Table of Contents
THE SYDNEY BUSHWALKER
A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers C/- The N.S.W. Nurses' Association, “Northcote Building”, Reiby Place, Sydney. Box No.4476 G.P.O., Sydney. 'Phone JW1462.
293 MAY, 1959 Price 1/-.
|Editor||Don Matthews, 33 Pomona Street, Pennant Hills. WJ3514.|
|Sales & Subs.||Audrey Kenway|
|Business Manager||Brian Harvey|
|Typed by||Jean Harvey|
|Social Notes||Edna Garrad||2|
|The Night of April 15th||Kath McKay||2|
|At Our April Meeting||Alex Colley||4|
|S.B.W. on T.V.||“Meteorite”||5|
|Out of Touch||Jim Brown||6|
|Letter to the Editor||7|
|Twenty five Years After.||M. Bacon||7|
|Letter from Bookie||15|
|Yadboro Escarpment, The Castle etc.||F. Leyden||15|
|Sound Films in Colour||G. Ballard (Advert.)||17|
|Wet Night on the Bare Mountain by some who survived it||20|
TANK FOR THE MEMORY or A GOOD PLACE TO CAMP.
Phillip thought so in 1788, anyhow.
Low, wooded ridges ran down to the inlet, which had sandy foreshores leading to mudflats, and fresh water from an upland swamp trickled over rocks and disappeared into the estuary.
Think of similar places you've seen around Sydney, take a good look at the Quayside topography, use your imagination, and it's not hard to reconstruct. Water, wood, a flat spot just up that Eastern slope, beautiful view. What more could you wish for?
The Tank Stream rose in a swamp on the west slopes of Hyde Park (Market-Park Street level), started flowing at King Street and followed a coarse a little to the West of Pitt Street, Hunter Street was a rocky ford, and there was a bridge at Bridge Street, the high water level of the estuary. Originally the stream was protected by a 50 foot belt of timber each side, and tanks were cut in the rock below Hunter Street level for storage. With gradual pollution and uncertain flaw, Busby's Bore became the main water supply and the Tank Stream and estuary were eventually filled in.
Reiby Place stands on reclaimed ground and is named after Mary Reiby, who was deported when a girl for stealing a ride on the local Squire's horse, and who later became a prominent figure in the philanthropic and commercial life of Early Sydney. The lane marks the northern boundary of her warehouse.
Now the Bushies have come to Reiby Place, and once again the Tank Stream of Sydney Cave is a good place to camp!
- Edna Garrad.
|MAY 20TH||Members Slides. Hope you have selected the slides you intend to show. We look forward to seeing the work of new photographers who may not have exhibited before. Members Slide night is just the occasion for your debut. John Logan will collect the slides on the night.|
|JUNE 17TH||Non-scenic colour slide competition. There is a limit of six perm ember. Please mark your slides with initials so that it will be easy to sort them out later. They will probably be required late in May and an announcement in this regard will be made at the General Meeting.|
|JUNE 24TH||Prospective Members Night. Come along and help the prospectives to acquire the “know how”. Remember you perhaps found the going a little 'tough“ in the early days of your walking.|
The Night of April 15th
“April 15th - New Club Room Warming”. Thus quoth the March issue of the magazine in its list of social fixtures.
Warming was the ward: but of that more anon. At first, all was comparatively quiet on the Reiby Place front, and the S.BX. sign, created by Lynette Baber before she went abroad, swung decorously above the well-kept stairway leading to our new club rooms.
With the rooms, the unaccustomed eye blinked unbelievingly at the gleaming tiles, the pastel-shaded walls, the blaze of lights, the chromium and multi-coloured leather chairs, the shining parquet floors.
“You must see the Ladies Room - it even has a shower.! And paper roller- towelling - free:” newcomers were told enthusiastically, so it was duly inspected. So was the prophylactic kitchen, with its tasteful annexe to be used as a committee room; and there was a stage furnished with comfortable chairs, pot plants and a curving polished wood desk, to provide a fitting setting for The Bone.
All was so clean, so new, it seem ed unnatural. Gone were the cats, the cobwebs, the peculiar aroma of Ingersoll Hall. No longer did crescent moons and stars hang crazily before us, here were no murky depths punctuated by shattered windows and a clock which did not go. 'Twas strange, 'twas passing strange … “I thought: I needn't wear stockings - I'll never be seen in that dim light. And then I remembered it wouldn't be a dim light:” one maiden lamented.
“Lucky you're wearing a tie you wouldn't have been admitted” said one male to another.
More and more members poured in. The Old and the Bold were there in their legions. Faces which had not graced the club rooms for aeons were discerned amid the throng. Joyful meetings took place on all sides. “Just like a Reunion:” people said. The babel of tongues rose and the temperature of the room rose with them. Those who had worn warm clothing wished they hadn't, and men soon doffed their coats and appeared in Shirtsleeves. One gent was seen shaking his trouser-legs to create a little draught and obviously yearned for shorts.
The President, Jack Gentle, suitably introduced by Brian Harvey, was handed enormous garden shears, cut the green and white ribbons barring the door, and declared the rooms opened. Conversation broke out with renewed vigour and the noise was deafening. One had to shout to make oneself heard.
When throats were bricky-dry, welcome activity manifested itself in the kitchen, and coal drinks and eatables were handed round by willing helpers. Wonderful - there was plenty of food, even for bushwalkers. Queues were formed to collect cups of tea, and a slotted tin on the tea table received our two-bobses to defray the cost of the supper. Later, the Social Secretary was able to report a handsome profit on the evening.
There was a speech of welcome by the President, and after supper we settled down to see some slides of the Reunion, taken and shown by Kevin Ardill. More talk, a thinning-out of the crowd and a consequent drop in the temperature; 'Time, gentle men, please' as the room was put to rights, and the premises were vacated by 10.30.
Oh, it was all very correct. This was a special occasion, and everyone was in their best bib and tucker. No one would have suspected the presence of tough guys, Tigers, Myuna Men ..
If, with a vague unease, hob-nailed, rope-begirt, pack-burdened ghosts could be glimpsed out of the tail of the eye, stealing off from a Friday night meeting to face the mystery and the danger of the dark, they were hastily exorcised. All were agreed that this club room, modern and charming in every respect, was a far far better thing than the old. After all, why should bushwalkers not be social? Let them confine their wildness to the wilds.
Long life and prosperity to our quarters in Reiby Place!
At Our April Meeting
- Alex Colley.
The translation from the Ingersoll Hall to the fluorescent-lit pastel mauves, greens, yellows, etc. of the Nurses' Hall dazzled members. Now that everybody could be seen clearly against a clean background they looked somehow smarter and more presentable. It seemed out of place even to take off a coat. When the gong sounded there was some consternation amongst the group left standing at the back of the hall. Bereft of furniture in which to merge, refuge was taken on the back row of chairs against the wall, separated by a decent interval from the rest of the meeting.
After the Secretary had read us a concise account of the momentous decisions of the Annual General meeting we moved on to correspondence. Gordon Ballard notified v us of a film night, and it was decided to acquaint him with the advertising facilities of the Club Magazine. Trinity Grammar School walking Club wanted some assistance in walks leadership, and it was decided, after a proposal to invite them on an 4 instructional walk was turned down, to ask them on some official walks.
Next, at the instigation of the Social and Membership Secretaries, the number of Assistant Social Secretaries was reduced from 4 to 1 and the number of Assistant Membership Secretaries from 4 to 2. The rescinding of the original motions, which took a good hour of debate to frame, took about a minute. Edna Garrad then told us that Jean Harvey would be the Assistant Social Secretary and Irene Pridham said that Edna Stretton and David Ingram would be the Assistant Membership Secretaries.
Frank Ashdown then reverted to the subject of the abolition of the Club Library. He objected to the purchase of expensive book for the use of a few members. It was pointed out that, although the library was now inoperative because of lack of space, it was hoped to have a few publications, such as the Club Magazine available, and a Librarian, Lyndsey Gray, had been appointed. The Library was being kept at Jess Martin's place, and there were hopes that it could eventually be brought back. Frank's motion to abolish it was defeated.
A proposal by Brian Harvey, that we should form a sub-committee to organise walking facilities for young walkers inspired by the “Captain Fortune” TV programme, was defeated.
Although the meeting ended early there were no complaints about the Club room remaining open to 10.30.
Instructional at Euroka
Malcolm McGregor reports a worthwhile weekend despite the rain -which was just enough to put the campfire off.
Sunday was fine and gunny and the 14 Prospectives got their earbashings all at one sitting. Jim Brown and David Ingram organised a Compass Trial, with routes to follow and clues to find, but couldn't manage to lose the wily prospectives. Six teams completed the course and are said to have new respect for compass-work. Good idea, this!
Total roll-up 36, including 4 young-uns.
S.B.W. on T.V.
The police department decided that a word in the ears, or rather a flash in the eyes - T.V. of course would be a good thing for the Charleys who so often get lost in the roughest country in the State. That was the start, the finish was quite different.
The P.D. boys hadn't left nearly enough time for the T.V. gang to put over the preventative medicine, but since walking is a popular pastime at Easter, a short session of walking appealed to the programme department.
So at 9.56 a m. on Sunday 20th March (the train was due at 9.59) Jack Gentle's Ford screamed to a halt at Glenbrook Station (Hoop had slept in). Out piled the bods to join the rest of us, and with frantic haste Gunnar Isakson, the photographer, set up his camera an the station. We had spoken to the station master, who gave us his blessing, and bang on time in came The Fish. Well, with a team of “highly paid” and “competent” actors at his command the rest was easy. As soon as the train stopped about six of us jumped on.
“Off” yelled Gunnar, and we walked sedately on to the platform - the guard scratched his head. “Again” screamed Gunnar, with unseemly haste we scrambled aboard a second time. “Off” came Gunnar's call. Once again a ladylike and gentlemanlike exit was made from the train. “O.K.” said Gunnar. We bowed to the Guard and the S.M. blew his whistle. I don't think the Guard knows yet what was happening.
A few shots around the station then into the cars and off to the highway for soul high class map reading on the big signpost map of the district. This scene was to demonstrate how all members of the party are shown just Where the trip is going. It was very good too, except that Jim kept pointing to the location of the Lapstone Pub.
The next shot was to show how to walk on a road, you know - facing the oncoming traffic etc. We strung out along the road near the lookout and John Logan was selected to drive along representing a typical motorist. He was SUPERB. He screamed down the dirt road and showered us with so much muck and stones that the shots resembled a blast-off photograph of a rocket - we all commended John on his fine piece of acting - a real motorist.
We finished with cars now, and had to walk - this is the tough part. So to put everything right we decided to look at a real map. Digby would have loved this trip; the possibilities for white-anting were enormous. We all sat dawn and Gunnar got ready, when suddenly he leapt in the air and started to jump about all over the place. We thought he was doing a turn for us so we started to clap, but in fact he had been standing on a bull-ant's nest. First aid was rendered then on with the business. More shots, more stops until we just reached the creek in time for lunch.
We were all old hands by now and the acting during the eating of lunch was first class. I thought Heather looked as if she was really enjoying hers and Molly was just like a bushwalker as she poked hot sausage into her mouth with her fingers. Jolly good show.
Pam was selected to put out the fire. After the sixth bucket of water on three different fires Gunnar was satisfied. You can see how the time was used up. We were rushing about doing all sorts of things like this all day.
At 6.00 p m. we got back to the cars and after suitable refreshment the party set off home.
Tuesday morning saw Jack, Jim and I at the ABN studios to view the day's work. It didn't look bad at all but extra shots were needed to make it look smooth. A few quick 'phone calls got Molly and Jean ready and the five of as spent the rest of the morning shooting more scenes down at Dan's Hole near Gordon. The girls looked terrific as they climbed up a steep cliff and came up over the rocky top into the view of the camera. Only we who were there know that the “cliff” was 2-feet high and that they had to lie on their tummies to keep out of sight until the big moment.
Well the film was finished - all 5 minutes of it - after a day and a half of solid work. Gunnar was pleased, we all were pleased, and it was good fun.
If you stayed home at Easter you could have seen the finished product, but if you didn't, the Club has arranged to obtain a copy of our own. This will be shown shortly together with all the stuff that wasn't used, and if any of you Charleys make any rude comments about our T.V. stars you'd better look out.
Out of Touch
- Jim Brown.
On the night of Wednesday 24th March we went in to Ingersoll Hall for the last time.
Of course we could ill afford the time, really, seeing so much packing for Easter still had to be done: but we had to take a last sniff of the atmosphere, and anyhow someone was going to show some slides, and we couldn't let him show to an empty hall. Darn it, where is that Walks and Social Programme, anyway?
So the new Social Secretary said the slides were to be about “Wales” but would probably cover a good deal of the world, and that sounded silly.
And the lecturer said that he couldn't see any real association between Bushwalking and “Wales” and that sounded silly, too, because everyone knows some of the best scenery and best mountains of Britain are in Wales.
Then he began to show aides of Whales. I am out of touch. Where's that cursed programme?
For the record, Mr. W. Dawbin put on an extremely well presented show, and answered a veritable barrage of questions.
Our Gourmand suggests: that those staying in town for tea might congregate at the Satellite Cafe, in Pitt Street near Circular Quay, right opposite Reiby Place, where our new Club Room is located. As the Club now opens at 7 p m. this cafe is already being found very convenient for members. If sufficient are interested, the cafe will remain open to serve espresso coffee for supper. There is a very good menu and the prices are reasonable.
Letter to the Editor
I wish to thank the committee and members responsible for the selection of the new Club Room.
It must be admitted that the setting is unique to the merest detail, and introduces a warmth incomparable with past Club Rooms.
The Dias not only has a certain dignity but also gives the Chairman an uninterrupted view of the gathering addressed, which is important in any club meeting.
The facilities (the seating, retiring rooms, committee room, the up-to-the-minute kitchen for hire when required) fully justify the increased subscriptions, and are undoubtedly an immense improvement on the past.
I sincerely hope we are firmly established in the new rooms, even though some may regard the additional contribution as a cost plus injustice.
The certainty is, that if the Sydney Bush Walkers keep up their recent progress, they will achieve greater heights than ever thought possible.
Congratulations on the excellent move from yesterday to today. Yours faithfully,
(Sgd.) Clem Hallstrom.
(From the roll up for the party on 15th, Clem's sentiments are right on the beam. The hundred odd present included many seasoned Bushies we don't see very often . Thanks to Gladys Fall for organising the SMOOTH catering. Ed.)
Twenty Five Years After
- M. Bacon.
On a high ridge overlooking the ocean was a huge gumtree with a blaze indicating “water 100 yards away”. Opposite, a small track leads down to Era Beach; to the right, a little track led to Burning Palms. This great tree has now gone. It was cut down many years ago, soon after the Maynards moved onto the patch of good soil near Bulgo Trig.
Now, 25 years later, I found the little track still the same, the queer shaped rocks in the path still there. Even some of the tree roots to trip you were in their accustomed place, but more than a fraction thicker. I and my companions turned down the track to “The Palms”, and soon came to the rock with the wonderful panorama known as the “Arnott's Biscuit Rock. This name was given to it for, in the early 1930's, there was a craze for “hiking”. Arnott's Biscuits had a series of advertisements suggesting that their biscuits were ideal for the hiker. An enterprising advertising man had placed some walkers with haversacks and clad in shorts (which were something of a novelty those days). A superb photograph was made with this rock in the foreground and the hikers munching their Arnott's biscuits. The original appeared in a half-page size, and of course was immediately recognised by the stalwart band of Sydney Bush Walkers as the rock at the top of the Squeeze Hole Track to Burning Palms. This track has not changed much. There are a few more stones placed conveniently to use as steps, but the Squeeze Hole itself has not even got perceptibly wider. Maybe I have.
The lushness of the first flat is most rewarding, the palm trees green, the grass long. The wallabies must be fewer than previously, and the deer not quite so plentiful. We continued our way dawn, almost every step bringing floods of happy memories from the night that we spent in the cave during the pouring rain to the days when we camped on the ledges just for a change of scenery. Sometimes we caught “the Midnight” and walked from Lilyvale in the moonlight. The floods of silver from the sea mere unforgettable.
We threaded our way along down to the next level, and here again we pitched our I camp under Banksia trees, twisted and curled into lovely Shapes. Soon we went down to the beach, pausing quickly to remember the days when we camped under the Banksia on the edge of the sand. In the morning, the first footprints on the beach were our own.
It was most gratifying to see that all of Burning Palms was again green and lush. Gone were the shacks, the tents and the tin and box shelters. This was due to the Garrawarra Trust's good mark, for it was only at the end of June 1958 that the last shack could be removed.
It seems that all the hard work getting some thousands of names on a petition in three weeks, which led to the dedication of Garrawarra Park, was worthwhile. It means that once more the Walkers and the Walkers' Children can enjoy some of the primitive coastal rain forest that once stretched down the seaboard. It means that a rich heritage has been preserved by walkers with foresight. Seeing the regeneration of the plants and shrubs must give new heart for further reservations.
I experienced a queer feeling a few years ago in New York when I visited the Bronx Gardens, for there, in one portion, were a few acres of the forest that once covered the city of New York - unimproved, with earth paths and leaves thick on the ground. The contrast from that to the grime and dirt, the asphalt pavements, the 1,000-foot high buildings, the shoving and straining, the business of trying to earn a living, was too great. I longed for the peace, the quietness, the greenness and the calm of this piece of forest.
Our walking companions of a quarter of a century ago had the same foresight, and we can now see the results of their work. The Club would have justified its existence by this single step alone. And how much joy and happiness has been given u in addition to this achievement? Burning Palms mill do for others what that area in Bronx is doing for thousands - a quiet haven and an object lesson to “go and do likewise”.
We hear that Paul Driver, the energetic and popular President of the N.S.W Federation of Bushwalking Clubs, is going overseas for eighteen months. Good walking Paul, and a safe return.
Will Rogers was an outstanding movie actor over in U.S.A. Our own Will Rodgers is fast following his footsteps in keeping up the good name. He took part in making two films inside three weeks!
Cloudmaker - Visibility nil, Sounds familiar! John White' s party started off from Dex Creek on Easter Saturday to go down Strongleg. Their confidence was shattered when out of the murk loomed a large yellow sign “NO RIGHT TURN”. John says that this was just a warming-up circuit of the high ground before getting down to the serious business of finding the way to Kanangaroo.
- Anyhow, I remember a party spending all day finding Compagnoni's Pass off Tiwilla - the same day some years ago - and then it was just a fluke.
From the Dailies: That dreadful Bluegum Forest!
Bluegum, especially the Perry's ascent on a hot day, has been called many things, but never before have we heard of “precarious Bluegum forest”, except perhaps during the explosive moments of a working bee.
====The Brindabellas==== - Car troubles Heather's back wheel fell off - but then Renault's are pretty close to the ground anyway… Peter broke down completely near Canberra… the S.T.C. got to Gudgenby a day late… George had trouble on the way home…
Still, it didn't rain much. They enjoyed a terrific panorama from Mt. Kelly 6,000' (look, look, Jagungal - or is it Gagungal?)but Mt. Bimberi 6,274' was shrouded in mist…
National Parks Association Outing for Easter (Len Fall reports):
Good Friday saw about 20 members and seven children converging on the Mt. Canoblas Reserve, about 14 miles from Orange. The campsite, although just off the road, was lush with snowgrass and shaded by snow gums - that is when the sun shone. There was an abundance of wood and good water was taken from a marked roadside spring.
Early arrivals enjoyed the superb views from the top; for the rest of the weekend Canoblas itself - just under 5,000' - was in the clouds.
The persistent damp weather interfered with the original sight seeing programme; however, a local member guided us by car, landrover and finally on foot to Borenore and other interesting caves in the district. Steady rain precluded the camp fire we had all looked forward to.
Sunday again dawned wet and several families with young children left for home While three cars set out to visit Ophir - the spot -where the first workable gold was discovered in Australia by E.H. Hargraves in April 1851. We were fortunate in having the President of the Orange Historical Society accompany us on this outing. He guided us to interesting places and workings and was a fund of knowledge on the -whole area. A pleasant reserve, !planted with local and English trees, has been set up in memory of the pioneers, together with an Obelisk to commemorate Hargraves' find. Those present on this trip will well remember that the roads are more suitable for visits in dry weather.
Another wet night when bushwalker ingenuity was necessary to light fires. Finer weather on Monday morning rounded off another enjoyable and interesting N.P.A. Outing.
- Jack Gentle.
This year the Federation Re-union at Burning Palms was a great success. Although Saturday heralded the event with squally rain 28 stalwart S.B.W's presented themselves at the campsite.
Undeterred by rain and uninfluenced by threats of further squalls, energetic folk built and lit the camp fire, which when burning as all good camp fires ought to burn, seemed to dry the very air within yards of its torrid heart.
The rain gods seemed to sense the great event, stayed their hand, and the show went on.
Paddy Pallin officiated in a way that only Paddy can. Gerald Toplin, a prospective of three days standing, sang “Rosalie” and another star was born. (S.B.W. Opera Company please note).
The Coast and Mountain Walker's staged a Pantomime which indeed was the toast of the evening.
These, together with a solo or two, mouth organ - or Should it be harmonica - solos and general singing under the baton of Paddy, wrote another page in the History of Federation Re-unions.
Sunday dawned clear and after surfing and fraternising 212 happy Walkers wended 6 their way back to Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, each and every one looking forward to 1960.
====OLD SYDNEY. Recommended for general reading==== an entertaining account of “Sydney's Highways” by Geoffrey Scott (1958). For detail on the growth of the city round the Tank Stream (with maps) refer to article by J.F. Campbell in Royal Australian Historical Society Journal 1924. (Available Public Library - Reference Desk).
Congratulations to Ken and Hermi Meadows on the birth of a daughter.
|Date May 1-5-16-17||Katoomba - Nellie's Glen - Carlon's - Clear Hill - Katoomba. Special for Prospectives. Just as enjoyable far old hands.||View the scenery of our main walking country_in comfort - plenty of time for photography and picking the Peaks. All track walking. Camp Friday: The Pubsite. Saturday: Glen Alan crossing. Main climb up about 1300' onto Clear Hill (Narrow Neck).||Leader: Brian Harvey Fare about 24/-.|
|May 16-17||Campbelltown - O'Hare's Creek - Darke's Forest||Some creek scrambling, but mostly medium walking Coastal views at end of trip.||Leader: Kevin Ardill Stanwell Park. on tracks.||Fares 11/-.|
|May 17||Glenbrook - Red Hand Cave - The Oaks - Glenbrook.||Pleasant scramble along Breakfast Creek:to the cave. Aboriginal drawings - then medium ridge walking.||Leader: David Ingram||Fares 12/-|
|May 22-23-24||Kanangra - Thunder Buttress - Paralyser (south ridge) Kanangra||Rugged 20 miles - spectacular scenery. Climb to Cloudmaker, steep drop about 2,000' to Kanangra Creek, climb at least 2000' to Paralyser. Private Transport||See David Brown for details.|
|May 23-24||Blackheath - Perry's - Blue Gum - Lockley's Pylon - Leura||Steep 2000' drop into the forest famous for its stand of bluegums. Excellent campsite. Medium climb of 2000' then track walking into Leura. Views of Grose Valley, King George, Hay.||Leader: Bruce McInnes||Fares 2/-|
|May 24||Hornsby - Tunks Creek - Galston Gorge - Hornsby||Medium scrambling along creek to picturesque Gorge. Note: Train changed to 8.10 electric from Central.||Leader: John Noble|
|May 29-30-31||Walking Trial - Join the Gumbooya Inga.||Easy walking. Make your own team to solve the riddle of the mystery camp site in Megalong area. Trial starts Saturday morning and early afternoon. Distance: not more than 6 miles Saturday, less on Sunday. See notice in Clubroom.||Leader: Jim Hooper||Fares 25/-|
|June 5-6-7||Cars to Bungonia Tops||Fixed camp - no carrying of packs. Along Shoalhaven to The Blockup on Saturday; back:to Bungonia Tops. Dawn screes to Bungonia Creek on Sunday; through the Gorge and then back to the Tops again. Dawn and up 1500' each day.||Private Transport,contact Ron Knightley before 20/5/59.|
|June 12-13-14||Blackheath - Car to Morong Creek - Davies Canyon - Kanangra River - 15 Cox River - Breakfast Creek.|
Scrambling and rockhopping galore. (See p.8 the Magazine July 1958.|Leader: Jack Perry|Fares about 3|
|June 13-14-1||Katoomba - Nellie's Glen - Carlon's - Black Dog - Cox River - Cedar Creek - Katoomba||Medium track walking to Cox's River. Some river crossings on Cox. Pleasant camp in middle part of Cedar Creek - Rock Hopping and scrambling on upper Cedar Creek - rock pools and cascades.||Leader: Jack Gentle||Fares 25/-|
Report of Federation Meeting Held 21/4/59
- Len Fall.
BLACK JEWS RIDGE. It has been ascertained that the track recently bulldozed dawn Black Jerry's Ridge is for fire access purposes. It was decided to write another letter to the Blue Mountains City Council pointing out the serious erosion this track is causing, and to write to the Water Board informing them of the erosion this track is causing and the siltation of the Cox River and ultimately Warragamba Dam.
ST. HELENA. It was decided to write to the Under Secretary far Lands requesting information regarding Federation's lease of St. Helena and the Blue Mountain City Council's power to levy and waive rates. (Lease approx. E2 per annum and rates approx. 4 per annum.)
PRESIDENT. Mr. P. Driver tendered his resignation as President as he is to leave shortly for abroad. A vote of appreciation of the work done by Mr. Driver as President was carried unanimously.
WERONG BEACH Letters have been written to the Premier's Department and the Minister for Land requesting resumption of Portions 9, 10 and 16 (Maynards) and that they be added to the Garrawarra National Park. A letter was written to the Secretary of the National Parks Association advising action taken and enclosing copies of these letters.
FEDERATION RE-UNION. A very successful Re-Union was held at Burning Palms with a total attendance of 212.
FEDERATION BALL. Paddington Town Hall has been booked for Friday 25th September.
POWER LINES. Following reports of tree felling in the Grand Canyon, Blackheath, in the path of a power line, it was decided to write to the Electricity Commission requesting information on their policy of clearing the path of their power lines, irrespective of the height of these lines from ground level.
LITTER IN BUSH. A report has reached Federation regarding the track from the Clyde River to Drury's and pointing out that obvious lunch spots have been left in an untidy and unsatisfactory condition.
New Postal Address of Federation - Box 2090, G.P.O., Sydney.
Letter from Bookie to the Ex-Editor (Full flavour retained.)
It was good to read S.B.W. news again. You don't realise what a terrific country for walking and camping Aussie is till you leave. I picked up copies from Lyn in her London baggage. Reading your mag. makes me want for that glorious Aust. sunshine. We have had an odd day or two of sunshine but there is very little blue sky indeed.
I know editors are always after gossip and news. NEWS FROM OVERSEAS.
From Eric Pegram. I was dubious of my position. Across the road was a London Bobby. He's the bay to see I thought. As I drew near him and before I could open my mouth he spoke “Hello-hello another lost Australian”.
From Lynette Baber and myself. During our travels in Burma we visited a fair. One particular sideshow attracted our attention. In big bold letters and illustrated “See the Lion from the Australian Jungle”.
Eric Pegram. Hostelling through Europe on way to London came upon this sign in an Italian Hostel: If you are French “Keep away from women's dormitories”, If you're German “Don't talk so loud”, If you are Australian “Get up at a reasonable hour.”
Lyn and myself. There is no hiding place. Even in Afghanistan, where women wear purdees and the men are tough and the land is full of jagged mountains. We met 2 Aussie and 2 German boys in Vok. “From Sydney” 'I ventured. “No, from Katoomba” he replied. I looked at him hard. He reminded me of someone in the club. “Do you know Dave Brown and Frank” I asked hesitatingly. “Yes” he replied “they are a couple of characters”.
Here, Mr. Editor, I'll close the conversation to you for reasons obvious, and let you draw your awn conclusion.
SOUND MOVIE FILMS IN COLOUR
THE OUTDOOR CLUB OF N.S.W. PRESENTS A PROGRAMME OF SOUND MOVIE FILMS IN COLOUR. PRODUCED AND FILMED BY GORDON BALLARD. FRIDAY, 29TH MAY AT 8 P.M. THE ASSEMBLY HALL MARGARET STREET SYDNEY. Opposite Wynyard Park,
“WILLIAMS RIVER”: Barrington Tops area. Shooting rapids, etc. Official River Canoe Club trip.
“KOSCIUSKO IN SUMMER”: Bushwalking amidst the lakes and flowers. SKI WEEKEND AT KOSCIUSKO”
MAITLAND BAY: Bouddi Natural Park, near Gosford, Camping, bikinis, and ballet on the beach.
“THE BLUE MOUNTAINS OF N.S.W”: Blue Gum Forest, Kanangra The Three Sisters, etc.
“WILD CROCODILE HUNTING” - Queensland
“THE SHOALHAVEN COUNTRY”: Lake Louise, Bungonia Gorge, Blockup, etc. A complete film an the Shoalhaven River near Goulburn.
“CANOEING THE MID-SNOWY RIVER”: Smashing, crashing and shooting you through miles of the best of all rapids.
BRING YOUR FRIENDS- ORGANISE A PARTY
4/- Downstairs 6/ Upstairs
FOR SUCH A SMALL FEE, DO ROLL UP AND SEE THESE MOVIES OF ACTION! THEY HAVE MUCH ATTRACTION.
SEAT BOOKINGS - PADDY PALLIN PTY. LTD., 201 Castlereagh St., Sydney. BM.2685 PALINGS, Ash Street, Sydney. BL3551.
OUTDOOR FILMS OF AUSTRALIA, Gordon Ballard, Flat No.4, 4 George Street, Manly.
As previously reported by the “Herald's” Film Critic: “The films, which are presented on a large screen with well-recorded music and commentaries, deal with outdoor activities peculiar to this country, such as the bushwalking movement. The show is full of typical Australian humour, good spirits and fun, to say nothing of daring and adventure amongst some of the wildest scenic beauties in the State. Some remarkable canoeing films were taken on the Snowy, the Williams and down the Shoalhaven. The River Canoe Club, as these films show, has an amazing capacity for getting into impossible places. Canoeing is not like this anywhere else in the world. Some of these films have commentaries by one of the girls in the River Canoe Club Shirley Brettle, whose exuberant voice and enchanting wit would bring talent scouts panting after her in some other places. (John Ekins, a keen canoeist, will give very interesting commentaries on the other films.)
Nerriga Area - Yadboro Escarpment - The Castle - Drury's. Easter 1959
- Frank Leyden
A flock of black cockatoos circled above the tree tops uttering their screaming “wheelo” cries. But their portent of bad weather seemed so inappropriate that morning along the green banks of Jerricknorra Creek. The sun shone from a clear sky, and the air was crisp and clear with the highland freshness. Anyway how can birds in the sky compete for attention with bull ants on the ground, especially at lunch time? But not even bull ants, nor the next party's cooking smoke in the eyes, could dispel the optimism of ALEX COLLEY'S party of sixteen happy walkers. None suspected that the buoyancy of the spirits on that bright morning would yield, within a few short days, to the buoyancy of the bodies!
The line of approach from the Mongarlowe road is normally a compass bearing on “The Peak', approximately ENE of Jerricknorra crossing. Alex took a ridge more to the north, to avoid some of the “ups and downs” and dense scrub. After a couple of miles a rocky top was reached, the watershed of the Corang River and there, straight ahead to the ENE, was The Peak. The direct approach, although descending and beckoning, some of us had cause to know was pretty exercising. To get around it, by following the ridge to the escarpment, meant climbing and going westward, then circling south. The party sat down and muttered. But when the leader reappeared from his reconnaissance they were docile and obedient. About a mile or so and the ridge came around to the east, and lo! a bridle track. Next time I think we will follow the open country on the right bank of the Jerricknorra to the natural clearings just west of “The Twine' where this track would originate. The Currockbilly Puttmobilians of last October will remember the area.
Our ridge now started to narrow and the trees gave place to open high country with low scrub. A great gorge to the north, the Peak to the east and 2,000' of cliff and steeps to the south, with Currockbilly beyond bathed in sunset splendour, was the setting for our camp. ALAN ABBOTT somehow couldn't get aluminium tent pegs to go into rock. In fact, getting in the 82 tent pegs of the party occasioned more than passing comment.
As we prepared our evening meal a burst of song. arose from, I suspect, MOLLY RODGERS and PAM BAKER, down in the INGRAM allotment where three tents were lashed together to form a sort of commune. Alas: the song died. Something was cooked.
Currockbilly drew up layers of mist of varying Shades and patterns to base the orange and red cumulus in the glory of the sunset. But the pattern was changing fast, and the saddle just below us misted aver. Fortunately it soon cleared. The clouds vanished and left a clear starry sky. Then came the next performance. A magnificent display of the Aurora Australis, Nature's neon signs, filled the sky to the far south. Wide streaks and bands of light of faint pastel shades arose, changed and then vanished, On the previous night, while walking out on the road from Bomaderry to the campsite, we saw the Aurora as a diffuse red glow.
We survived the night and LAURIE RAYNER'S cultural discussions. The campsite was elevated as well as the talk, and a puff of wind on that treeless slope would have annihilated us. However it didn't puff. Those whom the gods love get saved up for something better.
Next morning was misty and as we climbed higher the ground got wetter. The summit of The Peak was disappointing, as only fleeting glimpses were seen of Pigeon House, the ocean and the rugged gorges around us. The Peak is practically a perfect cone and is quite treeless. It rises some hundreds of feet above its ridge, and is prominent for many miles in most directions.
To get off the plateau-like area around The Peak means a drop over a cliff. The gentlest drop is to follow a ridge right out to its end, going about NE. MAX GENTLE disappeared with a sizable swathe of the party to find a way much more intrepid. Down below, the route took us over swamps, keeping the same general direction towards “Battleship Rock” of 'Dingbat Parade and Ardill pyjama' fame. We sat on some rocks and enjoyed ourselves watching FRANK BARLOW cross, a man of blue water now in a bit of black water that looks like hot water. The technique is to leap from grass tuft to tuft, hoping not to miss and fall in a knee-deep hole of mud.
A ridge to the south took us back on to the escarpment above the trees and in the mist, skirting to the north of a smaller grassy peak and on to a small creek for lunch. The whole area was oozing with water as if it had been raining far months. In the afternoon we pushed Up the North-end cleft onto Mt. Renwick [Mt. Cole]. YVONNE RENWICK, busy with her camera, recorded the mist and burnt-out beauty of the family mountain.
Crossing the top to the southward we came to the crevasse that traverses the plateau. Access to this is straight down a crack for about 20 feet with a good stance in the centre. “I'm not going down there” said a voice. “It's nothing, even I can do it. Look!”. “Give us your pack. We'll take it down and if you don't want to come we'll bring it up again.” “Don't look dawn, just put your foot over there, the other one on my shoulder and your back in here. Now lift this and put it on BRIAN HARVEY and the other one on JOHN SCOTT and you're half down”.
A mighty struggle and we were down, packs and all. Then the WHITE ANTS collapsed on the ground and the elite climbed up the other side to see the view from the end of Mt. Renwick [Mt. Cole] in the mist. This did not take long. In clear weather this view, however, is really fine and takes its place among those many outstanding panoramas exclusive to walkers.
The next move was to get off Mt. Renwick [Mt. Cole] by going eastwards down the crevasse. We struggled through dense and tangling undergrowth, with rotting logs, loose and slimy rocks in the narrow dark: wet chasm, getting rougher and steeper as we descended. Near the bottom we were stopped by a 15' sheer drop flanked by a deep cavernous pool in a very narrow cleft; BILL RODGERS battled down and back up with a great effort and relying on matted roots, but the sight of his quivering muscles deterred the party. We managed to get up the cliff on the right with another mighty struggle, and went back to our starting point at the top. Some went down in the crevasse and beat out a camp site and the rest camped on top on the odd patches of swamp between the enormous rock slabs.
Towards the end of the evening meal the mist turned to light rain. Everyone was tired. Tents were braced. Fires and voices became lower. From the crevasse depths about 40' below came a continental accent, a Molar of sparks, a faint glow, then blackness and silence. The rain steadily increased, drumming on the taut tent sheets.
I got out and looked at the back of the tent, behind the bushes which had been selected as a wind-break. A large area of flat rock sloped down, draining towards the tent. Above that, the run off from the next rock shelf was descending, and so on to the top. The gully towards my tent drained about an area of an acre. So in the event of six inches of rain, 136,000 gallons would pass through the tent. It did! There was no escape. The plugs were all pulled out above and down it came At the start I knew there was nowhere to move to, so I put clothes in the pack and into the bag in swimming trunks. I managed to get the first part of the usual nightmare over before being suddenly awakened. BILL COSGROVE WAS WET. In fact he was partially submerged. Then there was a great performance. Fortunately I was not able to be impugned. Salvation was in the lilos, which were blown up another couple of notches. A wail came from JEAN HARVEY in the darkness. The tide was rising! Then came the sounds of Max Gentle's tent giving way, and his going in with David Ingram. I lay half-awake, submerged to the knees. The lilo and the waterproof pack were invaluable.
In the morning we had a cold breakfast and drank the water from the ground in the tent as needed. Sodden gear was packed, and we lost no time in battling up the crack on the other side, and back to the cleft of our original entry on to Mt. Renwick [Mt. Cole].
There were some murmurings and threats of mutiny, in view of fear of the Clyde River being impassable. But Alex soon quelled this with soft wards, and with docile obedience they plunged into the vegetation-choked chasm and followed him their packs oozing wet tents and wet sleeping bags.
A few hundred yards eastward and we pulled out on to a shelf on the right, leading to another great cleft between the cliffs of Mt. Renwick [Mt. Cole] and three great spires as massive as Belougery. After some complicated manoeuvring we came to a saddle in a high valley, surrounded by great cliffs, spires and chasms, with even a “bread knife” rock thrown in. Here would be the place for a base camp for a few days. It is really impressive. Across on our right, descending from Mt. Renwick [Mt. Cole], was the lover cliff of the crevasse, COLLEY'S FOLLY, where we had stood above clutching the matted roots, frustrated and disconsolate, on the previous evening.
Dropping eastward down a creek below the north wall, we descended the roughest and scruffiest of the gorges so far. An hour or more of descent to the steep waterfall and below this came sidling below the cliffs to the “north-col” of The Castle. In rain, mist, and cold and with time running out, we struggled down the great rugged slope down from the saddle.
Yadboro Creek and all side creeks were in high flood. But it was great to get among the trees again and get some big log fires going to dry out the Sleeping bags. During the evening cooking, that doleful burst of song about Poor Old Ned rose in brief polyphonic crescendo and died suddenly like a chorus of cicadas between showers.
Next morning we walked half a mile up the Clyde River to where it was wide and deep and the current less strong and “floated” over in whatever could be got wet. Some even tried floating the packs upside down but IRENE PRIDHAM floated the right way up, as also the “piece de resistance”, David Ingram towed on the lilo. We even had to “float over” the Boyne creek after a lunch frustrated by time and rain.
The last run into Drury's was a gallop, but of no avail. Fortunately Harrison's bus waited. The last train was missed. We were joined in the bug by a Bush Club party, also delayed by the floods. Alex, by stout efforts to the last - getting us out of what he got us into - organised a special bus that night for all of us from Nowra to Sydney. Cheers to the leader.
“Where's Max? Where's Max?” “I'm going home. I don't like going up and down CRACKS all day in the rain. See you next Easter, if it's fine!”
[The Magazine is now in the financial position to use maps and illustrations with published articles. See the Editor or Business Manager if you are interested to enhance your stories.]
Theme and Variations.
I casually asked her “How did the Colley trip go” and twenty minutes later I was still listening to the dramatic tale of a wet Easter. “Gee”, I said ,”that ought to be written up for the Mag., how about it?” She said she'd organise a “couple of pages” of anecdotal stuff. I asked for it. I GOT IT. Here it is - unashamed and unabridged. - Editor.
Wet Night on the Bare Mountain by Some Who Survived It.
Mount Renwick [Cole] is a lozenge shaped table-top about a mile long and 3,000 feet high. Its narrow axis is bisected by a fissure running from East to West. The fissure is about 40 feet deep near the centre and runs down through the cliff edges. The top of the mountain is mostly rock, partly covered with a thin layer of soil which supports a knee-high growth of shrubs. The sides of the fissure are rounded at the top and nearly vertical at the bottom. The shallow part is 10 to 20 yards wide and its floor supports a thick growth of small saplings. As it deepens the bottom becomes a slit only a few feet across, slimy, slippery and full of debris and vegetation. About 4 p m. on Easter Saturday, as mist settled over the mountain, we set off down the fissure towards the Castle, believing that a previous party of S.B.W.'s had found it negotiable. After about half an hour of scrub-pushing, scrambling and crawling, we came to a sheer drop of some 20 feet, negotiable for a small agile party, but a slow and risky proposition for an average party of 16. If we did get down we still mightn't get through. By that time it would be dark, camping down there was impossible and we wouldn't get back till morning. So we retreated; luckily finding a route straight up to the top of the mountain. We aimed to go back to the shallowest part of the fissure, where, with some clearing, there was enough space to camp. On the top we met Paul Driver, whose party had made camp there. This decided most of the party to stay on top, while some made down to the cleared patches where five of us had camped two years before.
The rain came just as we started tea. Having spent many a wet season weekend at Jamberoo not far from Peter Page's rain gauge, I think I can estimate precipitation fairly well. For long stretches the rate of fall must have been at least an inch an hour, and the night's total a good six inches.
Very soon the thin layer of soil on the top was saturated and water ran over it an almost continuous sheet. As the slope increased towards the fissure rivulets were formed which cascaded over the rock into the trough. Before long the soil in the fissure too, although much deeper, was saturated, and water flowed over its surface.
As the deluge intensified I recalled Frank Barlow's recent experience at Lamington during a similar downpour. The only place he could camp was on the track, with groundsheet stretched over the rivulet which ran down it. During the night four large crayfish left the stream to share his aquatic couch. The morning after our wetting I asked Frank whether the lobsters had annoyed him, but he was too busy wringing the water out of his sleeping bag to heed my funny joke. So much for the scene. Let the players write their own parts.
I found Alex preparing camp amongst the tall grass in the fissure. The 'Tent-bearer' and 3rd food-party member, Alan Abbott, followed us, and the tent was erected in time to shelter us from the rain while we ate a large and welcome hot meal. In our bags we were warm and cosy, and I remember feeling a little sorry for the people who had remained above. The tree-tops showed the force of the wind, and we were quite sheltered from this. Then the rain started falling more heavily still, until the sound became almost deafening. Violent scuffles from one end of the tent roused me. I thought - “What on earth is the matter with Alex”, but soon realised when I found the groundsheet swollen to ear-level. “Colley Constructions” were furiously digging a canal round the tent, through which a 3” layer of water moved at about 8 knots. Alan continued the canal around the other end of the tent, and I sat watching to see that nothing was swept away by the tide. When the water was at last diverted we sat, not knowing quite what to do next, and listened to the yells from the next tent. It housed Messrs. Scott and Rayner. Their main mast had fallen, enveloping them in wet japara. They really seemed to be getting even more water than we were, and sounded very disgruntled. Alex crawled outside when the rain eased a little, and returned about 10 minutes later to report that he had cleared a space on the crest of the rise, and if we moved camp we should at least have no further trouble with water rushing through the tent. We stuffed our gear into our packs, which were swirling round in deep pools, uprooted the tent, and fought our way back through the wet scrub to the cleared space. Alex and Alan re-erected the tent, and did a wonderful job. It was a most awkward business to say the least, as the cords had all become hopelessly tangled, and had to be cut and retied. The rain was still not too heavy, we thought, but the trees dripped endlessly and the water ran off us in rivulets. Looking from a little distance through the saplings, I was amused at the sight. Two grotesque figures (my apologies, sirs) crawling round in the mud, making strange noises and passing an evil-looking knife from one to the other. Five feet from our front door one of the dozens of waterfalls roared down the rock-face, but as our leader had forecast, it ran down-hill and let us be. The rain started again in earnest. Alan returned to our first tent-site to recover a square of plastic which had been overlooked during our packing. He told us that the crew of the next tent had built themselves an island each and they were stretched straight out on these, while the briny lapped round the edges. We mopped up the groundsheets and crawled back into sleeping bags. These were damp in patches, but they kept us warm for the rest of the night. About 4 hours, I think, had passed since we had first crawled into our sleeping bags. During the trip, I had tried to impress on people the many good points of this mountain. It would be diplomatic to say no more, despite its fine name and numerous virtues it had called down the clouds in a most unfriendly manner.
We had pitched our tent about 30'-40' below the top of Mt. Renwick [Mt. Cole], on about a 3” depth of soil and grass. Brian and I were awakened from our slumbers by the urgent “Jean, Jean, I'm sleeping in a puddle” of Irene. Grabbing our torches we were horrified to see that the water was flowing under and over the groundsheets and we, too, had our own private puddles. All were averse to braving the elements to dig trenches so, still in our bags, we turned on to our tummies and, advancing bare hands through the edge of the tent, dug, finger to finger, a series of ingenious channels which eventually turned the steady stream of water away from our beads. Having completed this diversion we surveyed our sodden bags and, to our amazement, Brian suggested we get out of them and spend the night sitting up. As it was not yet midnight Irene and I protested volubly against such folly, preferring pneumonia recumbent, enclosed in bag, to pneumonia sitting up, without bag. After much seeking we found some not so wet portions of our bags, twisted these round to our backs, and lay back hopefully wooing sleep. Whether it was the constant bellowing of the tent in the wind, the rhythmic drip drip from various parts of the tent, and the gentle spraying of the rain (through the japara) on our faces we'll never know, but we did sleep, fitfully. With the dawn came a very wet Alex, adjuring us to pack up as quickly as possible and get going. After hastily eating some cold rice and apple we wrang ourselves, and our gear, out, hoisted up rucksacks, and squelched off, after our leader, into the mist.
Having failed in our efforts to get down through the central crevice of Mount Renwick [Cole], on our way to The Castle, and as we were fast running out of light, and as it was going to rain, we returned to the centre of the mountain top. Stumbling along the steeply Sloping southern side of the crevice we came upon an extra bare -patch with about two or three inches of soil or moss every here and there in small patches on otherwise steeply sloping rocks.
The silence was shattered by the voice of doom. Alex Colley said “Right, this is where we camp”. Once again we find ourselves in a typically Colley spartan site.
In horror, I looked round. It couldn't be true! But it was. Frantic efforts were being made by various bodies to find spots where tent pegs could be used. Others got fires going. Light rain began to fall. The only spot I could find with any soil or moss was about 5' x 3' where I was able to get two pegs into about 1 1/2“ of moss. The others were inserted at about 5° angles to the surface. On looking up the slope it was perfectly obvious that our tents were pitched in the centre of what would be the broad slope of a swift flowing watercourse. Hell: but where else to go?
Alex and a select band had decided to go down into the crevice and camp. They said it would be out of the wind. Wind: Who was worrying about wind? There was plenty of that but it was the least of our worries.
Frantic efforts to get tents erected and anchored before dark. “Figures crouched over smoking fires. Food in various stages. of preparation. Rocks being collected to hold down tents. Brian Harvey's voice “Frank, can we make our coffee on your fire. Ours has gone out”. From further down the slope Frank Leyden was heard “Shake it up Bill or the rain (dropping gently dawn from heaven) will put out the fire before that grill is done” and “Look out, don't put your foot in that soup” by John Scott.
Suddenly the sky sprang a leak: The deluge hit us. We scrambled into tents with billies and fry-pans of cooked and partly cooked food. In between eating we reinforced pegs, moved the positions of rocks holding down our tents, dug trenches, put on extra guys and got bloody wet.
THEN IT HAPPENED. Lying on my groundsheet smoking an after dinner fag and fascinated by the frantic flapping of my tent and the sound of the rain thrashing against the thin cover overhead, I suddenly heard it. What I heard was exactly like the thunderous sound one hears when standing at the foot of Niagara Falls. As a wall of water six inches deep rushes through my tent I see my pack disappear through the flaps of the tent and slide away down the slope. Leaping out into the deluge I rescued it 100 feet down the slope. To get back to my tent I had to swim and leap up the rapids like a trout. Into the flapping tent I flung myself and pack only to discover that the groundsheet had disappeared. Ultimately I found it together with my sleeping bag caught against a large rock I had passed in my wild uphill swim.
In the meantime, I learned afterwards, Brian Harvey had carried out a magnificent feat of engineering and excavation. Working from inside his tent, he had constructed a trench round three sides of the tent going down to rock bottom throughout. In the morning it was found that the deepest section of this excavation was 1 1/4 inches. To have kept out the river that engulfed us it was estimated that the trench would have had to be 16 feet wide and 10 feet deep with a fall along the sides of the tent of one in one.
At long last I found out why Leyden and Cosgrove carry “Lie-lows”. As the water engulfed their tent they inflated the said “lie-lows”, anchored them by long cords to distant rocks and as the tide rose they floated gently upwards on their inflated rafts. The only trouble was that when they turned over in their sleep they found themselves deposited into two feet of raging torrent. But, apparently they can both swim because, in the morning, they were both seen fast asleep, floating at the end of their anchor lines.
I couldn't understand why I was so cold during the night. Every time I moved it seemed as though a block of ice was against my back. After a most hideous and sleepless night I dozed off and dreamt I was pouring myself out of my water-bag (fantastic thing to dream). Waking from the nightmare I realised that the reason for feeling cold was that my sleeping bag was full, and I mean full, of water. Anyhow, after pouring myself out, I found that Brian had got a fire going and that the rain had stopped. On examination, the only dry article of gear was my camera which was inside three plastic bags.
The only bright spot in an otherwise miserable episode was that Alex Colley's two tents down in the crevice were engulfed by the invading sea during the night. At one time they had considered the possibility of climbing into the highest branches of the tallest trees and erecting a platform up there on which to pitch the tents. However, as one of the party suffers from a fear of heights this proposition was not proceeded with and the tents were moved into shallower water further up the banks of the river where they were finally pitched in approximately six inches of water.
I've camped on rocks before this. I've camped on mud. I've camped on snow and ice. I've camped on logs. But I've never camped IN a waterfall before.
Breakfast: Hot food! Cheerful banter! Smiling faces!? Wet, heavy packs, and on the track again and off for The Castle. Silly, isn't it?
Over lunch we discuss how we should negotiate this section of the route next time. Silly, isn't it? or is it?
You do have to be a BIT mad, you know.
“The night was dark and stormy The billy goat was blind” etc. etc. Well, we didn't scratch our 'neverminds' like billy, but we were not cautious in camping just off the top of Mt. Renwick [Mt. Cole] in threatening weather. The top was definitely uninviting, so we pitched tents in the coarse grass and sally gums just over the edge.
With a bit of organisation our meal was quickly prepared and was ready just as the first shower of rain came. Into the tents to eat it. A gusty wind caused some anxiety as to whether the tents would remain upright and the rain came in squalls. This was a good opportunity for an early night as we'd had a busy day and tomorrow's programme promised more “busyness”. Soon after 10 p m. I could feel cold water trickling under the groundsheet. Knowing that a dry sleeping bag would be doubly desirable on the following night I replaced it in its waterproof cover and slept in my inner bag. Needless to say the night was mild.
There was considerable consternation in the Leyden-Cosgrove tent a couple of times, but the night continued wet and windy until about 2 a m. when a bright light shining into the tent and Max Gentle's voice woke me from a doze saying 'Who's in here? I'm washed out”. So he came in and settled down. Water may have been running under the grass but the tent wasn't letting any rain through.
To while away the hours until dawn we discussed this and that - women in our lives, the possible difficulty in ascending the rock face of the fissure later in the morning and whether we should go on to the Clyde River or return along the ridges to Nerriga. These topics didn't last quite until dawn, but when daylight came nobody seemed anxious to move out into the wet grey world of Easter Day. The Ministering angels of our food party prepared a tasty breakfast from bits and pieces which didn't need cooking. Then Alex appeared with details of the morning's plan far resuming the trip, so it was pack up, stow dry clothing and get going.
I think perhaps that we did not suffer as much as some that night. In fact now that I look back on it from the comfort of my home some five weeks later I can't help feeling that I may have been exaggerating a little about our discomfort. Of course we got wet, or at least Pam and I did. Pam had found herself the cutest little hip hole earlier in the evening but as it soon turned itself into a hip bath it had to be vacated, although by then it was too late. Also the wind changed through the night and blew in on her. As for myself I only got my dry bed sox wet and my shoulders where the water seeped through the groundsheet, but Bill was dry: When the rain first began Bill, with true protective instincts, offered to sleep at the end of the tent from whence the weather came. Standing in the pouring rain, with the wind lashing his groundsheet about him, he gamely tied a spare groundsheet across the end of the abdulled tent and then, although quite exhausted from this great effort, summoned the strength to put our three packs along the inside to help hold down the groundsheet. As I said, Bill was dry!
Although the night seemed long we did sleep a little and in our waking moments were entertained by snippets of conversation coming from David's tent, next to ours. Max had moved in during the night and whiled away the hours recounting a few of the more romantic moments of his life to a weary David. But it was very frustrating the way the mind roared right at the most enthralling point. Apart from that it was interesting to lie back listening to the sounds of the night and try to decide whether those shrieks and moans came from the wind in the casuarinas outside the tent or were in reality the sounds of souls in despair.
And so the night at last became day and after a hearty breakfast of one half apple, one half orange, one chocolate-coated biscuit each and the promise of a lolly later, we began one of the longest walking days I can remember.