xisted made such Xploration Xplicable. We Xpect Mr. X Xecuted his Xcoriating Xploit in Xemplary manner as fitting an X-Walks Secretary, X-Membership Secretary and X-Editor).
At least the gentleman who considers bushwalkers should carry Verey light pistols had the right idea in one respect - he spelt it Very (Special Paddymade lightweight, no doubt).
Remark from Jess Martin on Roaring Wind Mountain, vicinity Colong Caves, on Queen's Birthday weekend: “I've scraped so many plates this weekend, the lyre birds have taken up the sound”.
Betty and Phil Hall, whose daughter Susan was born on June 9th.
Shirley Evans and Kevin Dean who embarked on the marital career, June 13th.
Luke Priddle, on his engagement to Marie Barden, sister of Norma Rowan.
The Shape Of Things To Come.
As a result of decisions taken at the June Committee Meeting, members will find that the new Walks Programme (July to October) will be the last of the present series.
When we adopted the practice of having our programme reproduced by the Professional Copying Service, in 1949, it cost a little over £5 for 500 copies. Since then the price spiral has driven the figure up to £10 (approximately) for 400 copies. That works out at £30 per year for walks programmes, and that is about one-sixth of the total income from subscriptions.
It is intended to revert to the drill of producing the Walks Programmes on the Club duplicator, but in very different style from the duplicator programmes of 1943-49. It is proposed to produce the new style programme by the photographic-stencil process, in the same way as maps published in the magazine. It is also proposed to use a thin card, similar to that used in present walks programmes - NOT paper. Estimated cost will be about £6 per issue or £18 for each year's programmes.
A further advantage will be the additional time available for preparation. Because it take five weeks to obtain the finished work from the printers, the Walks Secretary must now have his draft programme ready for Committee review two months before it begins to operate. It is considered that two or three weeks will be sufficient to produce the programme under the new arrangement.
One other important decision touching on the Walks Programme has been reached. Attention has been drawn to the fact that, under the present routine, names of officers elected at the March meeting do not appear on a programme until mid-June. With the accelerated production plan it should be possible (provided the retiring Walks Secretary has prepared most of the next programme) to have a new issue ready by mid-April to cover the period May to August. So the new issues will be:
January to April
May to August
September to December.
To get the new schedule under way the next programme will consist of 2 months only (November-December) after which we will revert to normal 4-month programmes.
Guzzle, guzzle, toil and trouble
Fire burn and billy bubble
In with water, sugar, butter,
This brew will make you cough and splutter.
Squeeze of lemon, then we've got
The basic toddy, piping hot.
But what is this as I lick my thumb
Some scoundrel's drunk the — rum!
On Queen's Birthday Weekend, down in Colong Swamp, The President, the immediate Past President, and the Magazine Manager were seen making a hot rum toddy to provide a night cap for the party. Now, such is man's ingratitude to his fellow, they were basely accused of drinking the rum and feeding out the virgin liquid to the remaining members. That do you think of that? Sh!h! not so loud, or they'll hear you.
As the motorised section approached Tyan Pic in Capertee Valley, the unitiated commented, mentally or audibly, “Just a piker hill!” After spending most of Sunday climbing the hill, having viewed the cyclorama from the summit, after looking down a thousand feet to all the other cliffs and crests near at hand, they drove away on Monday with affectionate backward glances, saying “Quite a hill, eh?”
Axeman - Spare the Sleepers:
When the sound of wood being broken penetrated the drowsy minds of one party on Queen's Birthday weekend Gladys Martin mentally accused Kevin Ardill, who thought it was Len Fall: the while Jim Brown was silently cursing Fred Leake. No one emerged into the frosty dawn to see Ernie French at work.
On a recent day walk the leader, who, through family ties has not been able to participate in the recent Club doings, enquired of Molly Gallard “Are you a prospective member?” “Oh, no” said that surprised young lady, “I'm the Social Secretary”.
Apropos. of the above, we note that we now have an Assistant SECIAL Secretary (vide new Walks Programme).
Federation Notes - June.
By Allen A. Strom.
Map Making Section:
The matter of establishing a map-making section within the Federation was discussed at some length. This section would be particularly interested in “new” areas. It was decided to seek volunteers in the affiliated Clubs - in particular, a Convener for the Section.
Report forms on trips have been prepared and will be circulated to Clubs. An exhibition of information will be made at Pallin's as soon as collected. The co-operation of Clubs is sought.
Search and Rescue Section:
A pamphlet giving “do's” and “don'ts” for overdue parties has been prepared and quotes are being sought from various printers. Jim Hooper has been elected Chairman of the Search and Rescue Section. A cheque for £25.15. 6 has been received from Mr. John Newton and the parents of the boys on the overdue party, to offer some reimbursement to the searchers. A letter of thanks and apologies for trouble caused, also received. The Search and Rescue Section has recommended that individual walkers should not attempt to join Rescue Parties in the field without getting the o.k. from Paddy Pallin.
National Fitness Council Sports' Forum:
The Federation was represented by Paul Barnes. Final resolutions presented to the Minister for Education covered:
- Sales Tax reductions on Sports' Gear.
- Special Transportation Rates for organised groups.
- Acquisition of the Exhibition Building for a common meeting place for Sporting Bodies.
- Acquisition of areas for recreation by State and Local Government.
- A co-ordinating body representing Sporting Bodies to act in the interest of member organisations.
The presence of a representative from the Federation enabled walking to be included in the meanings of these resolutions.
Cox's River Camping:
From information collected at the Lands Department It would appear that Mr. Kirby has control of all land along the Cox between Megalong and Tinpot Creeks, and he may therefore prevent camping.
Annual Meeting of Federation:
The third Tuesday in July - the following offices are known to be vacant: Honorary Secretary, Minutes Secretary and Honorary Treasurer.
"Through An Oily Rag".
Said the New Zealander lately arrived in this State when the party camped on the edge of Barren Ground and drew water from a series of rock holes: “See - just like Colin Putt said - they'll drink anything over here”. He should have seen (or smelt) the water carried 800-odd feet up Tyan Pic on the June holiday weekend. Faintly irridescent, stiff with leaf mould, it was once proposed that the water-carriers should keep to leeward. But then, we drink anything…
News From Paddy.
The snow season is here. The bleak wind which blues noses in Sydney brings joy to the brotherhood of the snows. Paddy managed to beat the gun of import restrictions and so can supply all needs in skis, stockes, bindings, waxes, mitts, socks.
Incidentally those walkers who want a really rugged hardwearing warmthgiving non-shrinking sock could do a lot worse than getting hold of a couple of pairs of Norwegian greasy wool socks. Lovely shades of red, chrome, yellow, white and grey. Take your pick. They all look the same colour in the dark.
For walkers and skiers.
A torch that will never let you down. No batteries to go flat. It is a self generating torch. In fact a miniature Bunnerong - but much more reliable. Weight 6 ozs. Price £2. 7. 3d.
Down Quilts. A new line in quilts is the Paddymade Utility Quilt. About 6'2” long by 5'0” wide covered with green japara and filled with good quality featherdown. Price £8.19. 0. Handy in the home. Just the thing for travelling.
Tents all sizes in stock or at short notice.
Rucksacks. Good stock of all varieties.
Sleeping Bags. A few in stock - others to order.
Paddy Pallin, Camp Gear for Walkers.
201 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. 'PHone M2678.
P.S. Don't forget: “Bushlands in Kodachrome” every Thursday evening at Paddy's. 30 minutes. 5.45 to 6.15 p.m. All welcome - No charge.