Table of Contents
SYDNEY BUSHWALKER is a monthly bulletin of matters of interest to The Sydney Bush Walkers Inc, Box 4476 GPO Sydney 2001. To advertise in this magazine, please contact the Business Manager.
|Editor||Patrick James, 5/2 Hardie Street Neutral Bay 2089 Telephone 9953 8384|
|Business Manager||George Mawer, 42 Lincoln Road Georges Hall, Telephone 9707 1343|
|Production Manager||Fran Holland|
|Printers||Kenn Clacher, Tom Wenman, Barrie Murdoch, Margaret Niven & Les Powell|
THE SYDNEY BUSH WALKERS INCORPORATED was founded in 1927. Club meetings are held every Wednesday evening at 8 pm at Kirribilli Neighbourhood Centre, 16 Fitzroy Street, Kirribilli (near Milsons Point Railway Station). Visitors and prospective members are welcome any Wednesday.
President: Tony Holgate
Vice-President: Morie Ward
Public Officer: Fran Holland
Treasurer: Greta James
Secretary: Michele Powell
Walks Secretary: Eddy Giacomel
Social Secretary: Peter Dalton
Membership Secretary: Barry Wallace
New Members Secretary: Jennifer Trevor-Roberts
Conservation Secretary: Bill Holland
Magazine Editor: Patrick James
Committee Members: Suzanne Garland & Don Wills
Delegates to Confederation: Jim Callaway & Ken Smith
In This Issue, No. 755
|3||Put Your Best Foot Foremost|
|3||70th Anniversary Celebrations|
|5||Newspaper Cuttings and Extracts|
|8||A Colo-Uraterer Venture|
|11||First Perambulator to Kanangra Tops 1931|
|17||Over Gangerang in a Hurry|
|21||Five Returns Dulbolla, Please|
|22||Both Ends of the Budawangs|
|22||Geoff Wagg: comments|
|22||Finding the Castle|
|31||Frank Rigby: comments|
|31||The Walker's Bleat|
|32||Bushwalking and Train Travelling|
|33||Hymn of Hate|
|33||Wildlife in the Apsley Gorge|
|36||Helen Gray; comments|
|36||Yet another Bungle|
|38||We'll be Marooned|
|41||Reminiscences of Things|
|45||The Snow Bowl|
|46||The Rains Came|
|46||Hilltop to Katoomba via Bimlow Tableland|
|47||The Virgin Queen|
|48||Judy O'Connor: comments|
|48||Anyone Can be a good Cook|
|49||A Tribute to the Silent Dignity of a Friend|
|50||A Short Note on K to K in a Day|
|52||Index of Articles and Poems|
P 4 Willis's walkabouts
P 16 Eastwood Camping Centre
P 44 Alpsports
Back cover Paddy Pallin
Happy seventieth anniversary to you all. This special edition of the Sydney Bushwalker is to celebrate our seventy years from 1927 to 1997. To mark our 60th anniversary, SBW produced a book The Sydney Bushwalkers; The First Sixty Years. In five years time we'll celebrate out 75th anniversary no doubt with something equally as significant as our 60th book. To celebrate our 70th anniversary, the book was a hard act to follow without stealing any thunder from the 75th anniversary.
The way selected to celebrate in print the 70th anniversary was a very simple concept, to prepare an anthology of SBW writings from the last seventy years. In our archives we have a wealth of articles which today are as fresh and as entertaining as they were when first published.
If only one person selected the articles there was a risk of bias in time, or style or theme. If 400 people made the selection it would take for ever with the end result as thick as a telephone directory. The chosen process was elegantly simple, the people who wrote the chapters in the Book (one chapter per decade) were asked to select two articles per decade, with editorial licence being used to find a replacement for Jim Brown and a new wordsmith for the last decade. To allow for some democracy in the selection an invitation to all members was made in the August magazine to nominate articles for inclusion.
The main selection of Sydney Bushwalker literature is the selection of seven active members, members who were active walkers in their decade, who knew the people and places and events the articles mention or are about. My thanks to the selectors who each went through a decade of the magazine, some 120 issues, to find the articles which best represented their decade. Two articles on the one walk in Apsley Gorge may seem extravagant however this was a excellent opportunity for two different views of the same walk.
The articles are presented in chronological order of their publication. Although other ways of presentation are possible, for example alphabetical by author, date order allows the reader to note the changes or lack of changes that have occurred over seventy years. All the articles are from the Sydney Bushwalker except some newspaper reports which set the scene in 1927/28 and two poems. As appropriate, the people mentioned in articles are listed in alphabetical order at the end of the article.
As you read the articles, bear in mind that over these seventy years many developments have happened. Plastic, Nylon and other synthetic fibres came into general use in the 50s and 60s about a generation after our start. Reliable topographic maps started in the 60s and 70s; the 1:25,000 series now cover the whole of the eastern division of New South Wales. In the beginning they used road maps and cycling maps. By today's standards the early walks were literally heavy going, big heavy packs, filled with tinned food, axes and rifles, and hob-nail boots. There was a need for light weight camping gear; a market opportunity filled by SBW member Paddy Pallin.
This anthology didn't just happen; it didn't fall off the back of a truck ready to be posted. Many people helped turn the idea into reality; on behalf of all Club members thank you.
The Sydney Bushwalker started life as The Bushwalker on 1 June 1931 and adopted its present name with the 8th issue on 1 August 1932. In the first issue, editor Marjorie Hill, said the aim of the magazine “is neither ambitious nor comprehensive; the main endeavour being to place before members accounts of trips which otherwise would not be so readily accessible to them. Such accounts will be more or less detailed and contain more of the personal element than can be the case with the Club's official records”.
The Sydney Bushwalker has achieved the aim as expressed in June 1931. After having browsed through 66 years of magazines I would argue that the magazine more accurately reflects the spirit of the Club than the official records.
Ladies and gentlemen, Sydney Bush Walkers all, with pride and pleasure, the 70th Anniversary Special Edition, anthology of bushwalking stories and verse.
We all delight in the memories and stories of our experiences in SBW. Sometimes the walk is never over, it just keeps getting retold over and over. We often concentrate on the trips that went wrong, the hardships, the mishaps, the risks. But lets not forget the positive side; the beauty of the Australian bush, the discovery of ourselves, the thrill of exploration, the exercise, the comradeship and the lifelong friendships. These can be the rewards of a life lived. Sometimes the best walks don't make the best stories. Sometimes we forget to thank the people who make it possible, I thank you all. We're part of our environment and sometimes we have needed to act to protect it; no doubt we will be called on to protect it again. For 70 years Sydney Bushwalkers have walked all over; suburban bushland, remote wilderness, deserts, rainforests, in snow and ice, tropics, along valleys, and climbing our loved mountain ridges …mmm, I long to be out there again, see you along the track.
Let us reune…. Tony Holgate, President.
Put your best foot Foremost
by Kath McKay
O stricken maid
Seek not the aid
Of corn pad, slave or plaster
Of any sort;
You'll simply court
The worst kind of disaster.
Shun knife and file,
Of razor blades beware!
Be sure to treat
Your precious feet
With kindness and with care.
Feet, believe me,
To treat 'em rough forbear
For sure as egg
Your suffering legs
Won't grow another pair.
The Sydney Bushwalker Dec.1959
11-12 Oct. Reunion at Coolana: The weeding and gardening have been completed and Coolana is a picture of beauty and joy. This celebration is a reunion for members, prospective member, ex-members and their family.
When parking at Coolana, move forward and/or sideways and leave room for others. What to bring: everything, especially good voice and good cheer. Be prepared as usual for hot, cold, wet and/or dry weather. Bush toilets will be available. Water is available on the River Flats.
Following SBW traditions of long standing entertainment has been specially commissioned for the campfire.
Coolana is located in the Kangaroo Valley.
By the Hume Highway, about 200 km from Sydney, via Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale, Fitzroy Falls and Kangaroo Valley, turn into Mount Scanzi Road, 2nd right after Hampden Bridge. By the Princes Highway, about 180 km from Sydney. Turn off to Kangaroo Valley at either Berry or Bomaderry
Coolana is on the Tallowa Dam Road, about 100 metres west of the intersection with Mount Scanzi Road (previously known as Tallowa Dam Road). NRMA map Southern Highlands shows the general location of the Land (in grid H7) and access routes; on this map Mount Scanzi Road is shown as Bugong Road. The Land is located at the junction of the two western CMA maps (scale 1:25000).
9028-4-S Kangaroo Valley
Special Notice: for those senior members of the Club a 4WD vehicle will be available, if required, to take you from the parking area downhill to the River Flats, and back!
Friday 17 Oct. Dinner
At the North Sydney Leagues Club, Abbott St., Cammeray. Parking is available at the Club. For public transport users the Club is a short cab or bus trip from North Sydney station. (buses 202, 203, 207 and 208)
We have the Celebrity Room (main function room) from about 6 PM to 12 midnight. The cost of the dinner is $30 a person. Drinks are extra to your own account.
Pam Allen, the New South Wales Minister for the Environment, will be our guest. SBW member Geoff Dowsett will make music for us. Geoff's music will be just right: not too loud, not too soft, not too little and not too much.
The dinner is not formal but Club dress rules do apply, smart casual is the way to dress. If in doubt ring the North Sydney Leagues Club.
Sunday 19 Oct. Picnic-Barbeque at Manly Dam. The opportunity for everyone to get together in an atmosphere spiced with the aroma of fried onions and burnt meat. Meet old friends from way back when, be photographed with the president of you choice. A day as costly as you wish make it; king prawns and champagne or bangers and beer.
We have booked Picnic Areas 3B, 3C and 3D which are accessible to by car, by foot or by wheelchair.
To find us look for the SBW signs. There is a fee of $6 per car to enter the Manly Dam site. To enter by foot costs nothing.
What to bring? Bring what you'd normally bring to a barbeque in a park, barbeque, table, chairs, esky, food, drink, glasses, plates, camera, video, etc. Some tables and chairs will be there but there may be a rush. We will be having a gas barbeque so if a wait is no problem, it's yours to use. An entrée of sizzled sausages will be served plus some 70th birthday drink.
Wednesday 22 Oct. Nostalgia
At the clubrooms, Kirribilli Neighbour Centre. This evening will have a fluid , unstructured format, but it will include a photographic collage by Don Matthews, the guru of the silver halides. Members are asked to bring their own nostalgia items. Bring photos of you and your friends, the walks you went on and places you visited. Be prepared for an evening of talking and listening. Bring a plate to go with the SBW drinks
Camp Fires on the Bush Trail
Sydney Sun, 3 June 1928.
If by any chance you are enthusiastic enough to wander off the motor roads for a little solitude among the gum-trees, don't be startled if you see a band of girls scrambling through the undergrowth as if they were escaping from custody. Do not be misled by the fact that they wear khaki shorts instead of short skirts into thinking that perhaps dryads were up to pranks.
The girls are members of the Sydney Bush Walkers' Club and their keenness for the pastime which Americans have dubbed “hiking” is boundless. They have found that shirts and shorts are the most satisfactory costume for their walks, and each girl carries her own pack when on the track.
The kit means food for the day or longer, tent and blanket, and on camping trips the equipment always carried includes a torch, tomahawk, candles and first aid outfit. Neither men nor women travel without a small housewife kit complete with needles and thread, and adhesive tape. The latter will mend a tear or patch a wound splendidly.
The Sydney Bush Walkers' Club was started by a handful of enthusiasts last August and the membership has grown so rapidly that there are now about 50 women and 50 men anxious to see more of their own country than is possible on the beaten tracks. The president is Mr. J. Debert of Neutral Bay and Mr. Charles G. Kirkpatrick of Mosman is secretary. The members include Mr. E. Austen, who has represented Australia at the Olympic Games*, and Mr. Gordon Smith who holds the 50 miles walking championship of N.S.W. * 1924 Paris Olympics, 10,000 metre walk
Two trips are now organised every Sunday - a long walk and a short one , so that those who like walking and are not equal to the task of strenuous miles can still get out in the sunshine along the open road. As well as these official trips, members arrange parties among themselves for short distances and the more venturesome explore new tracks. Lectures and social gatherings are now a feature of the club's activities, and every Friday night the photographs are shown to members. A club photographic album is a record of wanderings where few people go, and incidentally is a credit to the photographic skill of the members. The club will hold its first dance at the Feminist Club on Thursday and the proceeds will go towards a fund to purchase club rooms.
“Most of the women are as capable walkers as the men,” said Mr. Debert, “and three of our members who recently walked from Blackheath to Richmond were the first women to do it. Yet it is curious that only those women who wear the correct costume stand up to the strenuous trails. Skirts are all right on straight walks, but when it comes to scrambling through rough country and undergrowth, shorts are the only possible rig-out.”
“Some of the women have done over 400 miles in walking trips alone since the club was established and it is amusing to see how friends are fired to join after hearing some of the pleasant times we have. Of course the hardships are never told and people say 'Oh I'd love to join up; I'm a very good walker'. But 10 miles or so on even roads is a different proposition to exploring new tracks over mountainous country.”
As a reward for their enthusiasm these walkers, who act as protectors of flora and fauna have seen parts of the country which are unknown to those who keep to motor roads and tram-lines. There are beaches not far from Sydney that are shining golden bays, never despoiled by the picnic-maker, who leave crusts and apple peelings in the sand, and there are corners of National Park that might be the tropical jungle of an equatorial country.
Six photos, blurred and un-reproducible, accompanied this article with the following photo caption. These snapshots were taken on some of the tours of the Sydney Bush Walkers' Club and show members in camp and on the road. The costume worn by the women, shorts and shirts is clearly seen. So that stragglers will not get too far behind on the trail, “whippers-in” who are good walkers always travel at the rear.
Sydney Bush Walkers, a New Club,
Sydney Morning Herald 27 Feb. 1928
The Sydney Bush Walkers was recently formed as a club, and from a mere handful of enthusiasts it has slowly but steadily grown to a membership of 80 odd walkers of both sexes. The Club consists of persons who like a little of the real bush and so take jaunts afoot, gaining an intensive knowledge of some of the unusual features of our wonderful bushlands, besides receiving physical recuperation.
Each Sunday or holiday, parties with packs on their backs can be seen on the broad highway or on some mountain trail. Organised walks under an experienced member who acts as a guide are arranged and members may avail themselves of such trips. The Club caters for all types of walkers, and its aims are briefly; to foster a bond of good-fellowship for those who love the great outdoors, the forests and the broad open life of the bush; to preserve the gentle art of tramping in these days of hurry and bustle, as walking is the greatest of exercises; to encourage walkers, lovers of nature and amateur explorers to reach and enjoy the beautiful and wild parts of this country; at all times to protect and preserve the flora and fauna of our land; to encourage others to appreciate the manly and wholesome recreation of walking.
The badge of the Club consists of a neatly drawn flannel flower designed by Mr. A. Rigby. The club has been granted the use of the Boy Scouts Club room (third floor), 258 George Street, every Friday night, when members foregather for informal discussions re tracks, new beauty spots explored, the exchange of photographs and experiences.
Sydney Morning Herald, 2 March 1928
During the last week three members of the Sydney Bush Walkers' went from Katoomba to Clear Hill and back; and a party of fifteen went from Emu Plains to Blaxland via Nepean River and Glenbrook Creek. The track was found to be very rough, but those who took it stated that the grandeur of the scenery justified the exertion. On march 3 Mr. Mitchell of Artarmon leaves for a 12 day camping trip from Katoomba via Jenolan Caves, Kanangra Walls, Kowmung to Camden. On the same day Mr. Kilpatrick will be taking a camping party to the Warragamba from Penrith.
Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March 1928
Tomorrow a party of members of the Sydney Bushwalkers' Club will walk from Katoomba across the Bridal Path to Jenolan Caves. On the same day another party will leave Lilyvale for Garie or Wattamolla. During last weekend nine of the club members camped at the junction of the Nepean and Warragamba Rivers and conducted exploring excursions along the Warragamba and to Gibraltar Rock. Under the auspices of the club a lantern lecture on North Wales will be given tomorrow at the Sports Club, Hunter Street.
Sydney Morning Herald, 29 March 1928
The Sydney Bush Walkers' have arranged for a walk from Springwood, through Martin's Lookout and Sassafras Gully, back to Springwood at the weekend. Another party will proceed from Bundeena to Helensburg. At Easter Mr. M. J. Dunphy will take a party to Picton Lakes via Blue Gum Forest, Little River Canyon, Nattai Valley and Pass to Picton. Mr Kilpatrick will take another party over the Bridal track to Jenolan Caves, then to Oberon and Tarana. Yet another party led by Mr. E. Austen, will walk from Blackheath, via Grose Valley to Richmond.
Sydney Bush Walkers
The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 1928
Over the weekend a party of 18 members of the Sydney Bush Walkers' Club led by Mr. A Hodson proceeded from Liverpool along the banks of the Georges River over rough country where no tracks exist and building a temporary bridge crossed the river, proceeding to Leumeah. At a very isolated part a fine swimming pool was discovered which was ultimately named the Bush Walkers' Basin.
The Sydney Bush Walkers, Lovers of the Out of Doors: Girls who wear Shorts, by J.D. The Australian Sporting and Dramatic News, 10 August 1929
There is in Sydney a group of young enthusiasts who are drawn together by the bond of good fellowship created by the love of Nature and the worship of the great outdoors. Such is the Sydney Bush Walkers' Club now in its second year, and comprised of over a hundred members who are keen nature lovers, and good walkers.
Primarily walking is the chief aim of the members, but do not think that is where the club's activities commence and finish. These alert men and women of varying ages are almost all individualists, and though some walk for the sheer love of walking and its ultimate vigorous health, there are others who study geology and botany; here and there is an ardent photographer, an ornithologist, and yet another who desires to see and visit new places. These young people have formed this club with a desire to see the bush unspoiled by the hand of man. They take jaunts afoot, gaining an unusual knowledge of our wonderful bushlands, besides receiving immense physical benefit.
On Sundays and holidays, parties are to be seen on mountain trails, or following the bends and twists of our rivers. Many members devote the whole of their annual leave to some long and arduous walk. Roads are taboo, for these enthusiasts see no fun in walking to a place which can be visited by motor. Their aim is to visit the unfrequented spots, the places the tourist passes by in his desire to cover distance. While people are advising us to “see Australia first” the Bushwalkers are seeing the districts surrounding Sydney first, and they know their bushlands well.
Talk to any of them about National Park, Kuring-gai Chase, that stretch of rough country that lies between Campbelltown and the South Coast railway, and they will unfold many a tale that will create the wish within you to see such beauty spots. They can tell you of glorious swimming holes, numerous fine waterfalls, and ideal camping sites you will never have the fortune to see unless you put a pack on your back and swing along many ridges, up and down cliffs, through thick scrub and undergrowth, wade through creeks and rivers, and frequently camp out for the night.
They will tell you of glorious beaches near Sydney that are, as yet, unspoiled by the picnic-maker and his peelings, papers and inevitable trail of tin cans. How many Sydney people know that there are corners of the National Park that might be the tropical jungle? The Bushwalkers know these places.
Another intensely interesting side of the club is its camping activities. Many of the places visited are approachable only by long walks that entail the necessity of carrying camping equipment. To the participants the evenings around a camp fire, with the fragrance of burning gum leaves, are never-to- be-forgotten memories. There is no place or time where conversation flows so freely as around a camp fire. Then there are solos and community singing. Various discussions are entered upon, and in a group of people with such varied opinions many excellent topics are brought up.
Food is carried also, and many tempting dishes are made by the walkers. Some members spend much time over the culinary art, but then one develops a very healthy appetite after a hard day's walk.
Walking trips are made through the winter and summer, but naturally more time is spent in swimming and basking in the sun in the summer, whereas the longer walks are embarked upon during the winter and spring. Members are free to wear whatever they like, but shorts, shirts and stockings find universal favour with both sexes. There is no doubt about the freedom and coolness of shorts; nor is there any about the scratches one has to contend with when wearing them!
Two photos accompanied the article with the captions
1. E. Austen, J, Debert, Miss W. Lewis, Miss F. Ramsey, H. Chardon, Miss A. Duncan and T. Herbert on the banks of the Nattai River.
2. Sydney Bush Walkers with their full kit. The leader examines his road map.
by Denis Alexander*
As you splash along the track,
eyes alert and ears pinned back,
you may have seen those queer square turds.
In thought, if not expressed in words,
the stress of such defecation
baffles the imagination.
But it is not done to entertain us
the wombat has an oblong anus.
So if your slumber is disturbed
by cries and screams, don't be perturbed.
Eyes closed, teeth clenched and wracked in pain
a wombat's gone and crapped again.
* Annual of Tasmanian Tramp No. 25 1984/85
Hobart Bushwalking Club Inc.
by Jim Brown
Please don't sue our Editor,
Although he was to blame.
He should not have said it, or
At least not used your name.
When we elect our Editors
They're sane, you may depend,
But when their year is almost up
They're likely to be round the bend.
Sydney Bushwalker September 1981
A Colo - Uraterer Venture
by Maxwell Gentle
Mr. Gordon Smith and I arrived at Capertee Railway Station at 4.30 am Thursday, February 5th, 1931. Daybreak found us walking leisurely along the undulating roadway that runs from Capertee to Glen Alice. It zigzagged around the head of Coca Creek and passed under the shadow of spectacular sandstone walls, but after awhile a more open country was reached, over which were scattered numerous sheep stations. After passing the Coca Creek ford we found ourselves in a broad valley. We had left the aptly-termed Tower Mountain behind us, and were now abreast of Mount Genowlan on our left and Canobla Gap on our right. The surrounding mountains gave an impression of great wildness. A few miles to the northward could be seen the Chimney Stack, which, from its conical appearance may have been a one-time volcano. Though the surrounding country was purely sandstone the bed of Coca Creek was composed of granite cobble stones. The creek itself was a chain of pools, fringed with river oaks and occasional willows. The undulating grassland through which it flowed was all taken up by sheep and cattle runs.
After passing the conical Mt. Canobla we found ourselves abreast of Mt. Gundangaroo, and when later we reached the Capertee River crossing we left the Glen Alice Road and followed that sluggish river downstream. Along the broad river flats we passed acres and acres of lucerne paddocks, and shortly came to a homestead, where we interviewed the owner, Mr. W. Masters. He gave us valuable information concerning the route to Uraterer Mountain, locally known as Gosper's Mountain. With a cheery good-bye he assured us that we would get lost. He had never been there himself, he said, and 10 years previously had nearly perished in a vain attempt to reach Gosper's.
That night we camped on the river bank 4 miles downstream from the Glen Alice Crossing. Naturally we felt very tired, having that day walked 27 miles along a hard, rocky road. We carried only 40lb. packs, but had no sleep at all on the previous night. Next morning found us walking down through a valley that reminded us of the Burragorang, only the sandstone walls here rose higher and were much cleaner cut. The valley was narrowing in fast and soon presented the appearance of a gigantic canyon. A bridle track was followed along this section of the river and at times it rose a little above the river bed. An abandoned shale mine was passed in this locality and soon we reached the junction of the Running Stream. The water in it was quite good and a pleasant relief after the bad water of the Capertee.
The Running Stream gorge is an enormously deep and narrow canyon, and but for its presence there would be a more practicable route from the Capertee Valley to Gosper's Mountain. (Running Stream is Coorongooba Creek flowing from north to south). The Capertee River was followed downstream for a further five miles, where the bridle track was found to pass through a cleared flat. There was an old, tumble-down hut, and as Mr. Masters had said, there was a break in the sandstone walls on the northern side of the valley. There was a steep basalt hill leading up to it and it was decided upon as our way of access to the higher tableland beyond, i.e. to Uraterer. Mr. Masters knew the basalt ridge by the name of “Grassy Hill”, and the name is appropriate to its base. However, when ascending the hill next morning, we found the upper section to be a rocky knife-edge ridge and it provided a similarly thrilling experience as the last lap of the ascent to the Cloudmaker (Gangerang Peaks) from the Kanangra side. The tableland beyond was reached later by way of sandstone crevasses and farther on we found ourselves on a range which reminded us of distant Wanganderry. The country traversed here was puzzling in its make-up and hideous in its aspect. Nothing could be seen of the Capertee Gorge behind us; it was a perpendicular split in the earth's surface fully 2,500 feet deep. Shortly we came to a slight rise in the range, a point from where we could look across over vale and hill to a treeless dome. Obviously it was Uraterer. Often after long and painful effort we would reach a similar vantage point, and always the will-of-the-wisp seemed as far away as ever.
Late that afternoon I found myself sitting down in a semi-exhausted condition. I was gazing upon a segment of the most expansive cyclorama of my life, and like a man in a dream I realized that I was on the crest of Uraterer and that Gordon Smith was beside me. In the foreground there was seen a maze of wooded gullies and cliffs and crags. It was a scene of great wildness rather than of beauty; it would make a master-bushman shudder. Practically nothing could be seen of the Colo, Capertee and Running Stream Canyons, these being perpendicular slits in the earth's crust. Beyond this nearer mountain fastness could be seen the dim outlines of mountain ranges extending, maybe, up to 100 miles in every direction. We considered the great outlook for some time. Nightfall found us with our tent pitched under the clump of quince trees, and within 20 yards of an excellent permanent spring. About 60 years ago two brothers by name of Gosper selected at this outpost, and from information received I believe there is a bridle track from Gosper's Mountain (Uraterer) running down the Wirraba Range and joining the Richmond track about 10 miles from Putty. This may be my next way of getting to Gosper's. The soil there is similar to Dillon's Valley at Woy Woy and probably volcanic. Amazing fertility is seen on every hand, and the 150 wild cattle grazing there were looking well on it. Had it not been for violent yelling and booing we would have been trampled underfoot. We had stewed quinces for tea and breakfast.
Next morning we left with regret this throne of the everlasting hills to take on the big proposition of finding a way back to the Capertee Valley. On the way back we made three mistakes of note, and it was only because of the fact that I made very accurate calculations on the way that saved us from otherwise inevitable disaster. Shortly before dusk we reached the Capertee River and next morning faced another big proposition, the Colo River.
The bridle track continued on down the river and saved us much time. The sandstone bluffs that hemmed in the valley presented a very striking appearance and in my opinion the gorge scenery puts the Nattai and Burragorang Valleys in the shade. A few wallabies were seen and wonga pigeons and wild duck were in great numbers. About 3 miles before the Wolgan River Junction, the track died out and we plunged into the roughest river walking that I had up to this time experienced. The steep sided banks were strewn with boulders and over-grown with blackberry, lawyer vines, lantana and nettles. It came so suddenly that it took the stomach out of me, and after doing 1.5 miles in 4 hours I suggested giving it up. However, my more determined mate knew only one word - “forward”.
Next morning, after 1½ miles of similar work, we reached the point where the inflow of the Wolgan joins the Capertee and so forms the Colo. We could look up the Wolgan a short way and it appeared hellish rough. From this point the Colo flowed between huge boulders for about a mile, after which there was a long stretch of sandbank - a pleasant relief. Another mile, however, and rock-hopping was the order of things. Scrambling over boulders and bashing our way through lawyer vines and other creepers, alternated with short stretches of sandbank. Frequent waist-deep wadings were necessary; as was also the case down the whole length of the Colo; and treacherous quicksands had to be guarded against. The towering cliffs on each side of the valley presented a very broken appearance and occasionally we caught glimpses of gigantic sandstone caves at great heights above the river. Such was the order of things until the entrance of Wollemi Creek was reached. It had about as much water in it as Kanangra River. The Wollemi Gorge was hemmed in by towering precipices, and I doubt if its profound depths are ever disturbed by mankind. Three quarters of a mile beyond we chose a sandbank as our camp site for the night. Nearby was a seemingly bottomless pool, and opposite a cliff face rose for about 1500 ft sheer.
Next morning we pushed onward again and much to our dismay the sandbanks disappeared. We found that clambering over boulders was good for all round muscular development. The rocks were purely of sandstone and in places had a topping of ironstone. The Colo River was in the form of long, smooth pools alternating with rapids, where the water flowed between barriers of boulders. As a rule these barriers were the only practicable crossing places. By this time our packs weighed only 30 pounds each, but with the hellish rough walking we found them quite heavy enough. The monotony of rock-hopping was broken here and there by a rough passage through lawyer vines. Occasionally blackberry and wild raspberry bushes barred the way, and these had to be gone around, either through the water, or around the hillsides above. We were very disappointed that the blackberry was not in fruit; on the other hand a shot-gun was sadly missed on the trip. There were wild duck in droves, and never being disturbed they would provide excellent shooting at close range. Towards sundown our spirits were brightened by the re-appearance of sand-bars and that night we camped on a fine stretch of sand, beside a deep pool. We had covered 8 miles for the day.
On the following day we found that 4 miles was our limit. The going was frightfully rough and consisted of hauling one another over boulders and through crevasses. In places a rocky buttress would rise sheer out of the water, and sometimes the water was shallow enough to permit a passage around. In other cases it was doubtful if the depth could be measured in hundreds of feet. The Colo in this section is a magnificent canoeing stream and should satisfy the most exacting. Towering walls of sandstone rise almost from the water's edge, and here and there are narrow shelves at varying heights where turpentine and gum grow wild. At intervals is seen a cliff face of more moderate height and from its foot descends steeply a forest-clad slope to the waters of the Colo. The Colo pools teem with perch and eels and will long be remembered by the writer as the best fishing place he has ever known. At the close of the third day from the Wollemi Creek Junction we reached the Wollangambe. There was a large pool we afterwards named the Wollangambe Basin. On its north side a cliff face arose out of the water for 1,000 feet sheer. This added greatly to the rugged beauty of the place, and take the writer's word for it, the Wollangambe Gorge is a wild hole and would provide great sport for adventurous bushwalkers. However, we afterwards learned we had left the most scenic part of the Colo Gorge behind us. It puts the Nattai, Burragorang and Cox Valleys in the shade, and in places rivals the scenery at the foot of Kanangra Walls. All along the river was an atmosphere of terrible wildness that lent it an atmosphere of additional charm.
From information gathered previously we learned that many years ago a Government Surveyor constructed a track down the Colo River from the Wollangambe Junction to the Blacksmith's Creek. On the following morning I arose at daylight and after a search discovered the track on a steep hillside, on the southern side of the river. When I returned to camp we had breakfast and shortly after commenced our journey along the winding track. It zigzagged along the steep hillside and in many places was obliterated by landslides and covered by fallen timber, but in spite of its roughness it permitted faster travelling than the boulder-strewn river in this section. Mid-day found us having lunch at Blacksmith's Creek. Then three miles of rough travelling from there brought us to a place on the river where the general aspect of things convinced us that the hills around the river were losing their height. The going along the river was so rough we decided on a cross-country stunt to the Tootie Creek Junction. Much to our dismay we climbed 1,700 feet before we could look into the Tootie Gorge. The country was precipitous, but miraculously we found a way down and that night camped in a cave on Tootie Creek. Next day we followed it down for l½ miles before we reached the Colo and realised we had not saved any distance worth mentioning. Our spirits were brightened by the appearance of grazing cattle. Shortly we found a trail and at once assumed it would lead to civilisation, but it hugged the southern bank for some 8 miles. The surrounding hills were becoming lower and the river banks beginning to open out into narrow flats. Lawyer vines and blackberry bushes abounded and the timber began to increase its size. Shortly we reached an orange orchard, and a mile farther on a homestead where we were told there was a motor road leading into Upper Colo. Four miles along this brought us to where the Richmond-Putty Road crossed the Colo. Before nightfall we walked a further 2 miles towards Kurrajong and camped in a cave.
Next morning we breakfasted at the Wheeny Creek Crossing, and reached Kurrajong about mid-day. We had completed our trip down the Colo River. We would say it was noteworthy for its two main features, viz: magnificent scenery and the roughness of the walking. It occupied 11½ days.
The Sydney Bushwalker Dec. 1931: Maxwell Gentle, Gordon Smith
First Perambulator to Kanangra Tops: 1931
by Miles Dunphy
When a man acquires a small family and still is afflicted with bush mania he has to pause frequently during his family-sustaining activities and cogitate furiously about what to do with the wife and nipper. Of course he could say quite brassily “I'm off with the blokes, dear. I'll take care of myself and see that I'm not a total loss to you. Bye-bye!” He could toss his 60 pounds swag daintily, twirl a billycan round his index finger and swagger off relieved at having shed his worries, responsibilities and family definitely with a thud. So long as he does not look back and see the beautiful eyes of his understanding wife mist over with the tears of disappointment, and provided he shuts his ears to his young son's pertinent “we goin' camping, daddy”, he is reasonably safe and should have a good time. He does have a good time, for there's nothing like a good buck party in the bush, where blokes can be wire-haired terriers, vociferously insulting to each other, crude, rude and not too blurry particular about anything. It's a great life, but being married somehow makes the difference to a fellow. His wife does, anyway; and young junior does his unconscious or conscious best.
Well, about this perambulator trip. It was something different believe me; I've got a backache yet. First I roused the district. There is nothing like publicity; sometimes it produces results. I advertised as follows: “Wanted, a good, strong, commodious pram for country roads. Twins' size preferred. URGENT. Replies to Footslogger, “Express” office, Hurstville.” The young lady in the office giggled, so there must have been something funny somewhere. Being in a hurry (a necessary concomitant of my existence), I called for the replies too early and so got none. I did not bother to call again because Satan, for my sins, guided me to a second-hand dump at Rockdale and introduced me to the only pram for the job ever pupped, and a mild-mannered man who had charge of it and gladly put it through its paces. That pram could do everything but eat and propel itself. It even had nice, red tassels around it, but I found a pair of scissors later and gave it a jazz cut. I suspect that mild-mannered man saw me coming. He thought me a goat, and pitied my child, and wished he could see the works when the child's mother's eyes lit upon that antiquated Pharaoh's chariot. I bought the springless, squat, long-handled, wide, box-like, be-tasselled, heavy iron framed, 40 pound insult to the pram family, then lugged it to a Henry Ford joint, got new tyres, spares and split pins, and pitched it into the train, where a lot of people looked at it so earnestly that it folded itself up in a new way that neither the mild-mannered man nor myself knew about. Having paid good money for it I felt inclined to pity the resurrected atrocity, but after carrying it home on my shoulder in the form of a hamper (one of its Jekyll and Hyde phases) I gave it a private, unmentionable and blistering cognomen.
Margaret (that's the wife) viewed the thing with 'amazement then laughed quite rudely. I did the works for her and this time the contraption folded up into a baby's cradle on rockers. We straightened it out again and changed it to a pram (mountain climbing, caper satanii sp. probably. A scientist might be able to correct me if I'm wrong). Young Milo - our 20 months old curiosity box - climbed on top whilst I held it firmly to prevent it biting or kicking or folding up some other way, then we went for a preliminary tour all around the yard. It yawed, wobbled and was quite conversational about the axles, but otherwise behaved itself and Milo was delighted. I hadn't the heart to tell him he would probably have to walk. That kid has one fault in particular: he takes too much for granted.
We were horribly stuck for time, that is to say we had plenty of time, but the bush was calling and the kid and the wife were their camp gear about every half hour. When they get like that there is only one thing to do, so actually we were stuck for time. How to make the contraption hold a lot of gear and the boy too, was a problem. I placed this cross between a harvesting machine and a billycart before me, sat on a box, peeled two bananas and ate them slowly whilst I studied the problem. Bananas are excellent food, if somewhat slippery to the teeth. I got a great idea, a really brilliant idea, because it enabled me to put plenty of weight onto the pram in a quick, effective and economical manner. The fact that I had to push it made it doubly interesting; anyway, the problem was solved.
Assisted by Milo (he insisted) I fitted two canvas boxes at the sides, slung from little hardwood booms fitted across the pram. Another box was fitted to the front (or back; who knows which end of a pram is the front?), new washers were added to the axles to reduce the wobble, and some other removable improvements were made. Then blimey, there stood the Kanangra Limited (speed and springs) Express, nearly as wide as a sulky, replete with awning, stays, billycan box, side tucker and gear boxes, footrest for the passenger, rifle carrier, and new tyres. No other nipper ever had a go-cart like this one. Dismantled, packed and leg-roped so that it couldn't do any tricks it weighed 62 pounds, which included a lot of gear stowed inside. First, we pushed it to the local railway, consigned it to Oberon, and with that fine, large holiday spirit for which we are famous we allowed ourselves to be stung freight rate plus 50 per cent because the pram was packed, thereby reducing handling by everyone concerned. Returning jauntily to our home we packed our swag and knapsack, packed something sustaining into Milo and ourselves, wiped the boy's nose, turned off the gas and entrained for Oberon.
The kid's education really began from the time we left Central Station. It was “trains” that end and “bunny rabbits” at the Tarana - Oberon end. Instead of being sleepy he was wide awake when we reached Oberon at 4.30 p.m. Everything was fair to look upon. Lovely afternoon; beautiful colour; bracing atmosphere; hay-making and pea picking; pleasant people, and all that. It wasn't raining, that was the main thing. Getting the pram onto the road we did no fitting-up but just sat Milo on top, hoisted our packs, and whilst Marg steadied the kiddie on his perch with one hand I shoved off along the Caves Road for the Fish River Bridge, about a mile and a half distant. No doubt the local people thought us an out-of-work unit shifting camp. The road near the bridge was rough and bumpy, and finding a camp spot and outfitting place was not easy, but finally, round about 6 p.m., we were fixed for the night.
Next morning I visited Oberon for additional tucker and 2 week's supply of apples and oranges for Milo. Back at camp, we fitted up and packed things into working order, and when ready for the road we found we had 199 lbs. gross load to push, haul and carry. It did not appear possible. The pram complete weighed 135 lbs. (including Milo 26 lbs.). Marg's swag went 28 and my knapsack 36 lbs. Our food supply weighed 68 lbs. including the apples and oranges, some grapes and I dozen eggs. Also there were a rifle, torch, small axe, tent and rope, cans and the rest of the usual gear, together with some unusual but very necessary gear. I had heavy, hob-nailed boots and my idea was to carry the knapsack to help weight my feet down, and to enable me to push the heavy pram without skidding on the ground. It worked.
The start-off was not as auspicious as it was conspicuous, because the hill onward from Fish River is very steep and several miles long; in fact, it was, is, and always will be a fair cow. We rigged a tow-rope and Marg hauled on it whilst she humped her swag also. I don't think it possible for a woman to do harder manual work than that. The ascent was a great sight for passing local residents and occasional motorists. We really needed Lazarus Pura and his celebrated Volga Boat Song. That theme is the nearest approach to our sustained epic effort, but does not transcend it in any way. In fact the heaving effort and the grade were so lengthy that I'm afraid Maestro Lazarus would have been articulating in Chinese towards the end, for the sake of better wind and shorter words. When the grade eased to its normal steepness we skipped the tow-line and then the fellow of the party had to show himself no mean pusher. Out in the open one becomes of the earth, earthy. We did. No parents ever slaved for their offspring as we did for our little Question Box, sitting comfortably behind his green mosquito-netting fly screen. The flies were a curse, of course. We were very scantily clad but the sweat trickled down into our boots, for all that. At length the top of the range was attained, also a widened view and another respite. Then came half a mile of sharp, loose ballast that chewed chunks of rubber from the little, half inch tyres and rattled Milo's teeth. This stretch did more damage to the tyres than the rest of the trip's bad places put together, except Kanangra Pass. About the middle of the afternoon we had to stop and give Milo a rest from the constant shaking. At times he must have felt like a blancmange in an earth tremor. About 6 o'clock we camped on Factory Creek reasonably satisfied with the afternoons experiment. We were learning points about grade and road texture not thought of in either road-walking or motoring.
Next day opened fine and hot and saw Milo and ourselves in our element about camp. An old bloke breezed up with a nice horse, two friendly dogs and a most impressive caution about tiger snakes. Persistent inquiry elicited the facts that one had been killed hereabout the previous year and another 6 or 7 years before that. Anyway, Milo thought the horse belonged to Daddy Christmas. Young hopeful took to camp life with avidity, enjoyed his bath in the creek and spent much time building little dud cook-fires.
The next half day went merrily enough mid we lunched near Duckmaloi Bridge, interrupted by minor observations and disturbances of the ever active and curious infant. The overturned skeleton of an old sulky was “gate” or “pram” according to his changing views. He learned about “crow” and “ko-bra” and other things, including “nakes”. Prunes and rice, bread, butter and cocoa filled his little tummy. He definitely drew the line about both condensed milk and lactogen right from the start and could never be enticed to drink either just as they were, warm or cold, but our accidental discovery that a tinge of cocoa in either quite overcame his scruples solved the drink problem
Whilst we lunched we had the Edith Hill in sight before us. It is a boomer for everything on wheels or feet so we bad to consider a plan of action. First I went a mile onward up the hill with all I could carry, including rifle, water and Marg's swag. Returning, Marg was put onto the tow-rope, the brat made comfortable, then I set my hobnails firmly into Australia and pushed and pushed. An old lady we got some milk from reckoned it the hardest kind of holiday she ever heard of. She was more than ever entitled to her opinion after she had watched us out of sight on the upgrade. The long ascent of the Great Dividing Range was arduous work in the hot sun and had to be done slowly, during which time the infant had a good sleep. Much later he got sick of everything, started to holler, had to be given orange juice and allowed to walk. On the right, about half a mile short of the Ginkin Road, we made camp not far from the summit and were comfortably warm despite a sudden cool change and mist.
Next day the mist changed to fairly heavy rain but being very well fitted and glad of the cool change we preferred to push along to the Kanangra turnoff. The rain gradually eased off leaving everything deliciously cool and damp. Then we started the traverse of the six mountain tops to Cunnynghame's “Upper Farm” on Budthingeroo Creek. At about a mile we had a pleasant lunch, after which the real work began, for with the exception of a few good but short stretches, the going was sheer tribulation and hard work. The uphill bits were corkers, Marg having to take her pack on ahead, dump it, return, hop into the tow-line and haul. I wonder how many other women would do the same thing gladly? The little bloke had to walk at the worst bits. The fact is he wanted to walk quite a lot, but between his slow pace and his desire to collect and play with the countless stones - a play paradise quite new to him, he kept us back; so when we could, we dumped him and his collection of stones and sticks aboard and made the pace. Persistent effort got us over this rough switchback in time and the last half mile was pleasant and easy, the only really good piece of track in the whole 20 miles of Kanangra track. We just reached my favourite camp spot short of the huts when heavy rain began. All we wanted was 10 minutes grace and we wanted it badly, so I swore at the rain and behold, it eased right off for 30 minutes, then resuming, closed in wet for the night. We were very snug; so was the old pram, under its waterproof cover; and between the four wheels was a good stock of dry wood. We decided to remain in camp next day and have a rest.
Next day was misty and cool and raining off and on. With our small but efficient camp fire and snug quarters we enjoyed it. It was a great environment for the little bloke and a certain amount of wild life filled his day with interest, and we had time to tell him about it. Old Mr, Cunnynghame left his little hut and its column of blue-white wood smoke and came along for a lengthy yarn. He did not knew what to think about the pram; he was staggered; it was too much for him, but he appreciated company. He must lead a very lonely existence on this roof of the mountains. Mr. Don Wallace and two mates drifted along, bound on their first adventure into those big hills. They allowed themselves to be persuaded about certain things along the Kanangra-Gingra route by a sticky-beaking old timer (not Cunnnynghame), and the day closed with a rabbit shoot, some pleasant discussion and a camp in common. The old timer learned something about packs and packing. As for our venture, we had covered what I considered to be the most difficult part of the way and success appeared possible.
Next day we pushed off for Boyd Creek, 7 miles away. The first 2 miles were difficult and had to be taken slowly. At the head of Little Morone Creek I got water from the secret spring and we had lunch at the side of the road. After lunch we hit the granite and some more teeth-rattling going for awhile, then the downhill section to the Boyd was comparatively easy. Arrived in good time and fixed a comfortable camp. The creek was not running; there was plenty of water in the rock holes but it had dried up several inches so far. By this time we realised our pram was a wonderful vehicle indeed. An ordinary pram would have fallen to bits long before this. The advantages of the solid iron frame were now obvious. The two-way spring system as fitted to ordinary prams would have thrown boy and load out on many an occasion or upset the pram. Nothing had gone wrong except that 3 tyres were worn, torn is a better word. The fourth tyre was not natural; nothing had happened to it. The little 10 inch wheels were miracles of strength. Plenty of oil in the bearings eased the pushing business and prevented undue wear on the hubs. So far so good. Under her load Marg was toughening up quite well and was enjoying the venture. As for myself I had developed quite a decent rearward action about the legs. Without the pram I was inclined to scratch gravel too heartily and fall on my nose. The 4 pound boots with their ground-gripping hobnails were right good friends. Although nearly new, the middles of the heavy soles (they were American Army boots) were beginning to wear away. These boots were extraordinary articles; no other boots would have stood up to the work so well.
Next day we set off on the last stage and managed well until near Rocky Top where the pram had to be hauled up the rough ascent to it, whilst Milo walked (I forgot to state we planted some reserve tucker in a cache cairn of stones near the Boyd Crossing. This eased the general load somewhat). Lunched on top in the sun because the pleasant day was cool at this altitude of 4160 feet. The descent of the Kanangra Pass onward was a “touch and go” bit of business. I felt sure it would be the graveyard of the little bus. For a short distance Milo walked but the large, loose stones were too rough for the little chap so we put Marg's swag in the pram whilst she carried him. The whole downhill stretch of nearly a mile and a half was done by walking backwards whilst pulling and easing the wheels between and over the rocks. I never realised just how rough the track is until I found myself on this stunt. It was a wonder that the thing with its 120 pounds on four narrow, little wheels did not fall to pieces when being hauled and thumped over the gibbers of this rare track. I began to respect that pram, and its makers also, for they certainly knew their onions when they designed it. I had an idea that the next and final stretch to Kanangra would be easy, as certainly it is when walking with a pack, but it wasn't. Whilst two wheels ran easily along one of the ruts the other two were forced to bump over grass-tree roots, grass clumps, stones and, sticks. Really it was a very rough passage. The pram was no place for the boy; his brains would have been churned up, so Marg's swag and he changed places. At length Inglis's mud house came into view and the big prospect south lifted into sight. Time 2.30 PM. We were there, and there stood the perambulator at Kanangra. Having to cut down weight I had no camera so the memorable event was not recorded pictorially. Pity, because it was a rare sight. Since the pram had proved itself so indestructible I felt no compunction in proceeding to heave it along the track behind the mud house to our camp spot near the creek. The rocks stopped us for awhile but finally it was done. We realised that it could never be wheeled back to Rocky Top; it would have to be carried there. Really I felt like leaving it there by the camp for good.
We spent four happy days at Kanangra exploring the various plateaux: Mounts Seymour, Maxwell and Brennan to the east; Mounts Pindari, Bungin and the Wallaby Pass on the way to Mount Colboyd; also we went west over Kittani to Mount Ianthe and had a swim in one of the pools of the Thurat Rivulet just above the great Kanangra Falls.
At 10 past 5 one afternoon I left Marg and Milo at the camp and set off for Rocky Top with the packed pram (62 lbs.) on my back. It was a back-bruising and difficult load which I could neither rest under nor slip off, because had I done so I could not have hoisted it again. Arrived at Rocky Top I thought I had better take it on to Boyd Crossing, so continued. Some men who were rounding up and half-hoppling a number of horses asked me to wait awhile, so for 10 minutes I stood under the stress then moved on after them. At the Boyd I placed the pram at the camp spot, then shot back to Kanangra at a great pace and reached camp and tea at 10 past 8, having done the job in 3 hours.
Next day we walked out with our normal loads (2 swags this time), Milo walking and being carried by turns, and camped the whole afternoon on the Boyd. The waterholes were noticeably lower. Next day we reached Cunnynghame's and spent the following day there. Three very sick-looking tyres were wired to the wheels at 2 inch intervals, but the fourth tyre was still going strong, being only a little worn. Next day the 9 miles journey back to our camp near the Ginkin turnoff on the Oberon Road was hard work, even with the lessened load and cool weather. At camp, first thing junior did was pile wood on the fireplace, even to pulling up the fireplace crotches and adding them to the pile. It was lucky I made a practice of using very thick and short, square-topped tent pegs in case he ever fell upon one, for this evening he ran towards me, tripped on a small clump of snow grass and fell fair on the big end peg. It struck his mouth and luckily his teeth were shut together so that the blow was spread over them. His underlip was split and at first we thought he was badly damaged, but fortunately it was not nearly as bad as it appeared.
The following day we scooted down the long hill to Edith, 8 miles from Oberon, and camped by the roadside. The miraculously good tyre fell off as we mounted the bank to the site. We reckoned there was no point in finishing the Oberon stretch with its two uphill lengths of loose metal, so 'phoned for a car to pick us up next day. Four events happened this night and just how far they were connected with each other it is impossible to say. About 8.30, I think it was, a magnificent meteor fell about west of us. I was outside and saw it plainly and I never saw a better one. It fell very low down to the horizon and if it hit the ground there was no apparent report. Now for the next. About an hour and a half or two hours later there occurred a single and peculiarly sharp detonation, obviously at a distance but very loud. It had a kind of rocketting quality as if the hills obstructed some of the sound waves. I remarked to Marg that it was a great explosion and that something remarkable had happened and also that it could hardly be connected with the meteor because of the long interval between. So much for what we saw and heard. Next day when we returned to Sydney we discovered that the initial fall of the great Dog Face Rock avalanche at Katoomba happened this same night, at 9.30 I believe. Several days later I learned -that a marked earth shake had occurred over a limited area of swampy country (I think it was) somewhere south of Bathurst. The name of the district was given me but I have forgotten it. Now, what do you make of that?
Anyway, we established the fact that the type of strong “hamper-pram” such as ours and fitted much the same way is quite the thing for ordinary roads, but the thicker kind of tyres would be better, no doubt. The Kanangra road is too rough for any Perambulator and we advise other couples with a bairn not to attempt this back-breaking enterprise but to cut down weight as much as possible and walk there no matter how slowly. Legs are better than wheels on such a track. Still, young Milo Kanangra reached the place he was named after (maybe the first kiddie to get there) and my pal Margaret enjoyed her first visit to the magnificent scenery which cannot possibly be seen in a stay of less than three days; a week is not too long. I lost a lot of weight because of the dinkum hard work. No doubt ours is the first perambulator to be shoved to Kanangra, and I think it will be the last until a better road is made - and I hope that never happens anyway. Next time we walk.
The Sydney Bushwalker, June 1932: Margaret Dunphy, Miles Dunphy, Milo Dunphy.
0ver the Gangerang in a Hurry
The Famous Gangerang Trip: A party Of Sydney Bush Walkers spent the ANZAC week-end going from Wentworth Falls to Katoomba via Kowmung River, Gangerang Tops- Konangaroo Clearing and Carlon's, about 75 miles across mainly rough country. Underneath they give their various impressions of the trip. Guess who wrote which.
Max Gen T le
Gordon Sm I th
Hilma G alliott
Alex Coll E y
Jack Debe R t
Bill McCo S ker
David Ste A d
Dot Eng L ish
Len Scot L and
It might have been advertised as a lightning conducted tour of the Gangerang and its environs. The party consisted of (1) a snake lover; (2) a masseuse; (3) a vegetarian; (4) a heretic; (5) another Committee member; (6) a dealer in tonics; (7) a speed merchant; (8) one who had been “perilously short of food” on a previous trip over the Gangerang and (9) one who knelt on Kanangra clearing and “Prayed”.
Leaving Wentworth Falls in darkness, we descended Kedumba to await dawn. Morning mists were rising as we crossed Cox's River and Scot's Main to the Kowmung. After another night's camp, we ascended the Ti-Willa Buttress, in morning's early hours. Climbing Ti-Willa Walls, we viewed a great canyon in sunshine. Now above all mountain mist our route was clear to the Cloudmaker. Wandering over Gangerang Peaks and hurrying down Moorilla Range we caught a fascinating view of Mt., Jenolan, Guouogang, and Thurat. After sunset, on Konangaroo Clearing, we walkers all agreed that Gangerang is better seen quickly than not at all.
FRIDAY: Rain, rain. Murmurs of “You're nuts” from unsympathetic follow walkers.
SATURDAY: Morn and all morns thereafter - Sheer horror! Forced to rise long, long before dawn, Folks, beware Debert.
SUNDAY: Tracking down of cave seen by Max some generations ago. Cloudmaker; be still mine thumping heart, just a little higher. Envy of well-travelled member's knowledge of surrounding peaks. Oft mentioned tough Gentle making bed with bracken.
MONDAY: Carlon's Head: Will the McCosker make it? He does.. Narrow Neck to Katoomba - don't give out, legs, keep moving. Train gone? Surely the porters got to be jesting?
TUESDAY: Homes Ah! Soft, soft bed.
ANZAC WEEK-END MEETING OF THE TI-WILLA PICNIC RACE CLUB.
The Cloudmaker Stakes: (For an anonymous cheque for £10 presented by a gentleman with a carpet snake).
First Division: All except Max got away to an even start on Friday night, Max left at the barrier at Central., but drew even at the ten mile mark and headed the field down Kedumba Creek. Racing neck to neck through Kills. Gordon drew away at the finish and won in a canter.
Second Division: Hilma first away - load all the way up Ti-Willa with Gordon running second and Len in ninth position. Max galloping strongly up Cloudmaker, however Len came through on the rails and looked a certain winner on the downgrade. Spectacular finish by Max, who ran well down the last two miles to win by two lengths from Hilma and Len.
Third Division: Jack led the field early but baulked and fell in at the water-jump while striving for the lead. Dave and Gordon first past eight mile mark, Bill lead at Carlon's Head, but rounding the turn Len again came through smartly on the rails and was first into the straight, while Alex sprinted up into sixth position. Coming up the straight Jack clapped on the pace and got to the front. At this stage he looked a certain winner but Dot spurted over the last half-furlong to win by half a pack and a double helping of plum pudding.
Max arriving at Central with leather coat, umbrella and no pack.
1. Waking in the dawn and hearing Jack bellow out ad nauseam “get up and pack.”
2. Watching Dot, who reputedly lives on nettles and ground-berries, eat two helpings of meat, vegetables and pudding plus cream, milk and scones.
3. Hilma's running commentary when Bill was hanging to Carlons Head by his eyebrows.
4. Jack Debert - naval officer.
5. Bill leaning over the bank after a meal of curried salmon and banana fritters.
6. Max's pancake.
7. Lennie leading the Charge of the Light Brigade.
8. The general dislike for the chocolate ration.
9. Katoomba nine minutes late.
Impressions, well - rain. Much walking, plenty talking. Tons to eat, crowded hours of peaceful sleep. Noisy awakenings. Delightful campsites, mighty big meals and jolly companions. Sunshine, sweat, sunbakes and swims. Climbs of all kinds. Exquisite panoramic views, mountain mists rippling rivers, delightful dawns glorious sunsets. Well earned rests and huge chocolate rations. Nettles, holly bush and hakea, barging and charging through scrub. Easy going, plenty hard going too.
Undeniable fact that when on a long arduous walk tempers can become worn and frayed. Marvellous what excellent good humour prevailed throughout. Appropriately enough the existing spirit was similar to that which we celebrated - The Spirit of Anzac.
Splendid foresight and good leadership combined with the whole party's willingness to adhere to careful planning enabled a good five days trip in rough country to be done in three days without any undue hardship. Remarkable that so large a party could do so well. Was very sorry when it ended but felt something had been accomplished and as they say in the Social Notes “A good time was had by all.” I am passing my plate up for more.
The passengers called a derisive “Have a good time” as we detrained about 9 PM, at Wentworth Falls on Friday of Anzac week-end. Jupiter Pluvius threatened to be our unwelcome companion hence the derision.
We walked through showers to Kedumba Creek and camped at 11.30. Next day, the swimmers (all except, one) discovered a glacier called by the ignorant Cox's River. Drank fizz on Policeman's chest - Dead Bat flavour - picnic lunch at Kowmung House (until rain intervened).
Camped that night at the confluence (enough of that) of Kowmung and Ti-Willa Creeks. Fast broken, we were away by 7.30 and climbing until 12.30. We topped Cloudmaker 4,000ft. Phew; what a climb. Wishing I had no breakfast. Kanangra clearing 5.30 and the biggest thing of the trip Max's pancake.
Next morning via Cox, Breakfast and Carlon Creeks to Carlon's DINNER after which we set out to scale, if possible, Carlon Head. It was, although the last 300 ft, necessitated 1 hour to negotiate. At Narrow Neck Road we had 30 minutes to “make” Katoomba “which” as George Metry's father said “is absurd”. After “beating the clock” for three days, Father Time had his revenge, our watches were 10 minutes slow and the train 10 minutes earlier. At 2.10 AM being somewhat conscientious we entered a 2nd. class carriage but B.O. reigning high we hastily retreated and dived into an unlighted “First”. The lone occupant a Scot, gave us welcome and a bottle of stout. Bath, breakfast and so to work.
Rain! RAIN!! RAIN!!! The drizzling, driving dampener of spirits. But not of the Incompatibles - that, dear reader, was the start of our epic ANZAC week-end grind - care of Gordon Smith and Max Gentle - from Wentworth Falls, to Katoomba. Hast ever RUN* with Gordon & Co.? No? You should try it. When your feet ache; you are weak and dizzy for want of food; when every fibre of your being cries stop! The Incompatibles say WALK!! And then, like those immortal heroes: “theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die” you struggle feebly on.
What though the leader wore out 3 pairs of shoes; and another Incompat. went berserk, borrowed an axe and mutilated a pair of £1/14/00 shoes; and still another tells you he was “desperately hungry” and so weary he just tossed his pack over Ti-Willa Buttress: mere trifles, YOU must feel nothing but an unconquerable urge to go ON. Ever ONWARD. For peaks must topple ere you rest.
Did I say REST? (My mind is still deranged.) How can one rest when 4.30 AM, marks the rising of the chief Incompat namely Debert - and with what cajolery, threats, water splashing and bellowing does he belabour you until finally you struggle out into the bleak, cheerless, cold light of dawn.
Even when the turkey dinner at Carlon's turns out to be roast mutton; when you puff and pant up steep slopes; cross rivers innumerable times; scale vertical rocky faces; and finally RACE* into Katoomba to discover your watches are all 10 minutes slow and you have to wait 6 hours for the next train: it is a freezing night; you have no long pants; your knees are frozen stiff; the waiting room floor is hard; and the prospect of work 2 hours after you hit town looms like a Spectre before you; you feel like sitting down and having a good old MOAN (like me.) But, forever restless, you are Now an INCOMPATIBLE and must pooh-pooh the idea of toughness and add “don't forget I'm in on the next one”. Oh Yeah? Sez Me.
* NOTE: both these words are meant as written. Beginner.
A story of Youth - nine people thrilling with the awful energy of life, with all the wonder of the world within them and a great love in their hearts for the music of things that happen.
A story of nights! that were seas of silence, on whose unfathomable deeps of sky the quiet moon sailed, infinitely far away in the pure clear air, among silver edged islands of cloud;
Mornings that opened shy eyes in a mist of rain, light, timid and tentative, that lay along the ground and crept from ridge to ridge, and a growing ripple of sound as the world awoke;
Afternoons when everything seemed just sunshine and sky and rolling hills of green velvet as far as eye could see; or the dipple dapple of forest trees and a play of light and shade.
And over all the wild keen smell of bushland earth wet after the rain, or the hot gum-scented air that made the blood dance in the veins and went to the head like wine.
And ever a little trail of figures went on, leaving behind the gentle playful breeze and the shy wide-eyed denizens of the bush.
A story of effort and achievement, - and a journey well fulfilled.
Editor's comments. In the sixty years since this story was published, the reader can be excused from not guessing who was who and who wrote what. Alex Colley, Dot Butler and David Stead have confirmed the following:
part 1 David Stead (snake lover)
part 2 Max Gentle (perilously short of food)
part 3 Hilma Galliott
part 4 Alex Colley (another Committee member)
part 5 Gordon Smith (speed merchant)
part 6 Bill McCosker
part 7 Jack Debert or Len Scotland (vegetarian)
part 8 Jack Debert or Len Scotland
part 9 Dot English (Butler)(masseuse)
Who of Jack Debert, Hilma Galliott and Bill McCosker was the dealer in tonics, the heretic and one who knelt on Kanagra and prayed is not longer known.
The Sydney Bushwalker, July 1937: Alex Colley, Jack Debert, Dot English, Hilma Galliott, Max Gentle, Bill McCosker, Len Scotland, Gordon Smith, David Stead
by Clare Kinsella
It was on a Sabbath morning In the soft autumnal weather
In the deep and narrow valley
Where the river Grose runs swiftly
Flowing onward ever onward.
('Tis a habit this of river)
Leaping, swirling, sweeping, sparkling,
Laughing over rocks and pebbles,
Spilling into sunny shallows
Where the forest giants the tall gums
Strong and stately there the tall gums
Look down to the quiet waters
Look down at their leafy branches
At their beauty there reflected,
On this lovely Sabbath morning
Down the valley by the river
Came a party of bush walkers
Members of the S.B.W.
Headed by the stalwart Herbert
Whipped in by the stalwart Derbert
Both were mighty men of action
Friends were they and sworn blood brothers
(Sworn to talk the others thought them)
For they talked all through the morning
For they chattered in the evening
And at night when soft the full moon
Rode above the limped waters
Still their voices and their laughter
Broke into the silver silence.
Swift the leader bounded onward
swift the leader stalwart Herbert
Sometimes on the track but mostly
Off it in some rocky chasm.
And behind him, leaping, stumbling
Stubbing toes and wet with perspiration
(What we do for rhythm!)
Came the puffing, panting, party,
Came the others on probation
For this was indeed a test walk
Yes, indeed it was a test walk.
Test of brawn and test of muscle,
Would these uninitiated
These poor creatures on probation
Carry on the great traditions
Of the club the SBW?
Would their burn and bury rubbish?
Would they light a decent fire?
Would they carry all their own food?
Would they scrounge upon their fellows ?
But the thought that made them tremble
Made them shiver in their shoesee
Would they be found compatible?
Would that many headed ogre
That dreaded ogre the Committee
Weigh them up and find them wanting
Cast them into outer darkness?
As the sun approached its zenith
Riding high across the heavens.
Then the minds of all the party
Turned to thoughts of food and more food
Then the leader noble Herbert
Signalled to his brother Derbert
Here we eat - went forth the edict.
Soon beside the rushing river
Underneath the casuarinas
Rose the smoke of many camp fire
Curling blue the smoke of camp fires.
One there was among the party
She a maiden dark and lovely
For the purpose of this poem (?)
We shall call her Molly-moo-ma
Molly-moo-ma, Running Water
Now this maiden, dark and lovely,
Dark and lovely Molly-moo-ma
Gazed with longing at the water
Longed to feel its cleansing freshness
Wash away the stain of travel
Wash away the dirt and perspir-
ation of her toilsome journey.
But alas she had no costume,
Low her head she hung in sorrow
Low above the rushing river.
Not for long did sadness claim her
Was she not a true bushwalker
Did she not always strive to cherish
In her heart their highest ideals?
Should she let a trifling matter
Trifling matter lack of costume,
Keep her from the sparkling streamlet,
Keep her from the cleansing waters,
Keep her from her heart's desire?
Taking but her cake of Lifebuoy,
Rosy pink her cake of Lifebuoy
Silently she left the party
Walked beneath the casuarinas
Till she found sweet isolation.
Here with speed she shed her clothing
And approached the rippling streamlet;
Soon like lovely Aphrodite
Rose she from the foaming waters
But this foam was made from Lifebuoy
(Lever Brothers please take notice
You must not use this as copy
For your B.O. advertising
Molly-moo-ma, might not like it,
Molly-moo-ma, running water.)
So she sported in the river
Feeling but its cleansing freshness
Heeding not the speeding current
Heeding not its strength and power
Till in its fierce grip it held her
Took her onward, downward, downward,
Over rocks and over pebbles
Slipping, sliding, bumping, bounding
Rushing over rocks and rapids.
Vainly did she try to rise up
Try to cling to rock or pebble
But the current ran too swiftly
All too swiftly ran the current
Onward, onward, ever onward
Merciless and strong it held her
Till at length it brought her to the Spot
where all the rest were gathered
Round the leader stalwart Herbert
And his brother stalwart Derbert.
Steadily their jaws were working
Munching, crunching, chewing, biting,
Stolidly they stared before them
Heeded not the lovely damsel
Lovely damsel, Molly-moo-ma,
As the river swept her onward
Racing onward to destruction!
The Sydney Bushwalker: October 1937
"Five Returns Dulbolla, Please."
by Ray Kirby
The inimitable Ray Kirkby gives the low-down on the lighter side: Forestalling any libel suit by the Railways, we lay the entire article before you as his, and his alone.
My dear, do you wish to be booked together with your parrot to Kilimanjaro via Kings Cross? Or do you wish to know how to do the cheapest submarine trip up the Yangtze Kiang? If so, I am your man. I am wonderful and I admit it myself. Of course I had to learn by hard experience but I may as well cash in on it and in years to come, as I drive past in my magnificent limousine from the palatial offices of “Dulbolla Travellers' Aide, to my princely mansion, “Dulbolla”, set in the broad acres of “Dulbolla Park”, I see you cowering in the gutter with your dirty rucksack and saying “He made his money out of us”.
Any simpleton can go to the Railway and ask, “Is there or is there not a certain train running?” We have so much practice at that kind of question that we all are quite proficient. But how many are able, when required, to tell the Railways where to get off: at least, that is of course where you want to get off, or rather where to get off if they will not let you off where you want to get off.
However, actions speak louder than words, let us go to a concrete example. To commence our Queensland trip I considered it advisable to alight from the Brisbane Limited at Dulbolla. Dulbolla is a siding about 60 miles from Brisbane having quite three houses and no platform but only about a mile from the township of Rathdowney.
The N.S.W. Railway Guide does not mention the place so resort had to be made to “Enquiries” Here came my first triumph. You know how the clerk, if asked the time of the train to Sulphanilamide, mostly rattles it off without reference to index or page. This time he had to make a few enquiries from me before he could proceed. Then he seized a Queensland Guide and, like a huntsman getting the fox, his eyes gleamed as he actually saw the name “Dulbolla” in print for the first time. Like the sun, surrounded by its planets, like a lovely princess with lesser ladies clustered to her, like flies around apiece of bread and jam, Dulbolla was hemmed in by a symbolism which would have inspired Pitman. They were all represented K, f, p, see page 68, %, ::, and which means “Don't spit where the platform ought to be” and which means when you get two different answers to the one question, don't believe either” and, yes, there it is !!! which means “Stops on Tues. Thurs. and Sat. if required”. And we should be there on Saturday.
Of course, I am not blaming Alex for what happened Perhaps I should have had my party in for tutorial classes twice a week . However, Alex offered to buy the tickets, just “Five returns Dulbolla please”. Apparently, after making discreet enquiries, the man endeavoured to hide his ignorance by saying that he could not issue return tickets there and that Alex would have to accept tickets to Brisbane “which is about the same”. Not having sufficient data in his possession Alex acquiesced. After sifting all the evidence I gathered that N.S.W. is unable to issue return tickets to Queensland stations other Brisbane, but what riled me was that on a distance calculation, the overcharge was about £1 per ticket and we did not want to use a considerable proportion of the return ticket at all. Why could we not buy return tickets to the border and then get single extensions to Dulbolla?
The official reluctantly agreed that this could be done but said it would make little difference in cost so I had to make a lot of calculations to prove, otherwise and then, only then, did he abandon his defences and surrender knowing that I had an atom bomb up each sleeve. With good grace (and, I felt, with some respect and a tinge of admiration for me) he handed me back lots of five pound notes and told me how to proceed.
The impact of a ticket to Border Tunnel onto the brain of the train officials had varying affects. Some expressed great astonishment, others looked at it as people probably looked at the first aeroplane and yet, showed not the least curiosity In the early hours of the morning, when it was still dark, a ticket examiner came through the train and happened to catch Jean away from her home base. Unfortunately, when he asked her where she was going , she could not remember beyond the fact that “It starts with a D”. He suggested Deepwater. Perhaps Dapto. Not Dungog? Doonside, Dorrigo, Dubbo? He conducted Jean back to the compartment to satisfy himself that it wasn't Gladesville. Then he became quite keen to know where we “Flannel Flowers” were walking; apparently he had dealt with peculiar people before.
Within hundreds of miles of our destination we got quite jumpy as to whether the train might forget or not be advised to stop at our destination. So I planned to ask the driver at Casino whether he intended to stop. However, just as I arrived at the engine, a station official handed him a form on which, a carbon copy, I could see the word “Dulbolla” written.
“Only one stop today” he said cheerily, “Dulboola”. “Dulbolla” corrected the engine driver haughtily.
The road may have been hard, but the climax was worth it. The express came to a standstill and a voice called out “Seat numbers forty two to forty six Dulbolla” And the conductor gave us advice on how to alight from a train as rucksacks, dilly bags, brown paper parcels and cardboard boxes were flung out and he and numerous passengers, whose heads protruded from windows, saw the inexpressible sight of girls jumping onto the rails. My dear we were there, and between us and Rathdowney only a mile of road and fifty percent of Dulbolla's fowl-yards.
The Sydney Bushwalker: Sept. 1948: Alex Colley, Ted Constable, Edna Garrard, Ray Kirkby and Jean Kirkby. This article was republished in the December 1982 issue of the Sydney Bushwalker to mark the passing of Ray Kirkby.
Both Ends of the Budawangs
by Roger Browne
Walkers march across the land,
Kilpatrick Creek is close at hand,
Leeches prowl for blood to suck,
Wriggling, writhing, squirming, yuk!
The Sydney Bushwalker May 1984
Geoff Wagg The articles I have chosen came from the latter half of my decade which is that most familiar to me. The names mentioned were all in the 'famous' to 'infamous' category among their contemporaries. The trip described in Finding the Castle was slightly unusual as car transport was used but was typical of the vaguely exploratory walk made possible by car access. The hints of strange and wonderful scenery were, of course, very exciting to us at the time.
Paralyser 1956 tells Jim Brown's story, in his own special prose, of a trip led by Brian Anderson, known to SBW and most of Federation as the Admiral, an amiable young man who led walks never described as dull. This trip was always going to be difficult: Morong Creek to Katoomba via Mt. Paralyser in 2 days, 43 miles-rough in the Walks Program. Added to this, he agreed to take along a young lady of limited walking experience, and then there was the rain. Still everyone got out, a bit late and a bit damp but no-one could say it was dull.
Finding The Castle
by Kevin Ardill.
I've finally lost my pyjama pants and though this news may not be startling you're going to hear the story even if it hurts you more than it hurts me. A gent by the name of Frank Leyden is the cause of the sad loss, Would I be interested in a car-cum-walking trip for the ANZAC week-end? I had been promising myself a trip with Frank for some time, so, after a short discussion with my car, I pronounced my willingness.
Friday evening saw me dining on de fish and da chips close to Newtown station. I almost choked myself on a large bone when Edna Stretton poked her head through the car window (open), wished me a safe trip (why?) and then headed off to the pictures with her mother. Oh yeah! Frank and Bill Cosgrove arrived, stowed packs, and at 9.30 PM we threw out anchor at Nowra. There we window-shopped, had coffee, and dozed until an Austin arrived with Jack Gentle and Len Fall. The two cars headed south 12 miles to the Tomerong turnoff. The road from there is not sealed but is in quite good condition. A large wallaby (or small kangaroo) created a diversion by trying to suicide, but sudden braking allowed him to escape with only a slight bump.
Midnight and Tianjara Creek coincided so we camped alongside the road on a good spot about 60 yards from the creek. Next morning after breakfast and a good look at the falls we continued driving, and about 8 miles beyond the creek stopped to ascertain the whereabouts of a timber track. By a stroke of luck we met a gentleman who has a first hand knowledge of the area. Frank had met him on a previous Ettrema trip, and in no time a pencil and paper was produced. Mr. Sturgiss has a mountain close to “the Castle” called after him. He drew a map for us, describing rock fissures, barely squeezable, Yadborough watershed and Corang Creek ditto. Mesas and swamps were pencilled in as Mr. S's large black dog sniffed around my lily-white legs.
Thankfully I slid my dry and unscathed legs behind the steering wheel, and bidding good-bye to the spry and helpful Mr. Sturgiss, we swung left along the timber track. For those interested, the turnoff is 23 miles from the main highway and 'opposite a house. The timber track was reasonable, but had sections of touch and go - when the sump touches the ground you go steadily. After one such section 9 miles from the road - I stopped Len and we decided to park the cars. We walked the next two miles on a road that was almost perfect The rest of the team were beginning to talk to me again as we reached the timber mill. The mill was deserted, but extensive plant, milled timber and a small hill of burning sawdust showed recent activity.
The track continued up the hill and over, and the headwaters of a creek provided an excuse for lunch. I must confess that a glimpse of the country ahead made me extremely dubious of my choice of footwear. I had reckoned there was still a trip left in my Cox River sneakers and had worn them, and now as I chewed I was conscious of the impressive array of sprigged boots surrounding me. Above each boot the shins were encased in gaiters, Jack being the only exception.
Somehow my Vita-Weets didn't seem as tasty as usual, and when the walk was resumed my feet dragged a little. They dragged a darn sight more when the track ended at the top of a steep slope clothed in thick scrub. Quite casually Frank suggests we shoot down to the creek and up the other side. The 'other side' looking something like the end of Solitary I'm encouraged no end.
Jack discovered the lawyer vine first which no doubt inspired him to find an easy way via rock faces down to the creek bed. Vigorous sapling growth and a diagonal course assisted up the 45 degree slope to the base of rock faces where we sidled east.. The sidling stopped soon after and as I sipped water at the foot of a small waterfall the gang went ahead. By the time I caught-up, Len and Frank had found an accessible route to the tops and were almost up. The rest of us followed and after ploughing up a scrubby rocky slope we were rewarded by magnificent views. Below us were the various creeks feeding into the Clyde River, sandstone cliffs yellow in the sun, and Pigeon House majestic in the background.
Then the ridge began to perform like a ridge shouldn't orter. We negotiated two shallow crevasses, but the third was deep and steep. Rock faces to the east were impassable but the western side seemed to have prospects. Frank produced about 20 feet of sash-cord. This, plus teamwork, plus a little gripping with the eyebrows, took us down about 60 ft. into an amazing valley. There we found ourselves surrounded by rocks of a shape and kind most favoured by producers of Western dramas. After waiting a few moments for the non-arrival of Hopalong, we proceeded to the end of the Valley. It was quite dry underfoot, and after pushing through medium scrub to a low saddle we caught glimpses of a most extensive valley below us. We plunged immediately into some extremely thick stuff. At the risk of being drummed out of the Brownies I'll admit I cursed the vines, the ferns, the rotting trees, unpredictable holes, and mostly the protected legs of my companions. By the time the creek turns into a swamp that blocks our way I am hungrier than a leech for blood - anyone's. From the head-high brush come complaints of mud and water, so I slip off my socks and seek a crossing elsewhere. I find a good one, and do I tell the others? I do, like hell and I'm on the open dry sward before the damp ones emerge. The timber looked an inviting camp spot but thick scrub made camping impossible, so we found a spot in the open surrounded by sally gram and scrub. Bill and I walked about a quarter of a mile before the swamp narrowed enough to fill the buckets!
We had decided to leave the tents as a set camp so at 8 o'clock next morning we packed lunch etc. in sleeping bag covers and slung them across our shoulders. This valley is about a mile across, so with rock faces to the east we headed south-west towards a creek and a saddle. There is not much water in this creek, there's no room for it - but there's plenty of 6 foot sword grass, scrub and fallen trees, and at this point I produced my pyjama pants from my pack and put them where they would do most good. We gained the saddle and looked down once more to a creek, and a steep slope up to another rock face. In the creek we encountered thick stuff, but the going from then on was comparatively good. At the foot of the rock faces we found a series of caves; in one place it was possible to walk under cover for several hundred yards. In the dust were prints of all type of birds and animals, as Frank expressed it, “everything in the bush”, and because of its similarity to another place it was christened “Dingbat Parade.” After several fruitless attempts to ascend the rock faces we finally found a possibility at the next saddle. Frank and I chimneyed to the tops and after a short look-see we were joined by the others. A quarter of a mile south brought us to a sheer drop of at least a thousand feet. Oh boy! what a view. Immediately under us was a vast area and probably the headwaters of Corang Creek, then a ridge masking Yadborough Creek, backgrounded by Currockbilly and Budawang Mts. sharply clear. Nearby rain-water pools provided water and with the billy boiling our eyes travelled eastwards to what surely must be the Seven Gods Mountain, and then onwards to two large mountains one of which could be “the Castle”. Frank's colour shots will be on show some evening, and I hope some expert can elucidate.
After lunch we regretfully headed back to where pyjama pants hanging from a tree indicated the position of the chimney. With tender memories of sections of the morning's walk we returned by a somewhat different route. Jack and I both considered we should have gone south-east instead of south-west in the morning, so we did a short side trip to have a look-see. We got the biggest surprise of the trip! We expected an area ahead somewhat similar to the vast plateau at our back, and instead found the ground falling steeply into rugged deeps of about 1,500 feet. Not one line of rock faces but two rows of them met the eye. A breathtaking view, my little ones; something to be seen to be appreciated.
We returned to our camp feeling extremely contented, had early tea and then talked on the outskirts of a beaut log fire. A light shower during the night didn't improve the rest as rain could easily turn the timber track into a horror stretch. The morning was clear as we broke camp and started homewards, When we came to Hopalong's valley we decided to go straight through instead of returning to the tops. Sure enough the creek we followed terminated at the shallow waterfall near where we had ascended on the Saturday. So near and yet so far! We could see the smoke from the timber mill on the ridge opposite and here we were stuck above 15 feet of miniature waterfall. We turned right and up we went. We must have spent two hours looking for our original route. We had some wonderful views of Pigeon House, but after a while got sick of charging up and down blind creeks so returned to the waterfall. I had noticed a tree growing close to the rock face and it was still there when we got back. As a special privilege I was permitted to try the tree first. There were no branches between me and the bottom so I gingerly wrapped by arms and pyjama-clad legs around the trunk and let gravity do the rest. Then I scouted around and found the way down, instead of letting the others bark their limbs on the tree. A draughty sensation below brings my eyes to my pants. There are more holes than stripes - in fact a complete write-off. I've no heart to continue the story; decide yourself whether we got home or not. No trip is worth such a sacrifice, but if by any chance you are down that way you could do a lot worse than have a stroll around. Valleys on top of ridges, surrounded by rock faces; a topsy-turvy area with magnificent views, that's the Castle area. See it yourself.
The Sydney Bushwalker: April 1955: 1955: Kevin Ardill, Bill Cosgrove, Len Fall, Jack Gentle, Frank Leyden,
Guzzle, guzzle toil and trouble,
Fire burn and billy bubble.
In with water, sugar, butter,
this brew will make you cough and splutter.
Squeeze of lemon, then we've got
the basic toddy, piping hot.
But what is this as I lick my thumb
some scoundrel's drunk the bloody rum.
Sydney Bushwalker July 1952
by Jim Brown
In “South Col” the writer, Wilfred Noyce, offers a sub-title “One man's adventure on the Ascent of Everest 1953”, and without prejudice I could fairly dub this “one man's recollections of Paralyser, 1956”. You see, by noon on Sunday we were so widely scattered no one could hope to tell the story of all the parties and sub-parties and strays and individuals (of which I was one of the last named).
I dare say we should have realised it was going to be “one of them trips” when the leading locomotive stumbled over some debris carelessly knocked off an overhead bridge and did in its right semi-lunar cartilage. The second engine made valiant bids to lift back the crippled “pilot” plus train on the 1 in 35 grade near Woodford, gave it away after some fine fireworks with slipping wheels and showering sparks and cinder-charged smoke, and we settled down to wait almost two hours for succour.
The Admiral and the others, to a total of six who had gone forward in the Madden car, were still sitting or sleeping in our tourist bus outside Katoomba station, where we dragged in at 11.45 PM, 5½ hours out of Central and pursued by sundry Mails almost as though our hussy of a train was Marilyn Monroe.
The coach trip out to Morong Creek was, as you must know, singularly uneventful. Some dozed fitfully and a nearly full moon silvered the frosty landscape, and the head-lamps wheeled ahead on a succession of white posts and avenues of quivering foliage. Up the hill past Jenolan we began to see patches of snow, and at the Oberon Road junction it was lying thickly in sheltered places. A quarter to three it was when we shuffled out into the tingling air at Morong Creek, and I had just enough time to pitch my tent hastily before my fingers became quite helpless. The pain of circulation returning after I was in my sleeping bag kept me awake long enough to hear the leader's final threat to “move off at seven o'clock”.
Of course we didn't. No one stirred until about seven, and the overcast morning with some ground mist wasn't exactly inspiring. To think our lovely moonlit night had degenerated into this! At least it was fairly mild, and once the Admiral, by great exertions, had his party moving, they managed to be on the road at 8.30 AM. The formula was 1.7 miles back along the road, then north-east on to the ridge and then east. There was plenty of icy, crystalline snow in places; as though a giant had carelessly sprinkled the landscape with his salt-shaker; and when we left the road and took to the scrub I soon found my sneakers were icing up.
For about a mile the terrain was fairly flat, and so damnably featureless. The Admiral dashed around out in front, wielding a compass and curbing those who were persistently swinging away to the north. Knowing there were a few others who had “Paralysed” in previous years I thought they were being tough on the Admiral and withholding counsel. Only later I realised that the 1954 and 1955 Paralyser expeditions had also found a measure of strife in picking up the spur - so probably no one knew anyway. Half an hour off the road came the crucial moment. Ahead our “ridge” dipped into a small saddle. To the left a creek was forming which appeared to flow north-east; to the right another gully deepened to the south. “Damn the torpedoes” quote the Admiral in effect. “I'm too cold to linger. Full speed ahead”. And we walked plumb on to the Paralyser spur just like that.
There's a rough-ish road for some three or four miles. It springs from the mazzed timber-cutters trails near the Kanangra Road and takes you out over the low scrubby tops and past the wooded saddles to within a couple of miles of Cyclops. We scurried along it with only one brief halt. As the Admiral said, it was too cold to stop now we were out on the exposed spur with a chilly draught from the southeast breathing through the mists. Despite the lack of scenery - the lack of promise in the weather - we were all fairly jubilant. Here we were well on our way - might even be at Paralyser before noon. A pity we'd see nothing of course.
Well, we weren't there by noon. Once we left the trail our pace slackened, the race-horses forged ahead, the decrepit, the inexperienced and the leader dropped back, and it was just after twelve when we all assembled on a high point, said to be Paralyser by some. It was Cyclops, of course, and it took Just over half an hour to negotiate the bushy saddle which separates the two tops. Paralyser is surrounded by scrub some fifteen or twenty feet high, so there's no view from the trig point anyway. To this point everything was going blissfully and with the big drop down to Kanangra River before us it looked as though the trip was in the bag. It was the same big drop down which almost ruined everything. First there was a bit of ridge-hopping, when it was decided we were on a spur too much to the left, then after a slow traverse around to the “correct” ridge the signal was transmitted up to us “We're on the wrong ridge - it's back to the left further than we were before”.
Whilst all this halloo-ing and moving about went on between Snow and the Admiral I had time to ponder the effect on the two girls who were beginning to weaken after the lively morning's stage. We were now definitely divided into an advance party, a centre group and a rearguard, and I suspected that the rearguard was going to move slowly down that quartzite-strewn spur to the river. It did. Presently I got a leave pass from the Admiral and a request to pass on his compliments and ask the company not to proceed past Konangaroo Clearing for the night.. Then in the guise of. a rather sluggish Mercury I descended from the Olympian heights to intercept the others supping their nectar by the Kanangra River at about 3 PM.
It was going on for four when the last three cane down, with Brian toting two packs, looking rather wan, and quite resolved to make camp for the rearguard right there. It was determined that Stan, on arrival back at Katoomba on Sunday afternoon, would bring his car out as far towards Carlon's as possible, there to pick up the weary and battered. To give us a flying start, we were all to go on down to Konangaroo that night, that is, all except Brian who would squire Vivienne and Dawn over the rest of the course. Snow would be deputy leader with the advance party and “Hey”, said the Admiral “Where's Ernie?”
It now appeared that Ernie had gone on ahead up on the Buttress. He hadn't come down to us, so where? Well, he must have emerged higher up the creek and would follow down later. We wouldn't fret for the moment.
“Hey,” said the Admiral, growing pale, “Where's Jack?”
That one was easy. Jack Perry had finished lunch and walked on slowly down towards Konangaroo The Admiral gulped with relief. “Why do these things always happen on my trips?” he demanded in an aggrieved voice, then reached for the tea billy and burned his fingers. Poor old Admiral!
We left the Admiral to his grief and his rearguard and hastened down to the Cox to link up with Jack and camp in the failing light of a cloudy evening. Yet a snug, comfortable evening it was in the agreeable pastures at Konangaroo, with generous log fires, and afterwards a discussion on the best way out. After the subject had been bashed back and forth it was virtually agreed that the quickest and easiest route would be upriver to Breakfast Creek, thence Carlon's, Megalong Valley and Devil's Hole. Time was a consideration if Stan was to get back into Megalong on a rescue mission. It started to rain gently while we yearned, and if we had been prescient enough that would have resolved us to stick to ridge tops. Instead we agreed on the river and Breakfast Creek, and then bedded down while the rain increased.
Dot Butler says it was one of the few nights she had spent in a tent in ten years or some such absurd time. In the absence of caves that was as well for it rained with gentle persistence all night so that in the morning we blessed Jack Perry who had risen early and passed on to us a huge cheerful fire which served us all. Jack, with visions of an early train, pushed off as we crawled from our bags. How we all kidded ourselves, Jack and his early train, Stan and his rescue return to Megalong!
Being ready a little before the others, and having a slightly disabled left foot which was going to impede me on rocky sections, I followed Jack's example and bowed out just ahead of the main party. Two miles up the Cox I made a decided bloomer - ignored a perfectly good knee-deep crossing and tried to force a ford higher up. It cost me twenty minutes, wet me to the waist, and finally I had to retreat and cross just behind the others. I learned that Dot and Garth had gone back to aid the Admiral bring in the weary ones, and then saw the others gradually draw away from me: Stan and Bob Duncan, Dot Barr and Geoff Broadhead, and Snow and Heather and George Gray. Actually that sequence in not correct; Snow had forgotten to bring shorts, and after walking in slacks all Saturday had decided to emulate the feat of the Admiral of a year before, and keep his “longs dry by “doing a walk in underpants”. Sensitive to the end, Snow tried to remain at the rear of the forward party, but I noticed he would occasionally have a lapse and forge forward. In any event, they all forged ahead of me, for I was so wet and chilled the limbs wouldn't respond. This meant I never worked up enough speed to dry out in the steady rain, so never warmed up all day. Quite a vicious circle.
We remained on the east (or north, or north east) bank, which is to say the right, or true left, anyway, the other side, if you see what I mean, all the rest of the way along the Cox. And a fair cow it was! Once near Blue Dog we had to sidle above steeply sloping rocks with the river rising and rushing below. The previous feet had made the way slippery and I was too far behind to hazard some of the ledges. So I went up high and caught my cape in the scrub and ripped it down the back. And the downpour continued.
Breakfast Creek was a shock. You know how it's usually a trickle of clear water over a bed of lovely smooth pebbles of many colours? Well, here it was, bashing and boiling along, almost waist deep at some of the crossings, discoloured and with quite respectable pressure waves. I honestly believe I'd have abandoned it and pushed on up the Cox to Tinpot Ridge if I hadn't come up with Dorothy Barr and Geoff Broadhead here. As it was, we forced a passage as a trio, linking arms to negotiate the worst crossings and cutting down the 37 fords to about 11, That meant, of course, clambering along some very slender pads, often going high, and sometimes wading around the foot of projecting ridges. At about 3 o'clock, after more than two hours of the battle, we snatched a hasty lunch, standing on a few boulders while the rain rattled on our capes; that is, it rattled on theirs, and on the tattered remains of mine.
We came to Carlon's Creek shortly after four, and Geoff decided to remove some of the rubbish which had entered his boots. I knew if I stayed during this operation I'd probably freeze up entirely. Also I had some notion that, if the racehorses ahead had made a proper lunch halt, I may chance to overtake, and could give a progress report on the movements of at least two of the party, plus a negative on the Admiral and his team who must be having a shocking journey. At all events, I parted from Dot and Geoff and strode out, still trying to walk some warmth into my shivering carcass.
I passed Carlon's in fading light about 5.10, and decided against calling in as I was just thawing slightly, and my spurt of energy carried me on to the top of the hill, where I rested a few minutes in the old shed, pulled on a sweater and draped my ragged pieces of plastic about me and went on by torchlight.
The next couple of hours merge into a strange dreamlike kind of march. Rain was still falling and everywhere water was cascading, running, flowing. The night was full of the sounds, the thousand sounds, soft and angry, gentle and fierce, soothing and disturbing that water can make. My feet splashed stud swished through a succession of pools and gutters and creeks. By now my spasm of energy was spent; I was dragging, and my pack getting wetter and heavier. If I had seen any shelter, any place tolerably dry, in Megalong, I believe I'd have stopped then and there. I didn't, the whole landscape was awash, I traced the approach to Devil's Hole by following what seemed like a creek.
In a dazed, numb kind of way I made the climb, and finally came to the overhang just below the Hole itself. There I stopped abruptly. From the darkness ahead came a frightening sound of a great volume of tumbling water. It occurred to me that it might be dangerous to try the Hole itself solo, and with a failing torch it was not the time to take chances. Here was refuge of a kind, the gravel at the back of the overhang was almost dry.
The decision made, I lost no time. Off with my wettest clothes, on with the driest in my pack, and into my rather moist sleeping bag. As my hands became warm I realised that “dry” was quite a relative term, my bag was really very wet, as were the slacks and shirt that came from my sodden pack. Yet in a short while I was comfortably warm in a humid sort of way, and I fished out some fragments of food. For the first time I looked at my watch and found it was just after 9 PM. I assumed I had reached my funk-hole about 8.30, after almost 12 hours literally on my feet. (I sat down for 2 or 3 minutes only twice all day). All that to make some 22 miles or so.
At all events, I wolfed down some chocolate and peanut butter straight on a spoon, sampled some plain butter, the remaining bits of bread were too soggy to contemplate, and wound up with an orange, putting aside half the chocolate block for the morning. I then found I was feverishly thirsty, and recalled that I hadn't absorbed any fluid (orally anyway) since breakfast. It was quite absurd, but I crept out of my sleeping bag and set a pannikin to catch drips at the edge of the overhang. The next time I looked at my watch was two hours later. Amazing I'd been asleep. I collected my mug of water and gulped it down and then noticed my chocolate had vanished. I was puzzled by this, but after I'd crept back into my bag. I felt the patter of tiny feet over me. I was camping with a bush rat or a possum or maybe a large night bird; I never found which.
I slept again, and at two o'clock rose and had another drink, and rolled a cigarette; somehow the tobacco and papers were quite dry. As I smoked I realised something was wrong, my bottom plate of false teeth was missing; they must have dropped out whilst I slept. I dug around in the folds of my sleeping bag, then in my shirt; and finally pawed at the pebbly floor. Not there, gone! I could not have swallowed them! Or, speculatively could I? Wait on that damned creature, suppose they had dropped from my mouth and it had collected them. It was going to be really bon-oh if I had to track the animal to its lair in the morning. Oh well, I slept again.
Next awake four o'clock. The knobbly couch is impaling me in a dozen places. There's a specially rough bit just under my right shoulder. Grope, ah, that's it, throw it away. No, don't! That's no stone; that's your teeth. Now you can sleep in peace, pebbles and all.
So you sleep till seven and then push all the wet things into a wet pack and pull on a wet windjacket, because it's raining very lightly and you climb up Devil's Hole which isn't as flooded as you thought, and you walk into Katoomba and catch the 9.10 train; and soon after mid-day you're on a telephone to find what happened to the other victims of Paralyser 1956.
1956: Brian Anderson (the Admiral), Dawn Askend, Dot Barr, Geoff Broadhead, David (Snow) Brown, Jim Brown, Dot Butler, Bob Duncan, Ernie French, George Gray, Garth Coulter, Heather Joyce, Stan Madden, Jack Perry and Vivienne ?,
Jim Brown camped eight miles from Blackheath,
Went to sleep on his set of false teeth.
He awoke with a start,
“Why Lord bless my heart!
I've bitten myself from beneath!”
Dot Butler, Editor (1956)
by Kath McKay
O walkers, as you go through life
You'll find that phobias are rife.
Phobia this and phobia that,
Fear of dog and fear of cat;
Androphobia: fear of men;
Tridekaphobia: fear of ten
and three, that is to say thirteen;
Nudiphobia: being seen
in the nuddy (or in the nude)
by some pert and peeking prude;
Gamophobia: fear of marriage
(a phobia we all disparage)
Walkers, novice or old buffer,
Very, very seldom suffer
Gynophobia: craven feah
of girls, the Weaker Sex (oh yeah)
and so far we have not observed
that Lalophobia has unnerved
those walkers who some fame are seeking
by not infrequent Public Speaking;
Nor do the horrid fear of heights
(Bathophobia) or dark nights
(Scotophobia) seem to trouble you,
Happy, carefree SBW.
But two phobias beware,
avoid them with the utmost care:
Ergophobia: fear of work,
(Although we're sure you never shirk)
and lastly, (this is sure to sobia)
Fear of walking: BASIPHOBIA.
The Sydney Bushwalker May 1961
Some of these phobias are not in the dictionary. Editor
by Geoff Wagg
The early autumn dawns as crisp as a slice of watermelon. The cool sun drifts soundlessly above the eastern ridges striking up long highlights on the river, which rise like searchlight beams to break among the trees along the bank and fall in fragments on the dew-bright grass. The bellbird hangs his tiny notes along the high tree branches and that is all the sound there is.
Not far away on a ridgetop a blue and grey vehicle sweeps along apparently riding on a plume of soft grey dust. Nearer and nearer it draws to the tranquil clearing by the river; nearer and nearer, ploughing its cloud of dust to the road end.
Onk-hu-u-u-r-r-rk-gurr! (A sound reminiscent of a cracked saxophone disgorging an irate concertina) emanates from the bonnet of the Puttmobile and drifts out across the gullies. Doors fly open; bushwalkers pour out. The SBW Reunion is on and nature retreats to the top of her highest gum tree.
Almost from that moment the river bank became the scene of much activity. Colin Putt, with his team of tireless toilers, whisked great logs, cut on the previous weekend, to the campfire site and stacked them with precision to the design of Bill Henley, the Campfire Architect. All kinds of conveniences were erected, not to mention windbreaks to protect the unwary kidney from a sneaking ground-draft and stage back-drops to protect the unwary actor from a well-aimed tomato. Mosquitoes had previously been warned off the area and all standing water made unfit for habitation.
No milk and Sunday paper delivery, next year perhaps.
And during all this came the tents…. Big ones, small ones, golden, green and “used to be some colour” in every conceivable shape and location. With the tents came the walkers; big ones, small ones etc. including tots, visitors and prospectives to a total of 189 bods; we think a record. Daylight began to disappear and on the darkened earth, cooking fires winked like stars and on a darkened sky stars winked like cooking fires. Nature at the top of her gum tree shifted into a more comfortable crotch and settled down for the night.
As the pungent odour of the Stitt's incinerated repast faded into the cool night air, the mood of expectancy began from one group to the next. Something must surely happen soon- everyone's here (except Jim Hooper of course) - something must surely happen - yes! There it is, glowing like a monster jewel with a million facets and throwing up a million sparks to rival the stars.
The campfire is on!! Fire's burning………… Fire's burning…………
After we'd sung the rounds it was time for the current Chronic Opera, “White Antics” , which brought forth some rare moments of melodious warbling and the natural comedy team of Digby Rigby, the master white ant as the Black Duke of Anthracite, and Brian Anderson as Admiral Antidote, his dim but willing accomplice. These two arch plotters are attempting and very nearly succeeding to establish the Black Duke as consort to the Queen of Antdom. Unfortunately, in his moment of triumph, the Duke is eaten by a rampaging Anteater, much to the secret disgust of the Queen, who'll tell you she preferred him to the hero anyday. For his part in the plot Admiral Antidote is relegated to a post in the Municipal Garbage Service and everyone lives happily ever after. There is a considerable body of opinion to the effect that, though unseen, the prompter played the best part of the evening.
After some particularly good singing from Paddy and the kids and a touch of harmony from the Ray Bean Trio it got to be time to initiate the new members. Now initiates of the previous year, though they had been a great source of fun to most people (including, strangely enough, the initiates) had brought forth some adverse criticism from those gentler souls. Unkind opinion has it that these are the people who when crowing for a better view were splashed with mud. This year it was decided there would be no room for adverse comment. Initiation would be the soul of gentility, and so it was.
First initiates were assembled before the members and asked to state what was wrong when etiquette demands a walker should get the leader's permission before removing his shirt while he can remove his pants at his own discretion.
No-one knew. Answer of course is “You take care of the pinneys and the pants will take care of themselves”.
Next idea, to see if eight new members could erect a tent, was effectively white-anted when one of them mislaid the tent pegs. No-one seemed too sure what happened after that. Some other people came on and made appeals to the audience for ideas on how these should be dealt with. Most proffered ideas were ” hang 'em from the yard arm high“ or ” boil 'em in pitch“, and couldn't be used because the necessary equipment wasn't available so it was finally settled to set each of them a labour to be performed by eleven o'clock the next morning. Some of these were quite dangerous like discovering how many bods per tent and who snored. The task arousing most comment was to find a pair of the Bagley Beetle, species Red-bummed. The new member Lynette Baber, a keen field naturalist hadn't heard of this creature and immediately challenged its existence. Bob Duncan, who was the first person to identify the beetle was called on to verify the fact and did so conclusively by producing one he happened to have with him. Judy of course denies being a Bagley Beetle, but her slacks (and face) were definitely red.
This initiation seemed to prove the truth of the statement made by one hardened type, ” just you give them new members half a chance, and they'll initiate you“.
After all this had been dealt with we had some more songs and swore in the president, Brian Harvey, for his second year in that post. This swearing in of the President is an interesting and ancient custom with its pleasantly wreathed in antiquity. Though some of our senior members seem to be in danger of taking it seriously, youth will always keep such things in their correct perspective, although the only one of the venerable symbols that can touch their imagination nowadays seems to be the Order of the Boot.
More items followed though attention began to stray a little to the other side of the fire whence came the dull gleam of coffee-full kerosene tins and the clunk-clunk of rock cakes rolling together.
This brought the assembly to its feet and queues materialised in a flash, each walker with mug at the ready. Then with brimming mug and rock cake in hand dispersing into chatting groups to relieve old days and plan for those to come.
Now some were reluctantly moving bedwards carrying tinies, some were singing sweetly by the fire, some were … they were … well, I can't quite see what they're doing.
Nature, who had been tossing and turning at the top of her gum tree, decided she would suffer her disturbed rest no longer, and climbed down to punish the culprit. The Admiral was making the most noise, so she seized his shirt and sprang to the top of her tree. The Admiral made still more noise.
But, roll up, roll up, roll up. See Dare Devil Duncan fly through a blazing sheet of corrugated cardboard and land in a palpitating heap on the other side. “Aw! I thought you were going to catch me, Wagg!”.
This sort of thing was too energetic to last, though. The tumult and the shouting had to die. One by one the revellers faded away trailing sleeping bag and ground sheet, to seek a quite spot. Only the small group by the fire left, still sipping coffee and listening to Henry play old Austrian airs on the mouth organ. Peace at last.
Re-union Sunday mornings always start about three hours earlier than most people feel they should. After such a late night, it would seem that an eleven o'clock lay-in was the right thing, but, no chance. All tinies go to sleep with the sparrows, leap up with the larks, give piercing shouts, wake grumbling daddies, “wake up daddy”, ” daddy wake up“, who trip over billy: dang, bang, curse, and break sticks for fire with great force of expression: smash, crash, snap!!
So starts a Re-union Sunday. As soon as there is fire alight a group will gather and chatter and with the chatter you lose your last chance of sleep. Those half-heard conversations sound so tantalising you have to roll as far as the tent flap and peer out to see what you're missing. The sunlight hurts at first, but soon it burns away the film of sleep, the soft cool whisper of a breeze clears away the fuzzy feeling in your head, and Taro comes along and looks down at you and says “you know what you are? You're a life murderer. You're sleeping away the best minutes of you're life”, and you climb out of your sleeping bag and into the world.
When breakfast was over and everyone was well rested from the effort of getting up, some folk drifted from camp to camp, hand shaking, back slapping, renewing old acquaintances, while some wandered up stream in search of a spot deep enough to swim. The Grose generally was reduced to a depth of 2 inches of water and 2 feet of sand, a little too thin to walk on and a little too thick to swim. Eventually a spot was found where the body could be totally immersed, though, as this was only a little larger than the average bath tub, conditions were sometimes cramped.
Soon it was eleven o'clock and time to hear the new members' answers to the questions they'd been given, and once more it seemed that everything was being made easy for them. Whatever their answer it was right, so each one won a prize. For John Scott and Henry Gold it was a beauty treatment beginning with a mud pack. This meant they were really in the dough (face first) and the beauticians made a special point of rubbing it well into the hair. Georgia Antoniades won a shave and was unkind enough to inquire if the “Dirty Dora” they lathered her with was hygienic. “Nuf sed!” Mary Walton and Shirley Hackworth also won a free shave and were given the opportunity of shaving each other (blindfold). This would have been a dual femmicide if they'd had razors instead of pieces of bark. Lynette Baber and Dot Barr sat down to build a castle in the sand, but something went wrong with the system and they were lucky not to be entombed. Finally Margaret Innes won a free application of lipstick and eyebrow pencil by Lynette and Dot. That certainly was a free application. Goodness knows how she got it off.
Next we had a tug-o-war in which every time the men's team took the strain, the rope wouldn't. It landed in a heap on three consecutive occasions. After a few more items of general athletics, three legged races etc. it was time for lunch.
A few hardy walking types combined to finish the last of the rock cakes, but these, even in their depleted numbers were more than a match for walkers' jaws and the remains (of the rock cakes) were disposed of in a deep hole.
It doesn't take long for a Re-union to break-up after lunch on a Sunday. The rabbits check out, then the mob for the bus, until only a few stragglers remain. Despondently they dismantle the little tents, stamp out the remaining coals among the ashes, shoulder their packs and walk away among the now silent corridors of the trees.
Like a shadow, Nature slips down the smooth trunk of her gum tree. At the bottom she pauses a moment and looks around with cautious eyes, then stretches, luxuriously easing the kinks out of cramped muscles. A great big yawn then “Thank God! Peace for another twelve months”.
The Sydney Bushwalker, April 1957: Geoff Wagg plus 189 others
Frank Rigby In the 1950 SBW Annual Reunions were totally different from today's Reunions. Each Reunion was eagerly anticipated by the majority of Club members, old and new alike, and no other activity was programmed for that weekend: the first weekend after the AGM. The President would conclude the AGM with the ringing cry ” Let us Reune“. It was common for more than 200 people to attend the Reunion at the traditional site at Woods Creek, on the Grose River near North Richmond. Here Geoff has captured the spirit of those Reunions.
Prior to the mid-1950s almost all SBW walks began with a train trip to the start of the walk. By the 60s affluence affected even bushwalkers who, ignoring the joys of communal travel, took to their cars like ducks to water. By 1967 the majority of walks were programmed around private car transport. Jess Martin's story is about an era which can never be repeated.
The Walker's Bleat
by F. A. Blackman
You hear it not while at your work,
Now in the bush street,
But when the walkers rove about
there comes a plaintive bleat.
The careful leader stalks ahead
In rain and summer's heat,
And little heeds the anguished souls
who cry: “When do we eat?”
Oh, many of our walking friends
Thus hunger on their feet,
and know that ease for it depends
on this “WHEN DO WE EAT?”
Sydney Bushwalker September 1944
from the Melbourne Walker
Bushwalkers and Train Travelling
by Jess Martin
Transporting bushwalkers by train has been on the way out for some years now. In fact we have some active members of about two years standing who have yet to board a train. It is timely that Jess should now describe some of the trials and joys of train travelling of earlier days. Editor(1967).
When I became a Sydney Bushwalker very few had spare cash (some had barely enough for necessities) and motor cars were a rarity amongst members; so we travelled by train and if we could stand it, sometimes a car or bus was hired to take us from the station to the more remote commencing points.
Holiday weekends and at Easter, train after train left Central loaded above the Plimsoll, bodies being jammed in the corridors and even on the carriage platforms. As an empty train slowly pulled into the platform there was a concerted rush by the passengers, often packed six deep, to enter. Bushwalkers, using their brains, waited on the platform for the carriages nearest the engine and by cunning use of rucksacks were able to board the train and be seated before the ordinary passenger. I myself being short and considerably lighter was at a disadvantage until it became the practice to lift me and sometimes the other girls through the windows so that seats could be commandeered, the men occasionally entering the same way. (This, of course, is against Railways Department regulation!)
Trains carried a very representative cross-section of the Federation Clubs and many a trip was discussed and planned on the journeys. I was very fortunate in my friends who, trying to avoid stereotyped trips, were always seeking new country and no effort was spared in plotting the route and gathering information, or food was carefully planned for nutriment, lack of dead-weight and as much variety as dehydrated food can offer. We would ask other groups their plans and mention our projected trip, often new to them, or they would have more recent knowledge or a suggested improvement. There was camaraderie but considerable rivalry amongst the walkers.
A carriage full of bushwalkers can be rather intimidating to the uninitiated, and it was humorous to see the startled expression and the hurried retreat of the ordinary citizen. Several times one more courageous than others remained and on alighting from the train mentioned that he or she had not enjoyed a trip more; we have also found these people good company and most interesting. When one carries a rucksack it seems to break a barrier and many people converse on all sorts of topics - I have heard some amazing tales and personal details I would not ordinarily be regaled with. The quite man or woman listening to our talk very often gave us valuable information about the area we were visiting, having attended school, lived on a farm or their folk had run the local sawmill, and we have been recommended special features to see or where to find permanent water; also “see Jim Smith or Bill Brown and he will be able to give you any information you require”.
There have been amusing incidents too, the following being examples. In a train on the way to Nowra, a woman and children alighting at Jaspers Brush and one of our men (always the gentleman) helping them out and then handing out the luggage, much to the later consternation of some men at Nowra, whose fishing gear has also been handed out.
Returning home from the South Coast in a crowded train, a ticket inspector was fining all travelling in first class on second class tickets. An irate man, who said he could not find space in second class, argued with the inspector but had to pay and, when the inspector departed, said in a satisfied voice, “I paid him with a bad coin”.
A party was coming home from Richmond, “Lord Randal” being sung and the whole carriage rising before, and sitting down in unison after “I fain would lie down” when an inspector entered and, with a startled look on his face, retreated behind a hurriedly closed door. The following weekend the same man entered the carriage and dryly said, “Not singing today?”.
So that we could all relax on return journeys we aimed to have the whole party in a 'dogbox' carriage or in adjoining sections of a corridor carriage, where no stranger would intrude or have their olfactory senses offended. (Isn't it amazing that some people don't appreciate the campfire smoke odour of bushwalkers' gear, clothes and hair!). Although we always washed and changed into clean clothes (sometimes on the train) we still had the bush aura about us. On an overnight train one could stretch out on floor or seat in a sleeping bag, and in cold weather it was much more cosy. Bushwalkers always being hungry, the remaining food was pooled, biscuits and slices of bread being spread, and often the engine driver or stationmaster would boil a billy so we could have hot tea. We knew the engine driver had control of the train and if the party was tired we could doze or, if wakeful, sing or chatter, and many a new trip was planned on the homeward journey.
It is much harder to relax when travelling by car, and the driver dare not let his attention waver. My opinion is that the advent of the motor car has meant the walking movement has lost to some extent the enriching effect of meeting and mingling with different personalities, because although groups have always been a feature of Club life and a very practical one for our activity, in the past they were fluid, and when travelling by train the party can always be increased to include someone whom it is thought will be an asset. I wonder how many good Club members have been lost to us through lack of accommodation in a car party?
The Sydney Bushwalker Feb. 1967: Jess Martin & others
Hymn of Hate
by Grace Edgecombe
Oh how I hate the race of packs!
I'd like to hit mine with an axe.
I'd like to bust it right in two,
Or beat it till its black and blue!
I'd like to fling it in the sea,
Or jump upon it savagely!
How dare it sit and mock at me,
Knowing that it must carried be?
How dare it grin, with beastly bulge,
and naught but ribald mirth divulge?
And does it feed upon the air,
that it grows daily heavier?
Or slyly suck my puny strength
and take my breadth and leave but length?
Just watch it try to break my neck,
using me as a landing deck!
Pompous pincushion! Loathsome lump!
I vow you ne'er again I'll hump.
The Sydney Bushwalker July 1938
Wildlife in the Apsley River Gorge
by Dot Butler
In the spacious days before speed when the whole of your life stretched ahead in a golden never-ending summer you travelled by coastal steamer from Sydney to Port Macquarie taking several days over the trip, including the wait to get over the bar. Uncle met you there with his buggy and you bowled off inland along a dirt road through the dense rain-forest filled with Buffalo Marys (a large-bodied yellow and green wood pigeon), where bullock teams were dragging logs out of steep rocky gullies. You passed cleared areas where the plovers made their odd call by day and the curlews wailed in the dark. Walcha, in those days hardly more than a homestead property was an infinity of time and space away from Sydney. Now we get in our cars at 6.00 PM Friday, travel non-stop through the night and in the early hours of the morning we have arrived.
Easter Friday morning saw twelve Sydney Bushwalkers and a number of NPA members arriving at the Apsley Lookout Reserve in the New England Highlands about 12 miles out of Walcha. The NPA people were going to view the region from the top, visiting its various lookout points, while the SBW's were planning, in the four days at our disposal to negotiate some thirty miles of its rugged gorges and canyons. As far as we knew this trip had never been done before.
The Apsley River winds its way in great loops from west to east across the map, dropping about 2,400 feet in this distance. While the car drivers took the cars on some thirty miles to where we planned to come out on the last day, the rest of us wandered round to admire the falls, and to speculate on our chances of getting through the deep, rock-piled canyon floor down which the brown water tumbled building up back-eddies of yellow foam. It was beautiful hot dry inland weather and billies of tea seemed much more in demand than climbing activity. However when our ruthless leaders Ross Wyborn and Don Finch, arrived back at about 11 AM it was a case of “Finish your eating and get packed up, we're moving off in ten minutes”. And strange as it may seem, in less than ten minutes we were actually moving off.
We clambered down a steep spur, covered with scant vegetation and moved across to a steeply-falling creek bed. Although this is to be an account of the native fauna., I can't omit mentioning a specimen of introduced fauna - the exotic Homo Sapiens who dislodged a large boulder on the hillside, which split into several pieces as it bounded down, one of them grazing Ross's head as it screamed past. Of course, being Ross's head, it caused no damage. However another piece hit him on the arm*, paralysing it, and it remained out of commission for the rest of the trip. We applied band-aids and continued on our way.
When we reached the river bed we found it even more rugged than it looked from the top. Huge dark grey block-up boulders lay crowded together in great heaps and over these we clambered for the rest of the afternoon. Those in the lead had plenty of time admire the scenery while waiting for the tail-enders to catch up. The warm air had a dream-like quality. The sun filtered down in a golden haze. The scene looked like a picture done in pointillism - that form of art in which the whole effect is achieved by little dots of colour. The thousand-foot high rock walls dark grey and almost vertical were spotted with palest grey-green lichen. The pale blue sky was a backdrop to countless thousands of lightly floating thistle downs, interspersed with long shining streamers of airborne spider-webs and the brown earth-stained water at our feet was flecked with spots of foam the size of golden guineas. Great casuarinas, their gnarled roots gripping the rocks at the water's edge had entrapped thousands of the floating thistledown and looked like a child's drawing of trees spotted with snowflakes. In the stark dead branches of a ringbarked gumtree on the skyline a flock of white cockatoos settled, live white flowers dotting its limbs.
We camped in the afternoon on a flood-strewn heap of rocks: To say something in its favour, it was at least fairly horizontal and after we had scraped up heaps of dry casuarina needles for a bed, it was even comfortable. The keen ones studied the map and found we had achieved hardly a mile. We'll have to make better time tomorrow.
Away bright and early in the morning. The water must be swarming with eels; we came across many two foot long ones dead among the rocks, probably killed by the impact of flood waters the previous week. Stranded shells on the black mud gave evidence of fresh-:water mussels. This rocky gorge is a lizard's paradise; every jutting piece of rock had its watchful water-dragon, poised on strong front legs ready to plop into the water as we drew near. Over the brown water skimmed swallows, slim little arrows of delight, never still for a moment.
Our progress this day involved much swimming, pushing our floating packs before us. I heard no complaint about the temperature of the water from the girls, but poor Digby shivering his way over the rocks from one swim to the next was heard to remark through chattering teeth “oh for a little bit of that something that we males haven't got, namely subcutaneous fat.”
As we came swimming into their view, flocks of ducks would take off from the water. We counted as many as fifteen in one flock, thirteen in another. Then there would be crashing amongst the bushes on the steep hillside and the eye following the sound would see thickly-furred rock wallabies leaping effortlessly upwards. At a safe distance they would pause and look down on us: the intruders in their country.
After cooling off in the water it was a delightful sensation to lie on the hot rocks and dry off. We weren't the only ones who appreciated this; we found we were sharing the rocks with lizards and snakes, the red-bellied black snake, a greyish whip-snake, a beautifully marked diamond python. With his tall in the water and a large frog on its way down his throat a bright green tree-snake tried to look inconspicuous and failed.
Camp for the night was another heap of rocks: the only thing offering in this steep gorge country. We made a big campfire from dry wood brought down by the floods and sang into the late hours though you might wonder what we had to sing about as this day we had only covered another four or five miles, and no knowing how we were to get out. All night long, bats flitted across the star-shine and disappeared into the dark shadows of the trees.
Next day more swimming. In fact, the first seven miles of the gorge involve as much swimming as walking. For this reason it would be wise for anyone else planning this trip to find out about local rainfall during the previous week as it would be extremely hazardous, if not impossible, to swim the canyons in flood Huge logs and other flood debris was piled 20 and 30 feet up the sides of the gorge.
This was a glorious day with most of the food eaten the pack was light and easy to carry. Going quietly barefoot, over the rocks, the wild creatures were not frightened into hiding. The lizards hardly bothered to plop into the water. As I swam quietly behind my pack the ducks accepted me as part of the scenery and stayed floating above their reflections as I swam among them. A vivid cerulean blue kingfisher darted out of the bank and skimmed across the water. Flocks of swallows filled the air overhead and I floated on my back to watch their darting flight. Up the rocky hillsides rock wallabies grazed, the warm orange-coloured fur on the front of their bodies making a splash of colour on the grey-green hillside. Some black gang-gang parrots were tearing away at a tree with their powerful beaks. I was thinking, “I'll come back here when I'm old and spend the rest of my days floating in this beautiful river”. Suddenly there was a great beating of wings above my head and a huge eagle flew by, his wings marked with dark feathers like all eagles, but his underbody a sparkling creamy white. I have never seen a more perfect bird in a more perfect setting. He circled round and finally came to rest on a branch; King of all he surveyed.
In the afternoon the country began to flatten out. The stark rocky canyons had given way to thickly wooded mountains, which now gave way to lower hills. Clawing his way up a tree a 6 foot goanna looked like some ageless antediluvian monster in the never-ending sunshine. Bright little butterflies flitted about some with black and orange markings and some as yellow as a buttercup. Dragonflies skimmed by water on gauzy wings. Huge spiders hung in their webs busy with the day's butchery - trussing up 2-inch long green grasshoppers in silken cocoons,
We had not finished with swimming. Grassy river flats made walking a pleasure. In place of the rock wallabies we now saw pale grey aristocratic kangaroos feeding on the fine native grasses.
Camp for the night was a complete contrast to our previous ones - right in the middle of an acre of grassy river-flat. We made a big camp fire and when Ross arrived we found that he had another close shave - this time with an exotic female who chased him into the river when he appeared to be threatening her baby.
After the evening meal we initiated Donnie into the mysterious practices of the masseur's profession - kneading, stroking, hacking, clapping, pounding, wringing, toe-rolling, etc. Donnie took to it with sadistic delight and everybody became his victim in turn. Joan was worried “I think Donnie has become a compulsive masseur. Just think what will happen next time he goes to a beach and sees all those recumbent bodies: he won't be able to control himself.”
Next day we had only a couple of miles walk along the river flats before the long pull up a steep ridge to the farmlands above and so back to the cars and home. The Apsley Gorge has such high potential for a Natural Reserve that we hope it will be dedicated as such in the near future.
* Ross' elbow injury later had him deemed unfit for National Service and Vietnam. So instead he went to the Andies and “bagged” a 20,000 foot peak or two!
The Sydney Bushwallker, July 1967: Bill Burke, Dot Butler, Shirley Dean, Margaret Dogterom, Don Finch, Heather Joyce, Frank Rigby, Joan Rigby, Doone Wyborn, Ross Wyborn plus Bill and Keith from NZ.
You like a bit of company
so you light a blinking fire.
Then it scorches all your whiskers off
and makes a bloke retire.
You wait a bit and freeze a bit
and when the flames subside
You cook a bit of tucker
to warm your poor inside.
The sleeping bag is calling,
you've crawling off to bed,
but you lift your hat in passing
'cause the blinking fire's dead.
Sydney Bushwalker January 1952
Helen Gray: Reading a decade of The Sydney Bushwalker was sheer pleasure; choosing only two articles was quite difficult. I had expected to choose two literal bushwalks (that is walks in the Australian bush) but such articles were in the minority. In some magazines every article is of an overseas trip, most of them walks. It was a decade when affordable air-fares and an Australian dollar worth more than an American dollar attracted SBWs in their droves to spend their annual holidays overseas; in India, Nepal, Pacific Islands, South America, Alaska, etc.
Conservation articles were a regular feature. It was an era when we fought passionately to save Myall Lakes, the Boyd Plateau, Wollangambie, Border Ranges…The loss of Lake Pedder was devastating, but it spurred us on to fight even harder for other threatened wilderness.
Coolana features often. In this decade we purchased our land using Club funds set aside for such a purpose plus members donations. The 130 acres became a wildlife refuge adjoining Morton National Park. It was, and still is, SBW's very positive effort to preserve the bush.
Better maps, especially the 1:25,000 scale series may have taken the mystery out of walking but also drew our attention to the unknown or forgotten areas.
Coricudgy, Nullo, Tuross, Apsley; different names appeared in the walks' program. There are two accounts of the first descent of Apsley Gorge: Dot Butler's - descriptive, lyrical, and Don Finch's, full of youthful enthusiasm and larrikinism.
My second choice is a ski-tour. Skiing articles were printed regularly in the 70s. It was a decade when lightweight skis and shoes replaced the alpine skis, climbing skins and heavy boots of previous decades (and the subsequent base camp trips). Ski-touring became a real extension of bushwalking. The heavy rucksacks, a weekend pack plus ski repair kit, choofers and fuel, full wet-weather gear, and the umpteen waxes, and the frequent white-outs and blizzards, meant that these ski trips were hard work. Patrick McBride's Destination Mawson's, is a not untypical ski-tour which shows why ski trips seldom went “as per program”. Now only a few months after the Threadbo disaster (Aug. 1997) with so many losing their lives, we can reflect that there were no deaths or serious injury in those years when there were SBW ski tours every weekend through winter and spring.
Yet Another Bungle
by Don Finch
As usual we got off to a bad start. After leaving Strathfield at 6 PM we had to wait for Margy until almost midnight - she had to do her hair. Then I discovered that my dearest companion, whose friendship I have cherished, man and boy, for years and years, was missing, and indeed lost forever. Probably my treasure fell through one of the holes in the floor of Rosso's car, so there I was without my beanie. It was like Marks without his brolly, Judy without her chocolate-coated peanuts, Betty without her wig, Ron Dully without his rum-soaked weet-bix, Jack without General Meetings or General meeting without Jack. A unique tragedy it was, even if the A.B.C. wasn't interested.
The long drive to the Apsley Falls turnoff on the Oxley Highway was completed around 3 AM. Dot and two New Zealand visitors, Keith and Bill, were already there. It was an incredibly cold night,with a clarity such that the stars seemed to be within arm's length.
The next morning, leaving the others to start breakfast, Ross and I drove the half mile out to the falls to see just what we were getting ourselves into. What we found, apart from Heather Joyce, was a gorge 2,000 feet deep, cut into the rolling hills that otherwise went on for an infinitude. After being suitably impressed by the prelude, we returned to the turnoff to have breakfast. The last car in our party, that is, Frank Rigby's, arrived within an hour, and out popped spouse Joan, Shirley Dean, and Bill Burke. Ross, Keith, Heather and Frank drove their cars down the Oxley Highway for about 20 miles, and then along a fire trail, parking the cars at the rear of a farm. Heather then drove them all back to the falls. This rather simple operation took almost 3 hours, as Gordon would say “being for” at least two false starts on different fire trails, plus an hour or so convincing the farmer that being “experienced bushwalkers” we would not become lost for three days as two surveyors had. Consequently, we had just started on lunch by the time they arrived back at the Falls. When we did eventually manage to start walking it was already 1 o'clock. We had to walk around the rim of the gorge for about a mile and down a relatively clear ridge free of cliff lines. This route can be easily seen from near the falls. It was while we were going down this rather steep ridge that a dislodged rock hit Ross on the elbow, badly gashing his arm. After plastering up the wound, and with the aid of a couple of good kicks, he was up and away again.
Our Kiwi friends went on a photographing spree once we reached the bottom, as they hadn't seen anything like this gorge in New Zealand. However it wasn't long before they got their first taste of canyoneering, as a swim presented itself within 300 yards of travelling down the river. They soon got the idea of wrapping up their packs in groundsheets, and thus we started what was to be a long list of swims, some of which were getting to be about 100 yards in length. The length of these swims was a cause of some consternation in my mind, and by the look on Digby's face, he wasn't overjoyed at the heating arrangements either. Also, the stench of dead eels occasionally filled the air, and I made a mental note not to swallow any water.
The afternoon dragged on, the swims persisted with monotonous regularity, and the long, cold swims took their toll of the party. It was with no small mount of relief that I noticed the smoke from the campfire several hundred yards down the river. The camp site was a bottler, the only flat spot having already been taken by the fire. However after scratching around for an hour or so, Dot managed to clear herself a spot, and everyone else did likewise.
Then came the trial of our waterproofing. Bill the Kiwi had water in his camera lens and most of his other things. Almost everybody had suffered to some extent, while I had the pleasure of being the most useless waterproofer of the lot. Everything, including my sleeping bag, was soaking wet. We had a sing-song at the campfire that night interrupted at intervals by small rock falls, most of which finished up in our campsite. The map was consulted, and after deciding where we were it was deduced that we had travelled two whole miles. Not a bad start for a four-day forty mile trip. However, we all agreed that things must get better (after all how could they get any worse). Then it was time to go to bed I had another serious decision to make whether to sleep near the fire on the rocks, or under a small overhang on some shale. Near the fire I could be warm with the danger of falling rocks, while under the overhang I would be cold but safe. In the morning, discussing the merits of the overhang with the others, Dot pointed out that in the event of an avalanche I could have been buried alive. Several minutes later a small rock-fall received our undivided attention. A rather large rock, landing with a convincing thud in the nook that Doone had used to lay his head all night put a resounding full stop to the discussion.
After sustaining ourselves with breakfast we moved off at a goodly rate of knots. The swims were still considerable, but the distance between them seemed to increase. When the map was consulted at lunch time it was decided that our morning's effort had put three more miles behind us. Directly after lunch we found ourselves at a large pool about 50 yards across, with cliffs on all sides except the right side (from our point of view). The water poured into this pool along a deep chute which could be sidled if one had the ability of a fly or Dot, and the inclination to jump twenty feet into the swirling, bubbling pea soup that was the Apsley River, possibly hiding any number of snags or rocks. The obvious people jumped while the rest of us went up and over a steep ridge. By the time everyone had gathered together fifty yards downstream, it had taken two and a half hours to travel about the three hundred yards from our lunch site. Just goes to show how soft Wyborn's getting.
After walking for a further five minutes we found ourselves on river flats. These indeed were a most welcome change. Alas, they weren't to last forever; four miles in fact, then back into the big boulders. After half a mile of this, which took us more than an hour, we made camp under some casuarinas on an island in the river. Much to Digby's disgust we again slept on rocks, though at least we didn't have to worry about rock falls. The distance travelled this day was seven and a half miles a total of nine and a half miles in one and a half days. Ross and Margy turned up with some story of being chased by a cow, but Ross had managed to scare it off by splashing it.
The next morning a rather embarrassing situation developed. Apart from the map and Bill's “Australian”, there was simply no dry paper in the party. One glance around showed the countryside to be steep and rugged, so naturally the map was out. Thus the “Australian” became a truly national newspaper.
Monday was much the same as the day before, with perhaps fewer swims and longer stretches of rock in between. The party from the front to the rear covered at least a mile of river with Dot and Doone up front, Margy and Ross at the back, and myself running to and fro in-between trying to keep track of everybody, telling one lot to hurry up, and the other lot to slow down.
Lunch was had at Tin River, four miles from last night's campsite. Then about a mile after Tin River it happened big, wide, grassy, river flats, long and as consistent as the rocks and pools of the last few days. This was our eleventh hour reprieve, where we belted up an average of three miles an hour.
After two nights of sleeping on hard rocks, everyone welcomed the opportunity to have a pleasant night's rest in comfort. After this well deserved evening of deep slumber, we wandered off down the river for about 2 miles to a ridge which would take us back to the cars. This revised route cut about ten miles off the originally planned trip. Even so, we weren't exactly heart-broken. The two thousand foot climb up this ridge, which was clear except for a few black boys, offered a fabulous panoramic view as we climbed. As we climbed we could see the whole of the Apsley Valley on the last day, until it was finally obscured behind a ridge towards the west and the gorge.
A two mile road bash from the top of the hill brought us to the cars at 12 noon. After calling on our farmer friend, who was not home, we went back to the Apsley Falls. Now we knew what was around that next bend in the river. As far as could be ascertained we were the only people who had gone right through the gorge. It .was a mighty trip, even considering that I had to get there and back in Wozzie's car, which I might explain, is a Vanguard, and a bigger rust bucket of nuts, bolts, springs and washers you couldn't imagine. As Jim Brown once said (slightly amended), “Who called that car a heap, who called that heap a car?”.
* Gordon Redman, then SBW treasurer used this phrase throughout his reports each month .
** Ross' elbow injury later had him deemed unfit for National Service and Vietnam. So instead he went to the Andes and “bagged” a 20,000 foot peak or two!
The Sydney Bushwalker, July 1967: Bill Burke, Dot Butler, Shirley Dean, Margaret Dogterom, Don Finch, Heather Joyce, Frank Rigby, Joan Rigby, Doone Wyborn, Ross Wyborn plus Bill and Keith from NZ.
We'll be Marooned
by Kenn Clacher
The walkers all at Quilty's Clearing
Met for Ettrema to see.
The walk was led by Bill Capon,
A canny leader he.
The first stretch was through Myall Creek
Then Bill did show his class,
“We'll be marooned,” said Bill Capon
“If we don't find Naked Pass”.
The pass was found the second try,
Then into Ettrema Creek,
And up Jones' Creek the party walked,
Twas no place for the meek.
Plain Creek was followed next, downstream,
But something worried Bill.
“We'll be marooned,” said Bill Capon
“Cos this creek flows uphill.”
At last the rogue creek flowed downhill
To Moore Creek as it should.
The walkers followed the rough creek bed
Rock hopping best they could.
Now another obstacle blocked their path,
So Bill Capon he call:
“We'll be marooned, 'less we can find
a way round Williams Falls”.
A way was found, not as Bill feared,
up umpteen feet of cliff,
to Bundundah Creek, along and out,
up Pass Point in a jiff.
Down Paul's Pass now the program said
but rain made things too wet.
“We'll be marooned,” said Bill Capon
“It hasn't eased up yet.”
So Puckett Pass was utilised
to get then down again.
Just Tullyangela Creek remained,
a piece of wild terrain.
But new maps showed cliff lines along
the whole length of the creek.
“We'll be marooned,” said Bill Capon
“It could take us a week.”
So Bill said Transportation Spur
would see us home instead.
There was one problem that remained,
when would it be ahead?
We chose a spur to climb on out
by democratic vote.
“We'll be marooned,” said Bill Capon
“If despotism's smote.”
But Transportation Spur it was,
and as we hurried on,
all members of the party then
were happy they weren't wrong.
We made it finally to the cars,
just after one last shout
“We'll be marooned,” said Bill Capon
“Before this walk is out.”
The Sydney Bushwalker July 1986
by Patrick McBride
It was in September and looking to be one of the last skiing trips of the year when three of us decided it was time for a proper finish to the season: a great trek across to White's, then over to Mawson's and finally up the mighty Jagungal himself. Everyone tries to get to Jagungal in winter because it is hardest to do it then.
A second group had already gone down on Thursday with similar aims and on Friday, while we kept the country on its feet back in tropical Sydney, Chris Kirkby, Ian Gibson and Max Crisp battled their way over miles of soggy, wet snow and through rain swollen creeks almost to the lower slopes of Jagungal before being forced to return. It was an intrepid and determined effort particularly the running barefoot through creeks to keep their socks and boots dry. They say the snow felt warm underfoot on the opposite bank.
We ourselves motored down on Friday night and skied and walked over a patchy cover to White's River Hut, arriving about 1 AM. After a late breakfast we skied to Schlink Hilton for a leisurely lunch and were able to greet the other party arriving from Mawson's Hut just as we were finishing. Arrangements were made to rendezvous at Mawson's in the afternoon and there partake of a great feast of goodies.
So while Chris, Ian and Max opened their playlunch boxes we set off up the valley to the top of the Kerries. The weather deteriorated rapidly from calm and sunny at the hut to overcast and windy halfway up and long before we reached the pass we had on our parkas and were being buffeted by strong gusts of wind together with heavy rain and patches of fog.
There is an important pass near the top of the range where one must turn off and head north so as to drop into the correct valley for Mawson's and I missed it. Having severely underestimated our rate of travel in the mist and being unable to pick out any landmarks I kept on the E.NE course too long. At least these are the excuses I advance to counter the veiled references to Mawson's which seem to crop up when I enter a discussion on navigation. In fact, the week before I had met Wilf Hilder and party in the same area and skied up the Kerries with them before pointing out some directions and returning to the Hilton and dinner. Wilf and Co. then spent five soul-searing hours struggling with the topography of the Valentine's River before gratefully collapsing into Mawson's at 10.30 PM. But back to our adventure.
It was strikingly apparent that we were off course when a brief lifting of the mist showed a deep valley ahead and quite unfamiliar slopes behind us. Convinced that Mawson's lay to our left we began to sidle northwards hoping to catch a glimpse of some recognisable feature.
As we waited in the lee of a boulder and Bruce scouted ahead to a likely valley, there was a sudden patter of voices and Chris and Ian skied over a ridge into view looking rather surprised to see us. They had set out much later and when the weather became difficult had decided to keep following our tracks despite quite justifiable misgivings about the route being followed (Moral: never rely on ski tracks). They were expecting to find us at Mawson's in due course. They were also in a hurry because they had lost Max on the slopes of Gungartan.
Max had diverged round a hill for a comfort stop intending to rejoin them by continuing on round the side but instead had disappeared. Searching for his tracks they encountered ours instead and decided to follow them straight to Mawson's (Ha!) hoping to find Max there. In any case the conditions were becoming far too bad to hold any hopes of locating someone.
It was with mounting anxiety that the parties exchanged news, because like Chris and Ian, Max was carrying only a day pack with no food or bivouac equipment. Pooling our mental resources we were able to establish that we really did not know where we were but were probably still well south of Mawson's. To drop down to the Valentine's River and then follow it to the pole line was possible but meant a couple of hours of heading straight into the wind and rain. Otherwise we could travel downwind and aim for Tin Hut, relying on Roy's 4-man tent if the worst came to the worst.
One member harboured the notion that if we kept on going south we would find an easy way down to lower ground so you can see that thought processes were not running any too clearly. The weather made up our minds for us with a wind now close to gale force and the rain beginning to penetrate our clothing.
We headed downwind. A half-hour later found us crossing a large flat expanse, mostly wet to the skin and with spirits at a very low ebb. Suddenly there appeared a fence post and lo, up there on the hill was where the hut lay, just beyond the coppice of snow gums. We had managed to take exactly the right course and were on a direct bearing for the hut, more by good luck than good management as it happened. There have been parties in summer who have camped within a hundred metres of Tin Hut and not found it until the morning.
The hut was of course empty (overcrowding in huts is a myth) and once inside we lit a fire and settled down to worry about Max. I was sitting facing the window and could hardly believe my eyes when a spectre in oilskins glided past in the rain The next minute a knock at the door heralded the man himself looking quite cheerful and far less weather beaten than we had been. After losing the other two he had made a brief search, then had settled down with map and compass to plan a course, deciding that from his location Tin Hut was the best bet. It was an amazing coincidence (and spot-on navigation) that he also found the hut under these conditions.
Our gloom now changed to cheer, tempered only by the thought of all that cheer sitting in the packs at Mawson's. The hut rations which we felt justified in making use of were far less palatable. The mattresses and blankets were handy and we kept the fire burning all night for the comfort of the three without sleeping bags.
In the morning there was less wind but still quite uninviting weather. We returned to Schlink Pass leaving the second party to complete the trip to Mawson's and collect their packs.
Readers with curiosity may be wondering how Max could manage in one day two such conflicting performances: to be able to find Tin Hut first up, in near white-out conditions and to be able to get lost round a little hill. Well now he is safely out of the country in Saudi Arabia or somewhere, I can reveal it. It is all a matter of which way you read north on the compass.
The Sydney Bushwalker May 1975: Max Crisp, Ian Gibson, Chris Kirkby, Patrick McBride and Bruce ?.
by Kath McKay
A nudist down at Era Reclined upon a dune,
he crouched beneath his eyeshade
on a rainy afternoon
or peered through darkened glasses
At the fierce light of the moon.
He skipped from rock to sandhill
with a bath towel waving free;
he skirmished round the bushes
to dodge our company
What with all the interruptions
he was pale as pale could be.
Some said “He's just a moron”,
some “He should be run in:
has no one ever told him that nudity's a sin?”
O lordy, what a bother about a bit of skin!
The Sydney Bushwalker Feb. 1950
Reminiscences of Things
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 loquacious 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 I mean. I was not alone in my ideas. The famous fellow 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 un-sociability. 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. At 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 never have 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 mid-winter, I suppose it was the Queens Birthday weekend. For a lark I decided to place a “No Parking” sign on 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 Gentle's 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 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 was 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 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 Barren Grounds for nothing. It looked like rain so I had decided to pack my folding umbrella which I had bought I 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 dill?
But my greatest Thing occurred in August 1967. Over the passage of time, names fade, hours are eclipsed to minutes by the events are burned into my brain 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 Moon Viewing Party. I had been to one in Kyoto, and it was a good thing. I choose the Playground of the Dingoes on Warragamba catchment, just past Merrimerrigal. Everyone brought Japanese lantern, 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 Kangi 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 3 PM on the Saturday when the girl from New Zealand, our visitor on her first walk wit 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 al raced down the 40 foot 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 & 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 up all the lanterns at dusk and proceeded 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 9PM I was rather under the weather 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 & Rescue were notified at the same time of course, as originally planned. Paddy Pallin was holidaying at the 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 then that it was only a natural occurrence with such a leader as me. Two or three ambulance men arrived a little later with the beginning of the 50 or so rockclimbers who happened to be having dance in a cave at Linden. In fact, all night dark shaped were seen arriving marvelling at the Japanese lanterns and commenting on such a ridiculous set of circumstances. They finished al my mother's fried fish and any other goodies that were around. The police were led byme 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 nervious 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. Land 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 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 there on.
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. The 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 Ninon 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. Temis 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. A spot at the end of a long narrow flat ridge and overlooking the Cox River, a thousand feet 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 as flat as a pancake.
The biggest bonfire imaginable was set up with green branches to cause smoke to attract the helicopter should it 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 RAAF. 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 Royal 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 walk 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 Search & 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 be only too delighted to come along. No ripple soles of course.
* Dorothy Pike
The Sydney Bushwalker Sep. 1977. Barbara Bruce, Jimmy Callaway, Linda Campbell, Ian Campbell, Geoffery Chaucer, Jack Gentle, Audrey Godfrey, Bob Godfrey, Wilf Hilder, Nin Melville, Minister of Lands, Chris Norris, Terry Norris, Neville Page, Ivy Painter, Roslyn Painter, Paddy Pallin, Dorothy Pike, Phyllis Ratcliffe, Greg Reading, Judy Simpson, John White,
The Snow Bowl
by Frank Rigby
We stood on the summit of the mountain, the six of us: Margaret, Christine, Joan, Bob, Don and myself. The visible world to every horizon was made of wilderness, ridge beyond ridge, peak beyond peak, the deep valleys between barely sensed in that vast landscape of dominating heights. Here and there a small lake shimmered in the sun while the forests and grassy slopes shared the gentler land the mountains could spare. There was, perhaps, even a surfeit of natural beauty.
The afternoon was advancing and my thoughts, as leader, turned to the more mundane question of finding a campsite for the evening. The chances were not bright. The route ahead along the crest of the range looked similar to that which we had already traversed: rugged, rocky, stark, treeless and completely dry, difficult although exciting to walk but impossible to camp.
I can't remember who saw it first but suddenly we were all looking with some interest. Just a short distance away, below the summit, the boulder-strewn crest cradled a small basin whose floor was covered by a bright green carpet. Silvery threads wove meandering ways across the carpet. What made the basin seem so improbable, yet so inviting, was the unrelenting harshness of its lifeless surroundings. To me, even at that distance, the place looked so enchanting that I would not have been surprised if a troupe of fairies had made a dainty entrance while I watched.
We hurried down off the summit, perhaps worrying whether such a pleasant and unexpected vision could possibly exist in reality. And why had we not heard of it before from walkers who had previously passed this way? But the basin was indeed real even if the fairies failed to materialise. The green carpet resolved into a dense grassy sward of fine lawn length and quality, admittedly damp in some places but eminently campable in others. The floor of the basin was dotted here and there with shallow tarns connected by narrow serpentine channels of flowing crystal-clear water. And here was another strange thing: there was no outlet for all this flowing water, at least no conventional outlet. At the lowest point of the basin the water simply disappeared into a hole in the ground, never to be seen again. From whence the water originated was also something. of a mystery because the rocky rim seemed utterly dry.
Of course it was not really a snow bowl at all, not when we were there in that late December. In truth there was but one snowdrift still defying the summer sun. But in my imagination I tried to visualise the place as it would surely be in winter; and I saw a saucer- shaped bowl half-filled with the purest virgin snow. The surface would be unblemished because no human being would dare to approach that rugged mountain fastness in that season; the terrain and the climate would protect this sanctuary from even the hardiest adventurers.
After three small tents had been erected I climbed to the rim to observe the effect. Somehow, the tents did not degrade the scene, rather they seemed to belong. To me they symbolised the temporary presence of intelligent and receptive beings who could appreciate Nature's masterpiece. I suppose I was reminded of the night sky when the stars are brilliant - would it be quite the same if there were no one to gaze up in wonder?
Although some sort of a fire would have been possible with the small twisted branches of the heath around the edges, we determined not to light one because its remains would have left a scar indeed, there was not the slightest evidence that anyone had ever camped there before, at least not for a long time. Instead, we cooked on stoves until Christine called us over to the south-west side of the bowl. As if our campsite were not enough, Nature now proceeded to mount a display I shall never forget.
The sunset seemed to go on and on as if reluctant to shed its glory. I would guess that, from the first tinge of gold to the final fiery red, a full hour must have elapsed. Perhaps that is not surprising in those southern latitudes at midsummer. But it was not just the sky that held our breath; the landscape below more than played its part. From our lofty perch, the tiers upon tiers of peaks and ridges, ever changing with light and colour, formed a superb foreground.
According to Nature's law there is a serpent in every paradise. In our Snow Bowl he proved to be the mosquitoes, but this was a small price to pay. Another potential serpent could be its partial exposure to the south-west from which so much nasty weather in these parts originates. Fortunately for us, we had no cause to worry during our one-night stay.
It is now more than six years since we stumbled upon the Snow Bowl. I have not been back. I hesitate in case it is not the same in which case my memories would collapse in ruins. Have uncaring human beings marred its pristine beauty? Has Nature herself, in some cataclysmic mood, altered it beyond my recognition? I do not know and I may, never know. I wonder if that's the way it ought to be.
Author's Note: The Snow Bowl is a real place in an Australian national park. Perhaps some readers may guess its location; perhaps others do not want to know, preferring instead to imagine it to be wherever they wish. I hope that my companions of December 1979, four of whom were, and still are, S.B.W. members, retain happy memories of a shared experience in a very special place.
The Sydney Bushwalker Aug. 1986: Margaret Bentley, Bob Hodgson, Christine Perrers, Frank Rigby, Joan Rigby and Don Shepherd
The Rains Came
It rained and rained and rained,
The average fall was well maintained,
And when the tracks were simply bogs
It started raining cats and dogs.
After a drought of half an hour
We had a most refreshing shower,
And then most curious thing of all
A gentle rain began to fall.
Next day but one was fairly dry
Save for one deluge from the sky
Which wetted the party to the skin
And then at last the rain set in.
The Sydney Bushwalker Sep. 1986, this poem was obtained from the notice board at the Franz Joseph Glacier information centre in New Zealand by Malcolm McGregor
Hilltop to Katoomba via Bimlow Tableland
by Fazeley Read.
The reason I don't write up trips is that I'm never entirely sure where we went, when it is all over, so this may not exactly be the walkers' companion guide from Hilltop to Katoomba.
The 5.35 PM train trip was a relaxing way to avoid Easter traffic on Thursday night. Two hours later we were met by Bob and Jeff Niven whose table top truck transported us to Hilltop, some twenty kilometres distance, a breezy trip. A fading Easter moon provided sufficient light for a two hour walk to our first campsite on the Nattai River. As was the pattern for the next four mornings, Bob Niven rose pre-dawn and noiselessly lit the fire, a most considerate fire lighter. This enabled us to begin walking at about seven o'clock each morning, and make camp around four o'clock in the afternoon.
Humidity caused Friday's walking to be an enervating business. Bill's earlier reconnoitre trips provided us with an easier route over Belloon Pass, avoiding most of Travis Gully. We wandered along open countryside, popular with kangaroos, mostly along fire trails where we enjoyed clear views to the south up the Wollondilly Valley to Bonnum Pic. The campsite that night on the bank of the Tonalli River was excellent, as promised plenty of space to park away from snoring and other nocturnal noises.
The following day, Saturday, we climbed through a pass to the Tonalli Tableland, about five hundred metres or so. On an insignificant stone, one of thousands on the Tableland, we were surprised to see the date 1939 and the initials A.H. and W.H. engraved as if by a professional stonemason with time to spare. What was their story, we wondered. After a wet lunch at Bob Higgins Creek we headed down into the gloomy depths of Lacy's Creek, made even gloomier by heavy rain, slippery rocks and logs, and bloodthirsty leeches thrown in for good measure. For recently arrived Ruth, this was a first encounter with these creatures, but she took it with the aplomb one might expect of a Kiwi. (She did say she would rather have any number of N.Z. sandflies, however.)
Round the corner from The Prow, at about four o'clock, Bill declared a halt. Life seemed much more cheerful for the donning of thermal underwear and woollen jumpers. With the warmth of a substantial fire and a hot drink in your hand, you could even grow to like Lacy's Creek. Rain eased so that we could eat in comfort, but it soon began again, rather relentlessly. What better sound is there than rain on a faithful fly sheet?
The third day, Sunday, dawned with a clear blue sky. We continued along a kinder Lacy's Creek for about three hours before climbing up to the Bimlow Tableland. After some pack passing and rock scrambling (nothing death defying) we were pleased to see familiar territory Green Wattle Creek, Broken Rock Range and beyond to an almost imperceptible Katoomba. Quite a distance for the next two days, I thought. Having carried water, we were able to enjoy a high camp. After darkness the lights of Katoomba lit up the northern horizon while in the east there was the glow of a distant Sydney.
The fourth day, Monday, we crossed Green Wattle Creek and climbed to the Broken Rock Range. Bob Milne, who wishes to preserve his knees for later life, remained mostly at the back of the party, a stout, Grim-Reaper-style stick in hand. While descending a steep ridge from Broken Rock Range, Chris fell, injuring her ankle which immediately became swollen and painful. By dividing pack loads, and with a wonderful effort on Chris's part, we made slow progress to Putcher's Creek. It was obvious that Chris would not be able to complete the trip.
We made ourselves comfortable for the night around a fire. Bob Niven, a man of action, tossed on a few sticks, knocking over Bob Milne's billy of apples a common enough occurrence. Then he threw in a branch upon which Bill's brown nylon socks were innocently draped. Well, how's a man to see those in the dark? It took Bill a while to realise that the shrivelled objects being consumed in flames were his beloved socks. Well, Bill - life's like that sometimes! Bob's son, Jeff, said that, generally speaking, we had been let off lightly this trip!
The next morning, Tuesday, we rose earlier, knowing that we had a long day ahead of us. Team effort brought a hobbling Chris to the Old Cedar Road, Scott's Main Range Road, the steep Mt. Cookem descent to Cox's River, then on past the Kowmung/Cox's confluence to the beginning of the White Dog Fire Trail. Bill had already gone ahead to Carlons Farm where he hoped to arrange transport for Chris. Wayne and Chris continued slowly while the rest of the party made a dash for the 8.10 PM train from Katoomba.
The haul up White Dog, the thirteen kilometre scuffle along Narrow Neck in chilly darkness and the final fling through Katoomba streets were tough going, but, weary and scratched, we made it to the station in time. Chris, Wayne and Bill caught an earlier train from Blackheath.
So, in split fashion, an excellent walk was ended and thanks go to Bill for his organisation and navigation. We all hope Chris will soon be out walking again.
The Sydney Bushwalker, July 1987: Bill Capon, Ruth Hesslyn, Bob Milne, Bob Niven, Jeff Niven, Fazeley Read, Christine Scott, Wayne Steel and Janet Waterhouse.
The Virgin Queen
by George Carr*
The Virgin Queen was holding court,
she was a little beauty.
She gave the glad eye to the drones,
because it was her duty.
To carry on the family line,
a mate she had to choose.
Her mum had left her all alone,
she had no time to lose.
So out she flew into the world,
this lovely gorgeous thing,
and all the drones, they followed her,
each hoping to be king.
She flew so fast and went so far,
the drones began to fail.
But one young man with flashing wings,
was right upon her tail.
They soared around, up in the clouds,
a game of hide and seek.
But love is blind, he never knew,
she had a cruel streak.
For when he caught his ladylove,
up there, in the sky,
she ripped his little jigger off,
and left him there to die.
* from The Amateur Beekeeper, Jan. 1984
Judy O'Connor The reasons I chose these articles, Anyone can be a good cook and A tribute to the Silent Dignity of a Friend are because they are well written and capture two elements of bushwalking, humour and the emotional attachment to the bush, that most bushwalkers feel at some time.
Rather than chose a story about someone's trip which is usually a “reporting” style of article, I thought it would be thought provoking and enjoyable for people to ponder over the above two.
Anyone Can be a Good Cook
by Stuart Brooks
I am writing this in a cave. Outside, the rain is coming down at a hundred miles an hour - the wind about the same. This is our third day, and tonight will be our fourth night, marooned by the deluge.
The first day of our five day walk went according to plan and we arrived here for lunch. But on our way down the mountain, it started to rain and has not stopped. We could have tried to splash back to the car at Newhaven Gap but our chance of crossing Camping Rock Creek would have been remote. So we have stayed put.
A short distance from our cave is a large overhang. A short dash through the driving rain and we can take off our streaming parkas and roam up and down in comparative dry. My mate has gone off to take photographs - so he says. I think he is simply sick of the sight of my face, for what could you photograph under these conditions?
Confined to a small cave, with little to do, meals become the focal points. And thoughts drift back to other meals, and other cooks.
The best organised cook I have met was Frank Leyden. On a Leyden walk, you either walked in the inner sanctum, so to speak, or on the outskirts. The inner sanctum followed instructions regarding food to the letter, and those on the outskirts were allowed to do as they pleased about what they ate.
His meals were precise, predictable and perfect. If you had been told to bring along nine slices of bread, each four inches by four inches by 3/8 inch, that is just what you did - or else! Frank had an ingenious device of wire that cooked toast and cheese to perfection so long as the dimensions of the basic food were correct. This precision flowed through all of Frank’s meals, and walks, with predictable satisfactory results.
One of Frank’s regular walks was the Kowmung at Christmas which involved long swims. There were those who wanted to go along but who lacked confidence in the water so Frank conducted a sort of commando training in one of Sydney’s coastal rock pools prior to the walk. Full pack, fully clad, swim up and down the pool until Frank was satisfied you would make it. You can imagine the reaction of the locals.
I guess I would have to rate Peter Price as one of the good cooks. I can’t remember exactly what we ate but I can remember enjoying every mouthful. Price had a small repertoire of pathetically weak jokes. In these, there was invariably a seemingly innocent word or phrase that was laboriously developed to imply one of those five or six words that young mothers dread hearing from their eight year olds. Abetted, indeed encouraged, by people like Ron Knightley, every meal with Price became something of a circus. Under such conditions, you would have eaten boiled bracken and enjoyed it.
Yes, I reckon Price was one of the good cooks.
The most casual and unlucky cook I have met was Bob Duncan. When early on Saturday morning, the leader yelled: “Moving off in two minutes!” Bob’s frantic cry: “Cripes, I haven’t started to pack yet!” would invariably cut the air.
Rushing to the boot of his car, he would drag forth a crumpled pack and stuff into it a jumper, sleeping bag, groundsheet and parka. Then, turning to a big old box of tins of food in various stages of decay, some with new labels, some old and rusty without any he would blindly start thrusting tins into his pack muttering “Saturday lunch”, “Saturday dinner”, Sunday breakfast”, “Sunday lunch”, “spare” and “emergency”. It took him all of 35 seconds.
One tranquil Sunday morning on Kanangra Creek I was basking in the early morning sun, enjoying the view and perfectly cooked rolled oats with brown sugar and cream, half listening to the tinkle of the creek and half to Dot Butler and Wilf Hilder arguing out a technicality. It was one of those idyllic moments. It was, however, shattered by the emergence of Duncan who began to slurp his way through “Sunday breakfast” - a very large can of sliced beetroot.
But Bob was anxious to impress. One time he brought along steaks, marinated and wrapped in foil, vegetables and something else for dessert. Most of us had finished cooking and the fire had died down when Bob decided it was time to put his steaks on. Carefully, he buried his pre-wrapped food in the glowing embers and turned to carry on his discussions interspersed with the odd song.
It was a chilly evening and, bit by bit, behind Bob’s back, others were throwing sticks on the fire to get some warmth. I suppose you’ve seen the TV ad: “My God, the chips!”? Duncan was halfway through the seventh verse of “The cat came back” when he stopped in mid-chorus: “My God, the steaks!”
The most charismatic cook would have to be Bill Gillam. Bill was a blend of gourmet, wine buff, professional scientist and frustrated actor. Bill’s lack of thatch on his head was compensated for by a heavy, dark beard. With his high forehead, aquiline features and thespian leanings Bill, with a few deft strokes of the razor as he shaved, and aided by flickering campfire light and a bit of acting ability, could become anyone he chose - Abraham Lincoln, Sir Francis Drake, Van Gogh Roy Rene…
One memorable evening on the banks of the Wollongambie, Bill brought along a bottle of his best red and a large candle which he cut into about eight pieces and used it to light up the small rock face near our fire.
That evening he decided to be Profumo - disgraced Secretary of War in the British cabinet who dallied around with a young lady who was also keeping company with a senior member of the Russian embassy. The steaks were perfect, the red wine pure vintage, the entertainment five-star and the Wollongambie sounded like a Haydn quartet.
But, I hear my mate’s voice yelling through the dripping wilderness that it’s time to get the fire going and cook dinner. Fortunately, with parboiled sausages, “surprise” peas and “deb” potato, anyone can be a good cook.
The Sydney Bushwalker, July 1989: Stuart Brooks, Mrs Beaton (?), Dot Butler, Bob Duncan, Bill Gillam, Wilf Hilder, Ron Knightly, Frank Leydon and Peter Price.
A Tribute to the Silent Dignity of a Friend
by Brian Holden
It is ten years but I still remember you each time I pass your old place. For most of your long life your environment was created entirely by the random forces of nature. But, gradually that all went until there was just you. At first I gave you a respectful glance but with the passing of time, you seemed to draw me to you until I saw you as dominating everything around you.
I realised that in some abstract way you were communicating with me and it was a pleasant experience. As that is what friendship is all about. I do not suppose I was being too eccentric to call you my friend - my poor friend surrounded by an alien world. As my affection for you grew, my unease grew because you looked so out of place - almost like an intruder.
One day I saw that you were gone. I was told that you had to go as your space was required. “Required” they said coldly. Those few square metres that had been yours for all those years. I sensed that you felt the danger because when I looked at you, you seemed to look back at me for help - but I was helpless. I was helpless because the species I belong to has, to the misfortune of the planet we shared, formed a social structure which has a great momentum to invade the space of all other life. That structure has me trapped as I depend upon it for my survival. Pathetically, I can only hope that its momentum decreases.
Your removal was justified as every injustice must be. You could not feel nor think as they could - and that was that. If only they could appreciate that you could communicate in another way. You radiated pure substance when all around you was purely superficial. Why had they not noticed this? Maybe I noticed a quality which was not there? I do not believe so for there is another world inside this world which modern social conditioning has dulled the receptors of most men to. Tragically, while that conditioned rigidity dominates, injustices will be done.
Now what eulogy would be suitable for my defenceless friend? To start with I could say that from your great girth you were very old. I could say that you were probably born when Columbus was alive. That is the usual response to the death of those of your kind which have reached a great age - but I won’t follow that tradition. Why should I link your worth to some event in the history of man? You can stand on your own dignity. The coexistence of man is not needed to dignify your existence. It was undignified man who wantonly put you out of existence.
I would rather say that you experienced many, many magic days of peace which I imagine my spirit sharing with you. Sunrises reflecting off your leaves, cold winds and balmy breezes swaying your branches, afternoon showers washing over your trunk - and when the rain stopped, you glistened in the sunset. They were all much the same - those days - and yet they were entirely different. Little things made them so. Wonderful little things like the movement of insects and shadows and the changing of colours.
Those were the days when there was no white man anywhere in the land. There was the black man but he was different. He belonged to a different social structure to my own - and it gave him dignity as it let the land retain its. One day all men may see this and when they do they will live in real dignity - just like you did.
The Sydney Bushwalker, Mar. 1992, Brian Holden.
A Short Note on "K To K In A Day"
by Patrick James
There are a number of favourite walks that SBW have which stretch your legs and attract a fair crowd. The one I like best is the classic “K to K in a Day”. There are two bodies of opinion as to which end of the walk to start from. One group will say that to start at K is best because it is the logical place to start. Others will argue strongly that K is the only place to start. Both groups have valid points to their arguments. Personally I prefer to start at K and finish at K simply because the parking at K is better.
On this occasion I did the walk alone. Yes I know that you should always walk in company just in case, but this time conditions were most favourable. Besides I also knew that I would not really be alone or far from help.
Up with the birds and off to K before it got too hot. As expected I found a good parking spot where the car would be somewhat protected. The first part of the walk is relatively easy, just follow the creek downstream. All fairly simple but the were many times when I had to cross the creek. As you know both the creek and the river are not fit for drinking and you must carry enough water for the whole walk. The track is well marked and navigation in this location for me is easy, however others may have some difficulties. The most difficult part of the whole walk is along the river. Where the creek joins the river I turned right and kept to the right bank. This I followed until the next creek where I turned right again and followed the left bank upstream. This is a short and muddy creek which I followed to its head. From here it is a simple matter to take a bearing and head for K. Although its only a couple of ks to K there are many distracting features on the way and to walk to a bearing is, I think, prudent.
K was in sight. A great reward for all that hard slog. As a special treat I bought a sticky cake at the first Greek cake shop I came to in K to make up for my energy imbalance then off to the station. I bought a single ticket Kogarah to Kingsgrove and then settled down to wait for my train. The trip back was luckily uneventful as all good train trips should be. At Tempe while waiting for the East Hills train I saw where I had skirted along Cooks River. Travelling at speed and in comfort the cares and worries of the outward trip are quickly forgotten. From the speeding train I caught glimpses of Wolli Creek and some of the places where I had to cross it. Back at Kingsgrove the car was safe and sound as I had hoped; all four wheels and no flat tyres. What joy! Life is sweet. Home for a hot shower and a good meal with the satisfaction of completing “the K to K in a Day”. A perfect end to a perfect day.
The Sydney Bushwalker, Aug. 1993, Patrick James
Many people helped make this magazine, members, ex-members and non-members. The authors past and present are acknowledged in the text with their articles and in the index. The team that made this magazine is the same team (plus a few others) that makes every magazine, and is as follows in production and alphabetical order. Some people are mentioned more than once, they did more than one job. Some people are not mentioned at all. These are the people with whom I've had general discussions about the magazine or this Issue in particular; all good background for an editor.
The seven wordsmiths (and their decades) who read a decade of magazines to come up with just a few for publication were Dot Butler (1st), Alex Colley (2nd), Helen Gray (5th), Judy O'Connor (7th), Frank Rigby (4th), Geoff Wagg (3rd) and Tom Wenman (6th).
Next step was scanning of the text to get it into the computer for word processing; here Jack Herman, Tony Holgate and Chris James made their contributions. Once into the computer, the words were processed, errors removed and text formatted to produce a final copy ready for proof reading. With scanning lots of silly errors can enter the text and not be picked-up with spelling checking programs. For example the look-a-like vowels a, e and o can shift and make new, real words which do not make sense. The proof reading load was spread between George Gray, Pamela Leuzinger, Brian McConaghy, George Mawer and Don Wills. In this way only the editor had read the whole magazine before publication.
Next step was the printing team, an SBW cottage industry, who produced the printed pages in Alex's garage. The inky fingers belong to Kenn Clacher, Barrie Murdoch, Margaret Niven, Les Powell and Tom Wenman.
The stacks and stacks of printed pages are assembled by the collating team into magazines along the production line principle advocated by Henry Ford. The collators were and are Lorraine Bloomfield, Dot Butler, Bob Duncan, Rosslyn Duncan, Spiro Hajinakitas, Bill Holland, Frances Holland, Ray Hookway, Don Matthews, Tine Matthews, Margaret Niven, Fazeley Read, Dot Stitt, Peter Stitt, Geoff Wagg, Grace Wagg, Peter Yardley. The collators address the finished magazines with labels printed by Barry Wallace then bundle them ready for Bill Holland to take to Australia Post for delivery. Now while all this collating, stacking, folding, stapling, labelling and bundling is going on Frances Holland as Magazine Production Manager keeps a watchful eye on the whole process and at the same time calmly organises food and drink for 10 to 20 people.
Now that's how the 70th Anniversary, Special Edition, Issue No. 755 of the Sydney Bushwalker, was prepared, and with the exception of scanning and proof reading, that's how every magazine is prepared. All these people in the background need to step forward into the limelight and take a well deserved bow.
Patrick James, Editor, October 1997
first edition: July 1931
this edition: October 1997
The Editor knocked at the Pearly Gate,
His face looked worn and old;
He meekly asked the man of fate
for admission to the fold.
“What have you done” asked Peter,
“To seek admission here?”
“Oh I ran a monthly paper
for many and many a year.”
The gate swung open sharply
as Peter touched the bell
“Come in” he said, “and take your harp
You've had enough of hell”.
The Sydney Bushwalker, Dec. 1932, this poem was withdrawn from a Bank house journal by Peter Page and given to Brenda White the new editor.
Index of Articles and Poems and their original publication dates in the Sydney Bushwalker.
page author year
3 70 Years Tony Holgate
3 Put Your Best Foot Foremost Kath McKay Dec 1959
3 70th Anniversary Celebrations
5 Newspaper Cuttings and Extracts
7 The Wombat Denis Alexander
7 Untitled Song Jim Brown Sep. 1981
8 A Colo-Uraterer Venture Maxwell Gentle Dec 1931
11 First Perambulator to Kanagra Tops 1931 Miles Dunphy June 1932
17 Over Gangerang in a Hurry Tigers-All July 1937
19 Molly-Moo-Ma Clare Kinsella 1937
21 Five Returns Dulbolla, Please Ray Kirby Sep 1948
22 Both Ends of the Budawangs Roger Browne May 1984
22 Geoff Wagg: comments
22 Finding the Castle Kevin Ardill July 1955
24 untitled anon July 1952
25 Paralyser 1956 Jim Brown 1956
28 Phobias Kath McKay May 1961
29 Reunion 1957 Geoff Wagg Apr 1957
31 Frank Rigby: comments
31 The Walker's Bleat F A Blackman Sep 1944
32 Bushwalking and Train Travelling Jess Martin Feb 1967
33 Hymn of Hate Grace Edgecombe July 1938
33 Wildlife in the Apsley Gorge Dot Butler May 1967
35 Hot Stuff KA Jan 1952
36 Helen Gray: comments
36 Yet another Bungle Don Finch July 1967
38 We'll be Marooned Kenn Clacher July 1987
39 Destination Mawson's Patrick McBride May 1975
40 Era Kath McKay Feb 1950
41 Reminiscences of Things Owen Marks Sep 1977
45 The Snow Bowl Frank Rigby Aug 1986
46 The Rains Came Anon. Sep 1986
46 Hilltop to Katoomba via Bimlow Tableland Fazeley Read July 1987
47 The Virgin Queen George Carr
48 Judy O'Connor: comments
48 Anyone Can be a good Cook Stuart Brooks July 1989
49 A Tribute to the Silent Dignity of a Friend Brian Holden May 1992
50 A Short Note on K to K in a Day Patrick James Aug 1993
51 The Editor Anon. Dec 1932