Table of Contents
THE SYDNEY BUSHWALKER
A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bushwalker, the N.S,W. Nurses' Association Rooms “Northcote Building,” Reily Place, Sydney. Box No. 44760 G.P.O. Sydney. Phone 843985.
|Bob Duncan, C.S.I.R.O. Camden. Camden - 69251
363 March 1965 Price 3/-
|Monthly Report February J.Brown
|Mumbedah Creek D. Finch
|L'il Sweetie Nuggetheart (Contd)
|The Morong Creek Bus Stop G.Wagg
|Mountain Equipment Ad.
|Seven Times Ten for Rene! Taro.
|Dot Butler's Private Swimming Carnival. Dot
|The End View of Fifty Canoneers Bill Ketas
|Jerrarra Creek Jim Jellybean
STOP PRESS THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING is Wednesday, 24th March, 1964
The February General Meeting
Often there is a fair-sized roll-up for the February meeting - possibly to see what sort of things the poorly attended January meeting has done - but this time the gathering was as small as January. There was one new member, Graham O'Keefe, and once the minutes were confirmed without demur, we had the Secretary telling us that this was the last chance to register changes of address before the list of members went to press.
Out of Correspondence we found that we had asked Colo Shire Council for permission to hold our Reunion at Woods Creek Reserve, and an approach had been made to the new owners of Bendethera. Rumour had it that the new owner was not so pleased with his purchase, and the time seemed opportune to ask about re-sale of the homestead block. The Carlingford Scouts were urgently seeking a Scoutmaster for their seniors.
Blandly the Treasurer told us that the monthly statement at the end of January was the same as the previous month - probably because all financial transactions had been carried out in advance owing to the Treasurer's temporary absence from active Treasuring.
There was, unhappily, a great deal of external noise from the building construction going on nearby, and this prevented any summary of the Walks Report. The only item heard related to the Instructional Weekend on the Nattai, attended by 22, which coincided with the latest (Lilo) version of Rudolph Cup contest, won by the Walks Secretary. It was admitted that the present whereabouts of this valuable trophy were unknown.
Federation Report, also was only half-heard, but included a refusal by Federation to take part in a “Treasure Hunt” organised by Blue Mountains City Council, and news of 7,000 to be expended on “improvements” in the Blue Mountains National Park, including extension of the fire road across Eureka Creek. National Parks Association commended the work of a S.B.W. member (John Luxton) on a report of the suitability of the Tinderry Mountains for reservation. Federation had asked the Railways Department to delete all reference to Bruce's Transmission Line Walk from its tourist publicity, as the trail is now almost non-existent in places.
To avoid recurring troubles with overdue parties on the Grose River Federation was suggesting to Blue Mountains National Park a clearing of fallen logs from the trail down the river, and a signpost indicating where to leave the river to go back to Faulconbridge. Federation's Reunion was set down for Blue Gum Forest on 3-4 April. And there was mention of delays in production of the Federation Annual, rounded off with an exhortation to S.B.W. to get cracking, seeing we were represented on the editorial and production side. The President said that seemed rather unreasonable and it was up to Federation to discuss the question with its publications committees.
On behalf of the Parks and Playgrounds it was reported that the Government was looking into its representations on exclusion of citizens from the Water Catchment areas.
Coming to General Business, the President announced a Committee decision that people may not attend barefoot. The President stated that it was not a unanimous decision, and did not bear her blessing, but the reasons advanced were - did not look nice, and not enhance the standing of the club - and could be injurious to the flooring.
Edna Stretton in Social advices mentioned a coming working bee at the Woods Creek Reunion site and Kath Brown asked if the usual organising sub-committee had been formed. Nominations were called, and Edna Stretton, Jack Gentle, Ern and Betty Farquhar were named. About this stage Jack Gentle mentioned a team would be needed to gather firewood, and Dot Butler proposed that the size of the campfire be reduced and kerosene flares used to illuminate the night's affairs.
Eddie Stretton sought volunteers for supper-making, and Nan Bourke offered assistance, but there was otherwise a strained silence. Edna then pointed out that it was not practicable for a committee to do all the work and said that, if there were no workers in the cause, she wished to withdraw from the Sub-committee. Jack Gentle endorsed this view and tendered his withdrawal.
The President suggested that his claim of no support was rather exaggerated, and helpers would be found Jack said, somewhat vehemently that after ten years of various committee posts, he felt it was no exaggeration to say the work could not be done without considerable willing assistance, and he therefore withdrew from the Committee.
The atmosphere being somewhat dour, the President hastened to point out that, as the President and Secretary were ex-officio members of any sub-committee, it seemed that the arrangements could be left to the four sub-committee members, armed with the usual power to co-opt.
Since there were no remaining matters that called for dealing in February, business wound up at this stage, unreasonably early with the clock showing barely 9.0 p m.
Congratulations to Helen and George Gray on the arrival of their first child - a daughter.
Don (Redtail) Finch. (Australian Day Weekend)
On Friday Kerry and Jerry picked me up and we drove to Jerry's home at Windsor. While Jerry packed, Kerry and I took advantage of his mother's hospitality, and devoured a large portion of her apple pie. Eventually we left, and when we arrived at the hut at Buathingeroo we found John White & Co making tea over a “Charlie Steve”. Kerry was rather cunning; while everyone was sipping tea, she moved into the shack, and made herself comfortable on the only bed with mattress. The rest took the remaining positions, Jerry and Laurie the floor, John No. 2 bed without mattress, me the table, John White the back of his panelvan. The night was peaceful except for the cars that went through every ten minutes or so.
In the morning Jerry went on a reconnaissance. He met Bob Duncan and party, who were going to do a bit of the Kowmung. At about 6.30 we drove about a mile along the road and parked on a fire road. Kerry and Jerry started walking along the fire road, while the rest of us talked about Tasmania. After a 100 yards Jerry looked back to see us just completing 50. This was the pattern for two miles, until we discovered we had missed a turnoff and went back half a mile to find it. The timber roads were so numerous that we gave up trying to follow them; we just stuck to the ridge. Finally we came to the end of the ridge, and made a beeline for the junction of two creeks, one of which was Mumbedah, which we were to follow down to Jenolan River.
The party was terribly slow. The creek was full of Trout. After a couple of hours we came to the first waterfall, and this took us an hour to climb around. It rained all day which further slowed us down. By lunch time our leader, Jerry, was beginning to have doubts about completing the trip. All possible alternatives to going back up the creek were considered, but a decision was put off until tea time. The party as it was could not possibly complete the trip. The decision finally made was that John White would lead John No. 2 and Laurie down to Jenolan River and up to the Caves, while Kerry, Jerry and I would continue on with the programmed trip and meet them at the Caves. The trip as the programme read was Kanangra Road, Mumbedah Creek, Jenolan River, Cox's River, Kanangra River, Whalania Chasm, Kanangra Road.
At 7 the next morning our half of the party set off, we soon reached Jenolan River where we ate some blackberries and then set off down the river. Jerry lead us over a short cut across a low saddle to the Cox. By 11 o'clock we were opposite Merrigal Creek, we walked down stream another half a mile, went for a swim and had lunch. We had a second lunch at Kanangaroo Clearing about 1.30 and later made camp at the junction of Kanangra River and Kanangra Creek.
While Kerry and Jerry cooked soup, I made a spear and went back to a pool in which we had seen a monstrous fish. I only threw the spear once because after the first throw I didn't see that fish again. When I got back to camp the others had eaten all the soup. They had reasoned that I wouldn't want soup and fresh fish as well, so I missed out. That wasn't all, when I went to make up my Deb I found the best part of it gone; they had used it to thicken their soup.
The next morning we left early and were well up Whalania Chasm by 9 a m. We saw a slippery dip about thirty feet high and at an angle of about 45 degrees. Bob Duncan said he had slid down it, and that we should look for it, but the water in the pool at the bottom was only about 2 feet deep, so we didn't try.
We moved on up the creek until we came to a waterfall, which the map said was 130 feet high. The cliff on the left look as though it might be climbable, so while Kerry went round the side Jerry and I went up it, and were on the tops in half an hour. Kerry arrived five minutes later; the leeches had been giving her a bad time, and she said so in no uncertain terms. Another half hour walking up the creek brought us to the spot where we had to climb out up the side of a ridge. We did this, found a fire trail and walked back to the Kanangra Road. We saw a fox on the road which promptly shot off when it saw us.
We were at the cars at 2.30 pm, and at Jenolan by 3.15. Jerry changed a flat tyre, but we couldn't see John White and party anywhere. Jerry and decided we would walk down Jenolan River and look for them, but we just got through the natural arch when there they were.
We met Duncan who said that Jerry tried to run him off the road. We left Jenolan about 5 o'clock and all had tea together at the La Boheme at Blackheath.
The Morong Creek Bus Stop
Well, this was an eye opener. I'd got so used to hear “all the young people have cars these days” that I was quite unprepared for this batch without so much as a motor scooter between them. Frantically on Thursday I phoned through my list of friends looking for starters, commencing at those with large and capacious vehicles and working right down. It was no good. I began to see the folly of planning a walk that falls during the Xmas Social Season. It was Snow Brown who put me on the track at last, “Why not hire a bus?” he said. A bus. A BUS ! Of course - so that's what we did.
Late Friday, with some trepidation, I paid the deposit and collected the nine seater bus from the hiring company. As I drove delicately through the Friday afternoon crush I was wishing they'd hired me some battered veteran rather than this shining immaculate vision that would show every scratch and bump.
Having got as far as Central without mishap and loaded Dot, Anne, John, Dave, Ian, Ross and assorted packs, I suddenly remembered Digby Rigby whom I'd arranged to pick up at Cronulla before we decided to take the bus, then remembered Dave Nurse whom I'd arranged to pick up at Lidcome. It took us hours to get over that problem but at least we could start on the real trip. We could bus off on the long journey to F.C.1!
Later, MUCH later, we were negotiating the last stretch of trail from Kanangra road toward F.C.1. As each fallen tree showed up in the head lights we either bumped and ground along some scrubby detour or squeezed through with the log menacing the duco on one side and the embankment the,other and Dot calling - “Come on: Come on! You're right:” And every time, I saw my deposit sprouting little wings and I imagined I'd never see it again. Then we came to the fallen tree at least eight feet through and decided to camp for the remainder of the night.
The morning was cool and overcast which lent no joy to the thought of plunging into those deep cold canyons. It also discouraged us from the intention of leaving our sleeping bags behind in the bus. We made a late start on foot after an abortive attempt to manouvre our buggy through the scrub at the end of the log. We may even have succeeded but for my excessive desire to preserve the paint work (and my deposit).
A snappy stroll along the road, incidentally without encountering any more logs, brought us to the long sought F.C.1.. Brian Harding who was to have met us here after doing a quick repair job on his Mum's washing machine was not around. Considering the lateness of the hour we conceded a victory to the washer and pressed on!
The scruffy scrub we passed through aSme-followed. Morong Creek down to the falls doesn't usually move anyone to…is'ptures-of pralae but Ian hopped and skipped the whole way uttering little gasps of “Isn't it mighty:” and “Gee ! I like this country:” It brought back whole areas of enthusiasm I'd forgotten.
We crossed above the falls and sidled down on the east side to the accompaniment of Digby's complaint about “missing THE FALLS”. In the Kowmung we were sheltered from the cool wind and the sun came out weakly as people prepared for the plunge. Rosso inspected his plastic bag and decided the holes weren't worth worrying about; Anne attached her glasses to her ears with string. People tightened straps, ate any bits of food they couldn't stuff into the waterproof and we were off.
The river was in a most benign mood. The level down enough to expose plenty of pavement and current not so strong as to constitute a worry to the weakest swimmer (namely myself). At about eloven we stopped to dry out on some pleasantly warm rocks. It also seem appropriate to eat some of our food before it got too wet as both Roos and I found that even small holes let in a surprising amount of water. Digby was being rather superior about his water proofing arrangements but I can remember him on a previous trip trying to dry out a handful of cigarettes in a frying pan.
Somehow in the midst of this activity, as our stop developed in a full scale lunch, Dot, who had partaken of her usual sip of water managed to doze with just sufficient movement of a piece of twig to keep the cloud of flies hovering.
Refreshed by this stop we passed on through about a mile of rapids where the water was really not deep enough to q.?..shiNathe numerous rocks. This didn't seem to deter Ross in the least. He floated the whole stretch bumping and graunching and giving shrill cries of delight although it must have felt like sliding down a giant scrubbing board for a mile. We all concluded that there was something unnatural about Rosso's backside.
After this stretch the fun became better and better. Often enthusiasts would not be able to decide whether to go down the shute or to bomb the pool, and would scramble back so as to try both. One particular shute carried both pack and wearer under water for about ten seconds to us timid souls it seemed more like half an hour, but Rosso had to do this no less than three times.
Presently Dot started asking when we were going to have lunch. As if to change the subject Brian Harding suddenly arrived much to everyone's surprise. It seemed Brian had been waiting at the wrong end of F.C.1 road. By the time he found our bus he was more than an hour behind so he hadn't wasted any time.
The afternoon wore on. Dave Rostrum's glorious suntan acquired a few minor abrasions looking rather like scratches in duco (my obsession). Dave Nurse was bearing up well under the enormous weight of his pack which was so heavy I'd expected both he and it to go straight to the bottom the first time he entered the water. A couple of others also knew that their packs had acquired an amount of weight that felt suspiciously like a sleeping bag full of water.
Dot was still asking about lunch but we were making such good progress that it seemed a better idea to push on to the next good spot for an early camp so as to give our gear a chance to dry out. But now the swims became longer and colder and the camp spots disappeared. At length after a long stretch of shadowed gorge, we found a leafy glade under gentle myrtles where the sun still shone and where the river had piled up enormous heaps of drift wood. This, we decided, was the place for us.
As we waited for the last members of the party to join us, we delved with mingled hopes and fears into our rucksacks. Ross,pulled out the wettest sleeping bag I had ever seen (until I looked at my own), and other people had similar troubles. Saturated-bread, bags of sugar turned to syrup and then the prize exhibit. Ross2s long-dwelt-upon Spaghetti coagulated into one sopping lump. The once proud owner sat gloomily adding his tears to the drops that rained from the sodden object and declaring that this was the worst blow of his walking career. He cheered up a lot when he found the centre not so soaked and was later soon peeling out barely discernable separate strands and dropping them delicately into his billy.
About this time John Torral came along with a sad tale of Dot who was stuck half a mile or so back with a damaged ankle. Was this her last desperate effort to make us stop for lunch? After some discussion about what food she was carrying it was decided to rescue her and so great was the concern for her roast shoulder of lamb that half the hungry crew went and with little effort but much stoicism from Dot arrived back in camp well before dark.
Our meal was followed by a most entertaining evening around the campfire as the many travellers in our group related their experiences in the water closets of other lands and the difficulties of purchasing toilet paper in the countries from Spain to India.
The next day we were away early through the last short stretch of the Deep. The sun was already warm and we moved over the smooth, sculptured granite with an almost sensual pleasure. But it was all too short as we arrived at the foot of our ridge.
This was the beginning of the worst time for Dot. Her ankle was obviously painful although she didn't complain. The young gallants employed themselves by clearing a track through the fallen tubers of the sally scrub while carthorsos like myself provided a rope for her to haul on as the occasion demanded. Thus we proceeded with Dot in tow up the first steep pinch to where Landrigans Greek runs almost into the saddle. After a refresher here we made steady progress and the climb was virtually over when we stopped for lunch.
Now came the tricky part - to navigate across the scrubby tops to the road. Fortunately there was no compass in the party so that saved us a lot of time map reading and so on, we simply travelled by democratic vote. Everyone told me the direction they thought we should go and we tried them all. By this novel method we steered an erratic course between the two extremes of Morong on one hand and Landrigan's on the other. This proved so successful that we were back at the bus by four o'clock, very relieved to find no trees fallen on it in our absence. Without delay we bundled in and after once more negotiating the hazards of the trail, sped off in a famished horde to the comforts of la Boheme at Blackheath.
On Monday morning with a great sense of relief I collected my deposit in full and decided that perhaps the nicest thing about a bus trip is that you do at least have the party together at the beginning and end of the trip.
Seven Times Ten For Rene!
Not so long ago, it was six times, and all declared such a party could not happen again. But it did - with some reservations - the limits of a cottage probably dictated the invitations. Rootsies Ayers Rock district was boundless for a party - AND - we did not have the three lamb sacrifice, dripping fat for hours and hours, but Oh the final tasty chapter!
In this latest party, divil a lamb was there 2 leg or 4. I think no party is complete without kids - they seem to fill in all the chinks - and the lambs of the S.B.W. - all home grown - are a treat for the eye and ear.
But 1895! That then was happening in Sydney - when Rene joined in the universal battle cry of the kingdom of the babes - east - west - milk's best. In '95, Sydney was a quiet well behaved city - where crossing a street anywhere, anytime, was just a snack; the great god to be - the car - was not yet fouling the air in every corner of the state - and - keeping the cremmys busy with its victims.
Good old stoamies, and the original horse power moved us around in comfort and safety - and now - but one horse remains on duty in the city - as anyone near Penfolds in Pitt St. knows. The harbour was alive with shapely silent ferries, and without any fuss, vehicles slipped across from Benelong to Milsons, Dictators of every savage breed were undreamed of.
Stamps 1d, tram sections 1d, the SMH was 1d, and the Bulletin at 6d, conducted the real education of us. Theatre - Opera were booming at 1/-9 3/-,4/-. I know as our shop did most of the calico signs for J.C.W. and others, and my job was fixing them far and wide. That other demon - the movie - was unknown. But there was a whisper in Washing Soul Chemists in Pitt St. - the kinetoscope, an Edison Marvel 1“ x 1” films - some old westerns could be seen for 3d.
Yes, Rene showed great judgment in being born in '95 - but '95 last century!! Gee - it must be terrible to be old, and have only enough money - a sound constitution and half a thousand friends!!! But we better get back to the party. And what a party! Many of us obviously on loan from the British Museum; the aggregate of years would be astronomical, but take 'em in order. Harold Menzies Chardon and Dame Winnie Chardon - 2 limbs of the law. Ken Matthews and Joe Turner and wife from Newcastle. Peter Page - plump and pink from Jamberoo. Joyce Dummer of the long, long ago - now living up on the blue hills where the silver flyer spreads its westering wings. Bill Chowne - yes - with his minimissus. Hilda Macartny (nay - Blunt) (anything but that) from far north - our one time soulful disturber of strings and now - with satanic, upswept glasses - fiddles looking dangerously voluptuous! - go home, Macartny!
Frank Cramp looking badder now than the one time bad baron of our immortal Philip St. show long ago - but do not be deceived by that twinkling eye! Frank Whiddon - also - his chest bashing pal Frank Duncan. Gently beaming Paddy and May. Gordon Pirtchard that one-time unit of the priceless Bean-Pritchard combination; and many many others not forgetting the first born His Grace the Duke of Clear Hill.
That party such drinking eating, washed down with millions of words torrents of talk of the inexhaustable past. Commando stewards galore bashing through with tit bits and pick me ups.
Silenzio a presentation to Rene and a speech by the Rev. R. Bean obviously uncensored shame but Bean is Bean you see what I Mean. The present was unusual infinitely convertible. And then the talk roared on again, it might have been an Electratile skimming.
STOP Rene sat at the piano for a couple of hours every song any key all joined in. Some fine solos too. Joyce Dummer proved the sweetness of her voice remains most moving.
STOP The cutting of the cake with a thunder of appreciation for a notable woman, Our Rene! A great night packed with that precious stuff friendship.
Social Notes For May
Members will be pleased to see John Freeland's name on the current programme. Ill health recently prevented John from providing us with entertainment under the title of “Bull Ants”, and with restored health he will be at the club on March 17.
A week later on 24th Don Read will present “The Pilgrims Way”. Don and wife Bev. have recently returned from five years residence in London and during that time they have acquired coloured transparencies of some of the most beautiful interiors in England.
Laurie Rayner, on March 31 will be showing and telling us about “Walking in Tahiti and Hawaii”. We have come to enjoy Laurie's bright, friendly method a presentation and anticipate a most interesting night at the end of March.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Col Putt and the Heard Island boys back from their successful climb of Big Ben. You will be disappointed to hear that Colin's luxurious tawny-cum-ginger beard now graces the floor of some barber's shop out at Kingsford. Colin flew home from Perth, while the rest of the crew manhandle the Patanola round to Sydney.
The 9,000' ascent of Big Ben took a fortnight and the descent about a week. When leaving the island, failure of their landing craft engine; after getting the personnel aboard the Patenela, forced them to leave behind a large amount of equipment. To help cover some of their expenses a Welcome Home barbecue will be held at Everleigh Gardens, Franklin Road (New Line Road end), West Pennant Rills on March 26 at 6.30 p m. Gear will be auctioned and an expedition member will give a firsthand account of the trip, Tickets 12/6 each. Obtainable from Dot Butler 482208. Transport will be provided from station.
Dot Butler's Private Swimming Carnival
Mick approached me in the Club room brandishing the unfilled Walks Programme. “What about you leading a walk down Claustral Canyon? I'll put it down for Sunday Feb. 21. That's the same week-end as the Swimming Carnival; the few odd bods who don't want to go to the Swimming Carnival can go with you.” “All right,” said I. didn't mind shepherding a few non-gregarious types down Claustral.
As February approached and the delights of canyoneering were noised around the party began to grow - from 6 to 8 to 14 to 23. This is beginning to appear quite a formidable party. And did you know, Mick is bringing eight engineers from the Opera House? Oh yes, don't worry, he's teaching them how to abseil off the wings of the Opera House roof. (Total 30). And Snow's bringing a number of friends too. Yes, he's teaching them to abseil out on a sandstone face in French's Forest. (total 37?)
Snow rings one night: “I know a bloke who plays a clarinet. Shall I ask him to bring it on your trip. That would be mighty!” (Claustral Canyon with clarinet accompaniment, that would be mighty!! I wonder how the giant red yabbies will enjoy it?)
On the Saturday night before the trip Heather rings; “I'd like to join your trip. If I can persuade Grace to come, we'll be there,” Another phone call from Joan. “Digby is in bed convalescing from a wog, so I think I'll come down the canyon. Do you think I can get there on my motor scooter?” “Sure. Nothing easier,” (always keep the note of optimism high.) Still I wonder how she'll get it down the abseils. Anyhow, last Christmas when we were in N.Zealand we saw a pushbike that had been manhandled up to the summit of Mt. Rolleston, so nothing is impossible.
The final count looked like 50. The rolling stock required to get everyone there was 15 cars. Sunday morning about 8 a m. they began to arrive at the Mt. Tomah deserted farm. We had decided that a bit of system would be necessary to get this mob safely and expeditiously dawn and up again. The plan was to send the early arrivals ahead with the ropes, which they would set up at the abseils. The main body of troops would then follow through, using the standing ropes, and a third party of tail-enders would round off the party and bring down the ropes as they came. Everyone was to have their own sling and karabiner. If they hooked on smartly and got off the rope smartly taking no more than a minute over each abseil, it would still take an hour at each abseil to get the whole party down. (As I say, I like to keep the note of optimism high, even if I know it's myself I'm kidding - when it came to the point some people took considerably longer than one minute.)
The first contingent was stamping around torn by a desire to be on their way and yet wanting to stay till everyone had arrived, just to see what a mob of 50 people looked like in that remote spot. Eventually they set off, headed by Ross Wyborn with the ropes.
Just as the official leader was departing with her faithful brood Mick arrived with his followers, so it was a large party that sped off in the tracks of the vanguard, leaving Duncan and Snow Brown to take over the late comers. We dropped off the side of Mt. Tomah straight down to the creek, some choosing a direct route and getting scratched in the lawyer vine and saw-grass, others going a few hundred yards further along the track on the top of Mt. Tomah, thereby getting into rocky outcrops clear of the pestiferous vegetation. This is the better route, though it involves going back a bit on your tracks when eventually you meet the lower line of rocks above the canyon.
The topography of this canyon country is most interesting; from the top of Tomah you look down onto an odd little hill called the Camel's Hump, and the canyons can be seen deeply indented in the grey-green hillside, completely circling the Hump except for a narrow saddle, scarcely more than twenty feet wide, like a naval cord joining the little hillock Onto Mother Tomah. The idea is to enter the canyon on the right-hand side of the saddle, go once round the Camel's Hump, and climb out via a side creek which takes you up to the saddle again, but this time via the left-hand side.
A steep slide down the dry hillside, and we were soon splashing down the shallow waters of the creek, watching the canyon walls getting steeper and higher the further we penetrated into the cool gloom. We hurried to catch up with the first party and at last heard their voices reverberating through the rocky chasm, just as we came to the first bombing pool. This is a place where you hurl in anything you may be carrying and then jump in after it. A party of C.M.Ws had been down the day before, headed by that wit Rae Jerroms, as a large painted sign propped upon a rock testified. In large letters it said “GO HOME YOU S.B.W. TRIBE”. It recalled to mind similar signs I had seen chalked up in Canada at the time of the Queen's recent visit there: ZABET,CHEZ VOUS, translated out of the local French idiom, says ELIZABETH, GO HOME, But, whereas the French sign dripped with venom, the C.M.W. sign was just good clean Australian fun. Our friends of the day before also warned us that the bombing pool had only 4.5 inches of water in it. This was not quite true, and our party gaily jumped in.
We finally caught up with the tail-enders of Ross's crowd at the first abseil, and by the time our larger party had all got down, the last party had arrived, so from now on it was just one continuous string of people inching their way down the gorge. There are three really intrepid abseils, coming in quick succession, the first about 30 ft. the second about 20 ft. and the final one, which is the most exciting, 40'. By the time people have got down the first two, it is too late to retreat so whether they like it or not there is nothing for it but to swing themselves down into the bowels of the earth, hemmed in by dark slippery ironstone walls closing in on top to block out the daylight. Half way down this awesome hole the abseiler lands on a small ledge, what time an icy waterfall pours without cease down his neck. He then has to complete the drop, and lands in a long syphon-like pool through which he swims for long ages (or so it seems) till his feet touch bottom and he can clamber out among fallen rocks at the other end. Then a further timeless scramble over these huge boulders till one comes to a high shelf, overhung by a massive rock wall, and open enough to be lit by warm sunlight. Here we stopped for lunch quite early in the day, hoping that all the party would be together eventually so we could get a photo of the whole 50.
It was lovely lying in the sun, eating our waterlogged lunches and meeting all the folk. However the count was still far from complete when Mick urged half the party to their feet, so as to get them on their way and up the retreat rope and thus avoid a bottleneck. We just hoped the tail enders were not having too much trouble, and that we would see them eventually, and with last minute instructions to everyone to look out for a loop of cord hanging from a tree about 30' up on the left wall of the gorge, which was the way out, we continued our way down gorge. There is another long swim through a completely covered in tunnel, with just one ray of sunlight piercing the gloom,lie a golden sword, and then you come to the looped cord over the tree.
This is called Wade's Way, because on a previous trip the young Butler, being light and lizard-like in his climbing tactics, was able to climb-up on the thin narrow ledges and put the rope over the tree for the heavier members to use. A permanent cord is left there, and those wishing to exit by this route merely tie their rope onto the cord and keep on pulling until their rope is over the tree.
Our first party mounted this in fine style, Shirley going up like a rocket with strong arms pulling her from above. Our last man pulled, up the rope and we continued on 'up the steep watercourse which led to a spur which eventually led us up onto the Camel's Hump. A second large group aid likewise, pulled up their rope and departed, and finally the third and last party aid likewise.
Arriving at the cars about 4 p m, now the long-drawn out checking in began. All the first and second groups seemed complete by sundown, but it was 9 o'clock before the last lot arrived, given their direction, by John White going to the end of the track with his car and shining his headlights down the mountainside. Gordon Edgecom's young sons David, did his bit to call Dad home by blowing loudly on a trumpet which he had carried throughout the trip.
Well at last here they all are, a couple of the girls looking as if they have really bitten off a bit more than they could chew. We wrote dawn the last name and added them up. What! Only 49: Where and who is the 50th? By a process of elimination we calculated it was Gordon Edgecame. But how did he get astray from his group? We worked out all the possibilities and probabilities and waited till about 10 o'clocks and still no Gordon. By now it was so late we concluded he must have decided to stop where he was and continue on in the morning. So about seven of us spent the night on the lounge room floor at Snow's place at Katoomba leaving just as daylight was breaking and a great red sun heralded day of colossal heat. We retraced our route down the watercourse, then split up into two parties, one to explore a side creek which might have led Gordon astray, and the other to return into the Gorge itself. It was not long before a shout from below announced that our wanderer was located. It appears he had. been somewhat in the rear of the second party. It was not till they all had surmounted the rope-hazard, pulled up their rope,and departed, that Gordon came through. He missed seeing the loop of cord, so continued on down the gorge in the expectation of meeting up with his party eventually. When he didn't find them he retraced his steps. By this time the third party had reached the exit spot, got all their members up, pulled up their rope and left the canyon, and by the time Gordon came back and found the cord, all the ropes had been taken up and he was left lamenting. Being a sensible person he made himself as comfortable as he could for the night with a wet jumper and a groundsheet and settled down to wait for the relief party which he knew would came back for him. It was still early morning when we recommenced the climb back to Tomah, but already a fierce heat was dazzling the dry mountainside. We took it slowly, and we back to our cars by midday and then the long hot drive home.
All in all it was a mighty trips and when you consider the vastness of the multitude it was something of a triumph only to have lost 2 percent of the party.
Snow has been recently exorcised- hagridden?
The End View of Fifty Canoneers
Spiro (Bill) Ketas
This is an account of what happened at the tail end of the fifty odd bod plod through Claustral Canyon. Any name bearing resemblance to any person living is purely coincidental as we never got together in one spot to know who was who.
At 7.45 a m. Sunday about six or seven carloads of enthusiastic canyon rompers were at the Mt. Tomah turn-off waiting for their leader to arrive. After waiting for 20 minutes Mick Elfick decided that Dot Butler had already gone on ahead and was now waiting up the road, and that we had better drive on. Sure enough a mile or so down the road Dot Butler and other earlier arrivals were waiting ready to go, their feet nervously scratching the dust and their eyes eagerly transfixed towards the canyon and in minds only sheer delightful anticipation of the wondorous joys that lay ahead and below.
No sooner had we parked our cars when the first group of about six canyoneers including Ross Wyborn and Jerry Sinzig set off with the ropes, slings and crabs and quickly disappeared out of sight. Dot's much larger party then departed. Five minutes later Mick Elfick and all the remaining pushed off. Soon, however this latter party was split into two parties as the tail enders John White, Eric Adcock, Neville Yates, a New Zealander John Millen, my two brothers and I were engrossed in conversation and failed to keep right up on the leading groups, thus we missed the spot where the leaders dropped into the valley and spent some time endeavouring to find signs where they had branched off the road. When this proved unsuccessful we decided to go back out to the road so as we would not miss any late party which may scamper by above us. At this point John White asked me, Bill, ever been lost within sight of the cars before? and of course not being able to recall any past blunder so close to the starting point I had to agree that the situation was rather unique. I could add that no one in this small group had been here before whereas the other party had former Claustral Canyonites amongst them.
Our decision proved worthwhile as within a few minutes another large party headed apparently by Bob Duncan came into sight and kindly offered to lead us onto the right track, which turned out to be the one we suspected although with scepticism as the freshly-broken thistles and ferns appeared to be broken by someone going uphill. We followed Bob's able group which zoomed into the canyon and caught up to some of the previous party waiting at the first bombing place and were amused to find a sign which warned all SBW personnel to go back and also that the water in the pool was 4.5 inches deep. We defied this warning and plunged exuberantly into the cold muddy substance and quickly rushed on to the next pool where there was same delay as Alan Round had lost his rope and all his and Heather's duck diving efforts to retrieve it failed.
At this stage we were entering into the deep narrow portion of this beautiful canyon, its perpendicular high walls rising with amazing symmetry to touch the clear narrow blue sky above. Looking up from our position this coalescence of delicate blue sky and rugged. brown walls was enhanced by the silhouetted overhanging tips of green bushes and trees.
We continued on slowly now as the floor of the canyon was becoming steeper and upon reaching the first abseiling spot we could see that we had a long wait ahead of us as twenty or so people were queuing up for their turn down the first abseil which was a thirty foot waterfall descent onto a ledge then a short cold swim to the second abseil. This was a 20 foot waterfall ascent onto another ledge another short swim to a tiny sandy beach at the foot of the third and final abseil which was a forty foot drop climaxed by a very cold swim, then out to another beautiful section of the canyon where the walls take on rather a metallic gold glistening appearance.
Whilst waiting at the first abseiling point the real tail-enders, Snow Brown, George Gray (who expected to become a father that very day) and a couple of others arrived relieved to find that the ropes had not been taken away yet disappointed at the size of the queue as it was now after 11 a m. and they had expected to catch up on the party at the lunch cave. As it had a hour wait just on the first abseil and I remarked to George that it was much better waiting here than pacing the floor of the maternity.
Of course we had no idea what the weather up top was like as occasionally very weak small puffs of hot wind would somehow find their way into the canyon and teasingly remind us that instead of waiting down here in the cold wet we could be basking in the warm upper atmosphere.
At last the queue thinned out and we hurried onto the lunch cave arriving at 2.45 p m. and leaving at 3.10 p m. One long swim of about 40 yards remained before we climbed out of the canyon headed towards the cars arriving at 9.45 p m.
Another first ascent can be chalked up for the boys of the S.R.C. and other Clubs who climbed Ball's Pyramid, the pinnacle of rock rising nearly 2,000' from the sea near Lord Howe Island. One of the greatest hazards here was the sea-birds which rest in countless multitudes on all the wanted handholds and fiercely dispute their rights with climbers who try to evict them. When frightened they regurgitate the contents of their stomachs in one long green well directed squirt. Photographers who value their cameras have to induce the birds to “empty out” before they can safely get within focussing distance.
Hear all about it at the Club's Social Evening (see programme for date) when Dave Roots will show slides of the previous unsuccessful attempt.
5th-6th-7th February. Leader David A.Brown
Starters Jim Jellybean, Jerry Sinzig, James Graham, Tom, Ian Dillon, Don Finch, Alan Barclay, John Worral, Anne, Bill Dowd, Fitzganderpipe, Joe.
I arrived at the South Marulan turn off shortly after 10 o'clock having hitched from Liverpool. I saw the cemetery and knew I was in the right place, so I looked around for a suitable spot to sleep and in the process fell over Don Finch who had arrived earlier. Before I had gone to sleep Alan, John, Bill Dowd and someone else arrived and walked all over Don and I.
Next morning I woke and saw Anne in Don's flea bag and no Don. I half cooked and ate some breakfast and we moved off, four car loads towards South Marulen. We turned off some side road that went through a paddock then into the scrub where Snow parked his car. Another fire was lit so I finished my. breakfast. By this time it was raining and my waterproofed pack trapped most of the water inside.
We all headed off into the scrub across a couple of paddocks and down a little creek about 100 yards. Here Snow told us to wait while he found out whether it was the right creek or not. I didn't mind waiting because there were a few blackberries waiting to be picked. The party gradually dispersed back up the creek, up each side, and down the creek. We all ended up in a big gully with muddy water holes spread out here and there, This was Jerrarra Creek.
The sides of the creek became higher and closer together as we went down. We climbed over a big block, sidled around and here was our first drop. We had two choices, down a slippery gully or a plain abseil. The abseil had the best belay but all the ones who like cracks went down, Snow being the last. We then took the rope and abseiled down, then swam across the pool to where the others were waiting. Bill Dowd decided to take a photo; he didn't know what light reading to use, so he referred to the manual, but it didn't have canyons; it only had landscapes, beach scenes, portraits, so he took pot luck.
Further down the creek there was another drop, but too far to abseil, so we climbed down. At the bottom there was a pool and plenty of wood so we lit a fire and had lunch. We swam through a pool and then up on to the rocks and looked over the edge of another drop. Most of them decided to bomb it, but no one would go first. Finally I abseiled down and found there were no snags or hidden rocks, so then they all started to bomb, except a few who abseiled.
About 100 yards further down the guts dropped out of the creek into Bungonia. Most of the way we slid down loose gravel. Bungonia Creek had a few swims and bombs (optional). We followed it down to the top end of Bungonia Gorge. Here we stopped for the night as it was a nice big overhang with water 200 yards upstream. After tea, Fitzganderpipe had people tied up in-knots with some new trick he had learnt. He wouldn't show us the solution until most people had had a go, and I still reckon he cheated.
Next morning breakfast and down to the Shoalhaven and Lake Louise eating blackberries and swimming. At our swimming spot, scouts had made a camp but we saw nobody. Later on they turned up all naked, to Anne's surprise.
After lunch we headed up Barber's Creek to the big swimming hole. We had a terrific time swimming, jumping, diving and sliding-into the water. Joe, his mate and Fitzganderpeipe after much hesitation jumped in from about 45 ft up and didn't touch bottom. We then had afternoon tea and more swimming. About 3 we left the swimming hole, walked up the creek about mile then climbed a very pointed ridge which came out a couple of 100 yards from South Marulan and we walked back to the cars.
Everyone was in gay spirits as we headed for the “local” for a drink followed by a meal at “Bimbo's”. This was my first test walk and I enjoyed it immensely.