Table of Contents
The Sydney Bushwalker
|Bushwalking In The Budawangs
|Rosalind & John Blanche
|One Night In Africa
|The February Meetings
|The Iron Bedstead
|Exploration Of The Upper Wollangambe
A monthly bulletin,of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, Northcote Buildings, Reiby Place, Circular Quay, Sydney. Postal Address: Box 4476, G.P.O., Sydney.
|Ross Wyborn, 1/73 Harris Street, Harris Park, 2150
|Heather Williams, 2 Sussex Street, Epping
|Sales and Subs
Bushwalking In The Budawangs.
Meandering In The Mist.
Rosalind and John Blanche.
At about midnight on Friday, 7 February, a party of nine settled down for the night near Sassafras on the Nowra-Braidwood road, some in the old house at the turn-off and the others, who were not keen on the possibility of rats and fleas, at the clearing on the western side of Tianjara Creek, about four miles back down the road. Present were Pat Harrison, the leader, Sandra and Phil Butt, Yvonne Kingston, Joan Rigby, Ray Hookway, Owen Manley, and Rosalind and John Blanche.
After breakfast on Saturday we met at the hut, then drove the seven miles along the side road, left the cars, and set off at 8.30 in fairly thick fog which prevented us from seeing much of the countryside. After about 3/4 mile we turned south off the road up a low hill, following the marked track to Folly Point.
There was quite a variety of wild flowers by the track, including Christmas Bell's a'plenty. In addition, the water droplets from the fog turned many spiderwebs into glistening lace.
An hour's walking brought us to the Mitchell Lookout where we stopped for a short time but had no view because of the fog. Off again, towards Folly Point and the lookout where we were hoping for views of the Clyde River Valley and the Holland Gorge. The country consisted mainly of grassy, undulating plateau with a cover of scrub and occasional large trees.
Alas, when we reached Folly Point, the fog, which was to remain at the higher altitudes for most of the weekend, was as thick as ever so, after signing the C.M.W. visitors' book we climbed down the spikes in the rock which marked the commencement of Watson's Pass. A scramble over and around large, moss-covered boulders, with cliffs gradually towering above us, brought us to the top of the steep slope which meets the cliff line. Much of this slope, including the track markers, had been recently burnt out and as a result we lost the track for a while, swinging too far to the south. We eventually picked up the track at the second line of cliffs and scrambled down to an unnamed creek, cluttered with trees and boulders, where we stopped for lunch. Here we noticed a large, flat-topped toadstool about nine inches across, and a few giant black and white flies over an inch long.
After lunch, the creek was crossed and the marked track followed up the slope on the other side, where it took an easy course through open forest about 100 feet above the creekbed, avoiding the rough going below. Three-quarters of a mile further on the track dropped off the slope to meet Camping Rock Creek, which was followed to its junction with Holland Creek. We followed Holland Creek upstream for about 1 1/2 miles, alternately rockhopping and wading through the pools, sometimes up to waist deep, or bypassing these by bashing through the thick scrub on the banks, a much more strenuous procedure. After slipping on wet rocks and landing twice in the water, Ray gave up trying to keep dry - he said the water was beautiful, but wished it had happened earlier in the day!
During the afternoon the fog lifted and we could see the tops of the gorges from which we had made our 2000 feet descent; all the countryside was very pleasant even though much of it had been burnt out in the last few months. A good deal of track remarking has been carried out in the wake of the fires.
A little after 5 o'clock, about halfway round a distinct S-bend, we came to a relatively clear flat area in a myrtle forest on the high bank. It was an ideal campsite and it was decided to stop for the night. Light rain began to fall at about 11 p.m. and it started to rain steadily at about 1 a.m. This rain continued for the rest of the weekend.
On Sunday after an early breakfast we set off at 7.30, reaching the junction of Holland Creek and Angel Creek in 5-10 minutes. Then began the long haul up a steep ridge running initially west then south-west which finally brought us up to the cliff line below Mt. Tarn. Fire had cleared much of the scrub and this made the going easier. Although it was sad to see so much burnt bush, there was stark beauty in the bare trunks on the rocky slope, with the misty rain and the backdrop of wet green hills.
We boiled the billy in the camping cave below Mt. Tarn. Then came a short scrub bash around the southern side of the mountain (about 1/4 mile) and the climb onto the top through an easy pass. We crossed to the other side and spent over half an hour searching in the fog for the cairn which locates the saddle leading to Mt. Houghton.
Lunchtime was spent drying cloths and thawing out round a fire in the Fusilier's Cave, a short distance around from the saddle. A heated discussion on race prejudice added to the warmth from the fire. After lunch we had an easy walk along to the north-west tip of Mt. Houghton, then down to the valley below. We set off through the mist for Styles Creek, then up the marked track to the north of the creek for a straightforward walk back to the Sassafras road and the cars.
The last section of this track is being cleared by bulldozers apparently for timber getting.
A little excitement was had on the muddy road on the way to Sassafras when all the cars lost traction on the steeper hills and had to be pushed over the top. As some bright spark mentioned - “Horsepower plus eight manpower finally saved the day”. A welcome hot meal was had in Nowra before we left for the long drive home.
One Night In Africa.
It was in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park that I spent my most memorable night in East Africa.
Late one afternoon, in a hired Volkswagon, I pulled into one of the official camping sites about three miles from the Seronera Game Lodge. Now there is absolutely no concept of togetherness about these camping sites - they have been deliberately set far apart so that people can get right away from each other, a rather odd philosophy in the African bush, it seemed to me. As the sun dipped to the western horizon I suddenly felt terribly lonely and exposed.
I read once again the notice which had been placed at each site:
“For safety reasons, visitors should completely seal their tents at night, sleep under a mosquito net, and leave a lighted lantern outside.”
Well, a Paddymade tent cannot be completely sealed, I had no idea what sort of protection one could expect from a mosquito net (which I didn't have, anyway) and a lantern was certainly not a piece of my equipment. The whole business was not particularly reassuring. I looked around me anxiously but the only animals within sight were a few gazelle grazing quite peacefully.
Co I put up my tiny two-man tent and got a fire started. Yes, it was going to be a good meal as I had lots of food to cook. The tropical night quickly blacked out my surroundings as I started the steak and trimmings going - and then it happened!
I think I must have jumped about six feet in the air when I heard that first awe-inspiring roar; and then, as if by some signal, it seemed to break out all around me. The air vibrated with the terrific noise, sending great spasms of fear shuddering right through me. I had seen lions previously, in the daytime and from the safety of a Land Rover - under these conditions they are quite docile, in fact downright lazy; but for all that they show absolutely no fear of man or his vehicles. But this was the first time I had heard them on the hunt at night, and I was totally unprepared for it. If I had to devise a sound especially to set a man shivering in his shoes I could not think of anything better than the roar of a lion, unless it was the combined effort of a whole pride of lions.
It took me only five seconds to decide that this particular out-of-doors was no place for me. I abandoned the cooking and ran for the car. As I sat there shaking, they started all over again and I wondered where they were and just what they were up to; of course, the imagination runs riot at such times and I had a vivid mental picture of a dozen lions laying siege to the car, with me the prisoner inside just waiting to be eaten.
Shortly afterwards a Land Rover from the next camp joined the action. In its headlamps I could make out several great cat-like shapes padding through the grass, perhaps a hundred yards from ms. Well, at least they were not heading in my direction. After a while things quietened down for a bit and I remembered the food around the fire. It's odd the things one thinks of at such a time but it did cross my mind that the meat might attract them. Of course such a scrap would not even be a first course for a cub but I determined to retrieve it. The fire seemed cozy and I felt hungry again - perhaps I was making far too much of it all; perhaps I would cook after all. As I put the steak back on the coals, all hell broke loose again. That was enough - I grabbed armfuls of billies, plates, and food, and bundled everything, including myself, in one disorganised mess into the little car. I sat there amongst it and nibbled at dry biscuits and chocolate. My appetite had faded - it was all a bit miserable, but somehow very exciting because I felt that this, and not the streets of Nairobi, was the real Africa at last.
I thought of the flimsy tent, I thought of lying there all alone listening to the lions, perhaps worrying through the long night what would happen next. No, I didn't have the courage. Well, the back seat of a VW beetle is not all that comfortable but it was a darned side more comfortable than the alternative. Now that the first shocks were over, there was something grand about that roaring - the most powerful predator in Africa had proclaimed to the world that it would kill and that it would not be denied. I wondered who would be the victim - perhaps a sleek zebra, or a wildebeeste, or an impala. There would be one, for sure. As I drifted into sleep, I gave thanks that it wasn't me.
They woke me again through the night. No doubt they were gorging themselves by this time and perhaps chasing the hyenas away. Just then I recollected what a wonderful place Australia is for bushwalking and camping and I remembered those glorious carefree nights under the stars.
As every walker knows you learn something from every trip and after some years accumulate knowledge, knowhow, experience.
Of course, it's the same when it comes to equipment. Years of experience, practical application of knowledge gained results in something worthwhile.
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The February Meetings.
February was blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) by two meetings - the normal monthly session on 12th and the Era Fund Extraordinary on 19th.
With President Frank Rigby abroad on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, Vice President Phil Butt took the chair for the normal General Meeting, and welcomed new members, Karenza Warren, Mary Davidson, Raymona Hookway, and a little later, Fay Smith, and Alan Taylor.
Since minutes evoked nothing of consequence we ran on into the correspondence which after a deathly silence of several years, had no less than two suggestions about the use of the Era Fund - one from Dot. Butler which was the raison d'etre of the Extraordinary Meeting, and a proposal from Margaret Child that we may consider donating the money towards a proposed National Park in the Dubbo area.
The Treasurer said our bank balance in the normal trading account stood at $656 at the close of the Club's year (31.1.69) and the Walks Secretary reported what must have been an abnormally active January. Eight people went down Kanangra Gorge on Roger Gowing's walk of 10-12 January, and 4 were present on Spiro Keta's Galong Creek walk, while Jim Calloway's lengthy day walk along the Marley section of the coast started with 10 and dwindled to 5.
On the next weekend David Cotton had 5 at Blue Gum, and no less than 13 tackled Alan Pike's Arethusa Canyon jaunt. An unspecified number were on Bob Younger's Woronora River day walk. Australia Day weekend saw 25 at Pretty Beach (they ware coming and going all weekend, said the report) while Barry Pacey changed his Macarthur's Flat walk to Maitland Bay (on account of bushfire damage) and had 7 people, Kevin Ellis lead 19 people on a Kowmung River jaunt which was somewhat late returning, and Meryl Watman had 14 on a day trip to Era.
In social comment Barry Pacey said there were very few entrants in the slide competition, which was deferred for six months.
Federation Report included mention of a commendatory letter from the Police Commissioner concerning the Walkers' aid in a bush search for a child missing at Lawson; S & R are equipping a shed for the storage of gear, and the Colong Committee was reported to be active. It is proposed to mark Starlight's Track to the Nattai again. SBW member, Phil Hall was appointed delegate to the Native Conservation Council: and it had been decided not to pursue at this stage the edict that permits should be obtained before camping in Royal National Park.
As convenor of the Reunion Committee, Bob Younger sought a working party and also announced transport proposals for the Reunion itself.
Joan Rigby then presented the results of some research into old Club minute books, and recommended the deletion of about 23 old resolutions of continuing effect, some of which were plainly outdated, or related to conditions in Club Rooms of bygone years, while others had been superseded by clearer or later decisions. No one considered the old rules worth supporting and they were duly expunged.
Wilf gave his usual and useful guide to new maps coming available and to tracks and access matters, including references to several little known passes through the Illawarra scarp around Coal Cliff and Scarborough and this put paid to February's normal doings.
This as summonsed to decide whether the walkers, after all these years, wanted to expend the Era Funds on the purchase of a piece of land on the Kangaroo River, south-side, some four miles downstream from Hampton Suspension Bridge. The vote, even on the massive 3/4 majority basis, was for devotion of the Era Fund to this prospect, and if that's all you need to know, read no further.
A brief history of how the Era fund came into being was made, in case any newer member may be in doubt; then Dot presented the case - 190 acres for sale, the Society of Friends eager to purchase, but not requiring the whole area and unlikely to be able to raise the purchase price of between $9,000 and $10,000. The area comprised four blocks of 410, 50, 60, and 40 acres respectively, and the Club was possibly interested in the 50 and 40 acre blocks.
Dr. Dougal McLean (Society of Friends) confirmed the situation, adding that the Quakers would like nice quiet people like bushwalkers (!!!) as neighbours. Garth Coulter, as the Water Conservation expert, indicated that the projects to dam the Kangaroo and Shoalhaven Rivers could flood a small riverside section of the block, but it was unlikely that an access would be obstructed.
It was then moved and carried that a Committee be formed to negotiate and that the Era funds (plus any additional amounts promised by Clubs or individuals) be available to it - carried, and Dot. Butler, Bill Burke, and Gordon Redmond appointed. Also carried was the proposal that if a purchase was completed the land be vested in the Club's trustees under terms similar to the original Era land - the critical words being “for camping by recreational walkers and for the Conservation of flora and fauna”.
Some discussion followed on the diversion to the project of Club funds at present in Commonwealth Bonds. Amazingly, considering that any General Meeting may decide on the usage of Club funds, either for purchase of equipment or outright donations, some people suggested that the extraordinary meeting should not deal with normal Club money, so no firm resolution was carried. However, at the close of the meeting at 9.20 p.m., it seemed reasonably certain that the Club could negotiate for the purchase of at least one of the blocks.
Leader: Ken Ellis
On the Friday night we camped at the usual grassy spot on the Kanangra Road just down past the hut. After the mob had been counted and all packs so called waterproofed, we set off along the Kanangra Road for about a mile in search for the right fire trail. After a few stops and starts we turned off down the right one which took us for about three bumpy miles.
We walked about a mile after we left the cars. We came onto the Boyd River after scrub bashing here and there. We followed it down then skirted to the right and down the steep hill. We got back onto the river at Morong Falls where we entered the Kowmung. Here the party just disintegrated, there were people stretched out down the Kowmung and still coming down the hill. The party did not completely unite until Sunday night.
The ones ahead walked leisurely down the river, swimming in every pool so that the slower ones could catch up. The weather was ideal and ahead of us lay the beauty of the Kowmung (Morong Deep) with its huge pools connected by gentle cascades.
At the end of our first long compulsory swim we decided to have lunch. After about an hour the others turned up. It was here that we discovered that one prospective could not swim, two prospectives and two visitors who were told to wear sandshoes turned up in flimsy or incorrect shoes, and later paid for not heeding advice. Ken, foreseeing it was going to be a long trip for the slower ones, suggested that the ten of us should go ahead and wait at the cars, whilst Ken and Robert, plus six others, would follow on.
So we continued down the mighty Kowmung. I will never forget this spectacular country so beautiful in its rugged wildness, completely untouched and unscarred by man. We saw it at a time when it was quiet and peaceful because there had been little rain. It really must be an angry and very treacherous river in full flood. I got a tremendous kick at sliding and slipping down every cascade that looked safe enough, just a little bit more water and those cascades would be really thrilling.
At one stage we came to a section where the river narrowed considerably into a waterfall of about twenty feet. There was a choice of jumping into the pool below or doing a difficult sidle to the left of the waterfall. Everyone decided to jump except Anne, who decided it was safer to work her way around.
After about three quarters of a mile, including two very long compulsory exhilerating swims, we came to a spectacular waterfall of about 150-200 feet. Here we decided to camp to the left of these falls on an expansive flat rocky outcrop. Everyone hunted around trying to find a comfortable possie on the rock. Then makeshift lines went up. The packs were hung up in a line on one tree branch, and they just looked like bats before the setting sun.
The other party never turned up. Around the camp fire, in a romancing mood, everyone chipped in on a highly sensational story that would be submitted to the magazine about wandering lost souls, etc. The descriptions put forth about our trek down the river were so extraordinary that I began to wonder whether I was still on the right trip.
We bypassed the waterfall by shimming down a tree to the left of it, then a sidle off the ledge and a jump on to the river bed. The day passed like the day before. About 3.30 p.m. we began looking for the right ridge to get out of the river, and of course we picked the wrong ridge. We had our last swim, filled up waterbottles, and reluctantly left the Kowmung.
Up Ghost's Ridge we went, which is nearly three and a half thousand feet. Practically prostrated I recovered on Ghost's mountain, appropriately named. Goodness knows how many souls of bushwalkers it has claimed. Here a bearing was taken and the best route to be taken discussed. Then we walked and walked and walked through scrub swamp and even a lo7cly grassy gum forest. We nearly cried with joy when we stumbled back onto the fire trail. However, we had about another couple of miles to go and arrived back at the cars about 8 p.m. It took us five and a half hours from the Kowmung and an additional three miles for taking the wrong ridge.
By 10 p.m. Ken's party had not arrived - we were quite convinced we would not be at work on Monday. We rationed enough food for breakfast, put out the fire, and went to bed. About 11 p.m. I heard a heavy clump, clump, up the track. I went to investigate and there was Roger thumping down the road leaning heavily on a staff, weighed down by four packs and a face on him like a thundercloud. Ken, carrying three packs, and party turned up about ten minutes later.
Within seconds the camp came to life. The fire lit and billy boiling in record time, our rations passed around. Now that everyone had arrived Ross Hughes was allowed to go so John Campbell, Ross, and myself, were first away. But there was one hitch. The car was nearly out of petrol. We tried Hampden, the dogs howled and the boys banged on every door in the street but nobody stirred during the commotion. Mt Victoria, very sorry - couldn't help. Bell - we dragged a pyjama-clad figure from his bed, who gave us petrol mumbling all the time. Might I add the tank needle was showing empty.
Exhausted and filthy I flopped into bed about 3 p.m. and dreamed I was on the haunted Ghost's ridge, always going up and up and horrible little creatures with forks prodding me ever onwards.
Anybody interested in walking Howqua River - The Crosscut Saw - Mt. Howitt area at Easter - contact Pat Harrison 251.670 (B), 89.5352.
The Iron Bedstead.
At first, there were three of us for this trip but as starting time approached one member began to worry about his sore finger and decided that he had better not go; so it was that good old dependable Jim Vatiliotis, who is no white ant, and myself, were the two that set out on the eve of the Australia Day weekend last January.
We ran into drizzling rain after Goulburn and it continued until beyond Queanbeyan, but near Michelago the rain had ceased and the clouds were breaking and there were a couple of umbrageous pine trees alongside the road. By this time it was also 1.00 a.m. on Saturday morning and we were very tired, so Jim curled up on the back seat of his VW while I rolled out under the pines. Jim says he slept - how I do not know - but I certainly didn't sleep any longer than ten seconds at a time because of the frightful screaming of cars along the Canberra-Cooma road.
We were up and away fairly early (we were so tired by daylight that we then could have slept despite the screaming of all the internal combustion engines in Christendom.) and about 9 a.m. hands were fumbling with the awkward lock on the gate across the Schlink Pass road at Munyang, and by 10 a.m. we had parked the Beetle at the start of the Valentine Track and were on our way to a fine morning with snowdrifts lying on Dicky Cooper and the Grey Mare Range.
When we reached the Valentine River crossing we caught up with three characters who were carrying great loads of gear (one of them had a pack frame that was almost as big as an iron bedstead - the steel from which the pack frame was made was about the same weight as a bedstead, too). Another character had a rifle and they were all unwilling to tell us who they were. All we could learn was that they were looking for the gold mine.
In view of their unfriendly and secretive responses to our conversational endeavours, and also in view of their anti-conservation attitude (to wit, one rifle), we gave them a literal answer when they asked “Does this road go all the way to the gold mine (i.e. the Grey Mare Hut)?”. We replied “Yes”, but if they had been friendlier we could also have told them that the road was about four times as long as the way we were going. As a result we had been a couple of hours in the Grey Mare Hut having lunch and cups of tea when they arrived, completely wrecked. The bloke with the iron bedstead must have carried 80 lbs. - he wouldn't have made it the way we came, anyway. The scrub on the Rocky Plain River would have been too much for the iron bedstead. However, suffering is good for the soul and they were a chastened party by this time and more friendly and shook hands all round and volunteered their names.
It had now begun to rain and the cosiness of the Grey Mare Hut tempted us to stay there, sitting in the easy chairs and looking out the door through the scudding drifts and across to Jagungal and the Main Divide, and swilling unending cups of tea, but the influx of the goldminers made it too much like what we had fled from in city offices and we couldn't bear to be reminded here, in the quiet of the snug little hut, that our neighbours had brought their commercial instincts with then.
And so, about 2 p.m., we set out in light rain for O'Keefe's Hut at the foot of Mount Jagungal. By the time we reached the Bogong Swamp the temperature had dropped and an icy torrent of wind and rain was [illegible]. Dargale and over the open plains into our faces and making it difficult even to keep upright.
Hands were numbed and clothing was sodden when we reached O'Keefe's Hut about 5.25 p.m. Two other chaps had arrived earlier and had taken shelter from the weather, cancelling their proposed walk to Round Mountain and World's End. They had a fire going, but it was not big enough for our liking. This was their first camp trip and they were very mindful of such admonitions as “The bigger the fool, the bigger the fire” and were somewhat appalled when I went out into the rain and brought in great logs and tossed them on the fire.
We had a good camp here. The rain pelted down all night and the wind howled and the snow gums made eerie noises as their branches scraped against the flapping roof and possums were dislodged from the whirling limbs and thumped on the roof, while all the time a rat gnawed contentedly in the ceiling and weary walkers slept like babes in front of the fire. This old hut could tell tales of wild weather and the stockmen who smoked their pipes there and wondered which would give out first - the bad weather or the tobacco.
Sunday morning was a miracle of blue sky, green snow grass, meadows splashed with flowers, and a bite in the morning air. A loafing breakfast, then we climbed Jagungal from the gauging station. There were several large drifts of snow on the mountain, but the Snowy Mountains proper seemed to be covered with snow. From Jagungal we made a beeline across the Rocky Plain and Valentine River to Mawson Hut, arriving there at 2.25 p.m. for more cups of tea. Apart from a ramble up along the Kerries, the rest of the afternoon was spent on our spines on the green grass under the snow gums, gazing across the six miles of superb alpine scenery to Jagungal.
The weather on Monday was again good and after cutting across the Kerries (whence we could bee snow-flecked Mount Bogong in Victoria) to the car, we drove up to Kosciusko and walked out to Townsend. There was plenty of snow or the Main Range. About 2.30 p.m. we began the long drive home.
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Exploration of the Upper Wollangambe.
Our party of 4 consisting of Peter McIntosh, John Campbell, Peter Levander, and myself met at Mt. Wilson on Friday night. We headed off towards Lithgow looking for a special bend in the road where we were to leave civilisation. Owing to a misprint on the map, the main road between Bell and Newnes Junction was omitted.
But finally after disturbing the local station master at Newnes Junction, we found the right road. By this time it was early Saturday morning so we crawled into our fleabags beside the car and had a good 4 hours' sleep.
Sunrise found us up and packing so we moved off without breakfast and walked down a ridge about 1/2 mile till we reached a small creek. Here we partook of a sustaining breakfast and surveyed the area before us from a rocky outcrop. We could see rocky cliffs and mountains mysteriously silhouetted against the early morning haze.
Following the creek downstream we were forced to walk in the water as cliffs were too close to the banks or the scrub was too entangled to walk through. Often we were met by the open nippers of a hungry crayfish but luckily none of us satisfied its appetite. We had lunch in a small clearing surrounded by cliffs up to 100 ft. high.
But this was just the beginning!! As we continued on, the cliffs became higher and the creek became wider and deeper after the junction of several smaller creeks. In the mid-afternoon we left the creek and climbed up onto the steep rocky hillside and witnessed a magnificent view east as far as Mt. Tomah, south as far as the Bell Road, and west as far as Newnes. We decided travelling in the creek would be quicker than on the rough corrugated ridges. We returned to the creek and walked along till sundown. Luckily we found enough dry level ground and after dinner we were all glad to get to bed.
We were up early Sunday morning, had breakfast, and moved off by 8 a.m. We had walked barely 1/2 mile when we came to the junction of the 2 major creeks comprising the Upper Wollangambe. We attempted to get on top of a ridge to walk round to the crater but the going was too slow so we decided we would have to leave the crater for another trip. We went back on the Wollangambe and concluded it would be faster to travel downstream to Mt. Wilson instead of attempting to follow the ridges back to the car. The cliffs closed in as we proceeded slowly down the creek. By lunchtime we were making such slow progress we left the creek and climbed up via a small creek, onto the ridge between Bell Creek and the Wollangambe. We followed the ridge along, looking for a way down as close to Mt. Wilson as possible.
We ventured down a small creek towards Bell Creek but found ourselves face to face with a 300 ft. cliff. Our rope only being 120 ft., we decided it would not be sufficient, so we climbed back onto the ridge. We spent the remainder of the afternoon surveying the cliff line for a creek which did not hold a cliff higher than 60 ft. in its depth. With no success and a great storm about to break over us we quickly got our tents up on the ridge, and sheltered from the pelting rain and lightning.
We were up at 5.30 next morning and after using our emergency rations we headed back to the only sure way of retreat - the way we had come. After bushbashing in the tall wet scrub for over an hour, we reached the Wollangambe Creek again and proceeded down it. The going was slow and the cool weather did not help after the long cold swims. The cliffs were completely sheer or overhanging on both sides now and mosses and ferns veiled the cracks, especially where waterfalls were running. The creek bed was cluttered with large boulders and often it was tricky getting over them.
About 1/2 mile before the junction of Bell Creek, we found footprints in the sand which boosted our spirits and we were at the track up to Mt. Wilson by 2 p.m. After walking out to the Post Office, we made 'phone calls home to say we were none the worse off for being one day late - or having a 3-day weekend.
On Saturday night we camped on the Mt. Hay Road after much discussion on whether it was too close to the bushfires. We could see one burning in the distance but we reasoned that seeing most of the bush along the road was completely burnt we reckoned we were safe enough.
I woke up at some ghastly hour finding myself shrouded in heavy mist and rain. I stuck it out till morning and found to my satisfaction that I was not the only one with a drenched sleeping bag.
At breakfast we were huddled round two mingy fires when Jim (our prospective gadget man) produced a portagas stove, a big frying pan, and proceeded to cook a huge breakfast. He polished off a couple of rounds of steak, a few pounds of sausages, and goodness knows what else whilst we watched goggle eyed, our mouths watered, and nostrils dilated. In his bag he had everything that opened and shut and all sorts of items for every conceivable situation.
However, Barry and Owen decided to go and help look for Vicki (free food provided) and they would wait for us at Evans Lookout.
So eighteen of us tripped off down the road. We had not gone far when Anne Rutherford noticed at the side of the road the biggest spider web I have seen, hanging from the trees. It looked beautiful as it was thick with dew and looked like a web of glistening jewels. However we kept our distance as the spider was huge and ugly and his beady eyes glared threateningly at us.
About half a Mile down we entered Katoomba Creek. Here we split into two parties; one half went to the left of the gully and did two short abseils and the other went to the right and did an abseil of about forty feet. After a bit of rock hopping and a short swim we came to our second abseil. Again the party split, the first group abseiled about forty feet into the canyon, landing in a deep pool below and then a short swim. Jim, with his gadgets hanging from his belt and gadget bag weighing him down, was doled up in his parka, etc., and looked as though he was off to the Antarctica. I am sure he was a Boy Scout - always prepared. The second group went a few yards down and abseiled about the same height but no swim.
After a few more swims, rock hopping, and some tricky ledges to negotiate we came to Arethusa Falls - our next abseil - which was a little more tricky. You go down nicely for about 20 feet, making sure you don't tangle up in a bush a little way down, then all of a sudden you are swinging in space and spinning like a top to the bottom - a ledge about sixty feet down. It was hilarious watching different expressions and reactions when they found themselves dangling in nothing then just spinning merrily. However, Anne Ireland was not so lucky, she landed in the bush. She got tangled up in the rope which got tangled up in the bush and poor Anne thought she was there forever, but finally she made it to the bottom.
Scrambling off the edge to the left we continued down the creek with high hopes of finding a nice lunch spot. Eventually we gave up and picked the worst possible spot. There were just boulders so everyone picked their boulder and had lunch sitting in the creek, reserving one for our fire. I don't know what happened to Ken Ellis' other billy but he tried to cook his sausages in a plastic bag full of water and dangling it over the fire, then the bag split and put out the fire, and he then tried to cook them in a billy full of tea. I still don't know whether he had those frankfurts for dinner.
About 1/4 mile down from our dinner spot we came to a 30 ft. waterfall. Although there is a way round it via a ledge, most jumped in and avoided the disgrace of being called chicken. We even had time for a bombing competition, getting out of the pool via a very slippery waterfall to the right.
From this pool there is a track which was hard to find because of the bushfires, and it was very easy going, coming out at Govett's Leap Creek. By now it was getting dark and by the time we got to Neate's Glen it was pitch black. We arrived back at the cars about 8 p.m., to find Owen dead to the world in his sleeping bag.
He had been there since 4.30 p.m. We waited and waited for Jim and Roger. Nine p.m. came and went, 9.30 p.m. passed, and we were just about to go down to investigate when an exhausted Jim and Roger turned up. It is not too clear but Jim hauled the prostrated Roger up on a rope and pulley from his gadget bag or was it the other way round - I can't remember which, it was all so confusing.
And so we could all go home after the best day's walk I have been on.
Prior to an Extraordinary General Meeting held on 19th February you all received notification of the Club's plan to buy 90 acres of land on the Kangaroo River for a S.B.W. camping area and sanctuary.
At that Meeting the Era Fund, totalling $1,557 was voted towards the acquisition, and at the Annual General Meeting held on 12th March a further $1,000 was voted from an amount which has been held in Special Bonds for a number of years. Club members have shown their approval of the proposed purchase by subscribing a further $1,000 in promised donations. All we need now to cover the whole cost of the 90 acres plus transfer costs is $870. We need our help to collect this relatively small amount .
Mr. Colin Broad, the Club's Honorary Solicitor, has stated his willingness to carry out the legal work free of charge, the Vendor's solicitor has already drawn up and forwarded his contract, and our own contract can be prepared almost immediately.
So it would be a great gesture if all those reading this would STRAIGHT AWAY take up their pen and fill in the slip at the bottom of this page with their name and the amount they are willing to contribute towards this very worthy cause. It would help speed matters if you would attach your cheque or money order at the same time and post it to:-
Mrs. Dorothy Butler, 30 Boundary Rd., Wahroonga. 2076.
Please help us to get the sale finalised at the earliest possible date. As we helped save for all time Bluegum Forest, the Dalrymple Hay Forest at St. Ives and the Era lands, so this will be another thing the Bushwalkers will be proud of in all the years to come.
Signed Dot Butler, Bill Burke and Gordon Redmond (Committee for the Kangaroo Valley Acquisition)
Please accept the sum of $…………… towards the acquisition of 90 acres of land in the Kangaroo Valley. (Make Cheques payable to Kangaroo Valley Acquisition).