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The Sydney Bushwalker







AUGUST, 1975

Editorial - Page 2

International Women's Year and Women's Physique - Maxie B. Byles Page 3

Arnhem Land - Dot Butler Page 7

Social Notes - Spiro Ketas Page 13

The July General Meeting - Jim Brown Page 14

Coming Walks - Bob Hodgson Page 15

Federation Notes - Jim Vatiliotis Page 16

Notice of Half Yearly General Meeting - Helen Gray Page 18


Has the New South Wales Federation of Bushwalkers outlived its usefulness? Is there no longer any need for the bushwalking movement to speak with one voice? If the answer to these questions is in the affirmative then we need have no concern. If not, we, as bushwalkers, should be very concerned indeed. For Federation appears to be on the point of collapse. At the Annual General Meeting held on 15th. July there were no persons forthcoming to fill the major offices. This includes office of President, Secretary, and Assistant Secretary.

One explanation for the apparent lack of interest in Federation affairs is that the body seems to have outlived the purposes for which it was created. At one stage in its history Federation was like a voice in the wilderness, putting the case for conservation. Today society is much more aware of conservation issues, even though the issues at stake are no less important. But many organisations now exist for the sole purpose of presenting the case for conservation. Search and Rescue is a field in which Federation has fulfilled a very real need. But the Search and Rescue Section seems to manage its affairs quite independent of Federation itself.

These are arguments for disbanding the Federation of Bushwalking Clubs. But surely on balance this could only be regarded as a retrograde step. It may be rarely, even once a year only, but there must exist still the need, from time to time, for bushwalkers and bushwalking clubs to speak with one voice. For this reason we need a Federation.

The matter was briefly discussed at our own general meeting this month. It was suggested then that what may be needed is a general rethink of how Federation is organised: that perhaps the formality monthly meetings etc. be dispensed with in favour of a more informal “satisfying needs approach”. This may require some constitutional amendment as far as Federation is concerned.

An extraordinary meeting of Federation will be held shortly at which the Presidents of all affiliated Clubs, together with delegates, will discuss the body's future. The subject has been listed for discussion at our own Half Yearly General Meeting (see agenda elsewhere in this magazine). This is your chance to air your view. If Federation is to be disbanded let us at least be positive about it, and not allow it to happen by default.


by Marie B. Byles.

In 1975, International Women's Year, a woman - one of an all-women's Japanese expedition - has stood on the summit of Mount Everest.

In 1921 the first reconnaissance of the mountain was made. That a woman should ever climb it was then unthinkable. Even in 1953, when its first ascent was made and presented to Elizabeth II as a coronation gift, it was still almost unthinkable: the male sex had the prerogative of physical strength and that was that.

Have women's bodies changed since 1921 so that the male sex has no longer the monopoly of physical strength?

My own body has cetainly not changed. Frail it was born and frail it has remained. I have often wondered how it managed to obey the mind and accomplish strenuous walks and mountain climbs. On the few occasions the body collapsed it was due to its being required to do more than it was physically capable of doing - that frightful headache on the second day of a precious long-week-end holiday; that virgin peak expedition to New Zealand when it dutifully bagged a superb virgin peak then, too tired to eat, was forced to pack up and pack down from the bivvy to base camp; the virgin peak was safely in the pack, but she was a very heavy virgin peak! And then the remaining precious ten days of that biannual holiday spent most uncomfortably nursing a very unhappy tummy.

That was about 1935. A couple of years later we were getting ready to push our way up Stick-up Creek in New Zealand in quest of more virgin peaks, when Guide Tom looked amusedly at my 'gigantic' pack (perhaps 20 lbs or 9 kilos) and said, “Well, if you get tired let me know and Ill swop you.” I imagine that his pack was about 100 lbs (45 kilos).

On any of these occasions if anyone had asserted that the male sex had the prerogative of physical strength I should have reluctantly agreed - reluctantly, for I was born and bred to be an ardent feminist pioneer. But one cannot deny the obvious. (Fortunately my other life work, in Law, needed no physical strength.) But in my early years the obvious was not pleasant and I used to pray that in my next incarnation - if such should exist - I should be born with a strong and hefty body able to shoulder heavy rucksacks. In the meantime I used to get my pack down to 15 lbs (7.9 kilos) for an ordinary test-walk week-end. But now women are taking to all sorts of work demanding physical strength, such as plumbing and engineering, and one woman even deserted medicine to become a builder's labourer.

How are they doing it? HAVE women's bodies changed?

But before you answer, let me tell you of the Nashi women shown in the sketches drawn by my friend, Joan Renshaw, from actual photographs.

It was in 1938 that I was in Yunnan in southwest China, intent on climbing a 20,000' virgin mountain, Mount Sansato. In this country the inhabitants were mainly of the Nashi race, very different from the Chinese who ruled them. It was women of the Nashi race who rowed us across a large lake in the course of our trek to the mountains. Unlike the Chinese women, there were no bound feet among them. It later transpired that Nashi women were the bread winners, and, if they were required to do so, would keep their husbands in opium much as our husbands at that time would have kept their wives in cosmetics. The wives also did the cooking and housework such as it was. As far as I could see it was the chief job of the husbands to look after the children. It was very sweet to see grandpa caring for the toddlers.

When we wanted servants to cook for us in camp and carry our gear up to the high camps we took it for granted that they would be men. We had no idea that the women were far too busy with more important work. When we were ready to have our equipment and food carried up to higher camps we found that these men could not carry more than 20 lbs, that is, not more than I could carry myself! It was not that they were lazy, but merely that they could not carry heavy loads. The missionary who was very helpful in arranging matters for us said that the women who carried the stones for building his church carried loads of more than 120 lbs (55.43 kilos).

On the return trek from the mountains towards North Vietnam (Indo China), it happened that we passed through a certain market town at the same time as the local peasants were leaving after having sold their own goods and bought others. Somehow I got separated from my own party and found myself more or less walking beside and along with certain heavily burdened women, some carrying strapped on their backs a piece of new furniture, and others with wide thick planks similarly strapped on their backs. Each had head bands to assist. I was not a slow walker in those days and usually tramped at four miles per hour (6.437 kilometres). (Pray heaven they do not make time decimal before I am carried to the crematorium!)

The heavily burdened women walked at about the some pace as I, they with the new kitchen cupboard on the back and I with all my gear on the back of a mule! Moreover the women required to rest no more than I did.

And what did the men carry?

They carried small baskets with an egg or two inside and perhaps a vegetable or so.

I have read about and seen evidence of similar female strength in other countries but I have no exact data or photographs. I suggest that when you next hear about characteristics of the sexes you insist upon legal and scientific evidence, though I doubt if such will ever be forthcoming. I have a friend who repeatedly insists that women are more prone to cushions than are men. That is just amusing. But a great many people insist that women are more emotional than men, yet I read in a Japanese biographical novel that the men were always dissolving into 'floods of tears'.

I knew a married couple who taught in a coeducational boarding school in England. It was their observation that there were more differences between one boy and another, and one girl and another, than between boys as a whole and girls as a whole. But probably even they had no statistics.

I suggest that the answer to the query with which we started is that a great many factors must be taken into account before any generalization is possible, and that all these factors can never be ascertained.

Firstly, there are the physical and mental factors that come with birth, such as black or brown hair, strong or weak body, an ear for music or its absence. These can be modified to a limited extent by environment.

Secondly, there are the innumerable factors of environment such as the love or dislike of parents towards a child, the expectation of whether a child will play with dolls or engines, or with carrying loads of firewood, or develop a fear of mice and squeal as it jumps on a chair. This factor includes imitation, for example when its mother throws a stone overarm to frighten away a tiger, as I once saw, and whether a child is compassionate or cruel towards weakness.

The environmental factors are unconscious and sometimes immovable. When I was a child I was absolutely certain that girls could never play the parts of men in school dramas because girls could not wear trousers. That is an example of an easily movable environmental factor. But I am sure that my friend will die still certain that women are more prone to cushions! Therefore, when you start to generalize, ask yourself whether you have examined thousands or merely hundreds of cases, and of course always drawn from widely separate sources.

Finally, lot me conclude by drawing from the recent TV Science Series on the ASCENT OF MAN in which Professor Brownowski pointed out that the differences between men's and women's bodies were extraordinarily trifling and that this, together with copulation face to face, pointed to the next step in the ascent to equality of men and women - that is, of course, if there is a next step, but this Brownowski never doubted. So the female sex may be the first on Mars, or whatever might be the next expensive futility.


by Dot Butler.

The Kameruka Bushwalkers organised this trip, from 19th to 30th June. They had one seat to fill in their chartered 6-seater plane and asked could the S.B.W. come to their rescue, so I accepted the offer. The members of the party were David Marks, Dennis Ritson, Peter the Pilot, Libby Thornhill, John and myself. We spent the previous night at Dave's place at Burwood, ready for a dawn getaway.

The first question was, would we actually get away? The man who owned the plane had it up for sale and had almost found a buyer, but the sale fell through. Then he made a last minute demand for cash when we had been expecting the hiring to be a cheque transaction. Lengthy telephone calls and a hasty draining-off of all our cash reserves at last solved this unexpected demand. We sped off for Bankstown in two taxis and were introduced to Peter and the plane. We stowed the 6 packs in the minute cargo-hold in the tail, crammed ourselves into the 6 passenger seats and Peter taxied out on the runway, consulted his book of instructions, twiddled a couple of things on the control-panel and the propeller (singular, I noted with a little apprehension) began to whirr. We were away! But no over the ether came an insistent voice, “Romeo-Papa-Victor! Romeo-Papa-Victor! Your cargo door is not locked!” Peter stopped the engine, crawled out and shut the door on our packs, got in again and we were really off. I felt I was a passenger in the twin-pram in which I used to push Rona and my sister's twins when they were babies. It is only a matter of accustoming yourself the the fact that you are up there - sometimes above the clouds at 9,000' - with only a fine aluminium shell, plastic lined, between you and everything that's out there and reconciling yourself to the fact that if the motor conks out there is nothing you can do about it anyway. You can then start to enjoy the view.

We went via Charleville, Longreach, Mt. Isa to Katherine. The only problem en route was that the man who dealt out the Shell aviation fuel at one of our refuelling stations was on strike and it looked like we would be grounded till he made up his mind to come back. We had a carnet, paid for in advance, with the Shell Company. Any other company's fuel had to be paid for in cash. There was again a hasty assessing of our now considerably dwindled cash resources and between us we were able to get together enough to pay the B.P. dealer. But it was a close go.

We were met at Katherine by the administratcr of the Aboriginal Welfare Dept. with the unwelcome news that the permit Dave had gone to such trouble to get from Canberra to allow us to go into the Aboriginal Reserve had been rescinded by the old men of the tribe, and no explanation given. Our Administration friend was very sorry but there was nothing that could be done about it. However he did the next best thing and drove us out to the Katherine Gorge next day for a boat trip up the river. There are rock bars which break the river up into seven long pools. We putted up the first amongst pandanus palms and magnificent tropical trees, with waterbirds everywhere and the occasional crocodile sunning itself on a partly submerged log by the muddy bank. A short walk over the rocky river-bed brings you to the second pool and another boat. Now our course was through a beautiful red rock open canyon, with long slender palms waving on the skyline. We have reserved the remainder of the pools for next time.

Our Administration friend picked us up and drove us back to the airstrip. We had to make the next hop to the isolated little GeoPeko uranium mine at Jabiru. Peter was not qualified to fly by night, so always we had to be landed before the sun dipped below the horizon. Peter, of course, had his times and distances all worked out, but we in the back seats spent a good bit of time in wondrous suspenseful speculation as we whirled over the vast uninhabited wastes of Arnhem Land.

With a bit of time to spare before the sun disappeared, we did a great circle out over the upper reaches of the East Alligator River and the rugged mountainous escarpments and gorges through which we were going to bushwalk. Fascinating country! Then we sought out the tiny lonely airstrip and bounced to a halt with time to spare. Dennis climbed up a tower to spy out the land, but it was the sound of the generator at the mine, generating the evening's lighting, that gave us our clue which way to head. Down the red earth road, through the Capricornian bush, and we came upon telegraph poles with flying foxes hanging from the wires and then the mine outbuildings. Luck led us to a spacious recreation room and we were soon taken in tow by a garrulous engineer. We prepared our meal at his house, viewed the company's evening picture show, and retired to sleep in two different houses. Everyone is very hospitable to strangers, and we could have got Libby married off ten times over.

Next day one of the men drove us in his truck sixty miles to the crossing on the East Alligator River. From here we were to walk four days, following up the river then cutting across country through a range and so back to Jabiru.

Following a river should not be difficult, but we soon found that unless you kept the water of the main river in view you could be lured away even more than 90 degrees off course following one of the anabranches, or the long billabongs that arc off in mares' tails over the flat country. It took a little bit of sorting out for the first few hours, when some crossed a billabong while the others remained on its near bank. I had climbed a rocky escarpment as a look-out point for lost members, but couldn't spot anyone out among the billabongs. Making my way back through the tangled thickets I was having a loud conversation with a malley fowl, “There's no need to panic, Chooko; I won't hurt you.” Suddenly came a call and there was the lost party, sitting by the riverbank. From then on we all kept, together, although Libby kindly gave me a tin of sardines in case I should have become separated again when the next meal came around.

Arnhem Land is buffalo land. You meet them everywhere. The mothers are formidable foes if separated from their young, so whenever we came upon them unexpectedly we took good care that they were all galloping together, heads thrust forwards and horns back, and of course away from us.

Our first night's camp in alligator country was fraught with tension. Being on the banks of the river made us easy targets, and as we chased around selecting a camp-site, each with thoughts of self-preservation in mind, everyone was remembering the story we had heard of the woman who was recently eaten alive. We lit a big fire between us and the water, and Dennis got up at frequent intervals to scan the dark water with his torch. “I want you all to come down here and give me a second opinion,” quoth he. So down we would troop, to find the suspicious object he was focussing on was a floating log and what looked like eyes were knots on the wood. Sometimes we climbed up and made camp away from the water, just to be sure.

New country is always fascinating. Besides the buffalo there were wild pigs wallowing in the black mud, and wallabies, dingoes, emus, lizards, not to mention brown snakes and taipans - nobody was really sure how to distinguish between these two. David would have close-up frontal encounters zooming in with his movie camera, but once when the snake reared up and looked like business Dave made off hastily, dropping his red bag that contained photographic gear and exposed film, and it took quite some time to find it again, with all the company combing the underbrush, at the same time keeping a wary eye open for the hidden snake.

There were the usual Bushwalker adventures of route finding in unknown country. Once, rather than swim a billabong, we had to climb up through a small range, then back again to the river. Pretty rugged going up among the rocks, but very interesting.

On our second day the river spread out into a lake about a mile wide with many water birds - ducks and jabirus and magpie geese with legs on them like footballers, and white egrets and herons, and darting over the banks were russet and blue kingfishers. Whirring flights of quail rose at our approach. At night curlews wailed in rising crescendo of panic. It gave Dave the shivers - like a woman being strangled, he said. We wondered whether he spoke from first-hand experience.

When we left the river we took a compass course across low country, finding water when we needed it wherever the paperbarks and pandanus grew. The last day was a long one. We had hoped to get back to Jabiru by dark, but were still steering our course by starlight, and eventually tried to home in on the generator's noise. This was not such a wise move though, as we found we were cut off from the now lit-up camp by a billabong which seemed to run for miles. So we had to backtrack to get around it, and it was six very weary Bushwalkers who eventually trailed into the recreation room and were revived by cans of beer.

Libby and I spent the night with the Ranger and his wife in their 60 ft. caravan. Next day he drove us out to Mt. Brockman, a place sacred to the aboriginals and very rich in rock paintings. He is apprehensive as to what may happen to this priceless treasure when the mine is finally established (its working has been held up for four years while an environment impact study is being conducted). The mountain is only two miles away from the boundary of the company's lease.

Mt. Brockman is to be included in a new northern national park - the Kakudu National Park. We climbed around its base, looking at the beautiful rock paintings on the red walls of the bat-filled caves and feeling the spirit of antiquity upon everything. We had to leave sooner than we would have liked as we had to reach Gove Peninsula before sundown.

Gove Peninsula is the northernmost tip of Arnhem Land. We stayed the night with a pleasant young couple, the husband being one in charge of the bauxite mine. We swam in the warm Arafura Sea and ran along the beach, and had a guided tour around the mine workings. There is a fantastic endless belt which carries the bauxite for two miles from the diggings to the process plant. (We could do with something like that to carry pebbles from the Kangaroo River to our hut building site!)

Our next destination was Urapunga and the Roper River Mission. One of the elders of the tribe, who spoke quite good English, met our plane and offered us the hospitality of his house for a cup of tea and use of the toilets. His pump was not working, so the boys repaired it for him. An interesting aspect of the toilets was that when you pulled the chain a large green frog came swimming out of the dwindling surge and clambered up again to his damp home in the cistern.

Lots of photographs were taken of the little aboriginal children on the beach. Libby bought a bark painting from the store. She asked an artist on the beach would he touch up a spot on it. He looked at it in some disgust, dismantled all the trimmings and set to and repainted the whole thing.

That night we went to a beaut barbecue party and were given some large fillets of barramundi to take away with us.

We had been making enquiries along the way as to the whereabouts of a mysterious “lost city” of Arnhem Land, recently shown on T.V., but no one was sure of its location. At Roper River, however, we struck pay dirt; a huge aboriginal offered to show it to us if we would afterwards drop him off at the Roper Bar airstrip, 30 miles away.

We offloaded all the packs to offset his weight and packed him in among the passengers (a tight squeeze for me in the gap between seats). Then, following his pointing arm, soared out 60 miles and came spot on target. It was an ancient range weathered down to a mass of spires and pinnacles with maze-like gaps between. We circled it many times and photographed it from all angles. An astounding sight! Then we returned and duly offloaded our guide at Roper Bar.

Next day we flew to Rockhampton, then across to Frazer Island - a most beautiful place, threatened by sand-mining. We swam in the blue, blue ocean and lazed on the beach, then reluctantly headed for home.

Rain greeted us at Bankstown, and cold too, and a great swarm of tiny planes all homing in like a swarm of gnats at sundown. We all piled into Peter's car and so to Burwood for a dinner of barramundi from Arnhem Land.

Dennis is already making plans for another trip next June. Worth keeping in mind. The cost was $225 plus food.


by Spiro Ketas

On 17th September Ian Saltmarsh will hold his Assam Tea Planting night assisted by an attractive sarong-clad Assam maiden who will serve tea to all present. Come along and learn how tea is made from planting to the pot.

The Federation Ball will be held at 8.30 p m. on Friday, 19th September at Petersham Town Hall. Two bands and supper. Prizes. Tickets $4.00 single.

Then on 24th September Wade Butler is to show a few slides on Antarctica and tell us all about his 15 month job at Mawson with the Australian Antarctic Scientific Expedition. Wade occupied his time in various ways including fishing, skiing and swimming. Yes, swimming in the Antarctic! If you don't believe me come and see and hear for yourself before Wade heads off to Hobart next month.


by Jim Brown

Your reporter is pleased to record that, in the absence of a walks report, the notes for the July meeting will be quite brief. In fact he believes the July meeting should be kept to a minimum each year, which means that the transcription of the notes into a (more or less) readable summary will take only 20 minutes instead of the usual 1 - 1 1/2 hours, and one can complete one's taxation return in the remaining time (I hope).

Well, having offered this preliminary padding, it can be said that Vice-President Neville Page occupied the chair, there were about 30 folk present, and the business began at 8.25 p.m. with greetings to Robyn Preston and Dick Winthorpe, also to a last month's candidate, Linda Robbins. No one disputed the contents of the June minutes, and arising from them we were told Shoalhaven Shire Council had replied to our request to build on Coolana with a massive document setting out the “Requirements for a Dwelling”. To this an answer was going back saying we didn't contemplate a dwelling.

Correspondence contained as well as the usual crop of journals, a request for reinstatement to full membership by Graham Hogarth, and advice that the Electricity Commission was offering $280 for an easement along the transmission line (Dapto to Canberra) crossing our property. It was thought that a higher figure might be obtained in view of the necessary destruction to bushland and wild life that could follow. There was advice too from Ed Stanton on the adjoining Quakers property of some damage resulting from the June downpour in Kangaroo Valley, and Dot Butler proposed a working bee in association with the Quakers for the 19/20th July weekend.

The Treasurer told us June had been a healthy month financially, with a good excess of income over outlay, and finishing with $1,990 in the working funds. There was, we repeat, no walks report, and notes of Federation affairs have already been covered in the magazine.

It remained then before the early closure at about 8.45 p.m. to be advised that the Water Board's settlement for the river front area to be inundated at Coolana could be expected within a few months. There was then time to chatter awhile before we dispersed.


by Bob Hodgson

September 5, 6, 7 - It seems quite obvious that John Redfern went with Evelyn Walker on her Genowlan circuit walk last June as we have John repeating the exercise for his own satisfaction and for all the unfortunates who missed out last time. Genowlan is a magnificent broken and eroded sandstone mountain in the Glen Davis valley and deserves to be visited much more often. Don't forget to bring a container suitable for carrying your dinner and breakfast water for Saturday night.

September 5, 6, 7 - Just as spectacular but in more familiar territory is Bob Younger's walk in the Jamison valley. Good tracks most of the way. See first hand the effects of the “controlled” burning of the valley.

Sunday 7 - See the upper reaches of Cowan Creek in the early spring with Mary Braithwaite. Easy tracks all the way with lots of wild flowers, a very pleasant trip.

12, 13, 14 - Malcolm Noble has come out of University enforced semi-retirement to lead this walk into Monolith Valley from Newhaven Gap. Mostly good tracks with much wildly eroded sandstone formations. Definitely not a wasted weekend.

Sunday 14 - Real native rose territory. This is David Ingram's reason for walking this area which does not see much walking traffic until you reach the tidal limit of Cowan Creek. Once you leave civilization you will find yourself totally absorbed by the flora.

Sunday 14 - Neville Page is leading his valiant followers down from Hartley Vale station into the spectacular upper reaches of the Grose Valley. A little scrubby and slow at first but well worth the effort.

19, 20, 21 - Plenty of good clean air and exercise on Peter Harris' walk out to the Blue Breaks from Kanangra. This must go down as a classic walk in a classic walking area with as much variety as could possibly be found in one weekend.

Sunday 21 - Today it's the Blue Labyrinth with Jim Brown, into the green wonderland of Glenbrook Creek, A really great days outing.

Sunday 21 - Walk the unspoilt coast of Royal National Park with Roy Braithwaite. Good tracks with plenty of ocean and spectacular coastal scenery.

Sunday 28 - Plenty of wild flowers on Sheila Binns' Uloola Track National Park walk. Congenial company and easy tracks go together to make the day pass very pleasantly.

Sunday 28 - If you have seen the coastal displays of flowers come with John Holly who has been saving this walk up all year just to show you the display around Bargo.


By Jim Vatiliotis

Annual General Meeting 15th July, 1975

There were no nominations or volunteers for President, Senior Vice-President, Junior Vice-President or Secretary. After some discussion the following motion was passed:-

“That this meeting be adjourned to 16th September subject to the ensuing qualifications:

(a) All affiliated clubs be notified by letter.

(b) At this adjournment of the meeting there will be discussion in committee of ways of overcoming the present impasse as far as election of office bearers.

c) Presidents and secretaries of clubs be invited to attend in addition to the delegates that would normally attend so that problems can be discussed with authority.

(d) No August meeting is held.

(e) All positions not filled before the adjournment of the meeting to be held by the present incumbents.

(f) Federation activities to continue.

(g) Affiliation fees to be determined at meeting on 16th September.”














NOTICE is hereby given that the Half-Yearly General Meeting of the Sydney Bush Walkers will be held at the Wireless Institute of Australia, 14 Atchison Street, St. Leonards, on Wednesday 10th September 1975, at 8 p m.


1. Apologies.

2. Welcome to new members.

3. Minutes of the August General Meeting held on Wednesday 13th August, 1975.

4. Correspondence.

5. Reports

(a) Treasurer's Report

(b) Walks Report

c) Social Report or Announcements

(d) Federation Report

6. Selection of site for the 1976 Annual Reunion.

7. Election of Convenor and Organizing Committee for the 1976 Annual Reunion (volunteers sought).

8. Consideration of the future role of the Federation of Bushwalking Clubs and their present constitutional crisis.

9. General Business and Announcements.

SUBSCRIPTIONS - Members are reminded that their annual subscriptions have been due and payable for the last six months, and the Committee must soon face the task of crossing off those members who remain unfinancial.


Hon. Secretary.

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