Table of Contents
THE SYDNEY BUSHWALKER
A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, The N.S.W. Nurses' Association Rooms “Northcote Building”, Reiby Place, Sydney. Box No.4476 G.P.O. Sydney. Phone JW1462.
302 FEBRUARY 1960 Price 1/-
|Editor||Don Matthews, 33 Pomona Street, Pennant Hills. WJ3514|
|Sales & Subs.||Audrey Kenway|
|Business Manager||Brian Harvey|
|Social Jottings - Ed. Garrad||2|
|At Our January Meeting - Alex. Colley||3|
|Dunk's Birthday Party - Kath McKay||4|
|Davern's Cavern - Paddy Pallin||5|
|Sanitarium Health Food Advertisement||7|
|Hatswell's Taxi & Tourist Service (Advertisement)||9|
|The Goodradigbee - Jess Martin||8|
|Car Camping Around the Country - Ray Kirkby||14|
|More News from N.Z. - Dot Butler||15|
A previous Editor once stuck his rack out and declared that suffering was a good thing, particularly for prospectives. Perhaps we shouldn't say “ suffering” , but “qualified suffering”, because he was quite reasonable about it, and limited himself to physical suffering.
Some authorities consider that man was made to be exposed to extremes of heat and cold, feast and fast, and so on, and that the more the human body is worked, the healthier it becomes. “Ceaseless work renders all integrating apparatuses stronger, more alert, and better fitted to carry out their many duties”.
Bushwalking is therefore Just The Thing, especially if you're occasionally caught in an Alpine storm, swept away by a flooded river or trapped in some choice Tasmanian horizontal scrub, or scoparia, or whatever it is that 's worst down there.
But having conquered these things, what then? Does life seem dull? Do you need some other challenge?
Then join the Committee, and start to live again. Don't let others have all the fun. Imagine NO entry fee, no forms to fill in. Just ask one of your fellow members to nominate you and the Annual General Meeting will do the rest. Come and enjoy your share of unqualified suffering in one of the numerous jobs offering.
FEBRUARY 17TH Colour film of Crossing the Antarctic supplied by the British Petroleum Australia Ltd, together with one or two “shorts”.
FEBRUARY 24TH Bob Savage will be showing us his colour slides of India and Kashmir and we suggest that you do not fail to come along on this night. We know that these slides are “fabulous”.
Although the new walks and social program is just out, we will be thinking of the next program and any suggestions will be welcomed by the writer. I take this opportunity of thanking all those members Who have assisted me with the social program in the past year, and would like to assure anyone who may be considering taking on the social secretaryship this year that such help can be relied upon.
The Annual Reunion
DATE: 12-13TH MARCH
LOCATION: WOOD'S CREEK (ON GROSE RIVER) TRAIN: 1.09 P.M. FROM CENTRAL ON SATURDAY - ARRIVES RICHMOND 2.51 P.M. PRIVATE TRANSPORT WILL BE USED TO TAKE TRAIN TRAVELLERS TO WOOD'S CREEK. IF YOU CAN'T MANAGE TO ORGANISE A LIFT FOR YOURSELF OR IF YOU CAN PROVIDE TRANSPORT FOR ONE OR TWO PLEASE CONTACT THE TRANSPORT ORGANISER EDNA STRETTON PHONE LJ9586.
(Note: If rivers are flooded, the Reunion will be held at Long Angle Gully.)
At Our January Meeting
Business was disposed of with almost indecent despatch at our first meeting of the new year. The President informed us that Mr. Drury, of Mimosa Park, Milton, had been invited to become an Honorary member. A copy of Paddy Pallin's new book on Bushwalking and Camping was received. The Social Secretary informed us that a profit of L7.16.2 had been made on the Christmas Party. We were reminded that the annual meeting would start at 7.30 p m. Wood's Creek was selected as the reunion site, and the appointment of a Reunion Committee deferred until the February meeting. Room stewards for the month were Frank Young, Isabeal Cilkie, John White, Irene Pridham and Jack Wren. The President extended a welcome to Keith Renwick back from abroad. Brian Harvey was nominated as a Trustee of Garawarra Park (in place of Theo Atkinson, who is retiring).
Ron Knightley submitted three observations on the Christmas party. Firstly, it had closed down too soon; secondly, the dances were too long and, thirdly, the catering was not enjoyed by all. But it had been one of the best parties for many years, so he moved that we (1) Book the same hall for next December (2) Engage the same dance band (3) Continue till 1 a m. (4) Authorise the Treasurer to make payments to effect the above. This was carried without discussion. Ron then moved that we make similar arrangements for another dance on Friday 24th June, and this motion too was immediately carried.
Before the close of the meeting (at 8.40 p m.) Brian Harvey reminded members of the swimming carnival to be held on 13th and 14th February and of the valuable trophies, such as the Mandelberg Cup, to be won.
DON'T MISS IT!!!
The Annual Swimming Carnival, on February 13-14th, at Lake Eckersley. Good Camping. Campfire on Saturday night. Easy two and a half mile walk from Heathcote Station. Trains: 12.50 P.M. Saturday or 8.50 a m. Sunday.
Events will start as soon as the Sunday morning party arrives. For further details contact the Leader: Brian Harvey - JA11462. BU1611.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (Closed to Prospectives) Please note the starting time 7.30 P.M.
Dunk Birthday Party
It started in a small way, but acceptances poured in, and the party rapidly grew so big that it was transferred to the Pallins' at Lindfield. When 88 adults and 43 children had signified their intention of being Present, the venue was hastily changed to the Woods' hospitable acres at Normanhurst.
And what a gathering it was. It took place on December 12th, and many of the younger walkers, who did not know the glory that was Dunk, were content with the Christmas revels at the S.B.W. party on December 10th, and did not come.
It was not really Dunk's birthday: that was on December 19th: but this meeting of her friends and their offspring was a wonderful reunion, especially for those those bones were beginning to creak a little. As the sun went down behind the Woods' gum tree gullies, cars began to roll up and disgorge families of bushwalkers. Cries of delighted recognition were heard on all sides, the birthday lady was congratulated, children frolicked, the Knightley baby solemnly partook of his bottle, young Woods were introduced, (“What, another Wood?” ejaculated one bewildered bushwalker. You can't see the trees for the Woods.“), hardier souls produced meat to barbecue, and the majority, to whom talk was the main object of the meeting, subsided on the grass and munched ready-cooked comestibles. Well-sprung car-seats were provided for the old ladies (I was one). Laurie Wood, Roxy Barrett and their milling helpers circulated with inexhaustible supplies of tea.
As darkness fell, we wended our way to the traditional camp-fire, soon burning merrily and evoking memories of Bill Henley. There were the old songs, Paddy worked like a Trojan leading us, and so did Scotty Malcolm. Rene sang “No, no a thousand times no!”, “Polly Perkins'? and other favourites. Tarro, the evergreen, played his flute, and instead of Gil Webb conducting us (he was busy accompanying us on his recorder) there was his small daughter, standing up elf-like in the firelight, copying Paddy as he sang verse after verse of “With My Hand on Myself”. His memory is prodigious.
Ray Bean was there, with sons tall like himself; Frosty and husband and little girl after years in England; Mal and Miriam Roots and their thriving teenage daughters; the Savages, Bob and Harry and Joan - but not Gail: Rock and Roll was an irresistible counter-attraction. Betty Dickinson and family looked in; the Rolfes were there with son Christopher up to the stars; the Nobles and their three youngsters; the Moppetts and their girls; the McGregors and son Bobby; the Crokers and their two daughters - but the catalogue is invidious. In the dim light of the camp-fire Amy Barrett brought round a paper for us to sign, but many had left early and their names were not included.
After the concert came steaming hot coffee and The Birthday Cake was cut. It was made by Roxy and had blue icing and one candle, ceremonially blown out by Dunk. Familiar faces and friends all around; firelight, old songs, a round moon, the unforgettable smell of the Australian bush: a marvellous night. Almost one was young again - but ooh, ah, those old joints when we raised ourselves up off the ground. Ruefully we realised that our walking days were over; but never mind, the children, the children were there, and would still roam the bush when we were but a whiff of gum-leaf smoke.
Davern's Cavern or Side Trip from Frenchman
Ken (One of the Old Buffers) was impressed (as he was intended to be) by my stories of Pedder to Fedder, and so, when I mentioned a projected trip to Frenchman's Cap he modestly offered himself as a member of the party. So it was that Vic and Jock of Hobart Walking Club were joined by Ken and Paddy far a trip to the Frenchman's.
We arrived at Vic's place and were each presented with a huge pile of food which we were told was our share of a week's food. It looked an awful lot to me, and sure enough we found we had nearly 30 lbs. I like my tucker but don't like it that much (30 lbs. for a week), so Vic, Ken and I did a little revising of the food list and cut the weight down to reasonable proportions. We didn't like to upset Jock as he had drawn up the list, so we didn't tell him. I must admit he was frequently puzzled during the next week because the food didn't work out as planned. However, we didn't starve by any means.
At the Hobart Walking Club meeting that night someone said “Jock says you are going to Davern's Cavern”. Nell, I didn't know that, but I let it pass but something in the tone of voice made me think Davern's Cavern must be an intrepid sort of place to get to. It was almost as though they'd said “Jock says you're going to climb K2”.
Next day the four of us caught the bus and were duly deposited at the side of the road where a signpost says “To Frenchman's Cap”. Festooned around the post are worn out boots, old gaiters and various bits of discarded clothing, which give just a hint that it is not just a couple of hours stroll. We had an uneventful afternoon's walk along the track and couldn't help thinking how these Taswegian walkers look after themselves. First. we crossed the Franklin River in a cage on a flying fox, then a marked and blazed track with bridges across the creeks. Admittedly the bridges were usually slippery logs with a sagging bit of fencing wire as a handrail - but undubitable bridges nevertheless. We saw enticing glimpses of the mighty Frenchman flanked by the Barron-Pass and finally reached the Loddon for camp. Next day we pushed on but alas the weather steadily deteriorated. We lunched at Lake Vera and the rain started. We toiled up the steep Barron Pass - how glad I was I had jettisoned half that 30 lbs. of food. The top of the pass is as sudden and sharp as a knife blade, and as we came to the top the wind smacked us and nearly blew our heads off. We were lashed by wind and rain and sleet for the next half hour as we traversed the rocky mountainside. “Let's camp in Davern's Cavern” said Jock.
It's years since I carried full camp gear plus a week's food on my back, and I was feeling the strain. Davern's Cavern sounded good - (perhaps because it rhymed with tavern) but a little red light lit up in my mind as I remembered the tone of voice as they mentioned Davern's Cavern in the club “How far”. “About 20 minutes, perhaps half an hour” said Jock. It was too wet to look at the map but from memory I thought it couldn't be more than a couple of miles to Tahune Hut.
“Let's go on to the hut” said I. Jock looked hurt. “It's a wonderful place - a whopping big hole in a wholoping big boulder - shelter for 20 - water at the door”. “Well, that last bit's right” I thought, as I let a stream of water flow off my hat brim. “The hut for me” I said. So it was the hut. Having a childish implicit faith in maps, I imagined the route to the hut was fairly level going after leaving the Pass because the track crosses no contours, but alas, we climbed numerous ridges only to slide down the other side. We sloshed ankle deep through bogs and slid down deep gullies boiling with water from the storm, but at last we staggered into Tahune Hut and get out of the wet. We felt better when we'd fed on some of Jock's stew and soon settled down for the night.
Next morning we found inches of snow round the hut with the mountain veiled in mist. It rained steadily all day, and we whiled away the time by reading the log. It was depressing reading. It appeared to rain 95% of the time, or maybe when it's fine folks are much too busy to write up the log. We made a sort of statistical analysis of the stories and decided that on average it rained for three days and then cleared up. That cheered us up a little and we didn't even winge when it rained the next day. The following day just had to be fine and sure enough it was. Mist still hung around but we climbed to the cap. I have a bit of a weakness for saddles. On our Blue Mountain ridges there's something about a saddle. There's comfort in a saddle. It's a check on one's pathfinding. It's a point of reference, and I'm always pleased to reach one. But this one is magnificent. The cliffs of Frenchman's Cap plunge down in a huge parabola to this saddle, and its spine is clean cut and sharp. By reason of its size it is best seen in its true proportions from half a mile away on the ridge west of Lion's Head. We followed the track which climbs what seems from Lake Tahune to be sheer unbroken cliff. We scrambled to the summit and waited for a couple of hours for the mist to clear. When it did clear what a feast we had. Jock and Vic knew the area well, and identified (it seemed to us) every mountain in the island. We saw all the mountains of the Cradle Reserve. We saw Anne and The Arthur's beyond.
We had intended outing west from Frenchman over the Raglans and back to the Queenstown Road but the two days rain had foiled that plan, so we contented ourselves with picking out our route for another time.
Next day we scrambled around Lake Gwendoline and surveyed routes for our next day's trip to Clytemnaestra. Again the map made it look easy, but we found the going to Clytemnaestra quite strenuous. We went over the Col nearly down to Gwendoline crossed the ridge to our left and followed the valley around hoping to get on to the mountain that way, but hidden valleys opened up below us and finally we abandoned the low ground and climbed up and crossed another col. What a beauty it was too. The brilliant white quartzite shone like snow in the sun, and we felt like flies crawling along the cable of a suspension bridge, as we crossed it. We reached a rocky knob and there before us was another mighty saddle. Finally we reached Clytemnaestra and were rewarded by a magnificent view of the gigantic cliff face below the Cap. Beyond lay the Barron Pass and the jagged pinnacles guarding it.
We returned by climbing over Frenchman's Cap and there right on top we were amazed to find a huge pile of electrical equipment. As we descended the Frenchman we came to the edge which overlooks Tahune and there we saw our tiny hut by the shore of the sparkling lake. Beyond lay Barron Pass with Nicholas Needles on the left and then running away to the N.E. lay a grassy ridge with a huge boulder on it. “There's Davern's Cavern” said Jock. “It's inside that boulder”. It looked accessible enough and I thought maybe after all there was nothing to my dark thoughts of mystery about Davern's Cavern. We there and then decided to call in on our way home on the morrow.
When we got to Tahune Hut the mystery was solved. Two surveyors plus about 2 tons of equipment had been landed on top from a Helicopter. They had some device called a Teluerometer which was capable of measuring distances of 50 miles or so to within 1' accurate.
It was a beautiful day next morning, and we bid farewell to our surveyor friends and set off far the road and the bus. We splashed through Artichoke Valley and then leaving the packs on the track we climbed to the ridge top and made for the Cavern.
We crossed a little valley and breasted the hill at the other side. We followed along the ridge and then suddenly came to a sheer drop. Half an hour's scramble got us into the gap and then we crossed it and proceeded to the next knob on which we thought the cavern lay, but alas, beyond that was another sheer drop. More struggle, but no success. More appeals to Jock to remember just how to get to the darned place. But all in vain. It appeared that it was 20 years since he had been there - before the present track through Barron Pass had been established. They came up the ridge from the north end of Lake Vera and landed right at Davern's Cavern. Davern was a cobber of Jock's. We were pretty hungry by this time, and our packs were back at the track so we abandoned Davern's Cavern.
Nevertheless, the place has got me in and so next time you have half an hour to spare (or say half a day) on your way out to Frenchman's just call in on Davern's Cavern, and let mu know how you get to it.
Well, we had a comfortable camp at Vera and an easy walk to the road, but by way of anti-climax when we gat on the bus who should we see but one of those darned surveyor blokes we'd left at Tahune. They had a perfect day for sighting, took all the readings they wanted in a day. (This gave them information which would have taken weeks of arduous caring and tramping to obtain by old methods.) Then having done their job while we were trying to find Davern's Cavern they called on their radio for transport and over came a helicopter and picked them and their gear up and took them into Queenstown.
Things are not what they used to be.
P.S. The trip out to Frenchman's Cap cannot be very difficult because I've just had a note from Barry Higgins saying some character recently went from the Queenstown road out to Frenchman's and back in the day. Whew: Not for me.
“What about coming for an easy trip up the Goodradigbee River? Lovely green grassy banks for camping!”
An “easy' trip was just my idea of a holiday, so one November Friday night saw me at Central Railway in plenty of time to catch the 8.45 p m. train to Queanbeyan. Five minutes to departure time John White and I were anxiously watching from the train for Molly and Bill Rodgers and then saw them running from the electric trains: their train timetable had been altered the previous day and all the way in they had been feverishly counting the minutes. The Killara Stationmaster had kindly enquired for them from which platform the train was leaving, so they knew they only had a short distance to run. A few sharp words to the Campbelltown people who were occupying the Rodgers' booked seats, and the journey began.
A very pale and watery pre-dawn sky greeted us as our taxi left Queanbeyan for a pleasant run through the countryside down into Brindabella Valley. The driver had brought his trout rod and tried his luck (nil) whilst we cooked breakfast and sorted out our food for the week.
When Bill had taken some pictures of the beautiful trees at our breakfast site, we set off up the valley along the track and, after one false move where we found (busily talking) we were walking up Coolamon Creek, decided to keep to the grassy river bank. Whilst having a short mid-morning rest amidst a profusion of wildflowers, there was an unnerving crash above us and the men raced off to see if they could be of any help, but although the blitz waggon we had seen taking machinery, etc. up the road had crashed over the side of the track and somersaulted down the hill, the driver had leapt clear.
Whilst having lunch on a beautiful portion of river bank just below “Brindabella” Homestead, a landrover crossed and re-crossed the river, carrying cement and other material. The driver introduced himself as W.P. Bluett, the owner of the property. He is conservation minded and had planted many willows and trees along the river bank and made the fireplaces at the end of the motor road. When he heard our plans for following the river up to Caves Creek he was quite agitated at the thought of two ladies being taken on such a rough trip, and kept emphasising that there was quite a good made road through to Rules Point. Of course, every time thereafter we struck a difficult patch the ladies gently reminded the men about the “good road through to Rules Point”.
A monument erected over a grave to “Tony - Aged 24 - Good Hunting had intrigued us and, on questioning Mr. Bluett, he informed us “Tony had been a stockman's dog, whose owmer had invariably ill-treated him. Mr. Bluett offered - to avoid a particularly rough stretch - to put us on a track and gave us a lift in his landrover for a couple of miles. After walking a short distance, we pitched the tents just before a thunderstorm broke.
The track cut off quite a big bend in the river and then it was a matter of taking to the water and wading. The banks of the river from “Brindabella” on are fairly steep and clothed with thick scrub, principally blackthorn. The water was beautifully clear, running fairly fast in places, over a rocky bed. So we splashed and slipped and slid. John lost a heel from one boot early the first day of wading, thereafter wore Bill's sneakers: the soles of Molly's sneakers also became very slippery and it was vary tiring, particularly for me, endeavouring to remain upright.
We spent two more nights on the river, sleeping in places only bushwalkers mould consider practicable. The first was just a small patch of sand, from which we had to remove rocks and pebbles and the second, Which we reached late in the afternoon, a shallow rocky trough, where it was impossible to erect tents. This was beside a deep pool, fed by an oblique sloping funnel from a waterfall above. We saw our first fish here: they were very small, and we were told earlier that the fish had disappeared almost entirely from the river.
Next day we plodded, waded and splashed until lunch time, below another roaring waterfall, and then decided rather than climb around this obstacle, to climb out of the river. We climbed steadily and then when we came to a grassy saddle, resolved to camp. The men found water, the tents were pitched and we started to cook our evening meal. Then the mosquitoes, which had attacked us on our way up the mountain, found us again. I have never spent a more uncomfortable night. It was hot and we had to keep well inside our sleeping bags, because the mosquitoes were biting through our clothes. We broke camp fairly early the next morning, resumed the climb and then found we were on top of Mount Jackson, looking down on the lovely Coolamon Plains.
By this time our food supplies were getting low (a factor Which influenced us in leaving the river) so to Yarrangobilly Caves as quickly as possible: on the way calling at “Coolamine House” where we had an interesting hour and a cup of tea with Mr. “Bung” Harris. We lunched not far from “Coolamine” and, in very sultry conditions set off for Rules Point over the Plains, following the Electricity Commission's grid towers, and on the road put in by the Snowy Mountains Authority. About 4 p m, we thought it would be wise to camp as the weather was very threatening, blue-black nimbus clouds piling up in the North-West. The storm, preceded by very strong wind, broke before the tents could be pitched, and we were thoroughly wet and slightly battered by hail by the time we had shelter; but the rain eased and we were able to cook and eat our evening meal. It turned very cold, so we were up and away early next morning on our way to a road-maker's hut which Mr. Harris told us we could use and were we glad of its shelter from the cold wind, to prepare breakfast and dry out tents, etc.!
The rain stopped but the wind was blowing strongly across the Plains. We could see Jagungal in the distance covered with fresh snow and we heard later that 8 inches had fallen the previous night at Kiandra. We then decided to make haste for Yarrangobilly Caves; which was to be our base for the rest of the holiday. Fortunately for us, we had posted parcels of food to the Caves for no provisions were available and the mail car was not calling every day.
We saw the Chief, Guide/Ranger (who spoke sternly about unauthorised cave exploring) and established ourselves in the caving area, which we had practically to ourselves during our stay. That night and the next day a bitterly cold wind was blowing, but from then on the weather was delightful.
Our plans were to swim in the thermal pool, walk through the Harrie Wood Gorge, climb this and climb that; but both set in and our most strenuous activities were ambling the short distance to the Pool, one guided cave inspection, and the men keeping the boiler stoked to provide hot showers. We were early to bed and late to rise, a leisurely breakfast and then a doze in the sun on our sleeping bags. The Ranger was very generous with the quantity of fresh milk he sold us after each milking - John had made friends with his small son - and we were intrigued with the baby wombat they were rearing.
A delightful trip was rounded off by mail car to Tumut and the night train home to Sydney.
Congratulations to Margaret and Garth Coulter - a daughter - (Lorna).
S. & R. FIELD DEMONSTRATION 20-21st February.
To be held on the Colo River about three miles upstream from Lower Portland, Map: St. Albans Military Reference: 860690 (approx.) Preferred route: From Windsor, take the road to Wilberforce, then the left hand branch, which is the main road to Singleton via Putty. The turn off is shortly before the descent to the Colo River and will be marked with Red arrows. From here, follow the markers. Good camping and swimming. Sandy river bank on camp side, high sandstone cliffs on the other side. For further information, contact Jim Hooper, Heather Joyce.
The Linnean Society has asked for a brief history of Federation - aims, achievements, etc. Old hands are asked to contact anu- officer of Federation.
Cheers for Snow! David Brown has been elected Junior Vice President of Federation.
FEBRUARY 28TH Waterfall - bus to Governor Game Lookout - Burning Palms - Lilyvale. Maps: Port Hacking Military or Tourist Train: 8.20 from Central, tickets to Lilyvale Easy walk - long lunch halt by the surf - a final dip in the Hacking River before boarding the train. Leader: Kath Brown C/- J. Brown B0543, Ext.299
MARCH 5 - 6 Sassafras Road - Upper Ettrema Creek - Sassafras Road Maps: Yalwal and Tianjara Military Transport: See Leader - Evelyn Esgate Some track and road walking. The main part of the trip is rock hopping. Scenic river gorge, pools and cascades.
MARCH 5 - 6 Waterfall - Kangaroo Creek Heathcote Map: Port Hacking Train: 12.50 from Central. TicLets to aterfall Easy walk, swimming. Leader: Len young MARCH 6 Waterfall - Heathcote Creek - Heathcote Train 8.50 from Central. Tickets to Waterfall Easy creek walking, swimming. Good walk for prospectives.
MARCH 12 - 13 S.B.W. Annual Reunion. See details Page 2.
MARCH 18 - 19 - 20 Blackheath - car to Jenolan - Harry's River - Cox's River - Breakfast Creek - Glen Alan Canyon - Clear Hill - Katoomba. Solid 2 day trip. Rock hopping and river walking on Harry's and on Breakfast Creek. More rock hopping and scrambling on Glen Alan - waterfalls and pools Maps: Jenolan Military Burragorang Tourist,Myles Dunphy's Map of Gangerangs Train: 6.25 p m. Tickets to Blackheath. Leader: Lyndsey Gray
Mountaineers believe that theirs is the finest of sports because almost alone amongst sports it combines the three essential qualities: it takes one into surroundings of great beauty and grandeur: it makes one supremely fit, and adds to the zest of mastery over calculating danger.”
The same may be said of bush walkers, for they are kin to the mountaineer.
Because of the growing interest in rock climbing there will be an exhibition of equipment and all questions will be answered by experienced members of Sydney Rock Climbing Club on the third week of February. - so make it a date - and abseil down to Paddy's Pit-on the 22nd to 29th February.
Car Camping Around The Country
I feel I must agree with those critics of Australia who pay there is a monotony in the green of its trees. And there is not here that extreme contrast between the bare and the leaf-laden branches where deciduous trees predominate.
But I did experience some very unAustralian feelings when I went up Mt. Arthur just out of Wellington (N.S.W). I can't remember how we came to hear of it but I think it was mentioned in the “blurb” in an NRMA local map.
The road goes up only part of the way and one must foot the rest through lightly wooded country. But the timber is a mixture of dark green cypress pines, eucalypts and wattles ranging from a very silvery grey through many shades of green, but still not the lush green of exotic trees. After good rains, the normally dry hillsides had a sprinkling of tender grasses and the wattles, the wattles were the most brilliant…in my experience. Even the lichens on trees and rocks were vivid and vital from recent dampness and the wongas were thick with flower clusters.
It was a little sad to come down from the mountain bursting with Spring and pass the humpies of Aboriginals on the outskirts of the town.
It must have been Saturday, because that's pay day!
We were winding up the Mt. Kaputar road in the lateish afternoon and the heavily laden car was running hot. So Jean got out while I went up to Coryah Gap, dumped Christine and oodles of gear and came down again and picked up Jean.
The camping at the Gap is on a pretty bare ridge, so we were rushing about looking, for as sheltered a spot as possible - it was 3,850 ft. up and August. Gear seemed to be spread over half a square mile, it was threatening to rain, dark was coming on. I did not know where the water was and was preparing to rush down an unknown number (hundreds? thousands?) of feet to look for it. Should I put the tent up before the rain and then look for the water or look for the water now in case it got dark before I had finished? Were we reasonably sheltered on this bleak looking ridge? Were we ..
Daughter coming over to me and asking “may I have my pocket money, now? Dad”.
Dash it,. why was climbing Mt. Grattai the most satisfying part of the whole holiday? Simply because it entailed the hardest effort and there was very little track.
Killarney Gap between Narrabri and Barraba, where you camp, is an attractive spot even if it is a little public and a little stoney. Grattai is the very northern end of the Nandewars and the ridge to it passes the rugged spectacular ridge and rocks of the Ginns. To climb Grattai you are forced, if you do not already know the way, to pause and work out a way up the cliffs - it is not the plain sailing of most of our mountains. The view from it is a delightful contrast of near rugged mountainside running immediately to interminable, flat plain - sounds dull, but it isn't when the plain is a patchwork of crops and multi-coloured earths.
The worst difficulty with car-camping, especially if the weather gets a little warm, is managing to feel clean. I emphasise “feel” because one can be very dirty yet feel clean and vice versa. I can never feel clean if I have not occasionally completely immersed in water - no amount of scrubbing out of a billy spiritually satisfies me. That is why I cunningly included Moree halfway through our trip quite apart from an interest in seeing the Baths anyway.
Don't think that we polluted the Baths, the rules insisted on a shower with soap before entering the water. The rules also forbade one from making a public nuisance, from entering with an infectious disease, etc. Now, you car-campers, knowing the water shortages of Australia, consider the advantages offered you in the number of baths now around the countryside. And, not in every case, may you have to shed your infectious diseases before entering, nor restrain yourself from a public nuisance if you find the baths to be too dull.
If you are up Taree way, don't fail to take a trip up to the Bulga Plateau and Ellenborough Falls. The road from Ningham is delightful through lush, dairy country, running up Dingo Creek - a swift flowing torrent. Then you take to a ridge, clothed with North Coast jungle and from which you obtain lovely views of the Plateau and the adjoining Comboyne Plateau. The Falls are well worth a visit but the unprotected vantage points, to which it is necessary to go to get a good view, are a little giddy.
I intended having at least one night at a motel - just for the experience - but the weather was so irritatingly beautiful that it seemed a dreadful waste to go to one. However, the very last, we were late on the road, it was raining, so naturally I thought 'This is the time”, especially as the moment I made the decision, we had a puncture.
But, of course, every motel was full. Finally we managed to get a single room for the three of us but, as we had lilos and were bushwalkers, this arrangement suited us well.
Christine was set upon sleeping in the bed but this was not convenient and she had to sleep on one of the lilos which are of course more comfortable than most beds. In the morning she continued to gristle that she had been done out of the full enjoyment of the motel and finally declared “Next time we stay at a motel, I'm going to sleep in the bed”.
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Mon 21st. A hot day. Climbed the pumice and lava slope of Ngauruhoe, slipping and stumbling in the loose scoria. We were as dry as limeburner's boots. Just as we approached the top we saw a dark damp grey area on the slope, and on scratching it with our ice axes found it was a great patch of snow dusted over with ash. We scraped scoops in it hoping that fresh water would collect in them for our return. Then up and over the top. There was a knife-edge top to the cone and we gingerly stepped around it, blotted out every time the wind changed by dense choking white fumes of sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. (Stink and choke ad lib). We attempted to circumnavigate the brim but found it impossible for the fumes, so we made a fast scree run to the base again, and so back to the hut.
After lunch we departed for the Chateau, some going via the 6-mile track and those of a more frivolous nature going by the 9-mile track. We picked up our gear we had sent ahead with the bus and got the key from the Ranger for Salt Hut where we spent the first night and the Alpine Club Hut where we were to spend the second night.
Tuesday. Left the Salt Hut early, dropped our packs at the Alpine Club Hut, which is the highest in the region, at about 7,000 feet. Met three girl skiers there, one being an ex-mountaineering friend of Dot's, Nan Scotney. We plugged up the snow to the crater lake, dirty and grey and bubbling in places, but that did not deter Duncan and Col Ferguson from having a swim in it and then throwing snow over each other to complete the torture. At this point poor old Johnny Loganberry sank down on the snow unable or unwilling to move, complaining of a pain which we diagnosed as a torn diaphragm, a ruptured liver, or a strangulated bowel caused by his mighty straining efforts to break the long-jump record the previous day. We covered him up with parkas and jumpers and left him asleep on the snow while we proceeded to the summit. A bit of interesting snow slope led steeply to the top, but a dense mist descended obliterating the view so we soon slid down again, and headed back for the hut, collecting our hospital case on the way. He didn't eat all that day or the next, and spent a good bit of time in his bunk trying to find a comfortable position in which to lie.
Wednesday. We dug a mighty snow-cave-cum-igloo on the slope outside the hut had 4 shovels on the job, and Yarmak carved out great snow blocks for the igloo structure, but we went back to the hut for lunch with the job not yet completed, and didn't come back to finish it as Nan invited us down for the afternoon to the nosh at Ruapehu Ski Club Lodge. Here we had a hot shower, afternoon tea, and a taste of civilised living, organised John into a car to get him down to the Chateau, then finally set off ourselves about 5 o'clock.
Had our evening meal at Salt Hut, collected our gear, and got down to the Chateau by 9 p m. to find John and catch the bus to National Park Station by 10. In the shelter hut at the camping ground we located our man, miraculously recovered, probably due to the presence of three young lasses from Brisbane, who were busy trying to make him eat. The treatment was successful and permanent.
Caught the bus to National Park Station and had the most uncomfortable all night train trip ever to Wellington. Just time to collect our luggage from the railway, buy ourselves some breakfast and board the inter island ferry for the crossing to Christchurch. Once aboard we found an alcove on the deck under the 5th starboard lifeboat, erected a barracade of suitcases and packs, got out our sleeping bags and thus insulated from the other milling passengers we ate, slept, sunbaked, wrote letters and organised our repacking for 12 beautiful lazy hours.
At Lyttleton we were welcomed in to the wharf by the town band and clouds of wheeling seagulls. A train already waiting at the wharf took us up to Christchurch. The next leg of our trip was to be a week's instruction camp on mountaineering organised by Norm Hardie, of the N.Z.L.C., a noted Himalayan climber. He climbed Kangchenjunga with Evans' expedition and some of you will remember the talk he gave in Sydney on his return. A really fine bloke is Norm. A mighty cove!
We organised our camp at Addington Showground, 2 miles but of town. Spent Christmas in the gardens. No one in the gardens but ourselves and the ducks. Ate Christmas dinner on the lawn, then all fell asleep in the sun. Awoke to find the gardens milling with people.
Left for Arthur's Pass on Boxing Day. Arrived at the Arthur's Pass Hut to be welcomed by Putto and his team (who had flown over) and one of Colin's inimitable stews. Spent a couple of hours haggling with Oscar Coberger about equipment we needed to purchase from his expensive store. That night Norm Hardie gave us a lesson on knot-tying, and a general talk on climbing technique, and showed us slides of N.Z. mountains. During the night, while all the camp was peacefully sleeping, there were a few noisy sorties (thump - thump - clump - clump in the stillness) which prompted Norm to remark next morning that he would like us to know there are no snakes in N.Z. so it is not necessary to put boots on every time you want to go out for a drink of water.
Set out early next morning 15 miles to Crow Hut, our headquarters for the Instruction Camp, A truck took our packs 6 miles down the road while we walked, then we met up with our gear and all loaded down to plimsol we straggled off on the hardest 9 mile bushwalk most of us had experienced - rocks and river beds, and beech forest trails - and at last cast off our heavy loads at the snug little hut, about lunch time.
Keith Renwick, who had accompanied us thus far, continued on with a Canadian friend of his, over Avalanche Peak and back to Arthur's Pass as he had run out of money and must perforce return home to Sydney. On the way up in the morning Norm had given us a demonstration in river crossing, all moving together in a line with linked arms and holding on to ice axes held horizontally at chest level. The heaviest man takes the upstream position and breaks the force of the water for the others sheltering in his lee. Mighty: No rest for the wicked! Our mob were expecting to rest after lunch but Norm had them up and away to a huge granite rock face opposite the hut for practice in rock climbing.
The rest of the week was spent in practicing all the tricks of the trade: step kicking up snow, step-cutting up icefalls, rescue work in crevasses, belaying and saving falling bods who would slip and scream “hold”! at unexpected intervals - just to give their fellows on the rope practice, Duncan would let out such blood curdling yells every time he launched himself into space that Norm finished up having to have a completely new nervous system installed at the end of the course. About the fourth day Heather and Ben staggered in having expected a 6-mile walk, not a l6-miler. Nicky and Jerry, a young Melbourne couple, joined us that day, so Norm put all the newcomers through a “pressure-cooker course” of instruction while the rest of us climbed Rolleston.
Only one wet day and as it occurred in the middle of a strenuous week it was very welcome as a rest day. We returned to Arthur's Pass by various routes - Putto and a party of three over the pass to Greenlaw Hut and thence via the river to Arthur's Pass, another couple over Avalanche Peak and the rest of us back the way we had come. A car met us and picked up our packs a few miles from the hut, but heavy rain drenched the walkers before they reached the hut - they were fooled by a road sign which read N.P. which they translated as No Parkas, so they sent off these necessary articles of apparel in their packs, alas: (All over N.Z. these signs N.P. tell you where you can't park.)
Immediately on arriving at the hut we embarked on the serious work of the day and ate a huge meal of ship biscuits. We were just lying back with our hands clasped over our stomachs when in strode a local laird - Zane Grey Henderson - and said come over to my luxurious lodge and have a meal”.
“But we've just eaten” we protested. “That's only morning tea”, he said. So, feeling that if a job is worth doing it is worth doing well, we painfully struggled to our feet and staggered down to his place where we were given the full treatment - sherry, gin slings, whisky, etc., followed by beef, new potatoes, tomatoes and fruit. He is writing an article on the Parks and Reserves of N.Z. for the National Geographical Magazine and took several group pictures of us, complete with ice axes and climbing clothes, as a possible useful illustration. We took off our boots before entering his lodge and waded round in lush cream carpets, besocked and besotted warming our behinds at his beaut natural-stone open fireplace. But this luxury was not to last. “Out”, says Norm, “back to your barracks” or words to that effect, so we tore ourselves away reluctantly. That night we went to the local Museum Hall and saw Antarctic Documentary films. Next day, after minor local amblings, we caught the train for Christchurch at 8.p m. Most of us packed into the luggage van and snoozed the time away.
At Christchurch we did a bit of to-ing and fro-ing trying to find out what time the Queenstown bus left in the morning. Finally found out from a taxi driver. Then Putt led us off at a run to Hagley Park next the University Grounds, to his favourite tree, and here we bedded down for about 6 hours sleep before racing back to town to connect with our bus. A last minute dash to Norm's office to pick up more gear, then he relayed us down in his car just in time. Good old Norm - one of the best:
An all day bus trip to Queenstown through country consisting mainly of grass paddocks, perpendicular and horizontal and sheep and gorse. It was drizzling slightly when we hit the town so we ate sausages and soggy chips at a cafe, “did” the town, bought ice-creams, parked all our gear at the sports-ground in a conveniently erected side-show tent - a coconut shy in fact, then went to the local hall for an advertised “musical evening”. This boiled down to an embarrassed twanging on banjos by two boys playing to an empty hall. (It's a shame no one came. It's the rain, of course) Half an hour was enough to disillusion us so we retired to roost in our coconut shy and hoped the threatening rain when it came, would not come through the holes in the roof.
Next morning as Queenstown didn't look too alluring under a grey sky, we headed off immediately for Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakitapu. The trip up the lake in the “Earnslaw” takes all the morning. It was fine when we reached our destination, so we spent the afternoon swimming in the lake, eating gooseberries and buying food for our trip up the Rees Valley. We slept in the fodder shed on the wharf and at 8 next morning the local bus man picked us up and took us 8 miles to the Rees Bridge.
(To be continued).