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. Editor Don Matthews, 33 Pomona Street, Pennant Hills. WJ3514
|Business Manager||Brian Harvey|
|Sales & Subs||Eileen Taylor|
|Typed by||Jean Harvey|
|At Our December Meeting||Alex Colley||2|
|The Long Weekend||3|
|Swimming Carnival - 1961||4|
|Watch Out For The Indians||Keith Renwick||4|
|The Christmas Party||Social Reporter||7|
|A Sad Month||Stuart Brooks||9|
|North Carolina Hospitality||M. Bacon||11|
|The Kokoda Trail||Roy Craggs||15|
|Hatswell's Taxi & Tourist Service||7|
|Sanitarium Health Food Shop||9|
“During recent weeks SBW's have been bushed all over the place.” (No, that doesn't sound too good. Try again.) “SBW’s have been in the bush all over the place” or “all over the place in the bush.” Hell!
Anyway, a lot of Busies have been visiting all sorts of rugged places like Morong Deep and Tasmania and Era, and having made resolutions to be even more rugged in the New Year, can relax for the rest of the Sumner with a succession of pleasant weekends.
Those of particular note are the long weekend camp at Burning Palms, the Car Trial, the Swimming Carnival and, of course, the Reunion early in March.
As well as these, there are a number of swimming trips, some rough, some easy.
Be in the Swim!
January 18th - Don't miss this !
America - Keith Renwick.
Keith's story of his visit to Yosemite Valley was printed in the March 1960 Magazine. “Watch Out for the Indians” starts in this issue and continues his American journey.
Mt. Isa. Bill Gillam.
Australian Birds - an illustrated talk by Mr. Waterhouse.
At Our December Meeting
By Alex Colley.
Our meeting commenced with a welcome to what must be pretty nearly a record number of new members. The President departed from precedent by summoning the new members present to the front and welcoming them en masse, a scene reminiscent of a naturalisation ceremony. Those who joined our distinguished circle were Stuart Brooks, Reg Meakins, Jerry Quinn, Cherry Bignold, Ina Weeks and Alice Smith.
In correspondence was a letter from Bert Carlon, accepting and thanking us for our offer of Honorary Membership.
The Minister for Lands wrote to tell us that the lease of a site at Govetts Leap to the Govetts Leap Pty. Ltd. had been thoroughly considered and assuring us that the 5 chains between the hotel and the cliff edge would be ours to enjoy.
The Secretary of the Metropolitan Water Board also wrote. He informed us that he could not accede to our request to make the waters of Warragamba available for the enjoyment of tourists. In the absence of “full treatment” of stored water, every possible control must be exercised, but if “full treatment” became necessary, the position would be re-examined. Whether “full treatment” means more of the sort of treatment the water now received at Lithgow, Katoomba, Goulburn and other centres, as it passes through their sewerage systems on the way to the dam, was not elucidated.
The Treasurer's report revealed that our finances are adequate to last us till the end of the financial year. The Social Secretary's report showed that this was partly due to a profit of some £20 made on the Christmas party. This, we were told, was due not so much to the financial acumen of our Social Secretary as to the fact that many turned up unexpectedly. A supper ordered for the few was therefore consumed by the many, and even if some were hungry, think of the money we saved!
Our Conservation Secretary told us that the area around the Castle could not be made into a national park because the army had to use it for a rocket range. If this becomes generally known we might have a real primitive area to walk in, even if there are a few rockets whizzing around.
Frank Leyden told us that members of the S.B.W. would be welcome as members of the Illawong Lodge, situated at the head of Guthega Lake. Cost was £25, which entitled a member to preferential booking and a tariff of £8 per week. He said that the hut was ideally situated for ski-ing.
Our walks programme had gone well in the previous month. All walks except one had been led, and the walks were attended by a total of 59 members, 33 prospectives and 8 visitors.
It was decided that the committee should draw up a list of duties for room stewards, have it duplicated, and distribute it to the room stewards when they were elected.
At the end of the meeting the President wished us a Merry Christmas and the meeting reciprocated, in unison.
December 1960, p.3.
Bob Duncan's Kowmung trip on January 20-21-22 goes via Christy's Creek, not Christmas Creek (topical though this might have been).
“Coming Events” should add “Anniversary Weekend”. (See this month's Walking Guide.)
The Long Weekend
Australia Day - January 27-28-29-30
Waterfall - bus to Governor Game Lookout - Burning Palms - Garie - Bus to Waterfall. Camp at Burning Palms, above the Ranger's Hut. SWIMMING, FISHING, SPINE BASHING, COASTAL SCENERY. Irene Pridham will lead a party out on the Friday night. Train 6.18 pm. Phone XY3518. Jean Harvey will lead a second party on Saturday morning. Train 8.08 am. Phone JW1462. See the Port Hacking Tourist Map in Map Cupboard.
Also, on the long weekend, Wilf lead an exploratory trip in the Yalwal - Ettrema area (27 miles, Rough, with scrub bashing). Yalmal Creek- Old Duffers Trail - Timboolina Trig - The Badlands - Moss' Camp - Tallowal Trig - Ettrema Gorge - Yalwal. Purpose of the trip is to explore more fully the plateau bounded by the Shoalhaven River and Ettrema Creek. See the Yalwal Military Map (emergency edition) and read Reg Meakins' article “Yalwal to Tallong“ (November 1960) which touches on this area. Check with leader for further details.
Swimming Carnival 1961
This year's Club Annual Swimming Carnival will be held on the weekend of 18-19th February at Lake Eckersley, a wide sandy bend of the Woronora River, approached from Heathcote Station by an easy 2½ miles walk, mostly along the unused Water Board road. The official trains are the 12.50 pm on Saturday and 8.50 am on Sunday. Tickets to Heathcote. Those folk who can't come for the weekend will be very welcome on the Sunday - we'll hold up the start of the events until they arrive - but don't dawdle on the way, please! Cuppa tea waiting! There are two Annual Trophies to be won - the Henley Memorial Cup for the highest point-score and the Mandelberg Cup Mixed Relay Handicap. Come and try your luck!
The events will be:-
- Men's Open Championship Women's Open Championship Mens Breaststroke
- Women's Breaststroke
- Mixed Relay Race
- Teams Race
- Long Plunge - Gents
- Long Plunge - Ladies
- Peanut Scramble
The point score will be decided on the open races, breaststroke races and the long plunge. For the uninitiated, the “long plunge” consists of running down a bank, landing on the water like a torpedo and floating out as far as possible without arm or leg movement, with the face submerged. S'easy. Prospective members and visitors will be welcome but, of course, cannot be awarded places or points. See Notice Board re further details.
Watch Out For The Indians
By Keith Renwick.
I left San Francisco in the middle of a tropical heatwave, and the township of Flagstaff hit me, at some unearthly hour the next morning, with unseasonable blizzards and temperatures down to 22oF. You change here from the regular cross-country Greyhound buses to a local one which takes you out to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. All this is situated on the large plateau area of South West USA between 5,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level.
One's first impressions of the Grand Canyon as you step out of the bus are summed up very well by the story of a cowboy galloping through the high scrub and timber of the south rim looking for some lost cattle. Presently he broke through the scrub at the rim of the canyon and screeched to a halt. Tilting his hat back he scratched his head and in deep western drawl said “Somethin' happened here”. It was a magnificent fine sunny day and the cold clear air gave a sharp crispness to the painted walls of the canyon, a thing lost, in heat haze in the warm summer months. Words are totally inadequate in describing the breathtaking view.
After lunching and setting up camp in the campground nearby, I walked along the rim track to Yarapoi Lookout. There was still a lot of snow about, particularly under the trees, and of course the north rim off in the distance was well covered, being nearly 1000 feet higher than the south rim. It doesn't show up in photographs of the canyon because it is very much warm, as we shall see later, and doesn't hang around the edge for very long after it has fallen. Once again making the most instructional use of their parks, the Americans had set up at the lookout a large room with lots of diagrams and charts showing the geological history, the flora and fauna to be found in the canyon. The vegetation runs from Arctic types along the rim to tropical types in the Canyon itself.
Apart from the charts etc. all along the view windows in front of the building were fixed binoculars covering all the interesting geological features in the canyon malls from top to bottom.
It was here that I spent nearly 20 minutes unravelling a woman's troubles - with a stereo camera which she had just bought. What a pity her husband was nearby expressing his disapproval of cameras in general.
Next morning damned fine and clear around 8 am so down into the canyon it would be today. The visitors’ information office was extremely helpful and even had useful information and free maps and booklets.
It is very hard to get an adequate idea of the size and scale of the canyon; this think is largely due to the fact that there are no trees to give you an idea of scale. The only real way is to go down to the bottom and then climb out again. There are three trails into the canyon, two from the south rim and one from the north rim. The Bright Angel trail which crosses the canyon from one side to the other was the first to be put in. The Kiabal trail was added many years later and runs down to where the Bright Angel trail crosses the Colorado River, so that it is now possible to go from the south rim down the Kiabal trail and back-up the Bright Angel trail (or vice versa) returning to the south rim again. It has been done in one day, but with so much to see why hurry? At the junction of these trails, down on a flat There Bright Angel River runs into the Colorado, is Phantom Ranch. I don't know whether it was ever actually used as a ranch, but now it is a place where tourists can “rough it” to the tune of about $20 per day full board. Actually considering everything has to be brought down on pack-mule this isn't too bad. In fact, these mules are the universal transport in and out of the canyon. They are called Missouri mules and are about the size of a horse. They are actually a cross between a mule and a horse and came originally from Missouri, hence the name. They are very sturdy beasts and extremely sure footed on the mountain trails, and for about $30 you can get one to take you down into the canyon and back again. I would have every faith in the ability of the animals to stay on the trail but unfortunately - I haven't much faith in my ability to stay on the mule, so I walked.
Having left same excess gear at the information bureau I wandered along the rim of the canyon to Yaki Point at the head of the Kiabal Trail and here I lunched. The trail itself is about 3 or 4 feet wide and is an easy walking grade all the way to the bottom. The canyon is not a sheer drop entirely but a large series of small drops from a few feet to 100 feet or so and a couple of very steep drops well over 100 feet high. These drops are separated by long sloping talus slopes down which the track winds easily. The vertical drops have breaks in them through which the track works its way but in a few places it is virtually just blasted out of the vertical cliff walls. Along the track they have numbered pegs at various places and these correspond to numbered paragraphs in the book. They are used to indicate all the many things of interest geologically and flora wise, however they haven't as yet extended it to include the fauna.
I reached the bottom at about the same time as another young couple who had walked down, but they continued on up to Phantom Ranch where they were going to spend the night. Presently they returned to the camping ground very disillusioned by the quality of the accommodation compared with the price ($10 for bed only) and were just going to eat their food and camp out in what they had. However between the three of us we managed quite well. He was English and she was a New Zealander and after working in Canada for 3 years they were now headed south to Mexico for a while and then to South America. The difference in temperature between the top and the bottom of the Canyon is quite considerable. Whereas it was round 100oF up top, down here it couldn't have gone below 50oF that night. Translate that to summer and you're living in a furnace. If anyone is thinking of going there go in the late Autumn or Spring when the air is clear and the walking bearable because coming out the next day we were all sweating most of the way up. In Summer it would be impossibly hot.
During the night some of the fauna visited us, without labelled tag, but he was easy to identify - a Skunk! We're still friends because he behaved himself. An interesting thing about the canyon is that anything that can fly like birds or insects or anything that can be blown, like seeds, are the same on both sides of the canyon; but to other things like animals, the river is an impenetrable barrier. Consequently they differ on both sides of the river. The skunks on the south side are big animals, about the size of a small dog while the skunks on the north side are quite small, about the size of a small rabbit. We were awakened by a snuffling noise near our head and found him running round the outside of the tent trying to find a way in to the food we had inside. He raced around and around the tent with us after him very carefully, then he got inside - have you ever tried to chase something without exciting it? However we realised that we weren't making any progress this way and eventually heaved rocks near him which sent him scampering off into his little burrow about half way up a rocky cliff face. I didn't know that they lived in burrows. Fortunately that was the last that we saw of him.
I reckon that this time of the year is the best to see and walk in the canyon. In Summer it must be really killing. Now it was cool enough to enjoy it and the air was so clear and the sun so pleasant. The climb out is uphill all the way except the first mile along a track which is hewn out of the cliffs at the side of the river. This is up and down. The well graded track makes it pretty easy, provided you take it slowly and steadily, and rises about 5,000 feet in 10 miles. There was water most of the way at this time of the year.
(To be continued..)
To Mary and Bob Abernethy, now proud parents of a son (this makes one of each). They would be pleased to see any Bushies in Tasmania, can be contacted by post (Robert Abernethy, Taraleah, Tasmania) and could meet parties at Derwent River Bridge.
The Christmas Party
By “Social Reporter”.
Friday 9th December at the North Sydney Council Chambers.
Unlike many previous Christmas Parties, conditions were comfortable for dancing as the night was cool and mild. The function had been announced as a Hawaiian Night in anticipation of Summery weather, and the message seems to have really got through to most of the dancers. Geoff Wagg, surveying the kaleidoscopic effect as it danced before his eyes commented: “The only thing we haven't got is a cannibal chief”. But sure enough an excellent substitute arrived in the course. Kath McInnes' ankle length mosquito net draped from a wide coolie hat was practical and utilitarian, but when her partners insisted, on getting under the net to dance, the warmth forced Kathie into the open. Jean and Brian Harvey and Jean Ashdown, just back from Lord Howe Island, all sported grass skirts, but Frank Ashdown chose more conventional British Tourist garb.
Talking of Britain - it was a great pleasure to welcome back John Bookluck and Eric Pegram only two days off the boat from London after more than 2 years abroad. They brought news of Lynn Baber due home before Christmas and of “Binnsie” (Sheila Binns) who loves to see any S.B.W. visiting Lancashire, and goes to London whenever possible to see the Knightleys and Bev and Don Read.
The total attendance was 89, consisting of a sprinkling of prospective members, lots of energetic members, although a few familiar faces were not in evidence. The “old and bold” were there in force, and included Jean Moppett, “Tuggie” Harris, Betty and Ron Baker, Laurie and John Woods, Grace and John Noble, Frank Leyden, Alex Colley, Dot Butler, Miriam and Wal Roots, Shirley and Kevin Dean, “Morrie” Berry, Elsa and Malcolm McGregor, so that you will realise that there was no shortage of conversational material. The President, who had come on from another function, was easily the best dressed in his dinner jacket !
Our thanks once again to Pam Baker and her social committee for another good night out. Even though the caterers were late in arriving and didn't serve the specially selected menu to suit the occasion, our imperturbable Social Secretary remained unruffled. Nice work, Pam !
Now what about a mid year dance when you've recovered from this one?
Does Your Car Need A Thrill ?
Then see the Club Notice Board, or contact David Ingram or Jim Brown.
The 1961 S.B.W. Car Trial will be held on FEBRUARY 11-12TH.
News From Abroad
By Dorothy Brigden.
“I had a great trot round and about the Continent during the summer, and thoroughly enjoyed it. If I'd known of anyone with or using or hiring a car I'd have been in on it, but I just didn't happen to strike anyone. I was at the Olympics at Rome, and later saw the Passion Play at Oberammergau, and have visited Germany and Austria, Italy Switzerland (gorgeous mountains and snow caps) and a bit of France, and have planned for Greece and Turkey and Spain in the Spring and early Summer next year; then Russia and Czechoslovakia (I hope) and the Italian Lakes and the Matterhorn (though I'm not proposing to climb it!) which I missed last summer. At present I am being fairly quiet, though I get about on bus trips occasionally, when it doesn't rain too hard; am mighty sick of the wet weather - there are floods all over the country - worst in many years, and still it rains! This last week it didn't actually rain for 2 whole days! I am staying with very nice people here - it's out of the London area and there are some pleasant walks about. The leaves have just about all fallen now, but there wasn't a great deal of Autumn beauty this year - too wet.
A Sad Month
By Stuart Brooks.
December 1960 will not go down in Club annals as our brightest month, in fact, from any point of view, it looks rather dismal (except, perhaps, Pam Baker's £20 profit).
Quite apart from several undesirable types slipping past the screening committee to membership, and the starving of a large number of guests at the Christmas Party, we saw the unfortunate failure of three projects that seemed to deserve a better fate.
There was an attempt at re-afforestation by an ex-Walks Secretary, who, no doubt, covets Mr. Harvey's conservation role, when he planted a banana tree on the first floor of North Sydney Council Chambers. Despite copious applications of alcohol, and liberal fumigation with tobacco smoke, it languished, and a desperate last-minute attempt to save the situation by transplanting it into a parked car in the fresh air of Miller Street enjoyed even less success. We understand the tree is now doing reasonably well back in the bush at Killara.
The S.B.W. Musical Society, Brass Section, although possessing only one instrument, had a number of energetic and active members, and everything seemed set for a bright, if noisy, future. However, as in all of us, interest flags, and it now seems certain that this enterprising group faces oblivion (musically, anyway).
Last, and by no means least, December saw the decline and fall of the C.C.C. (for the ill-informed, the City Climbing Club). This group boasted a small, select membership whose first climb was on the treacherous north face of Reiby Peak. Due possibly to poor guiding, but more likely to their late start, seen about 10 pm on a very narrow ridge overlooking Circular Cwm. obviously benighted.
Two further expeditions planned, the ascent of Quantashorn and the traverse of the sheer sandstone ramparts of Gpofrau overlooking Martin chasm, seem certain to be abandoned.
Any friends of the President will be sorry to hear that despite his apparently indifferent, even jovial reaction to the above set backs, he is really taking them very much to heart, so deeply actually that he went to Tasmania to try to forget them.
Do You Want To Walk The Kokoda Track ?
See Roy Craggs story which started in December 1960 Magazine and is concluded in this issue.
The Owen Stanleys
By Ray Craggs.
The Kokoda Trail traverses the Mighty Owen Stanley Ranges which divide Papua from New Guinea. Last October I walked this path from a point twenty miles out from Port Moresby, along eighty miles of this native track. The trip took seven days.
My mate and I did not have a map, a compass or jungle experience, however, we had one thing in our favour - determination. Our packs weighed fifty pounds each, and 50% of this was unnecessary. We found we could buy all our food from the native villages as we stayed at a village almost every night.
The country is absolutely magnificent, the best I have ever seen. The natives are friendly and completely unspoiled. I am doing this trip again next May and if anyone from the S.B.W. is interested I can be reached by mail C/- Four Mile C.D.W. Hostel, Port Moresby, Papua.
Because of my previous experience I can organise the trip very well. There will be a stop at a native village each evening where we will sleep in the Government Patrol Hut. You'll see some of the most ruggedly beautiful country in the world, virgin jungle, dense and glorious with tropical plants, flowers and orchids, and friendly, honest native peoples whom one may hire at the rate of 1/- per hour as pack bearers. Also, there are many reminders of the War in the form of equipment discarded by both forces.
This is a good solid walk, but by use of carriers between villages each day and buying most food from the natives any moderate walker can quite safely negotiate the trail. I will be very willing to supply details to anybody interested in this trip, and would appreciate enquiries before 20th February, 1961.
North Carolina Hospitality
By M. Bacon
One of our foundation members, Ernie Austen, whose sister Kay lives in North Carolina, suggested that if possible, I should go and visit Kay and her husband, Bud, whilst I was in America. I arranged to spend the weekend with them and flew down from New York to Asheville.
They greeted me as a fellow walker and straight away I knew I was amongst friends. I was shown around their lovely eighty odd acre estate, which has a well-wooded mountain in it. It was Spring and the native Dogwoods were in full bloom, their white flowers sparkling in the sunlight. In the open paddocks the grass was green and a clear stream flowed through it. Lush plants grew at the edge and everything seemed to be full of the joy of living. We climbed their hillside, walking under tulip trees in young leaf, and maples bursting with glory.
Here and there were some of the early Golden Azaleas in full bloom, whilst shyly peeping was a clump of Slipper Orchids, and nearby several more. This led to great delight for they had spread since the previous year. Everything growing and living seemed to be loved by these two fine, friendly people.
Bud is editor of the Forestry Technical Paper which is published by the large research group working with Asheville as its centre. Therefore, he is well versed in tree lore.
At about five in the evening when we returned from our excursion, a neighbour called in and asked wouldn't they come up and have dinner with them. They mentioned that I was staying and Nancy said, “Bring him along too, for there is ample food”. The suggested time was “The Cocktail Hour”.
About an hour later Kay Bud and I walked up the track leading to Camp Awa Niko. This was established by two girls who met in Okinawa as Red Cross Workers. They decided if ever they got back to America they would start a camp for girls and teach them some of the joys of outdoor life and camping. With their own hands they have done a great deal of the building and each year their camp is filled with girls in summer school vacation. During the period they take small groups down to the lake and give them practice in water sports and the handling of boats.
We mounted the stone steps to the house and were greeted by the two girls. The cabin was lined with golden Pine boards, having rich brown knots. We sat and yarned around the open fire, sipping Bourbon until the meal was ready.
The dining room was small but also lined with the same golden Pine boards. The table had six dark green linen mats with a design of a mountain slope and a pine tree in white braid. The meal was served on hand-made golden earthenware plates. It consisted of Southern Fried Chicken and wild rice, cobs of corn, and a side salad of lettuce, pineapple rings and cream cheese, topped with a cherry. Afterwards, we had coffee and conversation.
This was a wonderful haven, or in fact heaven, far from the rush and bustle of New York City. Therefore, it was no surprise to find pinned up in the corner of the kitchen, a prayer that had touched the hearts of my hosts :-
Slow me down, Lord. Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring Power of Sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations - of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book. Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise, that I may know that the race is not always to the swift that there is more in life than increasing its speed. Let me look upward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well. Slow me down Lord, and inspire me to send my roots down deep into the soil of life's enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.
Weekend January 20-21-22
Kanangra - Christys Creek - Kowmung - Kanangra. Extensive views from Kanangra Walls in the heart of the Blue Mountains. Rock hop and swim through the Bulga Denis Canyon of the Kowmung (spectacular rock bluffs) climb onto Gingra Range and return to Kanangra. See leader Bob Duncan re transport. Maps: Myles Dunphy's 'Kanangra Tops & Environs’,'Gangerang and Wild Dogs' and the Blue Mountains and Burragorang Tourist.
Heathcote - Lake Eckersley - Heathcote. Good camping and swimming. Easy walking. Leader - Jack Wren. Maps: Camden Military & Port Hacking Tourist.
Heathcote - Heathcote Creek - Waterfall. Easy walking, good swimming. Traverses part of Heathcote Primitive area. Leader: Pam Baker. Maps: Camden Military & Port Hacking Tourist.
Morong Creek - Kowmung Gorge - Boyd Ridge. Commando trip. Rough. Gear will be pruned to the bare minimum. See the mighty Morong Falls, swim the Morong Deep (pink granite canyon). Check details with leader Colin Putt. Maps: Myles Dunphy's 'Kanangra Tops and Environs', and Blue Mountdns and Burragorang Tourist.
Jamberoo - Gerringong Falls - Jamberoo. Easy walk across the Budderoo plateau adjacent to the Barren Grounds reserve. Good camping, and swimming in the pools above the falls. Plenty of opportunity for exploration. Leader: Eric Adcock. Map: Kiama Military.
Glenbrook - Glenbrook Gorge - Nepean Lookout - Euroka - Glenbrook. Rockhop dawn the Gorge. Swimming along the Creek and at the Nepean Junction. Scramble up to the lookout, pleasant walk into Glenbrook via Euroka. Leader: Ern French. Map: Liverpool Military.
Every time I see our Alick alicking a rock melon - a feeling of great sadness descends on me - it is such a meloncholy spectacle.
Beyond all doubt - there is much poshery on the N.S. line, even extending to the S.B.W. I know of one family that boasts 6 butlers - one at least guaranteed English.
There be also a Noble or two, and by the law of compensation there are a few Savages.
On the nutrient, side - there are a few roots and beans.
PLEASE NOTE: MAGAZINE ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS EXPIRE WITH THIS ISSUE.
The Kokoda Trail (Continued)
By Roy Craggs.
The track here was in fair condition and still showed signs of steps cut in hillsides during the war by Army Engineers. It is well marked by old war relics over its entire length. We even salvaged some steel helmets and placed them on stumps.
As we pressed further into the twisted heart of the Owen Stanleys we found we had a growing feeling of admiration for the men involved in the war over here. Especially the walking Wounded.
It was pouring rain as we entered Efogi - a heavy pounding rain which seemed to push one down into the mud. We had hopes of getting new bearers here and pushing on to Kagi which is two hours distant and a 1,000 feet drop and 2,000 feet up. The rain was heavy and the natives were reluctant to go so we stopped the night in a bug infested patrol hut. The roof leaked but the drops were larger and well spaced so we managed to dodge them.
We were able to purchase a fine fowl for 20/-, it was a lovely feed which included native fruits and vegetables again. For breakfast we got 8 eggs which are worth gold up here but the old man who sold them to us wanted Kuku which we were glad to unload. The rain ceased just before sunset which was spectacular. That night at Efogi it was very cold and the boys in their thin blankets were not happy.
November 4th: We left Efogi at 7.45 am heading for Kagi; we hoped to change carriers there and press on. Arrived Kagi two hours later but everyone was working in gardens so we could not get bearers. The next day, Saturday, was their Sabbath and they would not work. We did not wish to stay until Sunday. John was not well and I feared that he may have a touch of dysentry. Kagi is a fairly old village, very high, about 7,000 feet. By 12.30 John was feeling much better and he insisted on pushing forward with our packs on our own backs. A revolting thought. The trail rises fast from Kagi up to a mountain ridge which took 3 hours. Once over the ridge we entered huge moss forests, where all trees and plants, living and dead, are covered by moss. The light was terribly poor, not enough to expose Kodachrome. This night we stayed in a grass leanto, far from water once again. I never dreamed a bloke could go thirsty in the middle of New Guinea.
November 5th: Left leanto about 6.00 am and walked 2 miles to Iora Creek which rises and falls rapidly, also icy cold. Here while we had breakfast the river dropped a foot. Wood in this forest is extremely hard to start a fire with and hard to keep burning. We had to cross the river here - fast, steep, rocky and treacherous - one mistake could well mean finish. Although the log bridge was out we crossed successfully, only to find the other side abundant with more blood sucking flies and scores of hungry leeches to add to our misery. A deeply distressing situation.
A further 8 miles of dreary moss forest faced us before we reached Myola, which is not a village but a place where the Army had a huge supply dump and hospital area. This forest is very depressing indeed; poor light, bad footing and deep foul smelling mud. At last we broke out of the forest at Myola. Beautiful sunshine once again!
Once again we had to cross the river. Over the river the Moss Forest ceases and normal rain forest prevails. The track is very hard to walk but we had some sunshine blazing through in places. In this area we stopped at a small creek to refill our canteens and then I turned back to where I'd left my pack I was alarmed to find a snake had claimed it as his own.
Our boys mumbled “Him be bad pella true” and shot off fast. After spending a second or two to evaluate the situation John and I retired ungracefully to a more respectable distance. From here we threw stones at the reptile who got the clue and blew through, After several miles we observed Abuari on the opposite side of deep gorge so we knew we were very close to Isurava on our side. We arrived there at 5 pm, The local missionary was over at Abuari, but the native constable looked after us here. This village is right in the heart of the Owen Stanleys and is about 8,000 feet elevation. Already it was cold here and fog was closing in. Again we got tons of fruit and vegetables.
The wood was very bad firewood. John says it grows too fast and doesn't absorb sufficient, oxygen. To me it's just plain wet and awful mean. Smoke filled our hut and because of cold and rain we could not get outside for relief. The night was extremely cold, not at all like the tropics I had heard of.
November 6th: Daybreak came cold and fine, a beautiful day with the sun peeping over the Owen Stanley Ranges, touching the mountains with gold. Fifteen miles to the North lay the Yodda Valley and Kokoda. The valley was full of cloud. The trail was downhill all the way to Kokoda. The villagers said it was 6 hours walk to our destination. After a very smokey breakfast we were once again ready to depart. But for the first time we had trouble obtaining bearers. The long hard downhill for roughly 15 miles deterred us from carrying our packs. The trouble was that one native owned a coffee and cocoa plantation and the people worked there so he didn't want them to leave. I tackled the constable and asked him “What kiond Policeman you?” I told him I had “strong one-talk true” (very good friend) in the police force in Pt. Moresby. This was all eyewash of course, actually my relationship with the Papuan Police is rather dubious at best. However many mild threats as to what I would say had the desired effect and the constable even volunteered his own services in an effort to win back our favour. We found ourselves with three carriers at 10/- each the trip.
We left Isurava at 9 am and commenced the 6,000 feet drop to the Yodda Valley still enclosed by fog. The trail was very difficult as there have been rock falls on the track and there were several hazardous creek crossings twice with a long fall on one side. Leeches here were so huge and vicious that we carried knives in our hands to cut them from our boots. It was impossible to sit down for a rest. Within a minute one would be covered by a crawling mass of hungry leeches. So we made good time, more by necessity than willingness. At 12.30 we reached a large creek where we shared lunch with leeches and our old chums the big flies. The natives were suffering badly from bites which were bleeding freely. I used some of my precious first-aid to help them. They were very grateful for anything like this and offered some of their rather foul looking roast pig for lunch. One look was enough, and we had to try and decline the offer without offending. This is a difficult situation: badly offended natives can be a little nasty at times and as these people were Oirakavas I didn't know as much about them as I did about the Koiaries.
By 3 pm we approached the outskirts of the Ross Rubber Plantation, walked about three miles through the trees and emerged at the station itself.
The Administration District Officer welcomed us and put us up for the next two days. After a good cold Shower, a fine feed, and several free cans of brown amber we relaxed in bed. Just as the sun set behind the mountain the Native Police played “Taps” on a bugle. A tribute it seemed to the soldiers of the Kokoda Trail. We had to stay there until Tuesday morning for the DC3 plane to Port Moresby.
We spent Monday walking around Kokoda. The Air Strip was our first interest; it is the same one used during the war. The strip is all grass. Just at the end of the War an American Fighter Pilot in a Kittyhawk executed a Victory Roll along to length of the strip. Very close to the ground, of course, to be very spectacular. The poor coot tipped the ground at the end and his plane crashed and was strewn through the bush and burst into flame. The remains of the Kittyhawk are still here, a grim monument to an American Pilot.
Next stop was the rubber processing factory. The owner, Dave Ross, showed us around. It was interesting but, oh boy! the smell! The plantations are much better, cool shade beneath almost precision rows of green trees. The A.D.O. took us for a tour of his experimental gardens where he's trying to grow European vegetables and fruit under tropical conditions. I can vouch for the success of the passionfruits.
Monday night we received an invitation to tea from the Agriculture Officer and his wife. It turned out to be a Welcome/Farewell Party, with plenty of liquid refreshment. Oh my head!
The 'plane arrived at 9 a. Tuesday morning which I sincerely felt was 24 hours too early. However we managed to catch it. The hostess was very sympathetic and plied me with black coffee. Thank heavens someone understood ! The 'plane took off at 9.30 a m, and turned North to Poppendetta 50 miles away before returning to Port Moresby. On the way North we observed Mt. Lamington which is an active volcano issuing forth sulphurous smoke. By coincidence our 'plane was named Mt. Lamington too.
The 'plane left Poppendetta at 10.40 am, flew back over Kokoda, Isurava, which I couldn't see for cloud, but I could pick out bits of the Kokoda trail and we distinctly saw Myola's dry lakes (used by the Army to drop supplies), also Kagi, Efogi, Menari and Nauro. We flew back over the entire trail in 25 minutes whereas we took a week to walk it. Very deeply frustrating. However, as I looked from my window and took photographs I realised one day I'll be back again. The hell of the trip is far overshadowed by the comradeship this country brings out like no other. There's the wonderful people, unspoiled in their natural habitat. Also the rugged twisted tortuous beauty of the jungle clad Owen Stanley Ranges.
I'll be back soon. Already I feel the Kokoda Trail calling. Australians seem to be part of it. I'm going back in alright - ANY STARTERS?
By Eric Adcock.
Most people this year have suffered the effects of one infectious virus or another but have the satisfaction that a few days in bed is a cure, and there is no desire for a recurrence. However, there is one insidious infection which stalks the city and can only be satisfied with a long stop in the rarefied air of the snow capped mountains. It is no sooner apparently cured than the sufferer rushes off to catch it again.
It can be a very expensive illness but this depends very much on the individual - known to the public as a skier. The name is inspiring to the followers of the gentler sports and one season of skiing will often gain a person so much respect that old ladies will give up their seat to him in the train, just so that he can take his weight off his crutches.
Some sufferers prefer the cure to be a lonely hut on the mountain top where they can carry on life, and aid, without fear of intrusion. One hears of hardy types packing all their equipment into the hut by skiing several miles. I have even helped count out and sample the kegs that were placed with care in each pack. They return to civilisation some two weeks later after being snowbound in the blizzards of Kosciusko - cured? Hell now, they are already buying the grog for their next trip.
Many people humour their illness considerably by stopping at the best of hotels or lodges and literally residing in the lap of luxury. They run the greater risk of spraining an elbow from overwork in the bar and worse; giving their wallet an inferiority complex, but again it depends on the individual. Some like to do their siding on a mountain peak and others prefer a comfortable hotel. After all, there are those that consider themselves sporting, by drinking beer in a beer garden. During those occasional sallies forth they develop a very sun-tanned face with the exception of the white areas left by the goggles round the eyes. The aim then is to lead a life that develops bags under the eyes and darkens them up to match the tan.
As in all sports, there is the “do-it-yourself” group who make their own equipment. Have you ever made a pair of skis? It's rather like asking the question - have you ever built your own scaffold? All the skier needs is enough rope and he can hang himself. This is not so very difficult to do, even with the professionally made skis, although the safety bindings take a lot of the fun out of it by insuring that the proverbial rope usually breaks. If you ever have that urge to steam and glue planks, make yourself a pair of crutches. I once joined this select group of ski makers and produced two beautiful units. The paint work far excelled the wood work for as the wood aged so did the shape. By the time I reached the snow, the camber of one was greater than the other and all the back bending and boiling water was to no avail. It was impossible to find any suitable person with one leg slightly longer than the other who might care to buy them. They also developed a slight twist which is a considerable asset in the sport. I found that I could edge in front and slip behind without even moving. It's amazing how different the real ski feels.
Of course a holiday, especially skiing, is not wholly, made up of skidding and falling but depends greatly on the people you run into. Unlike the city, traffic on the slopes has no written rules and both drivers and pedestrians are on an equal footing. For this reason it, is comparatively easy to obtain a direct introduction. A word of warning however; a person dressed in windjacket, hood, large sungoggles, scarf and sunburn cream can look very different when not in ski clothes.
There is always that pleasant tired feeling at the end of the day as you retreat from the snow slopes back to the huts. The sheer beauty and poetry of the scene makes you look up at the sunset and the few drifting snow flakes make the world complete. You meet a friend who turns and says “This snow makes you look as if you suffer from severe dandruff”.
There is nothing for it but to change direction and steady the nerves in the bar.