Table of Contents
THE SYDNEY BUSHWALKER
A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to The Sydney Bush Walkers, Box 4476 G.P.0, Sydney, 2001. Club meetings are held every Wednesday evening from 7.30 pm at the Wireless Institute Building, 14 Atchison Street, St. Leonards. Enquiries concerning the Club should be referred to Marcia Shappert, Telephone 30-2028.
|EDITOR||Helen Gray, 209 Malton Road, Epping, 2121. Telephone 86 6263|
|BUSINESS MANAGER||Bill Burke, 3 Coral Tree Drive, Carlingford, 2118. Telephone 871-1207|
|DUPLICATOR OPERATOR||Bob Duncan Telephone 869-2691|
|Salute and Farewell to Marie Byles||Dot Butler||2|
|Award of O.B.E. to “Mouldy” Harrison||5|
|A Famous Walker of Yesteryear - Felix Mendelssohn Part 3 - “Floating down the Danube”||Owen Marks||7|
|The December General Meeting||Barry Wallace||10|
|Social Notes for February||Ailsa Hocking||11|
|Bush Safety Awareness - Part 5||Len Newland||12|
|Who Swallowed a Fly||Jim Brown||14|
|Airly Dreamtime||Jo van Sommer||18|
|Letter to the editor||Rosemary Edmunds||19|
|Walks for February||22|
Salute and Farewell to Marie Byles
by Dot Butler
In the beginning were the barbarians - the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, the Picts and the Scots, with a sprinkling of marauding Danes. The Dark Ages were followed by the Renaissance and in the year sixteen hundred and something were born the parents who gave birth to Nathaniel Byles. Nathaniel begat John who died of apoplexy While driving over Nuffield Common but not before he had begotten John Curtis the coal merchant who begat Henry Beuzeville (by now the Huguenot strain is evident) who begat the Rev. John who begat Cyril who married Ida Margaret (one of eleven Unwin children) who, at 8.58.pm on Palm Sunday, 5th April 1900, gave birth to a daughter, Marie Beuzeville. A Burmese astrologer later proclaimed “This person was born under a bright star.”
Born before the end of the Boer War and in the last year of Queen Victoria's reign when England was at the height of her Imperial Glory, Marie was to witness two World Wars and one world-wide Depression, the atom bomb over Hiroshima, the coronation gift of Mount Everest to the second Queen Elizabeth, the first visit to the Moon, the unspeakable horrors of the Vietnam War, the end of British might and glory, and in Mahatma Gandhi the first apostle of the power of truth and non-violence on a large scale.
Both her parents were radicals. Mother was a feminist who wore no corset and her skirts merely down to her ankles when all other girls were firmly laced and wore skirts brushing the ground. She hated housework and was a vegetarian, so Marie followed suit.
Father was a signal engineer with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railways. Neither parent was musical but Father said he could always distinguish between “God Save the Weasel” and “Pop goes the Queen” because people stood for the former. He was a fresh air fanatic and always slept With his window wide open even though he might wake in the morning with snow piled up on his bed. He took his three children on long walks in the English countryside in all weathers.
In 1911 Father emigrated with his family to take up the job of Signal Engineer with the N.S.W. Railways. (His ashes are now scattered below the signal station at Redfern.) To the newly arrived “Pommies” it was a strange new land. Most amazing were the tall graceful Eucalypts casting astonishingly little shade. Father bought three acres of bushland at Beecroft and built the family home “Chilworth”. To Marie the chief joys of life were tramping holidays (the word “bushwalking” had not yet been coined), especially in the Blue Mountains with the stupendous precipices. One year the family walked home from Mt. Irvine stopping overnight at Kurrajong among the bellbirds. Although only children, Marie and her two brothers walked 20 miles a day. Other holidays were spent at “Seawards”, a tiny cottage which Mother had built at Palm Beach when it boasted only two other cottages and a guesthouse.
Father's nickname for his small daughter was “Mrs. Mahabili Pushbar, the Lady what gets things done”. Maxie certainly had a mind of her own. She insisted that another small cottage be built on the estate so that her two brothers could be separately housed. She chose her own school - P.L.C. On leaving school, when all other girls were 'putting up their hair', Marie startled her parents by having hers cut short and announced that she was going to study Law. It was now 1918 and the first World War had just ended. At Law School Marie found herself, one lone female very much afraid of the opposite sex, in the midst of an uproarious class of over a hundred young men, mostly returned soldiers. They were very brainy and very high-spirited. A distant relative of Marie's was a judge and the text-book on Crimes contained many of his judgments. The lecturer delighted in picking these out to read to the class. As soon as he said “Mr. Justice Byles” the class would stamp furiously till the dust rose. Despite such embarrassments Marie persevered and proved herself a brilliant student. Mr Kenneth Street, later a judge and Lieutenant Governor, gave his opinion - “Miss Byles has a mind as clear as crystal”. At the age of 24 this pocket edition, seven stone, 5'2“ girl entered the profession as a Law clerk. Her first case was representing an old man who had 'taken' someone's water tank. She got him off on the more serious charge of stealing but he had to hand back the tank.
After three years in a lawyer's office, having saved £600, she was able to realise her ambition of going around the world by cargo boat, mountaineering en route in England, Scotland, Norway, Canada and New Zealand. Her book followed - 'By Cargo Boat and Mountain”.
Returning after a holiday most unusual for a girl she now determined to start work on her own. The owner of the Duke of York Eastwood cinema let her have a partitioned piece of the foyer at 15/- a week. Father gave her a brass plate, Mother gave her £40 and the Estate Agent gave her an introduction to a Bank Manager. The year was 1929 and Australia was just entering the Great Depression which lasted into the thirties, nevertheless Marie found business and got a reputation for absolute integrity in her profession.
Her recreation was bushwalking with girl friends. At first they carried revolvers - one had an enormous Colt automatic conspicuously displayed in her belt. Marie's lay at the bottom of her rucksack. Their armaments also included a tomahawk. Soon, however, these were left at home, not because the girls were braver but because the weapons were heavy. There was no light-weight camp gear to be bought. They carried eiderdowns and camped in overhangs. Marie became an excellent bushman. She could find her way in our often monotonous and featureless bush by using brains, compass, sun and map.
In 1929 she joined the infant Sydney Bush Walkers Club, then two years old. Nine years earlier she and three girl friends had made a first expedition to Boat Harbour, a romantic place which, captured her imagination when seen across Pittwater from the Byles' holiday home at Palm Beach. Marie was keen to see it made a National Park. Now she had support from other like-minded people. Dorothy Lawry pressed for a change of name from Boat Harbour to Maitland Bay. The S.B.W. wrote to the Lands Department and they obligingly put the new name on the map. Marie now began softening up public opinion by writing articles showing that the Park was all but dedicated. 1932 saw the beginnings of the Federation of Bushwalking Clubs and Marie persuaded them to make this their first conservation project. The Lands Department sent their District Surveyor to accompany a S.B.W. team to assess the value of the area as a National Park. He was most cooperative and added the land at the northern end of Killcare Beach. Later large additions were made to the Park.
Now, with her S.B.W..friends she had climbing, ski-ing and horse riding trips to Kosciusko. In 1932 Marie booked Betts Camp and she and Kath Mackay climbed Mt. Townsend and descended 5,000' to the Geehi flats below. It was at Betts Camp that Kath made herself immortal by writing in the visitors' book the poem which ended “Burn, bash or bury all your rubbish and your tins, And hide your bottles as you would your sins.”
Under the heading “Worthy Causes to be Espoused” Marie supported the Wild Flower Protection legislation initiated by Rae Page, and the Blue Mountains National Park which Myles Dunphy proposed. She worked for the setting aside of Garrawarra and Era, and also the Barren Grounds. With,a local working bee she helped plant Cheltenham Road with scribbly gums .
Marie was able, during the Depression, to save enough money for two trips to New Zealand. She and a girl friend, with two professional guides, climbed. Mt. Cook. On their second trip they went into the unexplored Mahitaki Valley near Milford Sound and named various peaks, rivers and lakes. One small lake she named Lake Dot after Dot English (now Butler). (Dot tells me the name has now been transferred to a small peak, Mt. Dot. Anyhow, having her name on a mountain is more to her liking than having walkers ask her is Mother Butler's Swamp (!!) named after her. Ed.)
Marie's mountaineering ambitions culminated in her organising and leading an Expedition into Western China with its objective Mt. Sansato (around 20,000') - the “White Dragon”. The party successfully climbed lesser peaks in the vicinity but the Black Dragon (i.e. stormy weather) prevented them from reaching the summit of the White Dragon. This failure set Marie on the road to contemplation and she began a study of Eastern religions.
In 1937 for £60, Marie bought several acres of Crown Land at Cheltenham and on this had her small cottage built - a few rooms around a 12' verandah facing north which she has worked, eaten and slept for over 40 years. Its name, “Ahimsa”, derived from Gandhi's teachings, means “Non-violence” in word, thought and deed - or “Peace”.
In 1941 Marie and Paddy Pallin started the Bush Club, still an active club. On one walk a boy became ill. Rudy Lemberg carried him out and Marie shouldered both their packs and her own. The strain was too great on her fragile feet; her arches broke down. This was the end of her active bushwalking. She now turned her mind to a closer study of Buddhism and Meditation, taking a year in India to make pilgrimages to the Buddha's 'sacred places', and visited the Himalayan foothills and later Burma and. Japan. Her books on different aspects of Buddhism followed.
She made her house available to a visiting Buddhist nun and after her departure a small Buddhist society was started in Sydney.
On the morning of 21st November 1966 a neighbour who had dropped in was horrified to find Marie's battered and unconscious body on the floor - she had been attacked by an unknown assailant. Her fractured skull and jaw were repaired and for four more years she carried on. Then, at the age of 70 she severed all connections with legal work, sold the office and handed over her practice to her partner and her house and grounds to the National Trust. But she could not be inactive. Finding that the Alexander Posture Therapy helped relieve her injury she wrote yet another book - “Stand Straight without Strain”.
Marie had a horror of mental decay in old age. Into her 80th year she was mentally alert and an inspiration to all who knew her. She always maintained that a person's life and death - their “karma” - is pre-ordained. Is there any significance in the fact that exactly 13 years after her attack, on 21st November 1979, Marie died.
Ceremony of scattering Marie's ashes at “Ahimsa” by Graham (“Mouldy”) Harrison of S.B.W. was held on at 11am on 12th April 1980.
Award of 0.B.E. To "Moudly" Harrison
Amongst the Australians honoured in the New Year's list was member L. G. (“Mouldy”) Harrison. The award was for services to Commerce and Industry, but members over a span of almost fifty years will also recall his enduring interest in the Club, and will echo the congratulations expressed in a formal letter from the President and Committee.
In early editions of Paddy Pallin's Handbook on Bushwalking and Camping, the section covering lightweight walking was written by Mouldy.
It may be of interest to younger members to learn how he came by his nickname. He joined the Club at a time When most members were given nicknames and when asked his Christian names, answered “Lawrence Graham”. Someone said, “We've already got a 'Laurie', but 'Graham' now - well, Graham is grey ham, that's mouldy bacon. You'd better be “Mouldy”.
A Famous Walker of Yesteryear - Felix Mendelssohn Part 3
by Owen Marks
"Floating Down The Danube"
When Uncle Felix arrived at Ulm, which is on the Danube, he had trouble finding a barge that he could take down the Danube. The Royal Barge was under repair, the dancing barge was somewhere else, and so he had to go on a coal barge. He had only one day to fill in and apart from climbing the spire of the local church, which is the world's highest (528 ft), and sitting in the Ratskeller eating white sausage, he did nothing.
Hans and Trudi the barge keepers had covered the coal with a “heavy cloth” and had vacated the cabin “which they did when I said I would compose them a song, but the sight of 5 thalers was the cause of such a heavenly glow on their faces as to rival Moses upon coming down from the Hill of the Torah”. The cabin must have been rather large because as soon as it rained they were all together.
The voyage took seven days, although one day was spent stuck under a bridge near Ried (which I can't find on any map - maybe it is the name for a natural phenomenon or a name of a Castle or something?). It rained nearly all the time and it was rather cold and he “couldn't think clearly”, which was what he termed his non-composing moments. He intended to enjoy his cruise before setting out on the long walk home to Leipzig from Regensburg and thus each day would see him painting or sketching, and at nights, tied up to the shore, living it up with the local nobility. What weird lives the upper classes lived in those days!
The first night was at Gundelfingen where “at Schloss Brenz I was able to find the Comptroller and be shown the famous Lady Chapel; the owner being away in Augsburg I asked him to show me the famous organ which I wanted to play. Instead he asked me in for dinner that evening with his family and I played my Andante and Rondo Capriccioso which they rightly admired. The food was poor, with only goose, venison and hart”.
During the next day he had a curious talk with the young bargeman. Felix couldn't work out the mystery of the horses. It seems that every barge going upstream was pulled by four horses and yet going downstream none. Where did the horses go? And none were being carried on any barge going downstream. “When I explained my perplexity the young couple laughed at my reasonings and assumed it was a joke and I let the matter rest”. The scenery here, I have been assured by a Bavarian neighbour, is exactly like tootling down the Rhine. Vineyards, castles, farmlets and snow white villages with their churches being the focal point.
The next night they were in Donauworth, and the barge was tied up to the steps of the Town Hall. “A very beautiful baroque building with angels and putti everywhere. The Burgomeister told me that putti-have sexual organs and angels don't. I remarked that he had the two mixed, and did he know that until the Middle Ages all the painters portrayed angels as men and later became female? I explained that Marco Polo brought back the idea of haloes from The Buddha represented by a solid disc and not the later thin circle. The Burgameister angrily disagreed with my explanations and asked me home to meet his wife who knew everything. He then took me around to his residence and I met his wife and twelve daughters, the eldest being 16 and she and her sisters all slept in the one room with their suitcases all packed. What, I said, are you going to move. No, she replied, they are packed with our burial shrouds and Holy Relics. It deems it was a family tradition dating from the plagues. I laughed and said that they were very wise and duly autographed their Bibles. Their Piano was out of tune and I only played for an hour or so. I stayed overnight.”
The next day was spent outside the cabin under an umbrella, fishing as the barge slowly floated downstream, until at or near Ried the barge got stuck under the arch nearest the left bank. Knowing that there would be a delay, he arranged to meet them the following night in Ingolstadt where he was expected by the Graf von Beckstein, and so he caught a coach to Ingolstadt, “I opened the door to his apartment and hundreds of dogs knocked me over and on regaining my composure I counted only four mastiffs and on looking into the gloom I saw the Duke asleep, a beer stein under his head and three black and white spanish hunting dogs to keep him warm, and when I remarked that he looked a perfect picture he replied that if Rembrandt could paint a Venetian lady with her cats, I can sleep with my dogs, to which I made no reply, but I can't remember seeing such a painting.” (Neither can I. Ed.)
That night he stayed with his friend and they had a big discussion on poor Louie (poor Louie turns out to be Ludwig van Beethoven) who had to dedicate his music to the highest bidder. So many thaler for a Sonata, crowns for Bagatelles and even gold for his major works, and at the Treaty of Vienna asked the Russian Czarina for some money that she had not given to something he had dedicated to her or her family years previously. Mendelssohn was lucky to be of independent means.
The next day he and Alfred the Duke's son decided to ride out to the memorial built by Barbarossa which was on the Duke's property, to see if they could match Goethe's exploit in climbing it. “It was far too difficult and for us little people, too formidable.” (Goethe was over 7 ft and a more literary giant impossible to find.) It rained all the way home, “and I had to play for all of the Duke's friends, and my hands were freezing”. It must have been quite a concert with the candlelight, the Baroque church all pure white with golden angels soaring from the ceiling, and Uncle Felix playing the 17th century organ. (Lizst played the same organ 30 years or so later and it was still in good order. Alas all gone under Allied bombing.)
The next morning before dawn, the local tailer brought him two waistcoats, one green and one gold, that had been made in one day (before sewing machines: not easy), “and I was very pleased at the workmanship, and they will match my red velvet pants with the satin trim”. It sounds woeful in 1979 but there you are!!!! Soon the barge was off and away. The scenery here becomes rugged, with dark forests, craggy pinnacles and few villages to look at. Conservationists will be horrified to learn that he had lots of empty-bottles that he would cast into the river and try to break with lumps of coal. He would sit in the rain under his umbrella and fish while drinking heated Spanish Jerez. That night he slept on board.
The next day nothing happened until mid-afternoon whan he dropped one of his red shoes overboard, and in his disgust he tossed in the other. That is why when he arrived at Neustadt, the local Collector was astounded to see him walking across the square in bright green stockings looking for a shoe shop. The local church was having a wedding and he offered to play the organ, but when he realized he would have to pedal, he said that his new shoes were too uncomfortable and that was that. That night he was the guest of a cousin of his father who owned a bank and he must have appreciated the welcome change of staying with deeply religious Jews instead of his normal way of life.
The last day he spent on board writing to his English publisher, and they passed villages that were empty “by the falling and wasting sickness that strikes often in these parts” (t.b.?) and so he reached Regensburg late on Saturday night, as he had arranged to play the organ in St. Peters Cathedral on the Sunday. (For someone in a hurry he didn't seem to be unduly worried. As is often the case, he didn't like to be kept waiting while not caring about others.)
The barge tied up at the ferry area and he gave away an old waistboat to the bargee and a porter took him over the “Herr Berghoffer's Establishment”. That night he refused to do anything, go anywhere, or meet anybody. “Woke early and set out to see the Watteau that was in the local castle. The Embarkation from Cythera was not disappointing although it was hung in what many would say was a rather dark section of the hallway. Lovely apricot tones and I counted 52 cherubs that were around the ships mast and in the grove. I thought the horse magnificently portrayed,” (I have checked on this and it seems as though Uncle Felix is way out. The painting is in the Louvre and there are only 11 cherubs and no horse. Maybe there is another one somewhere. Information wanted, please. 0.M.)
“Hurrying back to the church in time for High Mass I was amazed at the rather large crowd, but was informed that it was not me that had attracted the populace, the populace go all the time to various masses in all the churches, just to hear the choirs and enjoy the music; and I responded to the congregation as though I was in La Fenice.” (Where is that? 0.M.) He refused to eat midday and told the Archbishop he wished to walk in the shady lanes to recuperate and get his strength back after such a night. For the first time he has told a lie to his diary because he said that he had done nothing the night before. Here he made a momentous decision. He decided that for the rest of the trip he would not play the piano, organ or anything musical. He would not be entertained by the aristocracy. All the previous weeks were as though they never existed and he was born anew as it were. From here on, he told one and all his name was Franz Gruber, and he remained that way until he returned home. A walker as we know the term, and as he had started out from Rome, he intended to finish the trip in the same style.
You will have noticed that there is never any talk of the mass of peasants, ordinary populace or soldiers that should be in an observant person's diary. Well, there never is and I shan't apologise for him. He had his own interests and yet he did wonderful things for the poor in the way of endowments and grants, which was a late 18th/early 19th century cultural thing among the upper classes.
The December General Meeting
by Barry Wallace
Well folks, there we were, in the straight and driving hard toward Christmas when the Pres gonged the gong, gonged the gong, and brought the 26 or so members to order at about 2008, or 8.08 pm if you are still using the old system. We had apologies from Ailsa Hocking, a new member called Ainslie Morris, who answered when she was called Ainslie Morris, and the minutes were read and received.
There was correspondence, both out and in, but mostly out. Alec Colley wrote to the N.S.W. Minister for Planning and the Environment about additions to Morton National Park, and about road construction works in the Ettrema area. There was, of course, a letter out to our new member.
Then it was the Treasurer's'moment of glory as he told of the starting balance of $1414.23, Income of $395.759 Expenditure of $235.27 and the closing balance of $1574.71.
Federation Report brought news of the proposed dedication of Wollemi Natiotal Park in December '79, a suggestion that Federation affiliation fees be reviewed for the next Federation A.G.M., that a Mining Warden's Court has been conducting hearings into proposals to mine coal on the Newnes plateau, that the Tasmanian H.E.C. has issued a 2,000 page book setting forth their case for hydro schemes in South-West Tasmania, that there will be a December issue of F.B.W. newsletter, that the Lands Department are opening up new walking tracks in areas such as Mt. York and that N.P.W.S. are proposing to re-open some of the existing walking tracks which have fallen into disrepair.
And then it was on, on, at breakneck speed into the - - ugh! - - Walks Reports. First up was a Vic Lewin walk of 16,17,18 November in the Govetts Leap Creek area which attracted 6 starters. Then came a Len Newland trip led by Jim Laing into the Shoalhaven area. There was no report, although the walk did go. Binns led one of the two Sunday walks that weekend and reported 16 starters on an O.K. walk. The other day walk had Peter Sargent leading 5 people out from Stanwell Park on a walk described as “lovely”. The following weekend saw Peter Christian's Mt. Solitary trip with 12 starters bedevilled by late trains, heat exhaustion and some wayward walkers. Jo Marton led 8 starters on a Sunday stroll from Waterfall to Otford in jig time. Kath Brown, on the other hand, described her 15 starter walk from Lilyvale to Otford as easy. On the weekend of November 30/December 1,2 Snow Brown led a total of 24 starters, 8 of whom were children, on a warm but wet trip along the Coxs River. Gordon Lee's abseiling trip at Kanangra attracted 5 bods for the weekend. The two day walks saw Hans Beck leading 10 people in the Sassafras Gully on a very hot but pleasant trip, and Marcia Shappert gentling a crew of 11 people through an easy trip from Berowra.
The following weekend, 7,8,9 December, Roy Higginbottom led 5 starters on a ver-ry hot Colo trip with a cast of thousands of extras, flies! Len Newland's trip was not relported, so we don't really know one way or the other. Meryl Watman led an undisclosed, or was it unheard, number , of people midst flowers in the Royal National Park, and Barry Zieren led 10 bods on a hot trip with good swimming to conclude the walks report.
General Business saw passage Of a motion totthe effect that we write to the National Trust regarding a bequest from the estate of the late Marie Byles and request a grant of $5,000 toward the purchase of land adjoining Coolana in Kangaroo Valley.
Then it was just a matter of announcements, and the meeting closed at 2053.
Social Notes For February
by Ailsa Hocking
Wednesday 20th: Members slide night. A chance to show everyone where you went over Christmas and the rest of the holiday period. The more slides, the Merrier, so bring yours along too.
Wednesday 27th: Michael Turner has quite a reputation as a first class underwater photographer - and well deserved too. He spends many months a year photographing the beautiful and spectacular underwater life forms along the east coast of Australia, and round the Pacific Islands. He also has a wealth of knowledge about underwater life. This promises to be a fascinating evening - not to be missed.
Only one month to go - slides should be handed in to me at the Annual General Meeting, March 12th. The three sections are:
- Australian landscape
- Overseas landscape and/or people
- “That Bushwalking Feeling”
Full details were in the 'November magazine. Remember, there is a maximum of 15 slides per person.
Bush Safety Awareness
by Len Newland
Part 5. The Pit Stop
- If you want a pit stop, tell the leader and get him to stop and wait.
- Always carry map and compass, and make sure you know where the leader is intending to go. Develop your knowledge of map and compass so you can at least find your own way out. If lost, stay put so they have some chance of finding you.
- Advise each party you lead of the above.
- Be prepared to explain your intentions in detail, and don't be afraid to tell them whatever you know about mapreading.
- Count heads often enough to be sure they are all there.
Loss of life or health isn't frequent in the bush, but it does happen, and to clear up one point, leaders are allowed 0% party loss.
"____ ___ ___ ___ Who Swallowed A Fly"
by Jim Brown
A nonsense song made popular by (I think) Burl Ives in the 1950's began -
“There was an old woman
Who swallowed a fly.
I don't know why
She swallowed the fly -
- - - Maybe she'll die.”
It was, of course, a “progressive song” and the second stanza went -
“There was an old woman
Who swallowed a spider
Which wriggled and jiggled.
And tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
But I don't know why , - etc.”
After which the poor old girl went on ingesting larger creatures to pursue the previous pest, until
“She swallowed a horse - - - and died, of course.”
I remembered all this only after a recent summer walk in the Shoalhaven Gorge, so if you are to know why I also swallowed a fly - in fact, several flies - you will need to have the trip story recounted.
Talking With Snow Brown about a canoe trit he'd done on the Kangaroo and Shoahaven Rivers, he had said that the new Junction Dam was specially equipped with a “ladder” to allow passage to canoe travellers. This sounded such a departure from previous Water Board policy (“Entry Prohibited Beyond this Point”, “Water Catchment Area - no fishing, shooting, camping, etc.”) I decided to have another look at the Shoalhaven below Badgerys Crossing. Some eight years before I'd pushed through from Badgerys to the Kangaroo Junction, but I had no slide's of the trip - the film advance mechanism of the camera jammed en route. I guessed that, at some point along the river, I would come to the top storage level of the dam and even wondered if the Water Board might have laid in a road for access. If so, I could possibly go on down to the Kangaroo, returning either via the northern cliff line (Purnoo Lookout and Caoura) or the southern wall (the Timboolina - Tallowal Fire Trail), recrossing at Badgerys. However, even if a through jaunt. on the Shoalhaven wasn't a goer, there would be plenty of other places worth re-visiting by coming back upstream.
Tuesday 4th December was a bit drizzly as I left Sydney, but after Mittagong it cleared up and on arrival at Badgerys Lookout at 9.30 am the morning was warm and sunny. There was much haze in the Malley, so I didn't burn any film, and the river looked very low but also muddy. Of course, because of its vast catchment, the Shoalhaven in this area is best walked only at times of pretty low water.
Almost an hour later down at river level, I found the water really was murky. At a depth of about 10 centimetres even the submerged rocks merged into the yellow tide. I drew a totally wrong conclusion that it was silt from the limestone/cement works quarry at Marulan South, and set off downstream along the north side. Like most of the Blue Mountain streams the banks have not fully recovered from the floods of a couple of years ago, and a good deal of the way the going is over jumbled boulders or sand. In a few places the grass has grown back to make attractive camp spots - quite a rare thing at any time along this river.
The first necessary fording came after about an hour and took a bit of finding in the discoloured water. I was prepared for a fall to the extent of having lined the inside of my pack with a brand-new garbage bag, tied at the top, into which any water-spoilable food and gear were stowed, but no one deliberately hazards a wet pack if it can be dodged. Finally I came to the conclusion that the only really sure crossing places were those where you could see relatively small rocks breaking the water all the way across.
Another hour down the south bank brought me to lunch time at Canoe Flat, where Tallowal Creek joins the Shoalhaven after plunging off the plateau near Crisp's property and flowing down through the rather spectacular Billy Bulloos Gorge. Indeed, this is a spot worth visiting for its gorge scenery alone.
After lunch I persevered along the south shore, through somewhat harder, slower going for another hour, until I was forced to cross where a rocky.rib dropped straight into the river. The day was getting very hot, but a modest west wind now blew behind me, drying up the sweat of travel. A short way further down, at about 2.45 pm, I realised I'd had it - the flow in the stream had stopped and I had came to the top of the stored water. There was no Water Board access trail, and I knew from the previous passage that a one-bank continuation down the Gorge would be exceedingly laborious - perhaps even impossible. At this spot I was about half a mile upstream of the place marked on the Caoura map as “Needles Pass”, which I had contemplated as a possible exit route.
I sat down for an hour in dense casuarina shade, and considered my alternatives. Getting to Needles Buttress would be hard work, and the ascent on a hot afternoon would be really tough. So I elected to retreat, camping for the night on one of the good grassy spots back towards Badgerys, and then on the Wednesday continuing upriver to the well-trodden walking area around Barbers Creek and Bungonia Creek, perhaps look in on the Block Up, and let the weather decide whether to climb on to the Tolwong Plateau from the old copper mine, go past Crisp's place and so back to Badgerys Ford.
Although some cloud had drifted up, the afternoon remained very warm as I retired upstream. Somewhere above Canoe Flat, as I clambered up a steep bank of soft sand, sucking in mouthfuls of dry hot air, I swallowed my first fly. One moment it was there in front of me and the next I was coughing and spitting, but without dislodging the beastie. About 6.30 I camped in a very happy spot, not quite a mile below Badgerys. The night was hot,and I didn't slip into my summer weight sleeping bag until after 11.0 pm, after sleeping on top of it for an hour or so.
I won't take up your valuable time detailing the journey upriver, because I guess everyone who has done any significant amount of walking knows the Shoalhaven from Badgerys to the Block Up. The Wednesday was a real scorcher (39.9C in Sydney, hottest December day since 1972). I found myself indulging in self-pity about the crook weather on my walks. You know - hottest day of the year on Butchers Creek last January; sleet and bitter winds in the Budawangs in October; two days mist and drizzle on the Kowmung in November. Anyway, I passed the foot of Badgerys at 7.15 am, talked with a crowd of youngsters under the guidance of teachers from Moss Vale High School near MacCallums Flat, came to Barbers Creek at 9.45, Bungonia Creek at 10.45, and stopped about a mile up for an early lunch at 11.30. I was now only 1 1/2 - 2 hours from the Block Up, but' the furnace-like wind out of the north-west was blowing hot sand on the river bank, and one sweated even when sitting in the best tree shade available. I also inhaled my second fly while shooing them off the liquid butter that I poured on to my lunch biscuits. Flies have dirty feet they say. Presumably if they sit on some putrescent matter they may be dirty in other places.
Over lunch I told myself firmly this was no good. Forget going on to the Block Up. There would be nothing to photograph under that searing sun and cloudless sky. Forget getting up on the relatively waterless Tolwong Plateau. Think instead, of the likelihood that the heat wave would last for a further 24 hours or more, and consider how to get out with the minimum of risk and anguish. About 1.30 I repeated the Dick Whittington act and turned back, heading for Barbers Creek and the foot of the Long Point track. Somewhere along Hermit Flat, opposite the outlet of Bungonia Creek, a third fly immolated himself as I panted heavily up a small embankment, but I managed to spit out his mate who tried to commit suttee a moment later.
At three pm I was sitting fully clothed - even to hat, sandshoes, socks and sunglasses - in the downstream end of Lake Louise at Barbers Creek. I had cane to the conclusion that I would probably try to get out in the cool of evening, and if I felt up to it may continue along the roads towards Tallong and Badgerys by night. At this stage as I remember I was not at all concerned about the flies I'd swallowed, and felt no inclination to follow the example of the old lady in the song who had taken chasers of spiders, birds, cats, dogs, etc. In any case, on a summer walk three years earlier on the Colo River I had depleted the fly population by ten or a dozen in the same way, without any noticeable ill effects (on me, anyway).
By 6.30 pm I'd eaten a blameless meal of bacon, boiled potato and dried peas, followed by apricots and black coffee. The shadows had lengthened and the air was cooler - but only just. The Shoalhaven valley was filled with a smoky, dusty, red light as I started up the Long Point track.
The rest of the journey into the night has a dream-like quality in which one seems to hover above the sweating, striving walker and watch his activities in an interested but slightly detached way. At the top of the hill at 8.15pm - sun just down over the cement works - what's this - a fresher south-east wind which begins to clear some of the haze in the ruddy sunset light. It feels so good that you press on without a halt as far as the tarred road. and. the railway line.
Nine-thirty pm - the moon is up - a coppery disc with a few clouds slipping across its face - heading north-east towards Tallong at the side of the railway tracks where rails glimmer dully in the moonlight. In the old days - the days of steam - the goods trains rumbled along here behind clanging, chuffing “standard goods” engines, reaching speeds of perhaps 50 km/hr on the downgrades and straining over the humps at 15-20 km/hr. Now you find yourself caught in a train headlight like a moth in a torch beam, and a freight thrashes past at 110 km/hr with brake shoes howling for the red light of Tallong “accept” signal.
At about 10.15 pm you decide to call it a night just outside Tallong, where the signal lamps throw red and green shafts along the polished steel rail heads. You sleep fitfully without a tent while the night mails hurtle by a few metres away.
Thursday 3.0 am. Although you have only swallowed three flies - and some litres of muddy water - you wake feeling like the old lady when she got as far as the cat. In fact you can almost feel it sharpening its claws on your diaphragm. For an hour you twist and toss and try “to get rid of” what's upsetting you. No go. You pack your gear in the light of the westering full moon and stagger four miles along the road to the car at Badgerys. Perhaps it's as well you don't think of The ballad of the old lady _ _ _ “maybe she'll die”. If you did recall it, you'd probably feel it was a happy release.
Most of Thursday is spent in and around the car, dosing yourself with water that you have salted liberally, and then pushing a finger to the back of your throat. At some stage the worst is over and you actually doze during the afternoon. The weather is not unpleasant, and you wonder in a vague sort of way how you might have fared if you had persevered with the plan to go over the Tolwong plateau. You sleep heavily at nightfall and awake at 11.0 pm, feeling quite restored except that a troop of booted soldiery must have made a charge across your abdomen some time previously.
On Friday at 6.0 am you begin the homeward drive.
At least I know why I swallowed the flies. Because they were there.
Did you know…..? Bob Hodgson and Margaret Bentley are engaged! Congratulations to you both.
by Jo van Sommers
The closest I have ever come to understanding the aboriginal relationship to their land was in the pink sandstone cave at the foot of Mt. Genowlan. It was not just a place to sleep but a necessary link with the sustaining earth . .. the Picnic at Hanging Rock feeling of some mysterious force buried in the rocks, waiting to capture the unwary. Open some chinks in your city carapace and the magic of the place flows into you.
All campfires are beautiful but the campfire in the cave itself is particularly beautiful. Coming back from a foray into the night ferns, the cave hangs like a globule of light in the darkness. I cannot think of it as a hole. The fire is a rose, red at the centre where the petals are small and close together, widening out in waves of warm light, the surface disturbed like ripples of wind on water as the outside leaves spread across the ceiling of the cave. The cave is not a slit in the rock, hiding a secret to herself. As you move your head she opens to reveal another fold. It is a mistake to sit with your back to her, looking out over the dark ferns at the high silhouette of the crags opposite. One should sit and look inward at the inexhaustible variants of the old story of reflections from the rock. Put your hands between the light and the back wall and rediscover the oldest version of the shadow play.
Outside, the threatening shadows, curious sounds, the mopoke courting, the moon captured by clouds. Inside, there is all the feeling of a sacred site. Perhaps by our presence we women are violating an ancient place, as we have been said to desecrate so many sacred things. Yet, perhaps as a cooking place it is more the home of Hestia, godess of the hearth, and so the place of warmth, love and the code of hospitality. Strange that the Greek legend should come first to mind.
People sit close together around a fire built in a cave. The circle of light dies quickly, not spreading across the grass and moving in the trees, not sending a ladder across water. The soft dust on the cave floor deadens footsteps. We have collected armfuls of grass to come between us, yet the dust sighs sibilantly as we sink gratefully onto its welcoming surface. Nearly all seventeen of us found a place in its dark recesses, although a few chose the stars and cleared places in the ferns. They had their reasons. Caves do reverberate, and a fine assortment of salutes to different totemic deities was heard throughout the night.
The cave faces west, so that we didn't stir until after six in the morning. A night to remember, as the morning fire, a pale spectre of its evening radiance, struggles to sustain us. Then off along the creek, with its inhospitable banks, to begin the long day's wandering.
Letter to the Editor
A Warning to all Prospectives
Dear Madam Editor,
In last month's magazine, I read a very “interesting” article, and I think I should, for the sake of our own S.B.W. members, point out a number of errors that the beginner to the bush might fail to see. Although such trips may be common to Australian Capital Territory citizens, they should be avoided by sensible sober Sydneysiders.
The article in question is “The Hell of Hinchinbrook” by a Mister Frank Rigby (obviously no connection with of our Past President of the same name). A very serious problem is evident from the first paragraph. POOR LEADERSHIP. I have been many times to this island and can state categorically that it is without doubt the roughest, the toughest and most dangerous part of Australia, and yet the party, off-handedly you might say, decided to land amongst the mangroves and crocodiles instead of coming in on the fine, sandy, deserted beaches. Why? And when the crocodile was eating the poor youth with the whispy beard, nobody tried to hold Onto his legs and pull. No comradeship apparently. Little wonder that his fine tenor voice can be heard on clear balmy tropical nights singing “neath coral sands I lay”. A ghostly refrain by Elgar that will ever haunt the scene of his ordeal. Poor Greg.
Then the party did what? Went sunbaking! In the rain??? Of course it was raining. In fact, I have spent the last five days checking up with the Astronomer Royal together with the Queensland Weather Bureau, and as this “expedition” occurred shortly before a lunar eclipse (see end of 4th paragraph of Frank's article), the date can be accurately pinpointed because only once in the last two centuries has there been a lunar-eclipse over Hinchinbrook and that came on the only fine night following five weeks of non-stop rain. No wonder the police took Ann away obviously she deserves to be locked away in darkest Bananaland. Foolish girl.
Next comes the disappearance of Meg. It is obvious to every reader that she didn't fall over the cliff. The poor creature didn't vanish that way. She faded away because, quite simply stated, she starved to death. Her last words were, “I feel like a sardine” (Unquote), and yet not one remaining member of the party offered her anything. You will note that in all humility she didn't ask for salmon or barramundi. NO, in her last anguished moments, she only wanted a sardine, and yet her friends ignored a call from the heart and now she is gone. Gone to-eternity. Faded away to nothing. Let her death be a warning to all visitors to Canberra who intend to walk with the Canberra Bushwalking Club.
Then comes the loss of the President. Here for the observant reader is a lesson. Can you spot it? Yes, it was an Error often made by the inexperienced amateur Bird Watcher. It was not an eagle, but the rare Bustard Acrobaticus Rex that lives thereabouts, and the reason that it was up in the craggy heights was that it was blown there by the anabatic winds that the author confused with the “eternal mists” (unquote). The tropics have strange effects on the winds rushing up and down the mountains morning and evening, and this, the author has been confused (understandably, coming from the frozen plains of the Monaro). What invariably happens is this - and I have seen it myself many times:- A 200 lb Bustard can be picked up by the winds and get hurled against tourists who happen to be lurking at Eyries, and both stunned creatures fall to the cliff base and get impaled on banana trees, and both catch the dreaded disease called BunchyTop. A not very pleasant way of dying.
Now comes the sad part …… the loss of Rene. On Hinchiarook there is only one patch of elephant grass 300 yds by 150 yds and is only a hop skip and. a jump away from the lagoon, and yet here, notwithstanding the 6 ft track that goes slap bang through the middle of it, Frank arrives at the other side alone. But was the Search and Rescue called-out? No. Not a mention of it. Instead, the author repeatedly raves on about pygmy African tribes, not even attempting to look for her himself. Nothing. A poor example to prospectives.
Now alone, battered, his morale gone, his mind wandering (he admits hearing mosquitoes conversing), he goes to his appointed rendezvous and starts telling lies. BIG lies. No shame - no remorse apparently. In fact he is proud of losing, through accident or otherwise, five of his bushwalking companions, and not one word or thought of holding memorial services or prayers for the dead. Can anyone imagine such a person surviving such an ordeal and be the same for ever more?
Hoping that this letter will be of benefit to all prospectives and future bushwalkers.
Bon Voyage to
Wendy and Stephen. Hodgman, who take off during the next few weeks for an extended period overseas.
Apart from their joining in a variety of Club walking trips over the last few years, Wendy and Steve have made their mark, as the Club's tame Push-bike travellers, and the organisers/leaders of several ambitious cycling trips on the Club Programme.
Happy travelling to them.
Alterations to the Constitution
Any motions to amend the Constitution at the Annual General Meeting should be given in writing to the Secretary, Sheila Binns, no later than the February General Meeting.
Summer Programme - Dec. 1979 Jan., Feb., 1980.
|1,2,3,||MEGALONG VALLEY Carlons Farm - Tinpot Ridge - Cox R - Breakfast Ck Carlons 20 km MEDIUM/EASY Map: Jenolan. Good-camp-site, beautiful river and creek scenery and a gentle climb back to Carlons on Sunday afternoon. Ideal first overnight camp walk. Swimming optional. LEADER: BOB YOUNGER 571158|
|1,2,3||DAVIES CANYON: Kanangra - Sally Camp Ck - Davies Canyon - Whalania Chasm - Kanangra Rd ABSEILING COMPULSORY 25 km MEDIUM Map: Kanangra. One of the best canyon trips in the spectacular Kanangra area LEADER: DAVID ROSTRON 451 7943 (H)|
|Sun 3||LOWER BLUE MTS. Springwood - Victory Track - Blaxland 14 km MEDIUM Map: Springwood. Train: 8.10 am (C) Swimming optional. Limit 15. Tickets to Springwood. LEADER: IAN DEBERT 646 1569. Ring between 7-9 pm on Thursday before walk.|
|Sun 3||WATERFALL: Uloola Falls - Kangaroo Ck Heathcote. 10 km EASY Map: Royal Nat. Park. Train: 8.45 (C) Swimming optional. LEADER: SHEILA BINNS 789 1854|
|8,9,10||JERRARA CREEK: ABSEILING & SWIMMING compulsory Sth Marulan - Jerrara Ck - Bungonia Gorge - Shoalhaven R - Barber's Ck 5th Marulan. 35 km MED/HARD Map: Caoura 1:31680 An excellent abseiling trip with spectacular open descents, good pools, grand river scenery and breathtaking views of Bungonia. LEADER: SNOW BROWN 451 7644 (H)|
|8,9,10||MALCOLM'S FARM - Wollondilly R - Burnt Flat Ck 15 km MED/EASY Damper baking instructional and competition. Optional swimming. LEADER: VICTOR LEWIN 504096 (H)|
|10||ROYAL NAT PARK: Lilyvale - Era Beach - Otford 10 km EASY Map: Otford Train: 8.45 (C) A most scenic day's outing. Swimming optional. LEADER: ROY BRAITHWAITE 445211 (H).|
|15,16,17||CARLON'S: Blackhorse Range - White Dog - Cox R Kowmung R - Yellow Put - Splendour Rock - Carlon's 30 km MEDIUM Map Instruction for prospectives. Map: Mt.Jenolan LEADER: WAYNE STEELE 642 6448 (H) 290 3951 (B)|
|16/17||BOUDDI STATE PARK: Little Beach - Bouddi Trail - Bouddi Lookout - Maitland Bay - Bullimah Beach - Pretty Beach. Suitable for newcomers. 10 km EASY Maps Bouddi State Park. A most relaxing & peaceful weekend, extensive coastal panoramas. LEADER: IAN DEBERT 646 1569 Ring between 7 & 9 pm Thursday prior to walk.|
|17||ENGADINE: Tukawa Rill - Kangaroo Ck - Karloo Pool - Heathcote. 15 km EASY Train 8 45 (C) Swimming optional. A very popular day walk, mainly track walking. Map: Royal Nat. Park. LEADER: NEIL BROWN (042) 94 1376 (H)|
|17||WEST HEAD: The Basin - Mackeral Beach - West Head Rd 10 kth EASY Swimming optional Beautiful views of Broken Bay. Meet between Posts Nos 35 and 36. LEADER: HANS STICHTER 635 5808 (H)|
|22,23,24||MORONG DEEP: Boyd Road - Morong Falls - Kowmung R Lannigans Ck - Boyd Rd 25 km MEDIUM Map: Kanangra Swimming Compulsory, Experience the splendour of the Upper Kowmung River - excellent swimming pools, some deep enough for bombing and diving. LEADER: DAVID ROSTRON 451 7943 (H).|
|23,24||KURRAJONG HEIGHTS: Wheeney Ck - Return Swimming Good pool. 6km EASY Map: Kurrajong. LEADER: TONY DENHAM (Contact in Clubroom).|
|24||ROYAL NAT. PARK: Lilyvale - Palm Jungle - Burning Palms - Garrawarra Farm - Otford 13 km EASY Map: Otford 1:25000. Train: 8.45 (C) Swimming optional. LEADER: KATH BROWN 812675.|
KEEP THE BUSH CLEAN AND GREEN - PUT YOUR FIRE OUT
The tins you carry in your pack are lighter on the journey back. Though empties are a bore to hump - the bush is not a rubbish dump!