Table of Contents
The Sydney Bushwalker.
Established June 1931.
A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, Box 4476, G.P.O., 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 Ann Ravn, Telephone 798,8607.
|Editor||Evelyn Walker, 158 Evans Street, Rozelle, 2039. Telephone 827,3695.|
|Business Manager||Bill Burke, 3 Coral Tree Drive, Carlingford, 2118. Telephone 871,1207.|
|Production Manager||Helen Gray.|
|Duplicator Operator||Phil Butt.|
In This Issue:
|Office Bearers & Committee Members 1982||2|
|Conservation Notes||Alex Colley||3|
|Between the Lines||Barbara Bruce||4|
|The February General Meeting||Barry Wallace||5|
|Book Review - The Tararua Book||Bill Gamble||6|
|Kanangra Falls||Gordon Lee||9|
|Too Many Routes in Tasmania||Peter Harris||10|
|Snowy Mountains - Feb. 12th/18th||Meryl Watman||11|
|Social Notes for April||12|
|Annual Subscriptions 1982||12|
|Snowy Mountains Summer||Helen Gray||13|
|Eastwood Camping Centre||8|
S.B.W. Office Bearers - 1982.
The following office-bearers and committee members were elected at the S.B.W. Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday, 10th March, 1982:-
|Vice-Presidents||Spiro Hajinakitas*, Ainslie Morris*|
|Assistant Secretary||Barbara Bruce*|
|Walks Secretary||Jim Percy*|
|Social Secretary||Jo van Sommers*|
|New Members Secretary||Fazeley Read*|
|Committee Members||Joan Cooper*, Barry Wallace*, Wendy Hodgman*, Steve Hodgman*|
|Federation Delegates||Gordon Lee*, Wendy Hodgman, Spiro Hajinakitas|
|Substitute Federation Delegate||Alex Colley|
|Conservation Secretary||Alex Colley|
|Magazine Editor||Evelyn Walker|
|Magazine Business Manager||Bill Burke|
|Magazine Production Manager||Helen Gray|
|Duplicator Operator||Phil Butt|
|Keeper of Maps & Timetables||John Holly|
|Search & Rescue Contacts||Don Finch, Ray Hookway, Marcia Shappert|
|Trustees||Heather White, Bill Burke, Gordon Redmond|
|Coolana Management Committee||Dot Butler, Bill Burke, George Gray, John Redfern, Barry Wallace, Fazeley Read, Peter Miller|
|Kosciusko Huts Association Delegate||Bill Burke|
* Indicates members of the Committee.
by Alex Colley.
By the end of 1981 the conservation movement had reached a new high. There were three major advances.
The first was the success achieved in the Tasmanian referendum on the Franklin dam. Opposition to the dam was led by the Tasmanian Wilderness Society (to which the S.B.W. donated $200 recently). In three years the Society, led by Dr. Bob Brown, grew from 16 members to 3,000. It raised $100,000 for the referendum campaign, sent out 1,500 canvassers to knock on 130,000 doors, and had scrutineers at all the 500 polling booths, something that the other parties failed to accomplish. Both the major political parties favoured the damming of the Franklin, but 45% of the voters voted informally, as advised by the Wilderness Society. Fourteen per cent of the electors did not vote at all, and no doubt many of the 47% who voted for the lower Franklin dam voted for their party policy rather than the dam.
On June 9th 1979 Mr. Fraser told his electorate that “No decree of government can turn back the clock and save lost species or a lost wilderness. That is why a Federal Government has a national obligation to make decisions on any issue that affects our heritage. This is a responsibility that our Government has accepted.” This declaration will be meaningless if the Commonwealth approves funding for the dam, and lumbers the taxpayer with an enormous outlay ($1,400,000,000) on which neither interest or capital will ever be recouped.
The second major advance was the result of the McNair Anderson survey on rainforest preservation funded by the National Trust. Seventy per cent of those questioned favoured the preservation of rainforests. The percentage rose to 87 if full compensation were given for loss of employment. The importance of the issue, and the fact that these forests will be saved now or never, has been recognised by the setting up of a State Cabinet sub-committee to study the question under the chairmanship of Mr. Wran.
The third significant development is the support of the press. Not so long ago this was hard to gain, but on Tasmania the press has been on our side. Criticism of the Tasmanian Government has been made by journalists in leading and feature articles without any prompting from conservationists! The Tasmanian Government's window dressing engagement of Harry Butler was condemned. The Financial Review cartoonist depicted Harry Butler standing in water up to his waist holding a fish by the tail and saying “It's wonderful how these little fellows have increased since our conservation programme.” A wallaby sat on a branch above him. The Daily Mirror depicted him rowing his rubber boat “The Green Elf” beneath a tree and singing “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” The leaves of the tree were dollar notes.
Conservation has come a long way since the days when we could do little but write letters to departments and Ministers, and occasionally score a letter in the press.
Between The Lines.
by Barbara Bruce.
“I don't care what you say,”
“so long as you don't ignore me.”
Jim, when he gives his walks report at the A.G.M., will probably say: “Well, we only had a small party of four, but we had good weather and all went according to plan.” A typical, fair comment.
What actually transpires on walks is generally only of interest to the participants; at least that's what I deduce from listening at the general meetings to all the reports which are equally laconic. But between the lines? Haw much of interest!
My opening, in verse form, is a comment made by Don Matthews when all you could see of him was his head, as he took his second - 'miracle' - swim at our lunch spot on the Woronora River on that lovely summer Sunday of 14th February. It appears Don rarely takes to the water - nor does Jim for that matter - so I said I would tell the world I had observed a miracle.
Early in the walk I had intimated to Nadina, a keen young prospective, that she was walking with quite illustrious company. She looked at me rather blankly: what could I be yabbering on about! How could she know yet that Jim Brown and Don Matthews are two of my idols - 'heavies' in the 'men of letters' group. In their wit, verse and prose, they represent to me the earlier days of great camaraderie that Don feels ran strong when everyone travelled by train. Fortunately Jim still sets pen to paper as in the old days.
Because there were only four of us, and not the usual 34 acquired on Sunday walks, it was a more personal experience where each of us was able to share thoughts on the more pleasant aspects brought about by bushwalking - 'that' feeling. Music, poetry, reminiscences and unusual experiences. Philosophy didn't get a look in today.
Yes, the bush was delightfully green; after all it hasn't been a perfectly dry summer. Considerable numbers of wildflowers could still be seen and Nadina and I learnt (among many other things) that angophoras can be distinguished from eucalypts because their leaf pattern is opposite while the eucalypts' is alternating.
I feel better now; next time a walks report is given I won't hunger to know what's between the lines.
And, Don, you haven't been ignored.
To Rowena and Victor Lewin on the birth of their daughter, Clare Rowena.
The February General Meeting.
by Barry Wallace.
The 40 or so members present took their time, but eventually, at about 2022 the President brought sufficient order to declare the meeting open. There was only one apology, Jim Vatiliotis, and the new member for the night, Don Newland, did not show up when called.
The Minutes were read and received with no business arising.
Correspondence brought a letter from the Australian Himalayan Expedition announcing a slide show, a press release from the Paddy Pallin Foundation and advice of applications for the 1982 awards, the letter to our new member, a letter from the Conservation Secretary to the Budawangs Committee requesting maps and further information, a letter from Lawrie McCane advising change of address, a letter from the N.S.W. Department of Services requesting copies of our annual reports, and a letter to the Yellow Pages publishers requesting a change in our listing. With that wealth of letters it is surprising that there was no business arising.
The Treasurer's Report indicated that we started the month with $866.40, received $29.74, spent $64.00 to close the month with a balance of $832.14. The Coolana account had a closing balance of $104.82.
Federation dealt only with general business, with few delegates present, and a very short report.
If Jim Percy was doing his Jim Vatiliotis impression when the presented the Walks Report, it didn't fool anyone. He could at least have taken off his platform KT 20s, or whatever they are. None the less, it was all very well done, even if it did start with the customary “no report”, this time for Jim Vatiliotis!?' Bungonia Gorge walk of 15,16,17 January.
That same weekend saw Bob Hodgson's Dumbano Creek, Cesspit Canyon trip go “down the tubes” so to speak. It rained steadily all Friday night and Saturday morning so they abandoned the walk and went visiting on Mt. Tomah, well above flood level, instead. There were 9 starters, even though they never started.
Things weren't a whole lot better for Ralph Penglis' Bundeena to Otford Sunday walk, what with 10 starters, stormy weather and no leader. Despite all that four souls completed the programmed walk, so there! Peter Miller's Wollongambe Canyon li-lo trip had 13 starters, two punctures and some rain. Kath Brown's Lilyvale to Otford trip attracted 7 people with Jim leading in Kath's stead. They reported sultry weather with some showers.
There was no report of Bill Hall's mid-week Otford to Otford walk but the January 21 to 26 Snowy Mountains walk under the leadership of Guy Vinden had 5 people and many flies enduring a spate of warm weather up until the last day when they had a white-out.
The following weekend, 22,23,24 saw David Rostron aborting his Davies Canyon trip (it had rained) and taking his 6 bodies on a Cox River li-lo trip. There were some muttering about David persuading people to form rafts by grouping-up their li-los. On one rapid they managed to puncture almost every li-lo, in a single incident. Ian Debert's Macarthur's base camp had 17 people enjoying the pools on the Nattai in hot conditions, and little else. Of the Sunday walks John Newman had 19 starters, of whom 6 dropped out to catch the early train in ver-ry hot conditions, and Peter Christian's Heathcote to Waterfall trip did not go.
On the Australia Day weekend Bob Younger let his 16 people off lightly by staying on Bundundah Creek in a sort of base camp, while Bill Burke kept his 30 or so starters up to scratch with route marches along the beaches around Pebbly Beach.
Don and Jenny Cornell reported 23 starters enjoying the pools on the Shoalhaven in superb weather over the weekend 5,6,7 February. Jim Laing led his 5 people astray in the Bell Creek, Wollongambe area that same weekend and Derek Wilson reported 13 plus 3, plus 3, people on a good Sunday trip from Bundeena to Bundeena via Little Marley. Peter Sargent brought Walks Report to a close with 9 people following a slightly altered course on his Heathcote to Waterfall ramble that same Sunday.
General Business saw the Conservation Secretary explaining how the letter he had not so far written, was now unnecessary, as we already had an answer via the Colo Committee by way of an Environmental Plan for the Colo region.
So then it was just a matter of announcements and the Pres. dismissed us all at 2100. Ole!
Book Review - The Taratua Book.
by Bill Gamble.
I put down John Rundle's book with a keen sense of having wasted a good part of my youth. Both of us grew up within sight of the Tararua Range - the forest park portion runs north from Wellington for about 80 km and forms part of the mountain spine of New Zealand's North Island. While I just looked occasionally at the often snow-capped range (particularly its southern wall of 1600 peaks rising from near sea level and which blocks the head of the Hutt Valley about 45 km north of the capital city), John Rundle roamed it in all conditions and at all seasons to become the consummate tramper he is today. And probably one of the most knowledgeable and experienced persons on walking in the Tararua Range.
The photographs, glenned from a collection 30 years in the making, are superb, in black and white as well as colour, and catch the essence of the Tararuas in all seasons. The results are not surprising for John Rundle has combined the eye and skill of a commercial photographer and landscape artist with the capacity of a fit, adventuresome tramper to be in all sorts of improbable places regardless of the weather or time of year. My efforts to take photographs in bad weather seem quite inadequate alongside his. How does one find time to take pictures on a blizzard-swept ridge when every physical effort is turned to route-finding and to keeping oneself from being blown off the mountain? The photographs will draw me back to this book again and again; and, in due course, I will have to satisfy myself by returning to Wellington to walk the Tararuas and take my own photographs.
Yet, with this said, it is the text that has left the stronger impression with me. I do not think that John Rundle writes as well as he photographs: but, oh my goodness, what a wealth of experience from which to draw his tramping tales. There is the simple recounting of a day walk alone on a brilliantly clear winter's Sunday, taking him from a crisp dawn at home in the Hutt Valley to the top of snow-covered Mt. Marchant on the south wall where he sat, primus purring away for a brew, while he surveyed hundreds of kilometres of the lower North Island in peace and quiet. And then in a steep plunge, descended a ridge to a familiar stream before returning to his car for the drive home at dusk.
In contrast stand exciting accounts of his party traversing Dress Circle Ridge and Mt Alpha in a full gale in winter, needing every bit of experience and physical strength to survive (and later learning that only a short distance away two other trampers were dying of exposure in the snow); and of his being called out on a search and rescue for a tramper with serious back injuries in the days before helicopters - four days in freezing conditions, most of the daylight hours soaked in icy river water. The rescue party started out from Otaki Forks thus: “… then we were off, down the track from the road to the river which we found was running fairly high. We entered it in a line, holding on to each other's pack-straps, our torches revealing a small area of rolling brown water ahead of us. A lot of effort was needed to keep the line straight, so presenting the least area to the current. After one stumbling, anxious moment we were across, well and truly wet…” I felt that they were the ones who might have needed rescuing!
Throughout all his accounts runs a strong thread of good information, a generous sharing of experiences, and the reasons why tramping has been such an important part of his life. John Rundle has strong opinions on many matters of interest to bushwalkers - preservation of wilderness, tracks, huts, gear etc. His advice hits home time and again, woven into good tramping stories.
In S.B.W. parlance, John Rundle is a tiger walker, but not only. In his own words: “I'm glad I have been physically capable of doing the toughest trips and of holding my own with the fittest. I am also fortunate in being able to laze my way around the hills, absorbing the scene, the sounds and colours, without the compulsion to go somewhere…”
In short, a damn good book and an incitment to throw some gear in a pack and head for the Tararuas this weekend. If only it was not now so far away.
The Taurara Book - by John Rundle.
Millwood Press, Wellington, New Zealand.
104 pp, $NZ29.95
ISBN 0-908582-45-5, published 1981.
by Gordon Lee.
This trip was undertaken and completed by Joe Easton, Rick King and Gordon Lee. Since the description in the Gundungra booklet is terribly vague the following notes may help anyone wishing to attempt this mighty gorge.
Taken as an abseiling venture there is only one “good” abseil, the third. At some future date when the length of rope required is known the second abseil may be “worthwhile”. As a venture taken for its spectacular scenery then it is definitely worth every minute of the effort. The Kanangra Falls (the whole 500 feet of them), the towering Thurat Spires, the awesome “deep”, the sculpting of the rock, the breathtaking drops and the magnificent pools all add up to an overwhelming experience.
Turn in at wheel tracks on the N side of the road about 1/2 mile from Kanangra Walls end of the road. Follow the track N over Kittani Top. Go to cliff edge for the views. Turn left into the usually dry Creek gully and follow this down as far as possible.
When the going gets difficult move on to the ridge left. Keep looking left and take the opportunity of viewing the Kanangra Falls - a very impressive sight. (These falls can be abseiled but for certain reasons description of the descent has been withheld). Continue to descend. It may be necessary to do a simple one-rope abseil to get down to the creek on the left towards which you are heading.
At the creek, cross and walk up the sharp little ridge directly opposite, starting in a fairly obvious “corner”. When on top sidle left. You will see a small creek going over the edge on your right. This has been “bolted” and may have slings on the brackets. From here there is a long abseil to the bottom (some scrambling). If unsure continue to sidle this immense amphitheatre and set up on a fairly obvious tree (step down to it). This is a scrubby, slushy and slippery abseil but you'll get to the bottom.
Walk down to the next set of falls. On the true right hand bank you will need 3 m sling for an anchor from a large rock near the edge. This is the highlight of the trip. A full 45 m in drop into the pool at the bottom of a beautiful fall. Do not try to keep dry because you'll pendulum.
Suggest lunch here.
Rock scramble down to an abseil point past a tree which may have a sling on it to another 5 m further on. This on the left hand side. A one rope drop will take you to a walk off ledge. Continue on. A number of excellent swimming holes are here for your enjoyment before tackling Murdering Gully.
Summary: 2 x 50 m ropes, 1 x 3/4 m sling. 1st Abs. 1 rope. 2nd Abs. 2 ropes. 3rd Abs. 1 x 3 m sling and 2 ropes. 4th Abs. 1 rope.
Eastwood Camping Centre.
Lightweight Tents - Sleeping Bags - Rucksacks - Climbing & Caving Gear - Maps - Clothing - Boots - Food.
Large Tents - Stoves - Lamps - Folding Furniture.
Paddymade - Karrimor - Berghaus - Hallmark - Bergans - Caribee - Fairydown - Silva - Primus - Companion - and all leading brands.
Proprietors: Jack & Nancy Fox. Sales Manager: David Fox.
Eastwood Canvas Good & Camping Supplies.
3 Trelawney St., Eastwood, NSW, 2122. Phone 858 2775.
Too Many Routes In Tasmania.
(or Reflections of a Bushwalker in Menopause)
by Peter Harris.
Memories of extended trips to remote wilderness never fade. I still see those rocky ramparts of Western Arthur Range; majestic towering cliffs which dominate the human soul. I still feel the bitter biting cold of a rushing south-west gale, and experience the ultimate thrill of pitting body against the awesome, unpredictable power of Nature.
What peace and tranquility there exists in Wilderness! What a joy to refresh the soul in the tranquil bliss of this created natural masterpiece! In Wilderness there is a destiny still to be fulfilled.
In Wilderness is a rekindling of the human soul.
Why then do I hesitate to break the unyielding bondage of a salaried slave, tied to his master with an unbroken umbilical cord?
“Such fate to suffering Worth is given,
Who long with want and woes has striven,
By human pride or cunning driven
To misery brink;
Till, wretched of every hope but Heaven
He, ruined, sinks” (Burns)
Why cast an aura of gloom over breaking the cord? That is there to prevent a body from seeking solace in the raw beauty of Wilderness?
The answer is menopause. To be precise - bushwalkers' menopause! Arising from too many trips, too many routes. Being too familiar with wilderness. Having 'done' it all! Having 'had' it all! Seeing everything, yet seeing nothing. Exploration urges sated, looking for somewhere 'different' to go - some new challenge, some new excitement to lift the soul. There is too little wilderness left, yet so much time to fill.
We've crossed the Arthurs thrice, once in winter, twice in summer. Done Federation. Done Precipitous Bluff. Been down the Gordon River and up the Gordon River. Traversed the Denison Range, Ring William Range, crossed to The Spire and Diamond Peak, walked the South Coast and the West Coast, climbed Mt. Picton and Mt. Jerusalem, crossed the Central Plateau and walked the Cradle Mountain track five times. Done the Du Cane Range, Maria Island, Freycinet, Ben Lomond, Harz Mountains and climbed Mt. Field East and West. Climbed Frenchman's Cap and been partly down the Franklin. Done Mt. Anne and Mt. Wellington. Been over to Window Pane Bay twice.
Wot's left? An urge that says see it all before the bastards destroy it for dams or wood pulp or whatever. Why is our Tasmanian Wilderness receding when it is already too small?
Even you who mourn the Mountains' fate,
That fate is yours - no distant date,
Your ruinous impact drive elate
On mountains' bloom.
Till crushed beneath proud Nature's weight
Shall be your doom!
Snowy Mountains - Feb. 12th/18th.
by Meryl Watman.
Leader: Bob Younger.
With Christa Younger, Bill Hall and Meryl Watman.
Christa and I didn't know what we were in for!
Given good leadership, fine weather plus early starts, medium walkers can cover a fair bit of ground at an easy pace, and most important of all - enjoy it, as it turned out.
Day 1. Nimmo Hill - Cezjack Hut.
Leaving Nimmo Hill at 7.45 am and after opening and closing gates through grazing properties (Berridale map), we climbed for three hours to the commercial Bogong Lodge just outside the Park boundary east of Jagungal. Lunch, then half a mile to an early camp at Cezjack Hut.
Day 2. Cezjack - Mawson's Hut.
A faint vehicle track gave us easy walking through the high meadows to Bull's Peaks, 6,180 ft, with splendid and distant views from North and South Peaks, followed by some wandering around Mail Box. Then clearing Cup and Saucer Mountain, 6,340 ft, just below its impressive rocky dome, we continued down through heavy undergrowth to camp amongst the trees above the hut.
Day 3. Mawson's - White's River.
Our usual 7.45 am start, again in brilliant sunshine, south up the track and along the Kerries Ridge. With Gungarten on our left we dropped down and into the scruffy Schlink Hilton, home base for two entomologists doing their annual survey of the snow-gum-eating bug. Then one mile down the road to inspect White's River Hut and a 10 mins climb by track towards the tree line for two nights camping.
Day 4. White's - Consett Stephen Pass - White's.
A day walk to remember.
Another clear sunny day, a light cool breeze and flowers in abundance, lunch at the Pass and return. With the evening a strong dry North-westerly roared down from the heights - flapping tents - little sleep.
Day 5. White's River - Tin Hut.
A longer and harder day.
In sunshine we followed the road south and continued along the aqueduct service road, leaving it to push steeply up hill through shoulder-high scrub to reach the backbone of Disappointment Spur. Somewhere close to Gungartan 6,779 ft, Christa and I were both leg weary, and with the cloud ceiling dropping and the wind rising the thought of exposed camping boosted our energy enough to sidle in the shadow and protection of Gungarten's many spurs, through miniature gardens growing in the drained beds of last winter's great snow drifts, and on towards the elusive Tin Hut. At 6 pm, when crossing a saddle, my short tired legs were pumping up and down on the spot, so it seemed, when Tin Hut was sighted. Like a pair of harness greys turned for home, Christa and I picked up speed and cantered to a warm wash and sound sleep. Bob and Bill still had plenty of “go” and in fading light replenished the hut's wood supply.
Day 6. Tin Hut - Nimmo Hill.
We started up the slope to get the easier walking along the top of the Brassey Mountains, passing on the eastern side of Big Brassey's mass of granite, and down through thick scrub to the ruins of Alpine Hut. Lunch at Kidman's Hut, a little gem with its fire place sheathed outside with 4“ saplings as they were in the early days. We then climbed up and over Brassey Pass, down through tall mountain ash trees by Teddy's Creek, a few easy miles along river flats, a “short-cut”? over low wooded hills and back at Nimmo Hill at 7 pm. A unanimous decision to pile into Subaru as we were, camped at Euaumbene bridge, breakfast in Cooma Park, lunch in Goulburn Park, home 3 pm.
A great trip, Bob - thank you.
Social Notes For April.
Wednesday, 21st April.
Nepal - slides - Peter Dyce.
Another slide evening by one of our most experienced travellers and photographers. Peter can always be relied upon to provide an interesting commentary with the slides.
Dinner before the meeting will be held at Chehades Lebanese Restaurant, 270 Pacific Highway, Crow's Nest at 6.30 pm.
Wednesday, 28th April.
Tropical Queensland - slides - Bob Jung.
Bob is a bushwalker and has travelled and photographed extensively in Queensland. This will be an opportunity to see some of the scenery for which Queensland is famous.
Annual Subscriptions 1982.
The subscriptions decided upon at the Annual General Meeting held on 10th March are as follows:-
- Single member: $9
- Married couple: $12
- Full-time student: $7
- Entrance Fee: $1
Non-active member subscription will be decided by the Committee and advised in the April magazine.
Please note that Peter Christian's phone number is 449,3875 (6 - 8 pm Friday). Please add to your Walks Programme for day walks on 21st March and 18th April.
Snowy Mountains Summer.
It was last September, after a week's ski touring near Jagungal, that we arranged with our friends to re-une at Christmas in the same area. We promised ourselves an easy trip - easy enough for those children who had been too young to join their parents' skiing holiday. The summer party was: George and Helen Gray, with Kathleen (16) and Susan (14) who had already skied in the area the past three winters, Kamerukas Stan and Janette McDonald with daughters Fiona (8) and Alison (6), Jenny Finlayson from Canberra with sons Malcolm (12) and Gordon (10), and Mike and Joy Gallagher, non-walkers from Sydney. It promised to be a leisurely holiday.
”… and if George can get the 4 wheel drive Toyota going, you can use that. You will find that one door doesn't open and the other doesn't close….“ so ran the note from friend Bryan Haig, who owns the lodge “Bogong” where we stay in winter. What a treat; we could load all our gear and the younger children on it, and the walk-in to the High Country would be easy.
We found the vehicle easily enough. It was just where we'd seen Bryan park it, facing downhill, months ago. The truck's back tray still had his boots and parka in it, now floating in water after the rain of months. And there was Bryan's sock, still replacing a lost petrol cap. I tried the driver's door. Crash! It fell right off onto my feet. That must be the door that didn't close. Oh well! At least George's job of opening and closing gates would be easier. While George worked on the engine, we drained and loaded the truck, filled the tank and wrung out the sock, bundled the 4 youngest into the passengers seat, and without even the usual roll-start, the engine ticked over and we were off.
Having crossed the shaky old bridge on the Gungarlan, with its badly-eroded approaches, the vehicle and passengers parted company. We on foot walked up the long grassy valley, through the lush summer grass and the wild flowers which make summer walking in the highlands such a delight. The low clouds rushed past. Sometimes we were in mist, sometimes in light rain, and once or twice a patch of sunlight raced along the valley to add brilliance to the field of flowers. We even found mushrooms, huge ones. (They didn't look quite right to me, but Mike stated with authority that field mushrooms didn't look like cultivated ones. Anyway, they were edible, as the evening meal proved.) The truck, meanwhile, was on a higher route. We could hear the engine in the distance as George coped with steep hills, creek crossings and the endless stopping to open gates, drive through and close them again.
At dusk we were at the end of the road at “Bogong”, which is on the main range on a small piece of freehold. (Who says huts are an eye-sore? In winter “Bogong” and its neighbour Cesjack's Hut are virtually covered in snow and impossible to see. In summer time their khaki-brown paint hides them just as effectively.) It was now raining steadily, so again on Bryan's written invitation, we decided to use the lodge and its much-needed drying room. Around the cosy fire that night, we drank coffee and planned the week ahead.
Whatever we planned for the next day, it didn't eventuate. The rain continued; lovely cold mountain rain, strong winds, occasional breaks in the clouds with views of Jagungal or the distant plains of Cooma in sunlight. It was beautiful. Even the cosiness of the hut didn't tempt us to stay indoors.
You may think that 6 children with 7 adults is not your idea of a holiday. But when the children like walking, are fit, interested, and don't complain, it is a delight. A six year old can (and did) take just as much pleasure in the flowers and scenery as the adults. Age meant little; we were 13 friends.
The rain was already clearing by the late afternoon, so we transferred our base-camp to Cesjack's. We spent two days at this base. Our day walks, attempting to follow our ski routes, proved slow going, for the beautiful smooth-surfaced valleys of winter were full of head-high scrub. The route from Cesjack's to O'Keefe's hut on the 3rd day was particularly slow, for those ridges of snow-gum sapplings leading down to O'Keefe's - which provide such a test of turning skills on skis - are thicker and closer together at ground level, on foot. It was here that Joy caught her foot and with loaded pack fell heavily, to rise in great pain and unable to put any weight on her foot.
Joy is 5'10” or more, a big and beautiful lady. Even Stan, at 6'5“ couldn't carry her. (If only it had been Janette at 5'2”, or Jenny so thin and light, or ….) Poor Joy had a painful walk of about .5 km before reaching O'Keefe's and its cool stream into which she plunged her now fast-swelling ankle. The rest of us settled into the hut or erected tents outside, while occasionally Joy's plaintive voice would tell us that she was bored or hungry or the leeches were nibbling. Apart from that she complained not a jot, and when we tucked her into the most comfy bed that night, we all agreed that by tomorrow she'd be all right.
Joy wasn't right next day; in fact, she could not walk at all and George and Stan volunteered to go for help. Trying not to look at Jagungal above and so close, enticing all to visit on such a magnificently sunny day, they packed and left for the 8 km. dash to the truck at Bogong, the l7 km drive to our cars at Nimmo Hill and the further 40 km to Jindabyne for help.
Leaving all our spare food with Joy and Mike, Janette, Jenny and I and our children slowly headed back to Bogong. The going got hotter and hotter, and once back in the open valleys we found ourselves dashing from one shady tree to another. Under one such tree, literally “in the middle of nowhere” a man suddenly appeared. Said Janette (always playing games) “Hello, we're on a Sunday School picnic”. Our visitor started to smile, then decided it was probably true! He was walking with a map with a tiny scale and had only a vague idea of his whereabouts. We showed him, with the aid of our maps, just where he was and which way to go to reach his ultimate destination, Guthega. He thanked us, and walked off - in the opposite direction! A Games player, too?
George and Stan arrived hot and already tired at Bogong, had a hasty snack, and headed off again in the Toyota. Stan lay back and relaxed, knowing that his door didn't open so George would have to open the gates as well as drive. Once back at Nimmo Hill and into Stan's vehicle, George (now the passenger) still had the job of opening gates. (When he finally returned to Bogong late that night, George had opened and closed 40 gates). They arrived at Jindabyne at 5.30 p.m, just as the policeman and ambulance driver were closing-up and heading off for a New Year's Eve party. Their spirits fell, but rose again when Stan and George assured them that Joy would be comfortable that night in a hut and that they could still enjoy the festivities.
The women and children were settling into their tents when our Heroes returned, but they soon lowered themselves in our esteem by refusing to stay awake 'till midnight to see the New Year in. They proved to be just as useless next day by being too exhausted to climb Jagungal. A great pity, for those of us who did had the most perfect of days. The scenery and flowers were truly magnificent. (Those back at base-camp that day counted 48 different species in full flower within a kilometre radius of the tents. They declined to count those in bud or past their prime).
Meanwhile, Joy and Mike were sitting outside O'Keefe's enjoying the sun when no less than three vehicles appeared over the hill - the policeman in his vehicle, the 4-wheel drive ambulance, and a park ranger in his jeep. They had arrived via White's River Hut, Valentine's and around the back of Jagungal, clearing fallen trees and other obstacles en route and thoroughly enjoying the adventure. On finding Joy comparatively well, they elected to drive on and return via Happy Jack's Plain. Joy, in the front seat of the ambulance, had a long and scenic drive to Jindabyne. The x-ray showed she had broken a bone as well as a torn tendon.
Our return to Nimmo Hill in the Toyota was uneventful except for a light incident - George's bursting into tears. Once again George was the driver and gate opener. As we unloaded the truck, Jenny mused “I wonder … what if the driver's door was the one that wasn't meant to open?” So saying, she turned the handle of the passenger's door. It opened.
The next few days I spent with Bill Burke's mob at Kandahahat Perisher. But that's another story.
Rally to save the S.W. Tasmanian Wilderness.
Saturday March 27. Assemble 10.30 a.m., Town Hall Square.
(Organised by the South-West Tasmania Committee of N.S.W.)
A meeting of the Younger Set (16 - 25 years) will be on Wednesday 7th April in the club room. Please all come with ideas and maps. We intend to plan walks for the winter programme.
Happy Birthday Ray!
Honorary Member Ray Page of Jamberoo is 80 years of age on March 29th. The Sydney Bush Walkers with Ray a happy birthday.