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A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to The Sydney Bush Walkers, Box 4476, G.P.O. Sydney, N.S.W. 2001. Club meetings are held every Wednesday evening from 7.30 pm, at The Wireless Institute building, 14 Aitchison Street, St. Leonards. Enquiries concerning the Club should be referred to Mrs. Marcia Shappert - telephone 30.2028.

Editors:Dorothy Pike, 53 Wyralla Ave., Epping, 2121. Telephone 86.1352
Owen Marks, In the clubrooms. Telephone 30.1827
Business Manager:Bill Burke, 3 Coral Tree Dr, Carlingford Telephone 871.1207
Typist:Kath Brown Telephone 81.2675
Duplicator Operator:Peter Scandrett Telephone 848.0045


Alice in BlunderlandGrace Noble2
The August General MeetingBarry Wallace4
Social NotesChristine Kirkby5
50th Anniversary Reunion CampHelen Gray6
Paddy's Ad8
Reminiscences of ThingsOwen Marks9
Photographic Workshop & Bee WalkDavid Cotton13
Mountain Equipment Ad14
Early Days at Ayers Rock and SurroundsAlice Wyborn15
Walks NotesLen Newland19


by Grace Noble

It all began some time in the spring of '76 when the White-haired Rabbit rang up the kind-hearted White Knight and asked, “Would I be able to do your Sunday walk from Katoomba - Narrow Neck - Wall's Pass - Cedar Creek - Golden Stairs, please, Joe? Remember I've not much of a head for heights.”

“Of course, Grace, but we'll need to leave early, and there's a part where there's sixty feet of chain.”

“All right, I'll be at your place with Christine Kirkby - at the crack of dawn, I suppose.” (Visualising tourist-type chains to which I can cling along a Govett's Leap type track.

Comes the day and the dawn - weather sparklingly cold and clear as we set off from the White Knight's. We pick up red-haired Denise from the Katoomba Youth Hostel, accumulate about twenty odd bods, and with White Knight leading, silver hair a-gleaming, look across to dragon-like silhouettes of ridges cut dark and clear against a silver-blue distance, where Warragamba is shining. “Oh frabjous day, caloo, colay!”

Premature rejoicing. We clamber down a bit of a track, to find a chain anchored to the top of a rock, and going down vertically (as near makes no matter) over what I am told is sixty feet of rock; NOT anchored at the bottom but finishing in a piece of rope (invisible at this stage). The White-haired Rabbit (henceforward just me) finds she is expected to hold on to this and lean out with feet against rock and gracefully descend. Not being able to bear the thought of watching while nineteen others disappear over the edge into the abyss, I plead to be among the first few before courage oozes completely out of my finger-tips. Find the first few feet of layered rock not too bad. Rock starts to get massive, becomes undercut, chain swings threateningly.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” said Alice - but “furiouser and furiouser,” says me. Encouraging and soothing words from Vic Lewin and the White Knight, who is charging up and down with the greatest of ease, assisting even some superior rabbits down. One nearly catapults off the end and through a patch of bushes growing precariously at the edge of a slope which goes steeply to the valley far below.

I reach the end of the chain, which finishes in the loose-ended piece of rope. I sit near the bottom, looking up at heads which appear over the rim and come down (bodies attached) with varying degrees of grace and/or grunts; an especially dramatic descent is Christine's, who lands on Joe's shoulders and nearly collapses him like a punctured balloon. Meantime my mental state is not improved by listening to Alistair and other scientific types discussing the inevitable and unenviable end of hang-gliders who go splosh into cliff-sides given the “right” condition of a steady state of wind and kite. Not cheering.

All twenty (we hope) being at last assembled, we lurch off, down and down and up and up the dragon-like ridges bristling with rocky outcrops. Realise that one of the party is carrying a rope; that it is not just for show, but we are actually going to use it in more ungraceful scrambles up and over the dragon's corrugated back. Comes a long, scratchy sidling along slopes; Cedar Creek in sight - ah heaven, lunch at last - oh, no, we rock-hop for another half-hour, and eat at half-past two, with twenty minutes for lunch and recovery (if any), before going upward, ever upward towards the Ruined Castle. Feel very conscious that “Age with his stealing steps, has clawed me in his clutch”, and surrender my pack with no qualms but much gratitude to Laurie Quaken, who whisks it up and away. (At an earlier stage, I had thrown it down a rocky knoll to the White Knight, who successfully unfielded it so that my purse flew out; but it was miraculously retrieved.)

So on and across the tree-ferned glades, festooned with purple harden-bergia and glowing with wattle; pleasant walking and a delightful respite. By the time we reach the foot of the Golden Stairs, the sun is going down - a calm and beautiful evening. As we go up, a perfect moon rises. I am in reminiscent mood, and think of a small girl “long ago”, gathering pale violets and saying, “Violets the colour the sky the moon comes up in the daytime”.

And now I have a sense of “deja vu” - and a flash-back to my second walk with the S.B.W., one June holiday weekend about 1936, Friday night start, and “Fitzie's” fireworks on Narrow Neck; going down to the Cox, and a late start from Cedar Creek junction next day in order to climb Solitary; up the wrong route and therefore up cliff clefts and ledges, with Gordon Smith, the toughest of all tigers, standing on a narrow ledge and singing the Toreador Song, with Jock Kaske standing on his shoulders and handing up packs. Me being encouraged by a dangling tent-cord, “You can trust that, Grace”. At last eating in the cave at six-thirty and then being told “Now we get up and go” - and so down Solitary and up the Golden Stairs in dark and rain, with a failing torch, to reach Katoomba at half past two in the morning. We must have been younger then!

So, on this occasion, Joe assembles his party, we decide to eat in Katoomba. Colin Horton offers me a lift home, we watch Joe's car take an erratic course ahead of us - flat tyre! Eat thankfully in Katoomba (no meal to cook for the male inmates at Casa Lunatica, Beecroft). Home late, to recount horrifying story of ropes and chains. “But of course, it was in the walks programme.” “Why didn't you tell me?” “I knew you wouldn't take any notice.”


by Barry Wallace

After a brief but fierce battle various members of the McGuiness clan were routed from their strategic positions around the hall (the podium and the projection booth if you must know) and the President called to order what turned out to be a commendably brief general meeting.

At that time, 8.25 p m., there were about 25 members present, although this ebbed and flowed somewhat during the meeting. The welcoming ceremony for new members (let's see if I can get it rite this month) introduced Belinda McKenzie, Michael Douglas and Ann Parks, who was a no-show. We also caught up on Wendy Finch and Bill Capon who were not present at last month's meeting.

The minutes were R & R without bloodshed, or even comment for that matter. Correspondence in bought notice of a School of Mountain Recreation (N.Z.) Programme for the coming year, a report of the latest F.B.W. meeting, a press release about the agreement reached between W.A. and the Australian Government on environmental management, a reply from the N.P.W.S. to our letter concerning unofficial tree cutting activities at Acacia Flat (near Blue Gum) and a questionnaire on useage of the Morton National Park. If you use or have used this park please contact the Hon. Sec.).

Matters arising brought a motion we write to N.P.W.S. saying we thought their approach to the problem of tree hacking was a negative one. After a brief non debate this was passed.

The Treasurer's report indicated a starting balance of $2379.45 with income of $309.33, expenditure of $217.20 and a closing balance of $2471.58.

Federation report told of a problem of non member clubs attending S. & R. functions (they are not covered by F.B.W.'s insurance for one thing). There is a draft track marking standard available for review from the S.A.A., and at the recent A.G.M. affiliation fees were increased to 60 c. per member.

The walks report told of a variety of trips with one or two cancellations. There was also a rumour that a certain lady member had a casually draped hand on John Fox's knee throughout a certain walk report. It's not clear whether John was for, against, or abstaining, but I shall keep you posted.

There was no general business, so after announcements, the meeting closed at 9.03 p m.


by Christine Kirkby


  • 19th, Members' Own Slides. Please bring along a selection of your slides from any recent trips - local or further afield.
  • October 21st - 50th Anniversary Dinner at the Menzies Hotel.
  • 50th Anniversary Reunion at Pennant Hills Scout Camp on 22nd and 23rd October.
  • “Tallong to Victoria” - slides by Ian Olsen on 26th October. Ian and his wife Sue spent several weekends walking from Tallong to the Clyde River. From the Clyde River to Victoria they spent six weeks during last summer. Come and see their slides of some of those cool mountain streams.


  • On 16th November the Pieroth Wine Company will visit us for some wine tasting. Bring a glass. You may be tempted to purchase some wine.
  • “Slides of the North Coast” - taken by Jack Debert, Foundation President, are featured on 23rd November. Ian Debert, Jack's son, has collected and compiled his father's slides of the north coast, including several of Gloucester Tops.
  • Brian Hart and Frank Reberts recently holidayed at Frazer Island. Come along and see the results of their trip - November 30th.

50th Anniversary Reunion Camp


This area has been chosen for our Reunion because of central location, its bushland setting, its amphitheatre and camp fire area, and its dormitory accommodation.

There is room for plenty of tents, either on the grassed area or further away in the bush. On the grassed areas are established fireplaces which the camp manager would prefer us to use. He realises other cooking fires will be established but he requests that we use the firewood provided and not the wood lying on the ground, as this is part of the natural bush setting to be left intact. The firewood will be mainly packing cases, which we intend to have broken up ready for use. (Perhaps some people coming by car would like to bring a tomahawk in case it's needed.)

We have hired a large kitchen area; this area could be used also for a meeting area if it should rain.

Limited dormitory accommodation is available, but please let me know in advance if you need it.

There is limited parking just outside the camp area, but most cars will be in Pomona Street, its cross-road Cavendish Street, nearby Albion Street, etc. Those who wish to come by train have about a half mile walk from either Pennant Hills or Thornleigh Stations. (As everyone has street directories, I feel no map is needed here.)

The camp fire will be on Saturday night.

Please bring mugs for the supper to be provided; also torches for reading the song sheets. We hope most people will stay overnight. On Sunday we will probably have our now traditional damper-making competition (flour will be provided). Should you be feeling energetic the adjoining Pennant Hills Park makes a worthwhile day's bush walk. Others may like to go on a day-walk on Sunday in the Cowan area. (A leader will make himself/herself known on Saturday night at the campfire.)

If you have any campfire items, please see or phone Bob Younger (57-1158) or just present yourself on the night.

If you would like to help with wood gathering and chopping, or cooking supper on the night, please give me a ring (86-6263). Please contact me also if you need transport, or have any query.

We hope to see every member - past, present and future - and their families and friends at this Reunion. We hope to see almost as many at our Anniversary Dinner on Friday, 21st October. (The green form in July's magazine gives full details.) Please get your money in soon.

Helen Gray and Committee.


Lightweight bushwalking and camping gear.


  • Pouch Parka: Pullover type hooded jacket in proofed nylon. Front zip pocket and zip at throat. Draw cord in hem. So compact it fits into its own pocket. Weight 8ozs.
  • 'Eidex' hooded oilskin zip front parkas, considered by experienced walkers to be an indispoensible item of their gear. Weight 11b 7ozs. Improved model, made to Paddy's specifications. All sizes.
  • Everything for the 'well dressed' bushwalker… heavy wool shirts, wind jackets, duvets, overpants, string singlets, bush hats, webbing belts, etc.

BUNYIP RUCKSACK This 'shaped' rucksack is excellent for children. Use-full day pack. Weight 14ozs.
SENIOR RUCKSACK A single pocket, shaped rucksack. Suitable for overnight camping. Weight 1.5lbs.
BUSHMAN RUCKSACK Has sewn-in curved bottom for extra comfort in carrying. Will hold 30lbs. 2 pocket model l.25 lbs. 3 pocket model 1.5 lbs.
PIONEER RUCKSACK Extra large bag with four external pockets and will carry about 40Ibs of camp gear. Weight 2.25lbs.
KIANDRA MODEL Hooded bag. Extra well filled. Very compact. Approx 3.75lbs
HOTHAM MODEL Super warm box quilted. Added leg room. Approx 4.5lbs
SUPER LIGHT MODEL Half the weight and packed size of regular bags. 9“ x 5.5” dia. 2lbs.

Everything for the bushwaiker, from blankets and air mattresses, stretchers, boots, compasses, maps, books, stoves and lamps to cooking ware and freeze dried and dehydrated foods.

69 LIVERPOOL ST, SYDNEY - 20-2686 61-7215


by Owen Marks.

I have been approached by the co-editor of this magazine to write my reminiscences of things. This puzzled me at first; what were “things”? “Why, things pertaining to the club, of course.” I have decided not to write of feats of bushwalking endurance because I would tend to bore you. Instead, I shall write of things; things that gave pleasure, things that go wrong, things that people will remember as long as there are campfires to encourage the loquatious loungers - in fact, Memorable Things.

My first Thing with the club was on a test walk in the Grose Valley. It was pouring and I decided to camp away from the main party so that a call of nature in the middle of the night would only necessitate me to go to the fly of my tent and no further, if you know what T mean. I was not alone in my ideas. The famous bludger Jimmy Callaway, without a tent, shared mine, and we both deemed it a highly sensible arrangement. Alas, when a few months later before the Committee, my camping alone was taken as a sign of my unsociability. I was too timid to say the real reason why I camped alone away from the main party; and to this day I can't remember what I gave as the reason; it may have been my snoring. That same committee meeting I was asked “Why did you throw a banana skin out of the train window?” On that self same trip to Blue Gum, I was munching on a banana and the train was whizzing over a gully and I threw it out in a beautiful curve with deadly accuracy into a jumble of lantana. Gone but not forgotten. Committee member - “Would you throw a banana peel out of your lounge room window?” Of course I would; in fact I have for all of my life. Still a new prospective must say nothing and eventually I became a member.

I nearly didn't though. Only through a young slip of a thing, Phyllis Ratcliffe, who nominated me for membership, was I persuaded to join. If it wasn't for her I should have never joined the club; and I am thankful that I did. I have met such friendliness in the bushwalking club that my life without it would have been empty.

The years pass. A walk to the Budawangs was planned in midwinter, I suppose it was the Queens Birthday weekend, For a lark I decided to place a “No Parking” sign on the top of the Castle which was to be visited by the Minister of Lands in a helicopter later that month. It weighed a bit and what with rushing to swap cars, etc. I inadvertently left my sleeping bag behind. Time for bed and nothing to sleep on or in. Neville Page gave me his only jumper to put my legs in, Judy Simpson gave me her spencer to lie on and between two bulky sleeping bags occupied by Linda and her husband Ian Campbell, a nice Yorkshire couple (I wonder where they are now?) and all night they had to squeeze me. Unfortunately every time they relaxed into deep sleep they rolled away and left me out in the cold. I'd have to punch them and they would recommence their squeezing. By morning we were all exhausted, it was years before they forgave me.

Wilf Hilder has never forgiven me. He had to go all the way to the Castle the following weekend and remove the sign.

I remember too a series of stubborn Things. One hot Sunday I decided to go on Jack Gentles walk in the Waterfall area. Twelve years ago it was - in my younger days. It was cold when I set out from Bondi by bus to Central Railway, so I did up my top shirt button. I looked funny so I put on a tie to make the whole complete. I must mention that in those days I had an excess of white shirts due to an eccentric boss who would sling me his hand-me-downs after wearing them for 5 or 6 times. That was why I was wearing a white shirt and tie on a bushwalk. I set out and Jack Gentle kept on looking at me and said nothing. It got hotter and hotter and I heard whispers of the chap in the rear who was still wearing a tie. This made me keep it on more so. I kept on just waiting to see what they would say. Morning tea was coming up and I was being told in a hinting way about the art of dressing and being at peace with the bush in spirit, harmony was mentioned. Anyway I was finally approached by a member of the party and informed that it is not necessary to wear a tie in the bush. I thought to myself next time out I will carry an umbrella.

The umbrella episode took place on John White's walk across the Barren Grounds. This is the only area where anyone could hold an umbrella all day without catching it on any bush; it is not called the Barren Grounds for nothing. It looked like rain so I had decided to pack my folding umbrella which I had bought in Bolivia years ago and was still serviceable. I can't remember who else was on the walk except Dorothy Pike who happened to be at her parents place at Jamberoo, and joined the walk half way. When I brought it out there were howls of derision and rude remarks flowed. Well, it rained and rained. It pelted down so that we were all walking knee deep in the marshy morass that makes this area so distinctive. I would have drowned except for my brolly. It was the most sensible item that anyone carried on the walk. I could hold it upright and survey the cloud-laden sky above and the valley and coastline below, whilst all the other odds and sods were hooded and keeping their heads down looking only at the ground. Who was the big dill??

But perhaps my greatest Thing occurred in August 1967. Over the passage of time, names fade, hours are eclipsed to minutes but the events are burned into my brains for ever and ever. I am only sorry I didn't write it all down the following day instead of ten years later. It is never too late, as the chorus girl said to the Pope….

I decided one day in a fit to have a Japanese Moonviewing Party. I had been to one in Kyoto, and it was a good thing. I chose The Playground of the Dingoes on the border of Warragamba catchment, just past Merrimerrigal. Everyone brought Japanese Lanterns, my poor mother had fried 72 small pieces of fish (naturally it was going to be an eating orgy), Roslyn and Ivy Painter opened up their packs to reveal genuine saki bottles, Audrey and Bob Godfrey had a set of saki glasses, Greg Reading had a Japanese Poetry book. The plan was to sit in the early evening and watch the full moon rise over The Kings Tableland, eat, drink and be merry. A few of us had kimonos as well. Previously I had gone to the Mikimoto bar in Grace Bros. and the Japanese salesgirl had written out in Kanji script “Japanese Moon Viewing Party”, which I tied to the trees on the track between the helicopter landing ground at the bottom of Narrow Neck and on the wombat parade to the Dingo Playground. Dorothy Pike, Barbara Bruce and a visitor whose name I have forgotten and I went for a walk to find water. 'Twas about 3pm on the Saturday when the girl from New Zealand, our visitor on her first walk with the club, went and did it. She fell over the edge of a cliff. The first thought to pass my brain was that she had ruined my weekend. We all raced down the 40 ft. drop and saw her broken ankle, her ripped buttocks and her head lying between two pointed rocks. Action stations. Chris and Terry Norris, being the toughest walkers, were delegated to rush over to Carlons Farm and alert Search and Rescue. A path was beaten down from the cliff top to the poor girl and we just waited. We managed to make her comfortable and when she regained consciousness she said, go on with the party, which we did.

We lit a lantern for her, gave her an empty saki bottle to look at, and, except for Margaret Laurie who lay beside her to keep her warm, the rest of us went up to the plateau and lit all the lanterns at dusk and preceded with our party. There would be nothing happening for five or six hours, so what could we do. I had brought port and sherry and by 9 pm I was rather under the weather what with all the alcohol and going backwards and forwards to the victim. Cooees indicated at last that help was coming, Chris and Terry with the news that the police were just behind them. Ivy jumped up and hid all the empty bottles and we waited for the onslaught.

What had happened was this. At Mrs. Carlons while phoning, in walked an ambulance officer, and in a few minutes he had contacted his cronies at Katoomba and the police. Search and Rescue were notified at the same time of course, as originally planned. Paddy Pallin was holidaying at Carlons and eventually he brought the police along, who on seeing the Japanese signs on the trees were dubious as to what was going on. Paddy assured them that it was only a natural occurrence with such a leader.

Two or three ambulance men arrived a little later with the beginning of the 50 or so rockclimbers who happened to be having a dance in a cave at Linden. In fact, all night dark shapes were seen arriving marvelling at the japanese lanterns and commenting on such a ridiculous set of circumstances. They finished all my mother's fried fish and any other goodies that were around. The police were led by me at a quick trot down the improvised track to the cause of it all. (You may wonder as to the anonymity of our Kiwi, because I have forgotten, Freudianwise you might suggest.)

Next came the ridiculous third degree questioning. At this stage I was dry retching and Terry Norris kept assuring the police that I was a nervous wreck, which I was by then, but in truth the demon drink was taking its toll. I had reached what Chaucer would say was “pale drunk”. The first question was “Where is your Water Board Permit?” They were the good old days, when all walkers were just being aware of such liabilities, but the prompter of such a question was in fact a Ranger from the Water Board himself. Lady Luck was on my side; we were on the watershed, or to put it more succinctly, on the yellow area of the map. What is more, our heroine fell off the map into an uncoloured section of bush. Next question, “Who was with her when she fell”. Naturally I said I was. “Any witnesses?” shocked me. Me? Suspected of murder? Yes, folks it's true. I mentioned that Dorothy Pike was there too, so I was off their list. In fact I started to vomit and the police just ignored me from thereon.

Nin Melville, the organising chief of S.& R. arrived at that time and wanted to get everybody moving. Wait till morning when the doctor will come. What doctor, we already have our S.& R. doctor. Thc one that will arrive by helicopter. What helicopter? The one from Richmond.

Here is the next episode. Dawn with her rosy mantle and action stations. As much as Ninion Melville would fume, you can't organise the cops. It seems that at Richmond Air Base there was no helicopter; it was in Canberra and the Squadron Leader had given instructions that he was not to be disturbed because he had been to a party. Tempis Fugit. Good news, the helicopter had arrived in Richmond for refuelling and all that was needed was a map reference and we'll soon have her out. I shall digress for a moment. Of all the entire Blue Mountains there is nothing more spectacular than Splendour Rock. Here after the Second World War was the spot where bushwalkers have chosen to remember their walking comrades who died for their country. At the end of a long narrow flat ridge and overlooking the Cox River, a thousand foot below on three sides of the ridge. In fact a perfect helicopter pad, and only 400 metres from our cave where our long suffering Kiwi lay. An area devoid of trees and flat as a pancake.

The biggest bonfire imaginable was set up with green branches to cause smoke to attract the helicopter should it ever arrive. Ha-ha….. there it was way in the distance making sweeps over from Blackheath to Oberon, or so it seemed. Somehow, no names being mentioned, the pilot was given the wrong grid reference. Our smoke signal could be seen for miles and eventually the helicopter arrived to wild cheers. Out popped two doctors! One police and the other R.A.A.F. Our poor patient patient, who it seemed had a ruptured spleen, cracked ribs not to mention damaged gefoffle valves with her obvious broken ankle, was heaved into the helicopter and so we bid farewell. She was to be flown to North Sydney Oval or some such area and be whizzed to North Shore Hospital; unfortunately Balmoral Naval Base refused to let this happen or something.

The rest of the story is garbled. I was reprimanded for not checking her footwear which was the cause of her slipping on the moss. True, I had to admit that I didn't line up the party at the beginning of the trip for a footwear check. Anyway it was an informative weekend and most of the party had quite a good time.

Her parents were notified and flew over from New Zealand. Touch and go it was. I met them around the hospital bed, and they ignored me as though I was invisible. I asked them to write a letter to the Search and Rescue and thank them for all their help in rescuing their only daughter. They didn't and eventually I asked our nameless heroine to do it instead. Such was my Japanese Moon Viewing Party. I vowed to put it on again but never did. If anyone wants to arrange another I would only be too delighted to come along. NO ripple soles of course.

* * * * * * * * * *




SATURDAY:- PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKSHOP. This will be ran on a continuous basis, come along whenever you like. The work to be covered will be basic black and white or monochrome procedures including basic photographic principles, film processing and making prints and enlargements.

The processing of black and white photography is not difficult or expensive, the chemicals used are simple to prepare and are not particularly hazardous when used with care. It is easy, lots of good fun and an ideal way to improve one's photographic technique.

Cost will be $1 per person to cover cost of material, children free. Children are most welcome to attend this workshop and will be shown how to process their own photographs.

Special note, persons with sensitive hands should bring a pair of rubber gloves.


SUNDAY:- BEE WALK. This will start at 9.30 a m. with a short discussion on honey bees, with a beehive inspection at 10.15, followed by morning tea which will be provided; brown bread, butter and honey in the comb fresh from the hive.

After morning tea a short bushwalk of about 3 - 4 km will be undertaken down O'Hare's Creek, stopping for lunch at a pleasant spot along the way.

HOW TO GET TO DARKES FOREST:- Travel south along the Princes Highway through Waterfall, following the old highway (do not take the Expressway). The turn-off to Darkes Forest is about 15 km south of Waterfall or about 6 km past the Stanwell Park turn-off. Glenbirnie Orchard is the first farm on the right hand side about 3 km west from the highway on the Darkes Forest Road.


* * * * * * * * * *


17 Falcon Street, Crows Nest, 2065.

We stock some of the world's leading brands. We specialize in top quality Bushwalking and Mountaineering gear

  • SLEEPING BAGS: fairy down, mountain design, paddymade
  • TENTS: camptrails, fiallraven, paddymade, ultimate.
  • WATERPROOFS: berghaus, eidex, typhoon
  • BOOTS: kastinger, scarpa.
  • RUCKSACKS: bergheus, camptrails, k2, kerrimor, mountain mule, paddymade

438-1647 or 439-2454



by Alice Wyborn.

We had just looked at Bill Peach on T.V. in his Central Australian Journey, with its masses of people and vehicles, and our thoughts turned to our own first visit there, a lonely and mysterious place by comparison, and straightway decided to read up our old diaries, hence the following -

Gutters were awash, up to ten feet wide in places, as we entered Alice Springs, and the townspeople were jubilant the first rain had fallen since a shower in March, and it was now August 9th, 1954.

We had camped the previous night at Connor Well, sixty miles north of “Alice”, where rain was falling heavily. It had started with a drizzle as we came down the bitumen from Barrow Creek, and the further south we went, the heavier it became, and we saw many kangaroos on the sides of the road licking the water from the bitumen.

We had plans for several trips from “Alice”, but now needed to wait at least three days before venturing off onto dirt roads, so the next few days were spent in preparations, and especially making arrangements for our trip to Ayers Rock, for which we had to obtain a permit from the Native Affairs Office, and also organise petrol supplies.

The proposed round trip would take us from “Alice” to Ayers Rock, Mt. Olga, Curtain Springs, Ernabella, Musgrave Ranges, through Mulga Park, Kenmore Park, to Kulgera on the main road south, where we could buy petrol for the return to “Alice”, so we had to have sufficient for approximately seven hundred (700) miles. When we left on the trip, we carried with us a total of 35 gallons, and arranged to pick up a further 10 gallons at Curtain Springs for the last part through to Kulgera.

When that was all organised, we went out to Standley Chasm and Hermansburg Mission. Here we met Pastor Gross, who allowed us to leave our car in his garage while we went off to Palm Valley. The blacks all turned out to give us a sendoff, all laughing heartily at our shorts and shirts and rucksacs. It was a warm day as we started off along the sandy bed of the Finke River, and we were glad to stop and drink from our water bottles several times.

After several days exploring Palm Valley we returned to the Mission where Pastor Gross suggested a round trip back to “Alice” via Missionary Plains, Haasts Bluff and Areyonga. This gave us some spectacular scenery, with views of Goss' Range and 4,955 ft. Mt. Ziel. All this was through the Native Reserve of Areyonga, for which we had no permit, but Pastor Gross offered to take that responsibility. After crossing Missionary Plains on a very sandy track, we came into better country, where we enjoyed a couple of days of exploring and photography.

Pushing on, we stopped at a very confusing part of the track, where we noticed a small caravan in the scrub. Dogs barked, and an aboriginal lady and little girl came out. We had an interesting talk, as the lady was Mrs. Albert Namatjira, and her small grand-daughter. Albert was in “Alice”, she told us, and later we did see him there.

Back to “Alice” again and a final packing before leaving late the next afternoon on the road south through Heavitree Gap on our way to the “Rock”, on the warmest day since our arrival. A blow-out on a front tyre 56 miles out, decided us to camp for the night. Up early next morning, we saw several camels, including a mother with two young ones, and spent some time taking photos, the young ones being very elusive, clinging close to Mum, while we tried to get them to move a little way from her.

At Erldunda Station we asked directions, and found our road left the main road a mile past Acacia Well. During the afternoon we had our first view of the impressive Mt. Connor, and saw the turn-off to Mulga Park Station. Going on another nine miles, decided we were on the wrong road, and turned back to the Mulga Park Junction. The “road” of course, was only a two-wheel track in parts, and along this section we had fun when a huge camel dived out of the bush immediately in front of us and trotted on for two miles. No amount of horn-blowing shifted him from the track, until suddenly he swerved, and with a fierce look at us, took off into the scrub again.

We camped that night about sixteen miles past Curtain Springs. The road here was fair and graded and we ran in over the spinifex to a little rocky knoll, in order to get photos of the “Rock” early in the morning. This we did, stopping several times as the light changed, finally reaching Maggie Springs when the sun was well up. After exploring round here, and filling the water containers, we made the trip round the Rock and started out for the Olgas.

Here the track became sandy and rocky in places, twisting around to avoid two sandhills. The distance was 30 miles, much longer than today's straight wide road. Unfortunately, about half way along, we broke a back spring leaf on the car, so camped the night while Allan put in a new one. We carried a good supply of spare parts, as we were on a five month's trip around Australia, and in those days it was a real necessity to be well prepared. We also carried sealed containers of emergency food and water in case we were held up for any length of time in the outback. Fortunately this did not happen and our box of food was not opened until we were in South Australia and on our way home.

The weather had turned very warm and heat haze shimmered over the plains as we reached a campsite at the Olgas, and were surprised to find there a party of Adelaide Bushwalkers. The next couple of days we enjoyed their company and one night, a great campfire. The days were spent exploring, and on one very hot day Allan went off to climb the largest of the small peaks on the left at the top of the Amphitheatre, with the object of taking some allround photos. I stayed in camp to do washing and some cooking, and I well remember the five cups of tea Allan drank on his return to camp!

Next day we started back to Ayers Rock after putting in petrol from one of the drums. We had two of these with special screw top fittings and two similar for water (one of which was our emergency water) which we had brought from home. We also carried two 4-gallon tins for petrol, borrowed from the garage in “Alice”. In order to have sufficient room in our Vanguard car (the old humpback vintage) we had removed the back seat and squab - this provided good space for all our drums, spare parts, etc. as well as ordinary camping gear.

We stopped for tea waiting on sunset pictures before going on to camp on the southern side of the Rock. We didn't need a tent at all on this part of our trip, and the evenings were delightful after the heat of the day. Early next morning we were away for more sunrise pictures, then back to Maggie Springs to fill the water containers, and while doing so, the Adelaide people came through in their utility and small truck on the way home. Next day we spent exploring the Rook and climbed the ridge in scorching heat. We hugged the rock for shade to camp and eat the evening meal during which we heard on our radio that Sydney had experienced its hottest August day for years with a temperature of 86 degrees.

During our wanderings we saw many emus including a mother with chicks, but no kangaroos.

On our way back we called at Curtain Springs Station to pick up our ten gallons of petrol as arranged, and were invited to stay the night, and after a delicious meal spent a pleasant evening talking with the people there. Next day, just before reaching Mulga Park, and where the road was particularly narrow and sandy, we rounded a bend, and as we did so a huge (or so it seemed) aboriginal appeared in front of us as he rose from a squatting position at the side of the track. He was dressed in only a ragged khaki shirt and had a large cardboard box on his head and was carrying two spears. In the shock of the moment we didn't stop immediately, and then saw more men, women and several children, all carrying containers and spears, further in the bush, evidently on walkabout from one of the cattle stations or Ernabella Mission further south. They made no sound, and just stared, apparently as surprised to see us as we were to see them. When we finally collected our wits and stopped, thinking we could offer them some food or sweets, they had disappeared, and though we looked hard, no sign of them was visible. On the other hand, we were a bit worried, as we were the only travellers on a very lonely road.

There was no one at the homestead when we called at Mulga Park, and back on the road we had a puncture - a nail - probably picked up in the station yard. Allan was also having trouble with our camera jamming, so the rest of the afternoon was spent fixing both. We finally camped late after another hot day.

On towards Ernabella Mission, not in view from the road as it is about four miles in, we met a truck driven by a wbite man and carrying several aboriginal girls and men. They had a good laugh when after asking where we were going, Allan replied, “To Sydney, via Darwin, the Kimberleys and Perth”.

The country in this area was very park-like and pretty with many flowers, white, yellow and purple along the road. In fact, the road itself was just like a garden bed with two tyre tracks running through it. The Musgrave Ranges, while not spectacular, made a pleasing background. There were plenty of rabbits about but most showed signs of myxamatosis, but again, no kangaroos were seen.

We camped ten miles before Kenmore Park, and in the morning met Mrs. Litchfield at the homestead before going on to Kulgera. Here we filled up with petrol for the journey back to “Alice”, and we were on the main highway again.

We camped just before Erldunda Station and next day enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. & Mrs. Staines, who owned the property. They showed us over the lovely homestead and we learnt the station, a large one, had been in operation for 75 years.

We arrived back in “Alice” with oil leaking from the sump on the car, so the next two days Allan spent overhauling the car generally, while I did the washing and stocked up with food before turning north to continue our trip. Altogether a delightful visit to the Centre, and we were lucky to see it all so unspoiled. Next time we visited the “Rock”, ten years later, the National Park had been established, and tourists were already invading the area in increasing numbers.

* * * * * * * * *

BEST WISHES from his bushwalking friends to Gordon Lee, who is recuperating with relatives at Newcastle after breaking his leg in a skiing accident.

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“No, he doesn't think he's Tarzan. Just hates wet feet!


by Len Newland. (Ph. 432419(B))

Test Walks

Actually, this month is so full of test walks that I might have been better off having a section for non-test walks rather than the usual format. However, we'll carry on with the usual format.

First up is Victor Lewin's Budawangs base camp, which includes one DAY test walk. This is becoming a regular feature on our program and includes a view of the sunset shadow of Pigeonhouse on the horizon, a trip to the flat top of the Castle, and for the first time, a trip down Pigeonheuse Creek. This occurs on October 1, 2 & 3.

On the same weekend, Joan Rigby introduces a trip on the Turos River, an area unfamiliar to me.

On the following weekend, Hans Beck takes a trip down south, starting and finishing at Hilltop, and passing by way of the Nattai River, MacArthur's Flat (did you see that long-titled show on TV where MacArthur of Sheep industry fame berates the shipping clerk because he actually ordred 20,000 barrels of rum and ONE sheep?) and Starlight's Trail.

October 14, 15 & 16 sees Victor Lewin again, this time with his trip from Hartley Vale (between Bell & Mt. Victoria, and very hard to find) to Bluegum forest and thence to Blackheath. An interesting walk, and with the NPWS restrictions, one of the few Club walks to pass thru Bluegum, which is beautiful and has a history of Club interest and caretaking.

Sunday 16th has two test walks, the first being another trip to Bluegum forest, starting and finishing at Govett's Leap. Leader of this one is John Fox, whom we hope is fit after his recent illness. The other is my own walk from Woodford down a rarely visited and extremely beautiful section of Glenbrook Creek, finishing at Springwood. Contact me for train times.

On the last weekend of October, we have another Budawangs trip, led by Charlie Brown, starting from Yadboro flat, and going out to Monolith valley and Corang Peak. I suspect that the Budawangs sketch map may be suitable for this walk.

Finally, Bundeena to Otford coastal walk, with Joe Marton, as a daywalk on Sunday 30th - Royal National Park, close to Sydney.

Weekend Walks - both “harder than test standard”

October 1,2 & 3: Peter Harris leads a walk in the Apsley wilderness, which I understand contains an element of exploratory flavour.

October 14, 15 & 16: Peter Harris again, with one of his hobby horses - Ettrema Fire trail, which may contain an abseil of not insignificant proportions.

Day Walks.

Both of these are on the 9th. Firstly, Neate's Glen to Evans Lookout via Junction Rock, in the Blue Mountains, apparently without quite getting to Bluegum Forest. Leader is Errol Sheedy. Latterly, Wentworth Falls' famous Valley of the Waters, led by Kath Brown. Actually, there's not that much water there, although this may have changed since the rain, but the falls and the rain forest are worth seeing.

50th Anniversary Celebrations

Don't forget (as if you need reminding at this stage) that the Club's 50th Anniversary is on on the 21st, 22nd & 23rd, with a Friday night dinner for just $12.5, and a Saturday campfire for nothing. Venue: Friday: an obscure little hotel in an obscure little city, Saturday: Pennant Hills boy scout camp. Just to fill up space on this page, I am learning a couple of new jigs and reels on my bagpipes, which you may be fortunate enough to hear on this auspicious occasion (why are occasions always “auspicious”?). And while I'm advertising, you're expected to help drown out my bad guitar playing at the campfire singalong by raising your however bad voice.

197709.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/22 10:51 by vievems

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