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||Stuart Brooks, 5 Ingalara Rd, Wahroonga. 484343|
|Business Manager||Brian Harvey|
|Sales & Subs.||Lola Wedlock|
|Typed by||Shirley Dean|
|A Our Annual General Meeting||Alex Colley||8|
|Hiking in Burma's Holy Hills||Marie B. Byles||10|
|The Rescue in Kanangra Gorge||Dot Butler||14|
|Plumbing Troubles (Roy Cragg's Ad.)||19|
As I sit here a new day begins and, with the ending of the late show, all is quiet, except for the occasional patter of tiny feet bent on urgent missions.
Presently, shadowy figures materialise from out of the gloom, shining with ghostly radiance and cluster round my chair. As my eyes grow accustomed to this unearthly light, I realise the faces are familiar - that smile could only belong to Colley; that nose, only to Knightly; and of course I'd recognise Dot Butler's feet anywhere. The one with the moustache and very happy look has just got to be Don Abdul Matthews.
1st Ghost. “Well look who's burning the midnight oil! Its good to see someone else having a go. We've certainly had our share.”
2nd Ghost. “Do the…. good. Might make him a bit quieter if he has some work to do.”
3rd Ghost. “Oh, leave him alone, you two. He'll get by somehow, just like we did.”
4th Ghost. “He'll end up as pale and care-worn as we are too, but, whether or no, he's my friend for life.” (Attempts to kiss my feet).
1st Ghost. “I suppose we should give him some help. Now, let me see. Yes. Suppose we teach him plagiarism.”
2nd Ghost. “Such long words, my friend, Alexis,
Will surely give this lad complexes -
He knows not what you mean!
But I'll wager on my oath
He'll out-do you and Butler both
At this noble art.”
(Knightly always was the poetic type.)
3rd Ghost. Well I did get some help from other club's mags., but they're a bit hard to get hold of.“
4th Ghost. “I have thirty years' issues of S.B.W he can have. There's plenty of good stuff in them.”
1st Ghost. “What will Frank Ashdown think?”
2nd Ghost. ”…. Frank Ashdown!“
(Unfortunately, a fit of coughing from the girls' bedroom did not permit me to hear this advice regarding Frank.)
3rd Ghost. If you boys are going to be impolite, I'm going.” (climbs hand over hand up the blind cord, walks upside down across the ceiling and disappears.)
4th Ghost. “Dot's becoming very refined, isn't she? Must be Boy Brown's influence. We'd better give him a dose of 'flu for that!” (all nod vigorously).
1st Ghost. “It's funny, but bushies are the best talkers you'd meet anywhere - but ask them to jot down a few lines!!!”
2nd Ghost. “You're right, you know. Remember all that stuff we used to dish up together to fill the mag, when we were short?”
4th Ghost. “They don't seem to realise that, to an editor, just a snippet of verse (doesn't even have to be original) is like a year's free subscription to anyone else.”
1st Ghost. “I liked those quotations of yours, Don. Mallory and all that stuff. You'd think anyone could dig them out, wouldn't you! But I guess half of them can't even read.”
2nd Ghost. Yes, if half the energy went into a bit of private research as went into arguing at general meetings, you could being out a mag. every week. Be a bit tough on Denise though, not to mention the post master at Willoughby.“
3rd Ghost. (suddenly re-appearing). “What's good on the stock market, Alex?”
4th Ghost. Go rattle your bones down in Danae Brook, Dot. This is important.”
Suddenly a voice comes from the other side of the house. “For goodness sake stop muttering to yourself and come to bed or I'll never get you up in the morning.”
The figures have gone. I pack my papers and head for the bathroom.
For all your transport from Blackheath contact Hatswell's Taxi & Transport Service. Ring, write, wire or call any hour - day or night.
'Phone: Blackheath W459 of W151.
Booking office: 4 doors from the Gardners Inn Hotel (look for the neon sign).
Speedy 5 or 8 passenger cars available. Large or small parties catered for.
We will be pleased to quote trips or special parties on application.
Anzacs, and, in particular, those who loved the bush -
We shall remember you in the days
When the warm winds sigh through the lonely house,
With a scent of the burning desert ways
Where fire and storm and smoke carouse;
We shall remember you in the spring
When the wattles flash a secret sign:
When winter hailstorms blow thundering:
When hillside harvests stand line on line.
Ah, then! dearest comrade, your strong right hand
And the thought of your merry, steadfast eyes
All come like a breath of a far-off land
Where spirits like yours are glad and wise:
And apart from the world and from Time's rebuke
We two shall read the Eternal book,
And the loud wind sinks to a low refrain
While we walk in those green pastured fields again.
Anne Glenny Wilson
Pte John Rignold. 13th Battalion 1st AIF.
I have seen them going the whole of the day and practically through the night without pause or rest - always with a sweet smile and gentle and comforting words to the sufferers - always by your cot at the slightest movement of the patient or sufferer - talking, whenever occasion arose, to take our thoughts away from the horrors that one sees all around - offering to write our letters and making a hundred other offers of assistance.
Nothing that I have seen in all this dreadful war has filled me with so much gratitude and admiration as the services rendered so willingly, so gently, by the Nurses, and Sisters of the Expeditionary Forces.
H.L. Galway. s. Australia. 1916.
The Iliad on the splendid achievements of the men of Anzac has yet to be written. The fine spirit in which the evacuation of Gallipoli was taken by those men and by their kinsman in Australia, is one of which this young nation may well be proud. Such spirit is a presage of ultimate victory.
Whatever regrets there may be for mistakes which robbed the noblest devotion and heroism of reward, and however poignant the reflection may be that so many brave men died in vain, the story of a glorious failure will ever be cherished throughout every corner of the world where the British flag flies.
One thing the reunion has proved - there are a lot of alcoholics who are not anonymous.
I don't think I have ever seen so many people in tents. Why, on Sunday even the heat was intense. (If you think that's weak, you should have seen some of the characters getting around on Sunday).
The smallest one to walk down under her own steam (with a little help) was the Wilson lass, aged 15 months - obviously good material. (Now its no good rushing to phone the Hon. Sec or putting in a report to Committee if you have a younger child who made the grade unaided - you should have broadcast it more.)
Some excellent groundwork was done by the Godfrey and his motor mower in hacking tracks through the Kunai grass. Despite a few disparaging remarks and grumbles - (“This is THE end!” - “Oh no! Not fire trails in Woods Ck!”) the only ones ever seen to spurn the tracks and bash through the long virgin grass were a couple of odd bods tramping through the bush late on Saturday night searching for stretchers.
The scene was like a bushwalkers' Farnborough, with all the old models putting on a brave front, and the latest additions standing confident and gleaming amidst the sombre background of their more time and trail-worn counterparts. (Lest anyone be offended, I must hasten to make it perfectly clear that this last paragraph refers exclusively to items of equipment).
The biggest bonanza was the Knightly entourage (neat word, eh?) boasting, as it did, a 10 x 8 marquee with floor, aluminium deck chairs, beach umbrella and pressure gas stove (Prospectives please note that this is not standard walking gear).
The most unusual set-up was undoubtedly the Putt double abdul, New Zealand style, long and lean with 3 feet of open wall all round. (If it had walls, young Harry would probably just pull them down anyway).
The camp fire was a great success. Paddy led the singing in his own vivacious manner - first with the small fry and later with the more mature types.
Taro played his flute, to the envy of many a younger one whose lungs are a bit wheezy, and Christine Kirkby entranced everyone with her descant and treble recorder playing, the liquid music being most appropriate to the surroundings.
As usual SBW talent produced a series of entertaining sketches and it was encouraging to see the younger ones contributing their share. The Noble children with Nancy Moppett gave us “The Mad Psychiatrist” and under difficult conditions for young voices did an excellent job.
The Lyre Bird starred Eddie, Wagg, Putto and Don Matthews with original costumes by the house of Kirkby. The Lyre bird's tail work like a charm and possession for it was hotly contested next day.
La Perouse starred Ray Kirkby, Dave Ingram, Eddie (she's tireless), Knightly and a host of extras (Pretty scabby lot actually). Jim Brown, ably assisted by Malcolm McGregor and Grace Rigg gave us the problems involved in running a T.V. advertising office.
Audrey Kenway and Bob Godfrey presented a “song without words” and Eileen Taylor and Jack Wren a golfing sketch.
Later, Jim Brown auctioned off a number of slaves delivered to his care by Abdul Matthews all the way from Mer, and we learned a few things about them we hadn't previously realised, The bidding was brisk for the younger more attractive slaves but little enthusiasm could be raised in the large crowd for some of the older, more stringy ones. (Well, let's face it. Would you like to own Frank Ashdown or Paddy!).
To cap it all off, Kevin Ardi1 produced a pack full of surprises, and initiated the year's crop of new members. Paddy and Bill Rodgers (and we believe, Molly too) scored a cup of tea in bed, and various odd shouts broke the stillness from time to time through the ensuing hours, as the hapless members (under pain of very moving treatment) carried out their chores.
Supper was produced and served a la Ashdown, and closely resembled the original feeding of the multitudes. The battlers carried on at Killara and Malcolm McGregor produced his own private song book to augment the club issues and some fine singing ensued, being occasionally drowned out, however, by the gossip and giggling going on on the other side of the fire.
On Sunday morning there were a lot of bleary-dyed people staggering around, though a few, valiantly persistent amidst the effervescence of youth, tried to get a little extra sleep.
Under Eddie's (that girl's still here) professional eye (or voice) the children's competitions went off with much gusto, no tears, lusty digging and some fine models. Meantime, the older children were playing up-stream, throwing coloured powder all over each other. Before long the erstwhile peaceful Grose resembled the massacre of St. Francis with its brilliant red water and an occasional many-hued body floating down.
Audrey Kenway cleared up the damper competition with a very succulent sample. An otherwise successful competition was marred by one unfortunate episode. A competitor (who shall be nameless) resorted to the use of eggs in her damper, and was disqualified. Futilely she argued that it was a roo egg and had, in fact, ceased to be an egg when it was petrified eons ago. We trust there will be no repetition in future years. Amongst the extraneous activities going on, we heard Jenny Madden deliver an impassioned address on the rights of womanhood (they appanent1y do have some) and the Colleys demolished their house and built a new one (on paper of course) so that Alex could see the sun set.
And so, in the words of Fitzpatrick “As we say farewell to this glittering spectacle, this riot of colour, these natural golden beaches, these shady woodlands, and the interesting inhabitants with their own peculiar songs and legends the last figure we see as the sun sinks slowly in the west, is that well-known ex tribal leader, Gentle Jack, swinging around the camp sites with his big smile and a long-handled shovel on his shoulder.”
P.S. Before you parents get too excited, be warned that there is no truth in the rumour that Putto has volunteered to mind all the children at next year's reunion.
|Non-member husbands and/or wives of Active members||4|
|Children of above||41|
|Children of same||4|
|Children of same||5|
|Prospective Membership||Prospective Members||6|
|Visitors||Friends - Adult||2|
That first time we come in buses and camped
Nearer the river. Wasn't this the tree
You said Listen bell birds. There's Jack
I always liked him, something long ago.
Will they sing those rounds? The one I like -
Poor Tommy Tinker; you've brought ice;
The children sing it now. Black Label. Very nice.
She was a tall girl rather thin. No that
Was her friend, you always did confuse them.
Came a few times then went to England, Italy
and the rest. Yes someone she met there:
Someone keeps in touch. Suburban drudge.
We crossed the Cox in really bitter weather,
We used to go to symphonies together.
Our thirty-fourth Annual General Meeting commenced with a welcome to new member Fred Thynne.
As requested at our last meeting, Brian Harvey, Magazine Business Manager, had made inquiries about a new duplicator. Brian reported that, as a result of his investigations, he was of the opinion that a Rota machine, costing £129.7.6 would be suitable. The net cost to the Club, after allowing £l5 for a trade-in of the old machine, would be £114.7.6. He moved that we purchase the machine, the cost to be borne £50 by the Club and £64.7.6 by the magazine, which could afford this amount by reason of accumulated surpluses bringing cash in hand and at bank to £96.10. (Members will recall that Fred Kennedy donated £50 to Club funds for this purpose - the real net cost to Club funds would therefore be nil under Brian's proposal). The motion was well received. Jack Gentle pointed out that the duplicator was the hardest worked machine in the Club. Clem Hallstrom's main concern was that we were not spending enough, and he moved an amendment that the amount should be increased by £40. This was debated at some length. Brian told is that the only difference between the model he proposed and the next most expensive, costing another £70 was that the more expensive machine was electrically operated. Colin Putt said that, from an engineering viewpoint, if the machine was strong enough to withstand the battering of mechanica1 motivation it would be adequately strong for hand operation. Colin counselled spending the money immediately on a new machine before we had time to think of something else quite useless to spend it on. Ray Kirkby was of the opinion that our choice should be determined by whether it was the machine or the operator, Denise Hull, that would wear. In reply Brian strongly recommended the hand operated machine. He said it would do the job adequately and was simple and easy to service. His motion was carried.
Next Jack Gentle explained to the meeting the purpose of his constitutional amendment. He said that one of the reasons for writing letters to Federation, instead of leaving Club business to our delegates, was that Federation delegates were not on committee and did not always attend general meetings. He thought it would be an advantage too if the term of our delegates corresponded with the Club year. This would enable Federation delegates from other Clubs to get to know them before the annual election of Federation delegates in July. The amendment was carried.
In his walks report Wilf Hilder told us that his exploration of the Block-up area at the beginning of February had been attended by three prospectives who had walked and swam very well. The Saturday walk on the Grose on the same weekend was hot. Camp sites along the Grose, always few, are now non-existent between the Faulconbridge track and Burralow Creek. On the week-end of 16, 17 and 18, the weather was so bad that Stuart Brooks with four members and four prospectives was unable to determine his exact position in the mists which encompassed Mountain Lagoon, with Frank Ashdown's beach trip with Brian Harvey's Boat trip were cancelled. Alice Smith's Wood's Creek - Burralow Creek trip on the next week-end was attended by 6 members and 1 prospective. The instructional week-end, led by Dick Child, was enjoyed by 6 Members, 10 prospectives and 1 visitor. Wilf also told us that the Gundangeroo area was now covered by two Lands Department maps.
In response to a request from Federation, Brian Harvey moved, and it was resolved, that the S.B.W provide suitable camp fire entertainment, in keeping with the commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the reservation of Bluegum forest, at the Federational annual reunion to be held there this year. At Ron Knightley's suggestion, Wal Roots was made the convenor of a committee to organise the entertainment. Delegates reported that Federation was seriously concerned about our report (from last meeting) of the proposed bulldozed road over Cloudmaker.
It was decided to leave the annual subscription and entrance fee unchanged.
Jim Brown reported more dog traps in walking country (one went off and grazed his shoe). The traps are on the Sassafras-Tolwong Road, beyond the good motor road and on the track along the south side of Jerricknorra Creek near the Gap leading to Yadboro Creek.
In general business Elsie Bruggy appealed for lady search and rescue members. Phyllis Ratcliffe suggested that, in our lectures to scouts we should tell them more about light weight gear, and in particular, advise little scouts not to carry big heavy ropes, great gridirons and other backbreaking paraphenalia.
Heather Joyce offered the thanks of S. and R. to the people out on two recent searches. One hundred and two had turned out for the Katoomba search, which had occasioned very favourable comment from the police. It might prove possible to recompense searchers from public funds.
While these discussions took place the election of officers went on. It was after 10 p.m. when he President closed the meeting and called upon members to “reune”.
A full list of office-bearers will be published next month.
Polish up the wide angle lenses and exposure meters, oil the tripod and get cracking!
“Why?” you ask. - Foolish you!
Apparently you haven't heard that they're looking for a good scenic shot (in colour, naturally) for this year's N.P.A. Xmas card.
Don't forget, what Helen Barrett has done, any of you can do (except of course, for talking George Gray into getting married. Anyway, why the beard now, George?)
So if you have something good in the way of a colour slide, or as soon as you get such, produce it for scrutiny.
See Tom Moppett (41-8873), John White (MX2271 - B) or the Editor. Suggest you place it in an envelope, with your name on it. (the envelope, you clot).
Marie B. Byles.
I suppose you would call it hiking, not bushwalking, though there is plenty of wild prickly jungle in the Sagaing Hills near Mandalay. Indeed, they are almost impassable without a path, and you cannot very well wear walking shoes and socks because you have to slip them off every time you see statues of white lions for these mean sacred ground, either a monastery or a pagoda.
But even though it was only hiking I thoroughly enjoyed the days I was taken on pilgrimage up the sacred Sagaing hills this Christmas. They were a break in the life at meditation centres of which I have told in Journey into Burmese Silence that Allen and Unwin have just published. Nearly every crest of these holy hills is crowned with a white and gold pagoda instead of a prosaic cairn or trig station and you are always meeting mythological beasts and golden Buddha statues and curious Nuts, the effigies of nature-spirits.
We crossed the wide Irrawaddy river in a boat like a bird painted with gay designs, climbed up the muddy banks to a flagged footpath whose entrance was guarded by two lifelike dragons. Their tails were firmly held by a mythological bird perched on a stone archway. This bird likes eating dragons as a change of diet from worms, but as the dragons don't like being eaten there is sometimes a difference of opinion between them.
The path mounts steeply passing various humble bamboo nunneries roofed sometimes with the very latest roofing material, corrigated iron which must make them something like ovens in Summer. Above them are palatial monasteries, of course all with corrigated iron roofs! One is so magnificent that even a luxourous hotel could hardly better it. The Sagaing Hills are composed of a metamorphosed limestone riddled with caves. In this palatial monastery the caves have been carefully rounded, floored and whitewashed. They provide comfortable bedrooms warm in winter and a cool escape in summer from the space beneath the corrigated iron, I imagine.
Higher up, the nunneries and monasteries become fewer and fewer, likewise the huge concrete water tanks with cement catchment areas generally guarded by two faithful dragons whose long tails keep away both rubbish and human beings.
Some of the paths pass through shady jungle whose taller trees, such as frangipani, and tamarind have been imported but which would now grow wild. Some of them lead you up frightfully steep steps the first ten or so of which are as high as they are wide, and the others not much gentler so that you almost feel as if you were rock-climbing. Others again are sloping colonades roofed with corrigated iron in picturesque tiers and supported on huge teak wood columns. When the flagged paths are not roofed over they can get very hot in the tropical sun when you are wearing only thin slippers.
However, there are large earthenware pots containing drinking water - except being a foreigner it is unwise to drink unboiled water - at convenient resting places, and tea-shops and stalls at all the principal shrines, and no lack of strictly teetotal beverages for the hundreds of pilgrims who come every sabbath day and sometimes on other days also. Many of them have come from the most distant parts of Burma and it it usually these who fill the offering boxes at the Shrines with especially generous donations for the upkeep of the pagodas. And pagodas need ceaseless upkeep; usually some part of them spoils the photograph by being draped in scaffolding or bamboo-matting or women labourers carrying anything up to 140 lbs on their heads.
But perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the sacred hills are the countless small pagodas falling into ruin which no one bothers to repair. Gradually the coating of white washed concrete chips off aided by a few earthquakes and reveals the red bricks beneath, the most vulnerable of all materials to the trembling of the earth. One large pagoda has had a huge piece bitten out of it by an earthquake and now stands perilously above monasteries, nunneries and a lime-makers village. I said these ruinous pagodas are the best feature of the hills; this is not on account of their beauty but because they insure that the hills will never be over populated; for you may never destroy a pagoda or build on its sacred ground, and always must you remove your shoes in its precincts even though the prickles are as big as needles and far stronger.
A little further up the Irrawaddy river arc the sacred hills of Mingun where you may travel along sandy tracks in bullock waggons, far pleasanter for tender white feet in the noonday tropic sun. Here the lower hills are composed of hardened sand, former alluvia1 flats of the river. Birds hollow out holes in them for nests and monks for meditation caves, but as the caves are prone to fall in, the meditator would have to be fairly proficient to sit in them without distraction.
Always from the tops of the hills you look over jungle and gleaming white shrines to the calm blue waters of the Irrawaddy river, whose banks in winter are planted with a patchwork of crops bordered with a fringe of emerald green rice. Here the hard-working peasant, his wife and his faithful bullocks ploughs the earth with the same wooden plough that has been used for thousands of years and sow and reap the harvest. He does not mind much whether he pays his taxes to U Nu's Government or General Ne Win's or to some rebel chief. On special days he visits the shrines; at other times he makes gifts to monks and pagodas and puts flowers before the effigies of the Nuts. There is no hunger in Burma and at all times he calls his bullocks by endearing names, pets his children and is always ready to laugh and be friendly.
The sacred hills are a delightful district for hiking provided you go with a heart that does not mind taking off shoes and going down with the face on the ground before sacred shrines and orange-robed monks - nuns do not count!
Overheard in the clubroom. “He's a real puritan. He's never got over being born in bed with a lady.”
1 across. - Silence a letter to make a product that wasn't very popular at a recent social evening.
13.14.15. St. Anthony's - Haunted House - Yeola - Kiama. 25m. R. Leader: Peter Stitt. MX3381 extn 238 (B). Private transport. A mystery walk. Be warned, Peter has not been here and is going on Boy Brown's advice. Good walking country, so should be quite interesting. Would probably be classed as a test walk.
188.8.131.52.23. Easter (as if you didn't know). There are three official walks going. Prospectives should note that while these are not marked as test walks they may be accepted as such on a recommendation of the leader. Moral; Look after the leader.
1. Cars to “The Vines” - the Castle and return - 30m - R. Fascinating, spectacular country and good walking. You can learn a bit about it before you go by reading Colin Watson's article in this year's “The Bushwalker”. If you haven't a copy (3/-) see David Ingram. Leader Eric Adcock - U 3257. Private transport.
2. Glen Davis - Capertee R. - Mt. Uraterer - Capertee R - Wolgan R. - Newnes Glen Davis. 48m. R. A trip for the rugged and energetic. (A poor sense of smell will also be an advantage if Wilf takes his acetylene lamp). This is challenging, interesting country where if you take your eye off the map and compass for more than 5 minutes, you're a case for S & R. See Wilf Hilder - XB3144 - Private Transport.
3. Badgery's - Iron Pot Ck - Tolwong Plateau - Tim's Gully - Shoalhaven R - Badgery's - 40 M. This is good walking country. Half the walk is on the tops through woodlands - half along the river. River crossings are necessary but most can be waded if the river is low enough. However, you'll have to swim the Block-Up - about 100 yards. (If you're like the leader and can't make that distance you'll just float down on your pack, too). Leader - Stuart Brooks - J 4343. Private Transport.
28.29. Blackheath - Blue Gum - Lockley's Pylon - Return. Leader John White - Mx2271 (B) XW6526 - 16m. A perennial favourite you'll really enjoy - Rugged Grose scenery. Beautiful Blue Gum Forest and an interesting walk up Lockleys. 12.50 pm train from Central to Blackheath.
4.5.6. Barallier - Murrun Ck - Bindock Gorge - Murrun Ck - Barallier - 25m R. Rugged stuff. A trip for the experienced walker, to whom it should prove most interesting. Leader - Mick Elfick. Private Transport.
5.6. Glenbrook - St. Helena - Western Ck - Martin's lookout - Springwood. Pleasant country. Should be a nice relaxing kind of walk. Leader Lynette White - JF6065 (B).
Who's going walking this Easter?? You are!!!
Then here is a handy reminder list to help you put the right gear in your rucksack and really enjoy the weekend.
Batteries, Bootlaces, Tent Cord, First Aid, Dried Vegetables, Lemon & Lime Powder, Windjacket, Torch & Spare Globes, Heat Tablets, Primus Stove, Water Bucket, Food Containers, Shoulder Pads, Maps & Compass, Tin Opener, Leather Dressing, Socks, Sleeping Bag Cover, Waterproof Rucksack-lining, A Rugged Rough-wool Norwegian Jumper.
You're taking the car on a camping trip with the kids. Perhaps an air-bed or stretcher will ease the ageing bones. We have plenty of handy items just for car campers. Come in.
We'll be busy at Easter - so see us soon!!!
P.S. Ask to see our latest super lightweight nylon-groundsheet-capes - weight 9 ozs!!!
Paddy Pallin Pty. Ltd. Lightweight Camp Gear.
201 Castlereagh St., Sydney. BM 2683.
The steep country south-east from Jenolan is gashed by a series of three thousand foot deep chasms down whose precipitous sides waterfalls roar, then tumble as swift flowing creeks down dark narrow boulder-filled gorges. They are savage, lonely places, visible only to the tourist on Kanangra Plateau as near-vertical cliffs hung with close vegetation and dripping ferns, in the early morning sea of mist out of which isolated black peaks peep like islands in an eerie polar sea. To the eager young climber or bushwalker this is the country of his dreams, where his call to adventure is fulfilled. An aura of excitement hangs round the place names - Murdering Gully, Kanangra Gorge, Danai Brook, Thurat Rift, the Pooken Deep.
Fired by enthusiasm a party of young people, members of the Sydney University Climbing Club, set out for the big adventure, a descent of Kanangra Gorge, returning to the Plateau by way of Murdering Gully. They carefully practiced their newly learnt art of abseiling, being careful to select adequate belays, to tie the approved knots and handle the ropes correctly. The accident happened so suddenly. Some of the boys had successfully descended the cliff by the waterfal1, but a long time elapsed before the rest of the party showed up. It was nearing dusk. Young Dick Donaghey had climbed to a ledge beside the waterfall to give assistance to one of the girls as he came down. He grinned encouragement - “It's nearly over,” he said and stepped forward impulsively to help her. His foot slipped on the wet slimey rock and his horrified friends saw him slide down a waterfall chute to lie, an inert heap, in the creek some 30 feet below. He was in great pain as they picked him up and carefully carried him to the only bit of level ground they could find, a few square yards at the side of the gorge sheltered by a small clump of trees. Here they spent an anxious night, sleeping fitfully, and at first light on Sunday morning the fastest members of the group set out for help. They drove back to Caves House and got the loan of ropes, axes and a stretcher, and as luck would have it they also got Bob Binks who was just returning from a fishing trip with a couple of friends. Bob had decided that instead of heading straight for home he would make a side trip to show them Kanangra Walls, when he was accosted by this group of worried boys. “Are you a medical practitioner?” asked their spokesman deferentially. “Yes,” said Bob, “I am a medical practitioner.” “Are you a practicing qualified medical practioner?” “Look,” said Bob who didn't think he could get his tongue around a sentence like that, “Let's cut the formalities, I can see you're in trouble. I'm a doctor; what can I do to help you?” So the relieved boys poured out the whole story and Bob went straight back with them.
Back in the gorge a silent group sat with their injured friend. There was little they could do to ease his pain. When Bob arrived he diagnosed the trouble, gave pain-killing drugs, strapped up the broken feet with adhesive bandages bandaged up the sprained wrist and cut chin, and stayed with the patient till late afternoon. It soon became evident that the party was not strong enough to try rescue operations. When they tried out the borrowed stretcher its shafts broke and it is still lying down in Kanangra Gorge, unused. Leaving five of the boys with Dick, Bob and the rest of the party climbed out of the Gorge, drove down to Caves House, and sent an S.O.S. through to Sydney that this was a Search and Rescue job, and all available manpower, especially rock-climbers, would be needed. Swiftly Paddy Pallin, Ninian Melville and the various Clubs' S. & R. contact officers went into action, and the telephone wires ran hot.
Meanwhile, how are the potential rescuers spending their time, unaware of what is in store for them? Speaking for the Bushwalkers, it so happened that this week-end was their annual Reunion. Round the merry campfire Paddy had pranced all Saturday night, leading the community in song, and as one of the re-uners I didn't get any sleep either, but who cares, we can fall into bed and sleep like logs when we get home on Sunday night. That sounds very nice in theory, but what actually happens? I have just hit the pillow at 9 p m. when the phone rings. Can I set out immediately for a rescue down Kanangra Gorge? Yes, of course I'm available. Very well then, David Roots will collect Rus Kippax and Les Tattersall of the Rock Climbing Club and then will pick up me. Be ready to leave in half an hour. So I put on my shorts and shirt again, get out the pack and put in nylon rope, sling and Karabiner, 8 bananas and a tin of herrings which seems to be the only food left in the house, and a sleeping bag, hoping there may a chance for an hour's sleep when we get to Kanangra. Then the Rootsie's waggon arrives and we are away.
Crammed in the front seat we made the long journey through the night, and just as dawn was streaking the sky saw the half dozen cars pulled up by the roadside near the mud hut site. A sleeping-bagged figure sat up in one of the cars and a torch showed up Paddy's face. “Try to get half an hour's sleep till the others arrive,” he said. So we rolled into our bags and tried to sleep, but not very successfully, and then Nin was getting the party up and organised. He put Dave Roots in charge of the cliff rescue operations, so he and Rus and Les and I, together with Colin Oloman who had brought up the news of the accident, dodging the newspaper reporters and photographers, took off about 6 a.m. to go down into the gorge and reconnoitre the best way to bring Dick out. Colin led us down the way his party had gone, but instead of following their route down by the side of the waterfall we did a couple of long abseils which got us down more quickly, and by about 9 o'clock we were down having our first look at the patient. He was a quiet, dark, good-looking lad. It was a pity his chivalry had put him in this predicament.
We now had a close inspection of the three possible ways out, chose the one we liked best and sent up a pre-arranged signal to Col Oloman who had waited up above the waterfall. He went back to the waiting cars to bring the men and equipment to the top of our rescue route, and for two or three hours while awaiting their arrival with the ropes and stretcher we reconnoitred up and down the rock faces, cleared away some of the debris and vegetable growth on our selected route, and then had a brief snooze in the sun. Dave Roots and Rus got their heads together and worked out the mechanics of the flying-fox ropeways they would need, Dave lugging around a small pack heavy with his beloved pitons, expansion bolts, escaliers, piton hammer and all the rest of the ironmongery. Is it U or non-U to climb mountains with all these mechanical aids? I had rather inclined to the latter belief, but have now completely reversed my opinion; without David and his ironmongery they would never have got the boy out. David worked with all the ardour of an artist at his work, and enjoyed every minute of it.
Now here is a pleasant little entre-act which may entertain the audience. Rus asked me to do a bit of scouting around up the precipice to see if I could find an alternative way out for the camp-followers, i.e. those who weren't directly engaged in ferrying the stretcher across, so that they wouldn't clutter up the route. Accordingly I went up a wall and up a craggy bit of rock outcrop and then found myself in a high hanging gulley with a 30 ft. mudslide which led to the tree line above. Thinking, it would be safer if I had an ice axe to dig steps up the mud, I cast around for a likely piece of stick to use and found something about 15 inches long that looked like a useful tool. When I finally surmounted the climb and was about to throw away my trusty tool I took a look at it and discovered it was a human leg bone. Now here was an enthralling mystery for the police to solve! But how was I to take the bone back? I couldn't climb with it in my hand, and if I threw it down I might lose it. Should I climb down with it clenched between my teeth? I eyed it speculatively, but it looked too grisly for that, so I finally shoved it down my shirtfront and descended. By the time I got back to the boys the rest of the party was arriving, and the stretcher was on its way down. I showed my trophy to one of the lads who was a vet student, but he said it wasn't any animal bone that he knew. I could have told him that. They urged me to throw it away as it was bad luck, but no, I wanted to keep it to show to Dr. Binks. I put it on top of my pack with my jumpers but later on when I retrieved my pack the bone had vanished. Without an Exhibit the police would have nothing to go on, so there the story will have to close the mystery remain unsolved.
The boys down in the gully had now strapped Dick into the canvas and bamboo stretcher loaned by the Police, and could be seen as tiny ant-like figures bringing him up the rocky moraine to the base of the cliff. Here the full difficulty of the situation burst upon them. How were the bearers going to be able to help with the stretcher when the cliff was nearly vertical, slightly bulging, and had nothing in the way of handholds and footholds except for a narrow line suitable for only one person at a time? A rope was taken up the cliff to a small tree about a hundred feet above, but it was clearly impossible to drag up the stretcher by brute force over the bulge. I had been telling Rus Kippax how, at an S & R Demonstration a couple of years back, I had been the victim and Col Putt had “rescued” me by pick-a-backing me like a sack of coals slung over his shoulder by my arms and lying down his back. Looking down from my high perch where I was helping the boys peg out a ropeway along the cliff face I saw that Rus had decided to try this method. Dick was unstrapped from the stretcher, tied to Rus back by means of a bos'un's chair, with his poor bandaged feet dangling, and Rus started his Herculean climb. He was belayed from the tree up top hand had a thin nylon handline to pull on when necessary, but he took the whole of Dick's weight as he climbed. Yarmak (Graham Nelson) followed behind, to give a shove if and when possible, the boys up top heaved on the belay rope, and inch by inch up they came. The rope tying Dick round Rus's chest slipped up and nearly throttled him. There were frantic shouts of “Ease off!” “Ease off!” Rus collected his breath for a few seconds, then it was on again. By the time he surmounted the climb the boys were hauling in the last of the 120 ft of rope, and Rus collapsed on the ledge just about done in. God what an effort! and what a man!
Now the stretcher was pulled up, Dick was strapped in again, and the interesting business of launching him on the first of Rootsie's flying foxes began. Dave had hammered into the rock an expansion bolt, to which a link was attached. The rope which was to bear the stretcher was threaded though this, then carried across the cliff face for about a hundred feet and threaded through another expansion bolt link. Half a dozen slings were tied round Dick in the stretcher, karabiners were hooked through the loops, and by much careful manoevring he was hooked on to the bearing rope. By means of a rope attached to the foot end of the stretcher he was then pulled across to the extreme end of the rope, lifted off onto the small ledge hardly big enough to take the stretcher, let alone the helpers, ferried along another bit of ledge and launched on the next aerial ropeway. This one had no landing platform, as the only belay available was a tree growing out from the side of the cliff, with only enough room for Rus to stand and pull the stretcher across. However, if we could lassoo the bearing rope from a little side waterfall chute we could pull him across the necessary five or six feet and land him there. This called for some very precise judgement, because the far end of the rope had to be slackened as the near end of the rope was pulled in to the chute, and both sets of operators were out of sight and call of each other. However, by sending a messenger back and forth across the face, bringing and relaying messages the job was done, and it was with more than mere relief that we got him safely pulled in and landed.
Now it was necessary to manhandle the stretcher up a tricky bit of rock to a knife-edge ridge which lies like a partition between the two parts of the gulley. The track clearers had done good work here with the axes and the sweating bearers did the rest. On the ridge top they took a well earned rest, while the camp followers came up behind, untying and coiling up the ropes, and bringing along the packs. Yarmak with half a thousand feet of rope coiled around him, looked like an advertisement for Michigan tyres as he crept around the ledges.
Now it was necessary to slide the stretcher down from this ridge into the creek in the next gully. Downhill was obviously much easier than uphill, and the bearers slid down with great gusto and surprised even themselves when they arrived so quickly at the creek. Here another well earned rest, and while we were resting who should come clambering down but good old Paddy, and a little later Bob Binks. They had a little reassuring chat with Dick, who had borne all this juggling about of his defenceless body with uncomplaining fortitude. He had supreme confidence in his rescuers. That's a good way to be, when you have no choice.
“I was in your shop on Friday,” said Dick. “Do you remember me? I bought a sling from you.” “Oh my goodness,” cried Paddy, “Don't say it was my sling that let you down!”
Down at the creek bed a pleasant surprise awaited us. While we had been entirely engrossed in the goings in the first gully, Ron Wardrop and his helpers had been hard at it in this gully and a whole set of ropes had been erected up the steep mountain side, so it was only a matter of hooking on our burden and hauling away. It was now about 3 p.m. “We'll have him out by dark,” we told Paddy as he and Bob started back up the creek the way they had come. I don't think Paddy quite believed this, or else he didn't want to raise the hopes of Dick's mother waiting back at Caves House in case she should be disappointed. Anyhow the news got back to the Press and the A.B.C. that the patient was not likely to be brought out that night. While an avid public was being regaled with this bit of news the rescuers worked on relentlessly. By now they had properly got the feel of things, and they came up like a rocket - the stretcher and six bearers; a set of relieving bearers at the side, several bods behind to push if required, all the camp followers with the spare ropes and packs, while up at the hauling end six or eight boys hauled on the rope to such good effect that the karebiner (tied to a tree and used as a pulley) ran hot and the rope began to char. It was then a case of “Ease off! Erase off”! While the karabiner cooled down and a fresh sling was used to tie it to the tree.
By about 5 o'c1ock a fine rain started to spit, but we all ignored it and it soon gave up. Finally the route led up a slope where a number of loose rocks were dislodged and went hurtling down towards the stretcher. The bearers scattered with loud shouts and curses, and Dick's guardian angel safeguarded his defenceless head as the great blocks burst and exploded all around him. Finally up to the plateau top by 6.30 p.m. just as dark came on and a thick mist enveloped the whole scene. Here Nin Melville was waiting with a number of torches, so all who had spare hands took one and an eerie walk began with torches ahead flashing through the swirling gloom, and shouts of “Don't go too far to the left or you'll go over the precipice. We don't want another accident on our hands!” “Don't go too far to the right or you'll finish up in the swamp!” “Don't go so fast, you in front; you're leaving the stretcher party behind!”
We walked across the Plateau by instinct, came to the correct creek-crossing in the dark, and when about a mile from the cars Nin let out piercing whistles which were answered by honking of car horns, and we came in by radar as it were.
Dick was transferred to Bob Binks Station waggon with a nice soft mattress in it, taken down to Caves House to a waiting mother who ran to him and kissed him through the window, and then Bob drove them down to Sydney and the North Shore Hospital for Dick
The rescuers sorted out their gear as best they could be means of someone's arc light, then Rus and Rootsie and Les and I drove off through the dark, a glance back showing the edifying scene of press reporters taking down somebody's statements in little notebooks, and those somebodies weren't us.
Down to Caves House, where Dick's brother was manfully delving into his pocket every time another car arrived, and shouting the occupants to drinks. We finished up thirty-five of us in the lounge, where rough walking types are not usually welcomed, drinking beer and answering roll call. One boy who was still a bit shakey knocked over his glass of beer. We mopped it up with a small handkerchief and wrung it back into his glass, leaving it for the drinks waiter. It would be a pity if the Caves House proprietor thought we were rough uncouth types, who go around making messes. And here, too I was re-united with my pack. Some kind person had picked it up down in the second gully and brought it all this way for me. He didn't know my shoes were in it. I had been doing all the rock-face climbing bare-footed but when we got into the scree gullie I could have used them. With a feeling of thankfulness I clothed myself in my shoes and gave Rootsie back his nylon socks.
Then Heigh-ho for home and bed by 2 a.m. Tuesday. No sleep since the previous Friday night. It will take wild hones to get me up during the next twelve hours. The family got their own breakfast and got themselves off to school, while deep unconsciousness washed over my sleeping body. Suddenly the telephone rang piercingly. I leapt out of bed. Said a sweet voice on the other end of the line, “Is that Mrs Butler?” “I think so,” said I, not being quite sure. “Could I interest you in a raffle ticket for the Spastic Centre?” “Go on!” prompted a malevolent voice inside me, “Say it! Tell her where to put her ticket!” But years of training in politeness came to my aid and I said sweetly, “No thank you, not today,” and hung up and went back to bed. Other people suffered worse than that though. Rus, for instance, was woken up at 6 a.m. with reporters and photographers from six different papers pounding on the front door. He is thinking of retiring to a monastery.
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Another working bee was held at Lovett Bay, Pittwater, on 24-25th March under the guidance of John White. The object was to clear the tracks from the Kuringai Trust's Wharf at Lovett Bay to The Flagstaff and to West Head Road via Pockley's Glen. About 8 turned up during the Saturday and the track to The Flagstaff Lookout was opened up completely and is now negotiable without the need to search amongst the scrub and bracken in an effort to locate a route to the tops. From The Flagstaff to West Head Road, following Mrs. Stoddart's cairned track, is somewhat overgrown after the wet summer, but a fire access trail coming up from Lovett Bay is available over part of the way. West Head Road is now a good gravel motor road apparently prepared for bitumen sealing. It is well used by Sunday motorists and should be avoided by walkers.
Some good work was done clearing the Pockley's Glen track west from the shelter shed at Lovett Bay, but there remains a lot to be done before this track will be easily negotiable. Watch for the dates of future working bees in this scenic area and don't be scared by the title “working bee” as a definite picnic-camping week-end atmosphere is noticable throughout the proceedings.
The reason why “Back of Beyond” was not screened as programmed, was that I was under the mistaken impression that the Shell Company was sending one of their men along with the film and projector. I have since discovered that we were to have picked up the film from The Shell library, borrowed a 16mm projector and screened it ourselves. The fault is mine entirely and I wish to extend my humble apologies to you all especially to those who made a big effort to get in to see it.
P.S. I hope to have “Back of Beyond” on the September to December programme, that is, if I haven't got the sack in the meantime.
46 members and friends attended the theatre party to see Luisillo and his Spanish Dance Theatre on 6th March, and had a very enjoyable evening. We left the theatre with the clicking of castanets and the rhythmic stamping of agile feet in our ears. Proceeds from the evening amounted to £5.15.0.
On 21st March, Ninian Melville, Federation's Search and Rescue Field Organiser, gave us an interesting and timely lecture on Safety in the Bush. Ninian maintained that most accidents stemmed from carelessness and that the most dangerous time of day for accidents was 5 o'clock in the evening when lighting begins to fail and bodies are weary.
April 29. Campbelltown - bus to Appin - George's River - Wedderburn - The Woolwash - Campbelltown. This trip will visit a small section of George's River, then along the tops to O'Hare's Creek just above The Woolwash, country which is rarely walked these days. 8.25 a.m. Goulburn train Central Steam Station to Campbelltown. 10 a.m. bus Campbelltown to Appin. Fares: Campbelltown return 7/6 plus about 2/6 bus fare. Map; Camden Military. Leader: David Ingram.
May 6 and May 13. At the time of going to press, no day walks have been volunteered for these two dates on the forthcoming Walks Programme.