Table of Contents
The Sydney Bushwalker
A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, C/- Ingersoll Hall, 256 Crown St., Sydney. Box No. 4476 Sydney.
No. 250 September, 1955. Price 6d.
|Editor||Dot Butler, Boundary Road, Wahroonga. (JW2208)|
|Business Manager||Jack Gentle|
|Sales & Subs.||Jess Martin|
|Typed by||Dot Barr|
|At our August Meeting||Alex Colley||2|
|“Look, There's Snow.”||Keith Renwick||3|
|A Pep Talk to all would-be Marathon Experts||6|
|Federation Report - August||B. Harvey||7|
|Colo Capers||Kevin Ardill||8|
|Report - Parks & Playgrounds Movement||H.I. Stoddart||11|
|Wanted - White Ant Exterminator||13|
|Out in the Cold, Cold Snow||“Digby”||14|
|Shotgun Boogie||Keith Renwick||17|
|Scenic Motor Tours||3|
|Leica photo Service||5|
|Siedlecky's Taxi & Tourist Service||7|
|The Sanitarium Health Food Shop||9|
|Hattswell's Taxi & Tourist Service||12|
|Paddy is back (Paddy's Advt.)||20|
Important Date To Remember
Wednesday 5th October
(Rainbow Room) Hotel Australia
Dancing 9 - 1. Tickets 17/6
All refreshments available on the spot.
Booking Agent: Miss Joyce
This is Federation's first dance for several years, and as it is one of their major means of acquiring funds, you are all urged to be present. Enjoyment guaranteed.
At Our August Meeting.
The meeting commenced at 8.10 p.m. with 33 members present and Vice-President Malcolm McGregor in the chair. He tendered apologies from the President who was not well enough to attend.
Three new members, Pat Kelly, Howard Ireland and Brian Milne were welcomed.
The adjourned discussion on the proposal for a National Parks Act, and the amendment, which was against the creation of a National Parks authority, was resumed. Brian Harvey favoured the motion. Allen Strom said that we should straighten up park management before it was too late, and, whatever we said, the Government would draft its own legislation. Similar legislation to that proposed had been successful in N.Z., Victoria, Great Britain and other countries. There would be some restriction on camping freedom - walkers could not assume a place in heaven. The opposition to the proposal was based on hatred of State control and departmental authority. The Fauna panel, which had 15 members, worked very well, while it was a great advantage having people meeting together round a table. Centralised control had been accepted throughout the world. Park trustees with an interest in their trust were difficult to find, as experience on Bouddi and other trusts had proved, nor did most trustees have the necessary knowledge. Tom Moppett supported the proposal in his reply speech, saying that the authority would give voluntary bodies a voice in running national parks. They would have definite direct representation instead of having to arrange deputations. The amendment was defeated by 35 votes to 1 and the motion carried by 35 votes, without dissent.
Next Allan Hardie's deferred motion on the writing of a letter to Mr. Clive Evatt congratulating him on his opposition to Pasture Protection Boards declaring open seasons was discussed. The Chairman declared the motion out of order because the Boards did not, in fact, have this power, but Mr. Hardie modified his motion to read that we should congratulate Mr. Evatt, even if he was incorrect. Allen Strom said that Mr. Evatt!s administration as Chief Secretary had been one of frustration because of his disregard of the obvious losses inflicted on farmers when the numbers of kangaroos, eagles, and other fauna reached pest proportions. Colin Putt spoke up for the unfortunate S.B.W. Secretary who would have to write such a letter. Allan Hardie said that, despite all, Mr. Evatt had championed the cause of fauna conservation as an individual, not as a party meMber, and deserved credit for his stand. The motion was defeated.
Brian Harvey told us that, as the replacement of the wooden rungs of Taro's ladder had been approved by Federation, he would undertake the job.
Frank Rigby drew attention to the difficulties of walks leaders early on the programme should the programme not be out on time. He was assured that it would be out in good time- i.e. more than a fortnight in advance of the first walk. In the course of this discussion it was suggested that there might well be two or three walks on the programme on long week-ends. At the conclusion of the meeting Jim Hooper said that the Search and Rescue list of volunteers was being brought up to date and new members, of either sex, would be welcomed.
- Alex Colley.
"Look, There's Snow."
- Keith Renwick.
The 6.33 p.m. from Central was crowded to the gunwales with tourists, and even of the keen bushwalking types only three or four managed to get seats. The other ten of the fourteen deposited themselves in the corridor as best their shapes permitted. The long journey dragged longer as hold-up followed hold-up, and the train was three quarters of an hour late when we arrived at Katoomba. Dave Brown, who had arranged transport to the Summit on the Jenolan Rd., was anxiously chewing his nails when we arrived. Digby saw him first and immediately signalled the others with “Look, there's Snow!” We are not quite sure of the next few seconds, but the ten husky trampers lined up at the windows were immediately trodden underfoot as the tourist contingent of the train scrambled to the windows to see “snow”.
Out into the cold, sleet-swept Katoomba streets to be greeted by a large and spacious bus - ours. Practically two seats each, but still cheaper than taxi. We stopped only at Blackheath to pick up any who may have gone through as per programme, then on into the bleak black night. Soon the sleet changed to snow, then the snow piled up on the ground so that by the time we were on the main range with the moon shining strongly through the breaks in the snow clouds the ground was well covered and we were driving through a snow-covered fairyland. The camera addicts were moaning at not having brought cameras, and the sneaker addicts were wishing for boots, but nobody was looking forward to leaving the comparatively warm bus. All too soon the time came to be evicted. “Bracing, what” cried our driver heartily as he threw open the door and watched with a grin as we shivered ourselves off into the snow-covered bush to find enough room to erect our small homes.
What does one do with a bod who wakes up at 6.30 a.m., thinks it's 7.30, and promptly wakes everyone? Fortunately he was silenced before too much damage was done. Eventually, one by one, bods emerged to a Christmas postcard-like morning - snow piled up on each leaf and twig and plastered by the wind, before it had dropped, against the sides of trees. The only water available for the breakfast brew was 25% good earth and came from the tyre ruts kindly left by the timber trucks. Even the primus fiends had to use this.
By dint of great effort we were away by something like 9.30 a.m. Very fortunately the mud on the road hadn't frozen to ice for the sneaker and gym shoe bods, but some pools were iced and the whole bush was well covered with snow. The temperature was only 34 degrees Fah. near the tents. It certainly was a wonderful experience, and though I have seen a lot of snow in New Zealand, there certainly is something about gum trees with snow on that takes a lot of beating.
The weather showed signs of clearing; the further east we got the less snow, and the more we got out of the clouds. Everything was going fine - nice timber-track to walk on, nice weather, nice party - till Snow noticed that we should be going along yonder ridge against the skyline and not the one we were on. Maps, compasses and theories were churned out at a great rate, and eventually we retreated across the head of a gully to the said ridge. This presented us with a now problem: what was that other ridge over there on the skyline? Ugh! More maps, more compasses, more theories, the Admiral expounding at a great rate on the last mentioned. So here we go round another gully, up on to another ridge, and at last, the right one! At the first clearing the white ants wanted to camp, but this proved impossible even for white ants. (Who ever heard of white ants living in a clearing!) We followed the ridge out along the Mini Mini Range to Gibralta Rocks. All sign of snow was now gone from the ground but a chill wind hurried us along. Dawn, a prospective, executed a very neat double forward somersault pirouette with half pike and full twist over a log, but how is she going to convince the others at work that, that is how she got the cut over her left eye?
We stopped for a snack at the “Rocks” with splendid views in all directions except back at the main range where it appeared to be still snowing. A hawk left its lofty perch on the cliff face by merely spreading its wings and dropping into the rising air currents. It then rose, hovered for some minutes without moving a wing, then finally glided back to its porch on Gibralta Rocks without so much as flitting a wing-tip. “Oh, if I had the wings of a dove” or something. The chill wind chased us right out to the end, then down the chimney and along the ridge to Gibralta Creek for a late lunch. It was getting on towards three o'clock when we finally moved off down the Gibralta Creek track to the Cox and pitched camp. After tea that night we had a very enjoyable campfire with songs, sketches and a ceremonial burning of Brian's boots - Oh yes, they were worn out. Then supper and bed - and a somewhat warmer night than last.
A beautiful fine day greeted us when we arose next morning at the most respectable hour of 8 a.m. Some climbing literature prompted several bods to practice the standard call of “Hold!”, used whenever you lose balance so that your rope partner has some warning of the coming pull on the rope, as would be the case if you fell during a climb. The thing is that you are supposed to call “hold” automatically. To play this game you creep up behind the victim and give him a push to throw him off balance. He then should instinctively call “hold”! This bit of tuition all took place at one particular camp fire. Snow decided to visit the Admiral's fire over further to test the Admiral's reflexes in this new little game, but his effort only produced a hail of abuse. Now just imagine yourself belaying a bod above you on a precipitous cliff face when all of a sudden your partner drops past your face yelling blue murder at you!
Now the time had come when we must think of moving off. Garth and Dot were off first as they were going via Black Jerry's to Megalong in order to get to know the route for a future Friday night trip. The rest of us finally left soon after 10 a.m. for the long slow pull up the 6ft. track. En route we ran into about twenty bods from the Catholic Walking Club on their way down to the Cox for lunch. At first we thought Katoomba was being evacuated. Lunch on Megalong Creek near where it crosses the road developed into a battle of the primuses between Brian and Snow, climaxed when Snow's recently acquired pride and joy blew up with a spectacular sheet of flame. Their conversation resembled that of two high-pressure salesmen each trying to sell the party their particular make of primus and expounding on its virtues at great length. After lunch we ran into Dot and Garth again who, it appears, were themselves lunching only a hundred yards or so down the creek.
Up the Devil's Hole and back to KatooMba via a shortcut across the golf links, with golfers yelling “fore” right, left and centre. “Well, this is where I leave you,” said Snow. That's what he thought. We did eventually unhand him and allow him to go home, while the rest of us made for the Rigor Mortis Cafe where we ate, then caught the 6.01 p.m. to Central. (P.S, The train journey wasn't dull.)
A Pep Talk To All Would-Be Marathon Experts.
A 45-year-old South African has created a sensation by running 159 miles 562 yards in 24 hours on a special track in Surrey, England. Possibly for the time mentioned this creates something of a record, but for sheer endurance it lies a long way back.
For example, in January, 1914, Charlie Hart ran from Brighton to London and back, up hill and down hill, a distance of 154 miles. In 1925 he beat two horses in a contest lasting six days. In 1926 he ran from London to Glasgow and back. Scots folk are asking why he ran back and Londoners are asking why he ever started to run at all. At the age of 65 years the same individual ran across the U.S.A. from New York to Los Angeles - a distance of about 3000 miles.
A Norwegian did better than that. He was Mensen Ernst, who first of all ran from Paris to Moss ow in two weeks, averaging 125 miles each day. Later he ran from Constantinople to Calcutta, a distance of 5625 miles, making an average of 95 miles a day. This must surely be the greatest endurance feat in the annals of man, specially as the running was done for thousands of miles over the roughest tracks. Some very extraordinary feats have been achieved by the Tarahumara Indians of North Mexico. These folk jog barefooted across mountain tracks in their native State of Chihuahua. Over these tracks they think little of running distances of 100 miles or more. A curious fact is that when efforts are made to train these Indians for athletic competitions they are no good at all. They are out of it in the short distance of 20 or 30 miles favoured by athletic meetings and they are unable to run in shoes.
In England between the 15th and 19th centuries wealthy people always kept a small staff of endurance runners to help them out in emergencies. Their task was to deliver urgent letters and do other odd jobs of that nature. It was not unusual for them to cover 60 miles a day over hilly and very bad roads. In fact, a good running footman was able to beat a horseman in a day's journey. They thought little of travelling over difficult country. Runs of 148 miles in 48 hours were recorded. One footman ran a distance of 30 miles, starting at the time dinner started and being back before it ended - admittedly it is not mentioned when it did end. Folk in those days were apt to be a bit leisurely over their dinners.
Federation Report For August, 1955.
The Ranger Patrol advised the continued total ban on the sale of Native Rose, Pink Boronia and the two types of Giant Lily for another season.
An attempt is to be made to revive this dormant Section which was formed in 1952 but which has not functioned.
The Federation has written to the Minister for lands requesting consideration be given to appointment on the Trust of walking and geological interests. Mr. F.A. Pallin and Mr. A. McInnes have been submitted as suitable nominees.
Search And Rescue Section
A lengthy discussion took place on the advisability of enrolling lady walkers on the S. & R. lists, and in view of their past excellent records of work in the field and the known walking ability of many of the active affiliated club members, it was resolved to “include lady walkers whom delegates considered at least as competent as men as walkers, map readers and first-aiders, on Contact Lists, that the delegate should choose wisely, and that the person directly organising the search have the absolute power of refusing to employ any woman or women if he thought fit when it came to the issue.” The Section is calling for volunteers and these should advise the Contact Man in their respective clubs.
Searchers are insured against accidents from time of leaving home and/or employment until return to their home. Medical expenses and lost wages by accident are compensated.
National Park Fire Patrols
The Executive is interviewing the Sutherland Fire Brigade Captain and The Bushfires Committee and a statement will be issued later.
Federation Annual Ball
Will be hold at the Rainbow Room of the Australia Hotel on Wednesday, 5th October. Tickets 17/6d. Dress informal. No liquor will be permitted to be brought into the ball room, but will have to be purchased from the hotel services. Likewise no liquor can be taken away. See your Social Secretary and start making up parties. Tables may be booked through Paddy Pallin's shop.
Attention was drawn by a delegate to a proposed Marathon Walk by an affiliated club, and after some discussion on similar events which had taken place in the past, it was resolved “that Marathon Walks be deplored.” There waS no suggestion that the S. & R. Section would not function if necessary the case of emergency. The resolution was only a restatement of the S.B.W.'s attitude.
Is urgently required to replace Mr. Stan Cottier. Job is routine secretarial work as all conservation matters are handled by the Conservation Section. Contact Paul Barnes.
- Brian G. Harvey.
I hate writing. Letters are bad enough, but to write an article on an excursion that was probably not a patch on the reader's own trip is hard labour and extreme mental cruelty.
At a recent evening in the Club I found myself pooled into a “Panel of Experts” who knew all the answers. The long-suffering bushie audience soon ran out of questions, so the process was reversed. One expert asked what rivers or creeks combined to make the Colo, and where did the said river start - pardon me - source. You could bet someone would pick me up when I stated that the Capertee River and Wollemi Creek combined to make the Colo River. Several not so polite murmurs of disagreement reached my ears, so now I feel compelled to prove my statement.
Frank Leyden, Bill Cosgrove and a genial Jack Watson occupied the spare seats in my jalopy as we left Strathfield station at 7a.m. on Saturday morning of the June holiday week-end. A social excursion the previous night was the cause of the Saturday start, and with three hours sleep to my credit I must admit I have felt brighter. You are spared the motor trip. Fog was a close companion to Colo Heights where we climbed into bright sunshine and a lovely day.
A glance at the Mellong military sheet will almost certainly put you off bushwalking. A second glance at the lower left-hand corner will show the Putty Road and the spot where we stopped at the beginning of the Culoul Range. Frank is a most able car navigator, so when he told me to pull off the road I felt satisfied the driving was over. Some time later I wasn't so sure.
With the car off the road, the Mellong and St. Albans sheets on the ground, Frank gave first details of the trip: out along the Culoul Range, dump packs, a quick look-see at the start of the Colo, then back to the packs and camp on Boorai Creek. Next, drop down to the Colo, downstream 5 or 6 miles, then up a creek, a ridge, then a short road-bash and presto! We would be back at the car after a most enjoyable trip in new country. New country? Oh yeah! At the mention of the Colo “few miles” a minor explosion was detonated by the two late back-seaters. I squatted in silence as they voiced their opinion of the Colo. Why not do a packless trip out to the Colo junction and back, and then spend the next two days on a trip to Parr West? The verbal battle raged fiercely, and having had some experience of the Colo I at last ventured a timid suggestion that we could easily motor back towards Parr West. This seemed to unite the other three into prompt acceptance of the original plan, not so surprising as they later admitted none of them had any intention of going anywhere else.
The arrival of another car as we started to walk caused us to revise our plans. The occupants advised us that a nearby timber track ran out along the ridge for several miles, so we hopped back into the car. The going was quite good, but after slipping about on a muddy section we abandoned ship close to the camp of a sleeper-getter. He was about 70 years of age and still earning a good living with saw and broadaxe. After goodaying the gent he enquired “can any of you run?” As I modestly stuck my chest out he told of waking up that morning at 3 a.m. in time to see a half loaf of bread being whizzed off by a wallaroo. The telling seemed to tickle the old chap immensely, but we still haven't worked out the “can you run” query. (Ed's incredulous note, “Is it possible, Ardill?”)
I felt like asking myself, “Can you walk?” a couple of hours later. We followed the track spasmodically, originally taking a compass course then refinding the track on the ridge top. You might guess we got on a wrong ridge and you'd be right. I'm beginning to realise that the advice given and received to stick to the ridge tops should not be taken as a hard and fast rule. Instead of returning in a wide semicircle to reach the now obvious main ridge, we decided on a typical Leyden down-and-up route. At the creek at the bottom of the down section we had lunch, leeches and lawyer vine. An 'ellish spot. After lunch we wended our way through lawyer up a steep 600 feet or so, arriving unexpectedly at the summit about a stone's throw from trig. 2060 and a track. The track speeded our progress and was explained after a couple of miles by the sight of cows grazing on an extremely lush grassy area on the ridge top.
The ridge was fairly well defined, but we were still short of our goal as the shadows lengthened. We found water by dropping down a hundred feet from a saddle, and as Jack and I prepared camp, Frank and Bill buzzed on for a look-see ahead to reccy for the next day. The camp spot was comfortable, but walkers in this area in dry weather would probably have difficulty in finding convenient water, or perhaps any water at all.
The result of the reccy was shown next morning. The tents were left standing and we took lunch and groundsheet only - cut-lunch commandos - well, it's not a bad way to spend the middle of a three day weekend. As we progressed towards the Colo junction the country began to unfold. Mt. Uraterra was before us, and around to the nor' west were the not so obvious Mt. Adam and Mt. Wirriba. Shades of Max Gentle and a hot October week-end years ago - a tired party with hardly a spit between the lot of them, a soak that wasn't soaking, and a half-dozen of us descending about 500 ft. for water, and the never-to-be-forgotten labour of returning with two buckets of water apiece. The printing of the Mellong sheet should encourage some of the new blood to divorce themselves for a while from the Cox and Katoomba.
We soldiered on; some sections of the ridge were quite fair going and others were pretty thick. The ground was dropping away now and we caught glimpses of the sandstone cliffs above the Colo. One large rock about 20ft. square was covered with rock lilies, and when in bloom should be a sight both rare and beautiful. Suddenly we almost walked into thin air. A thousand feet below us was the Colo junction. To describe the view as breathtaking is a la tourist blurb, but that's the way I saw it. Such a gorge is almost unbelievable. There was the Capertee, sandy bottom now unsullied by Glen Davis oil, being joined by Wollemi Creek, to give birth to the Colo River. Wollemi Creek is worthy of the title of river and was little, if at all, inferior to the Capertee. Being the only non-photographic crank in the party is a grave disadvantage in such a place. I was forced to sit, stand, and balance on every unstable rock around the place, the object being, I presume, to gain the unusual shot of a pair of boots disappearing into the depths. However lunch time arrived with three somewhat disappointed photographers and an extremely relieved foreground.
After lunch we buzzed about from point to point to gain the best views, and of course, the light being different, Frank and Bill had to gather more masterpieces. As we gazed downstream our decision not to do the five miles of the Colo was mentally applauded. I venture to say it would be almost impossible to descend to the Colo in that area.
We returned to the camp spot in the last of the light. The area was so interesting we decided to have a look at the Colo further east, so next morning we did so. The map shows a ridge running sou' west between Trig. 1999 and Boorai Creek. Anyone intending a round trip in this country had better take a couple of weeks tucker with them. The clock prevented our proceeding to the end of this ridge, so we turned west and came out above the Colo about two miles below the junction. The gorge was slightly narrower here, but the sun was appearing only rarely and the foreground was permitted to enjoy the scene from viewpoints of his own selection.
We retraced our steps, lunched, picked up packs and returned - by the ridge tops, thank you - to the sleeper getter's. He and a companion seemed somewhat surprised to note our return. A couple of hours later we were home again. This walk could be done in a two-day weekend taking reasonable care with the mapreading, but water could be a difficulty, especially in dry periods. The views are something to tell your grandchildren about, and, last but not least you unbelieving blighters, you can see where the Capertee and Wollemi combine to make the Colo.
Report - Parks And Playgrounds Movement.
- H.I. Stoddart.
Opera House Site
At the meeting of the P. & P. Movement held on July 7th at Cricket House, the choice of the site for the Opera House was discussed. Mr. Herbert, Architect and member of the Movement brought in a plan he had prepared of the probable amount of ground which will be needed for the building which he thinks will encroach on the small area of park land surrounding the Fort Macquarie tram sheds.
Lane Cove Park
A Womens Bowls Club requested permission to establish one green on Lane Cove Park, but this request was refused.
West Epping Park
Residents in West Epping are anxious to acquire land for a Park and hope to do this if part of Hazelwoods Nursery is resumed. It is understood that the nursery occupies about 50 acres.
Rose Bay Park
A Mens Bowling Club asked for land at the western end of Rose Bay Beach which is part of Rose Bay Park. Council approved the application but the Minister for Lands refused permission.
Mr. Hume reported the formation of a Trust for this area and the appointment of Allan Strom to the Trust.
Domain Car Park
It has been decided to make a Car Park in the Domain when and if the money is forthcoming. Mr. Hume suggested that when the car park is made and roofed over with turf, this area might be made into a Womens Playing field.
Landing rounds for Heliocopters and the threat to park lands were mentioned, but members seemed to think there was no need to worry as the heliocopters might not eventuate.
Conference On Conservation Matters
Mr. Hume reported at length on this conference held at St.James Hall, Phillip Street on 2nd July, 1955. Messrs. A. Strom and T. Moppett will have reported this Conference to the S.B.W.
Out In The Cold, Cold Snow.
A rather asthmatic loco finally pulled the 6.37 into Katoomba Station on that Friday night, nearly an hour late. “Look, there's Snow”, I yelled to the others, waving to Dave Brown, who had come to meet us. A couple of tourists, misinterpreting my greeting, were visibly moved and full of expectancy at the news, and could probably already picture themselves frolicing in the whiteness. Now all this caused the party a great deal of merriment but I might add we were soon laughing on the other side of our faces, because it came true, oh yes, so very true indeed! But more of that anon.
Snow had a really fine bus waiting and an even dozen of us, in various stages of active and prospective membership, piled in. On the active side there were Dot, Garth, Snow, leader Beverly and Keith while the Admiral, Bookie and I comprised the Not-Too-Active Bloc. In addition, we had with us prospectives Pat, Kath, Dawn and Brian. All in all, a good mixed bag. The bus moved off and shortly afterwards came the shocker. The hazy lights of Blackheath revealed a steady sprinkle from the murkiness above…
“Oh, well, I suppose it just had to rain”, says someone.
“Is that rain or is it…? Looks a bit like….”
“Surely not. No, it can't be….”
“Yes, it is. It's snow! It's snow!”
Sure enough we had been spooned our first taste of the night's snow and we liked it for its novelty. The novelty, however, soon wore off when twelve shivering bods were cast to the elements in the alpine blizzard that raged at the Summit on the Jenolan Road. The snow was falling quite heavily now and the wind was howling, so all haste was made to put up tents a few hundred yards from the road. The last pegs went in as fingers froze to an unfeeling mass and everyone, including the out-of-doors brigade, quickly sought the warmth and shelter of down and japara. On such a night, it's always a pleasant pastime to contemplate the tempest without from the snugness of a sleeping bag - maybe it's because you kid yourself about a feeling of sublime security, reckoning that no matter what forces the weather demons may throw into the battle, you are secure and impregnable in the fortress of your tent. After all, there's not much kick to be had in tenting through a fine, warm summer's night.
For a White Ant, getting up in the morning under such circumstances requires something more than a conscious effort - usually force; and after this was applied, there was a sight that rarely greets the bushwalking eye in these parts. Fine snowflakes drifted down onto a landscape already completely covered with a blanket of pure white. Every leaf and every stick carried its magic mantle. Yes, it was mighty good to be out bushwalking - once you were up and about.
The murky mud-pool mixture that passes for water in this spot was soon disguised in porridge and other edibles over a communal fire. Well, not quite communal; the incessant roar of the latest vogue, the infernal primus, could be heard from the direction of the Admiral's tent. We must concede this rugged individualist yet another record - ten minutes from sleeping bag to moving off! Is bushwalking becoming a science rather than an art?
We struck out along the Mini Mini Range, quite carried away by our snowy surroundings. With the weather on the mend, patches of sunshine and falling flakes soon followed each other with amazing speed. The clearing westerly was so strong that on occasions the snow seemed to befalling from a clear blue sky. The course to Gibraltar Rocks is now rife with misleading timber trails and of course there were moments of indecision. A general parley would be held around the map and finally, by mass hypnotism, we would be convinced of the merits of this or that direction. Then the Admiral would step up and spoil everything, “Now I'll give you my theory”, he would assert with that air of knowledge that makes leaders lose confidence in themselves. Fortunately, his shaky logic was quickly vetoed by sheer weight of numbers and harmony was once again restored.
In this entertaining fashion we at last the Rocks and gazed with longing down into the valley, for the wind on top had increased to gale proportions. Even the photographers had lost their zest. Therefore all haste was made in the descent to Gibraltar Creek. The warm sunshine poured down on us in our sheltered lunch spot and it was easy to grow lethargic, but our resolute leader would have none of it. So up packs and down to the Cox it was.
A warm evening, dry wood, good water, beautiful grassy swards and bracken to sleep on - the night before seemed but a hazy dream. To make a good day better, a social campfire was burned into the night and ably led by Dot, we intermingled snatches from the Operas with a mixed bag of laughable sketches.
The next morning it was soon clear that Dot and Garth were in no mood for taking things easy, Sunday or no Sunday. They spurned the graded Six Foot Track for the sake of sinking their teeth into the more challenging Black Jerry's Ridge, and so were soon away. They left none of their spirit behind them, though, for it was something after ten before the main party broke its moorings. This sad (but pleasant) state of affairs was largely due to the insidious activities of the White Ant Bloc; shame and a form of bribery prevent me from even hinging at their identities.
We might mention the infamous coffee episode, which should go down in the annals of bushwalking cookery. With the pains of a prize chef, the Long One had prepared his billy of breakfast coffee and was about to savour it. Arriving on the scene, Snow mistook the brew for some greasy dishwater and for some reason best known only to himself, promptly tossed the lot on to the meadow, to the accompanying wrath of the gourmet. So much for the Admiral's coffee.
The climb out of the Cox was taken leisurely in glorious walking weather. Stops and excuses for stops there were aplenty, but it was a sound idea. Time was plentiful and it was good to drink in the balmy air and start another chin-wag. And so we found ourselves at Mitchell's Creek for lunch, which was highlighted by the billy boiling contest staged by the Primus Brigade. However, Snow's pint-sized miniature was hardly a match for the Admiral's roaring blast furnace. Whereupon, our leader delivered a very worthy lecture contrasting the evils of these artificial, turbulent and foul-smelling contraptions with the natural tranquility of a wood fire.
After lunch we joined up with Dot and Garth, and with renewed energy, plugged on up the valley and into the Devil's Hole in fine style to make Katoomba with lots of daylight still left over. The strange case of the Missing Ticket provoked much mirth. After a fruitless search for the offending butt, the Admiral paid up again for the homeward journey. Of course, the original was found in Dawn's purse somewhere down the line. Well, Dawn, we certainly cannot believe that you are all those nasty things! We know it's just the ingratitude of Man. This episode was certainly a fitting finale to a weekend made so enjoyable by an abundance of unexpected events, good humour and harmless fun.
When purchasing goods from our advertisers, please let it be known that you are BUSHWAIKERS, and thus let them know that their messages to us are bearing fruit.
Our advertisers are out to please us, and will help us all they can.
Gentleman clean, moral (non-smoker, moderate drinker) 6 ft. 3 ins, tall, possessor of a standard-size sleeping bag, would like to meet young lady, 5 ft. or under, with similar means, view acquiring her surplus 18 inches.
- Keith Renwick.
Joadja over a Period of years has developed quite a sinister meaning to Bushwalkers due to the residence there of a farmer agin' all walkers and possessor of a trigger-happy shotgun. When I saw it on the programme I was immediately attracted, despite the abovementioned gentleman, because it opened up some rarely visited country which sounded very promising. There were five starters: Brian Milne, Howard Ireland, two prospectives - Jim Nash and Dot Barr, and Keith Renwick. The trip was from Mittagong out along the road to the junction of the Wingecarribee and Joadja Creek, then back up the Wingecarribee to Medway, along the road to Berrima, and hitch then to Mittagong to pick up the train to Sydney.
Mittagong was cold and clear and there was no trouble getting a taxi - actually he got us - and soon we were on our way out to the farm, directing the taxi driver as we went. We stopped when the road deteriorated, soon after passing the turn-off to the coal mine on Jackey Jackey's Creek. This bad patch doesn't last long and the road is quite good right down to the junction of Wingecarribee and Joadja Creeks, but the non-perennial stream had water in it, and as it's just outside Joadja's property we camped. But did we have a frost that night or did we what! The ground was absolutely white, the creek froze over, there were individual frost crystals a quarter of an inch long and frost on all the trees to about ten feet above the ground. It's the first time I've really shivered inside my superdown bag.
Up at 7 to be away by 9 a.m. to a fine clear day - after all, it may be our last! During breakfast we were pestered by exceptionally tame birds which not only pinched our bread when we weren't looking, but which eventually were eating out of Jim's hand on pieces of crust. This only goes to prove how comparatively undisturbed the area must be, as we found many more examples of this later on.
We had been going about twenty minutes when all of a sudden we rounded a corner and there at the end of a short straight stretch of road was a wire gate and trees plastered with notices, and as we strode five abreast down towards the gate we felt for all the world like Gary Cooper in “High Noon” striding down the deserted main street not knowing from which direction the first shot would come. At last we came within reading distance of the notices which generally carried this friendly greeting:
Trespassers will be Prosecuted; No Camping; No Shooting; No one Allowed; Private Property; Keep Out, and such like.
Gingerly we opened the gate and crept in. It's moments like these that a leader gets most comfort leading his party from the rear! On our right was the road down to Joadja mine. This we carefully avoided and took the one on our left. The country on the tops here has been gum forest in which the undergrowth has been burnt off, and new scrub and trees have grown up. The road, which is in pretty good condition, winds down a small valley and out on the side of the ridge towards a clearing at the end of which were situated the farm buildings.
We walked brazenly on and were admiring the snow drifts on the shady side of the valley, which we later discovered to be frost, when we were staggered to see a car suddenly round the corner in front and come on up the hill towards us. This was it! We were trapped! However, we spread out (they could only get us one at a time this way), and were ready to dive for cover. On came the machine, loaded with bods who stared at us intently. We decided to call their bluff, so we smiled sweetly and half waved. Then came the cruelling blow - they did the same as they passed. Not very friendly, but at least they didn't mow us down on the spot. Perhaps they were just friends visiting the farm, but then again, they could have been trying to put us off guard ready for ambush further down, the road. We weren't to be easily turned aside, so press on regardless we did. Then we came to a very large notice in artistic yellow letters on a black background:
“Enter at own risk. Alsation dogs running loose. No responsibility taken for damage to persons or property.”
Ugh! Soon after we came to a gate. We went through and cut across open grass country on the end of the ridge, keeping in gullies to be out of sight and range of the farmhouses, and we struck the Wingecarribee a little upstream of these dwellings.
For the first mile or so the country is open grasslands, but on the river and later on the whole hillsides are well wooded. The going is fairly straight-forward for this first bit, but is over sand. Right up to Black Bobs Creek there are sand dunes upon sand dunes alongside the river, while the river itself is just one beautiful long swimming hole with trees hanging out over both banks. Unfortunately there are lots of snags. Right from Bowen's Creek down, the river is very quiet flowing with few rapids and some beautiful spots for reunions and swimming carnivals (bring your own shotguns). Further up the river banks are steep in parts and heavily scrubbed which makes going slow between flats, and the last really good campsites occur between Jackey Jackey's Creek and Long Flat, after which the valley narrows and steepens. Howard, a prospector at heart, started panning for gold as soon as we hit the Wingecarribee, but no luck. The further upstream we got, the more wildlife we noticed. There were innumerable and varied tracks in the sand, wombat holes aplenty, and even some rabbits which seem to be pretty well cleaned out in most other places. We even saw two quite large kangaroos bounding with enviable ease up the side of the ridge. Birds there were aplenty - wrens, finches, kookaburras, rozellas and grey butcher birds. The river, I would say, would be an ideal spot for platypus too, and I saw one burrow just above river level which could have belonged to one.
But from Long Flat upstream the river really becomes interesting as it narrows down and eventually becomes quite a gorge. We had kept to the eastern and northern hank so far, and indeed hardly saw one crossing place short of swimming, but about a mile up from Long Flat, before you get to Bowens Creek Junction, the river passes between some large boulders and it is possible to scramble across here with dry feet. From there on it is just sidling through scrub, with occasional flats. But the cliff line closes in and the going becomes increasingly more difficult and interesting as the gorge proper is entered. Here is a continuous unbroken line of cliffs, without any normally possible way out (Ha! A challenge to all Rock Climbers! Ed.), about 200 or 300 yards apart and 400 to 600 ft. high, with enormous sandstone boulders choking the valley; necessitating a lot of scrambling. Two enormous avalanches choked the valley, one five to ten years old, judging from the small trees on it. The other had us a bit worried as it was by far the larger and seemed as though the dust had barely settled, as a tree which had come down with it was fairly green! This was just prior to reaching No.2 Colliery on the map, which has not been working for years. The coal seam appeared to be quite extensive, and was 8 to 10 ft. thick at one place. We were beginning to wonder how to get out of here in time for trains, etc., when we found attached to the cliff face an iron ladder which used to be part of the mine workings, so we lunched here then climbed out. But the Gorge goes on and looks extremely interesting.
We road-bashed to Berrima where we split up, intending to hitch back to Mittagong for the train, but we walked the 8 miles in some two and a half hours with plenty of cars and trucks going by but none sympathetic enough to offer a lift till within a mile of Mittagong. Transport for this part would definitely be an asset.
An improvement on this trip would be to come out towards Joadja, turn south along the road to the Coal and Shale mine on Jackey Jackey's Creek, go out along the ridge to Joadja Hill, and drop down from here to the Wingecarribee. Then go right up the river past Medway to Berrima, camping, perhaps, near where the perennial stream comes in from south of Lock Catherine Colliery. This would take in all the interesting part of the river and leave out the shotgun owner's bit as you don't enter his property then.
Well folks Paddy's back on the job again at the old stand. He'll be pleased to see any of his old cobbers.
Paddy had a look at camping gear everywhere he went, seeking new ideas and gadgets. Results of this experience should show up in the next few months.
But what Paddy really wants to say now is how good it is to get back home. Be seeing you!
Paddy Pallin, Lightweight Camp Gear, 201 Castlereagh St, Sydney