Table of Contents
AUGUST 1999 Issue No. 777
|The June General Meeting reported by Barry Wallace||4.|
|The July General Meeting reported by Bill Holland||4.|
|Request for the return of SBW records||6.|
|NAV 99 Navigation Contest reported by Ken Smith||6.|
|Confederation Bush Dance notice of event date & venue||7.|
|Alex Colley's Birthday reported by Ray Hookway||7.|
|Some Problems With Coolana, letter by Elwyn Morris||11.|
|Taking Teenagers Walking by Christine Austin||13.|
|SBW photograph and Slide competition||14.|
|Wilfs Great Escarpment Walk Part 2 (conclusion) by Roger Treagus||15.|
|Vale Greg Bridge by Alan Mewett||16.|
|Budawangs. Pigeon House to Byangee by Libby Harrington||16.|
|Vale Bill Hall, Eulogy by Bob Younger|
THE SYDNEY BUSHWALKER is a monthly bulletin of matters of interest to The Sydney Bush Walkers Inc, PO Box 431 Milsons Point 1565.
To advertise in this magazine, please contact the Business Manager.
|Editor||Ray Hookway Telephone 9411 1873|
|Business Manager||Elizabeth Miller 1 The Babette, Castlecrag, 2068 Telephone 9958 7838|
|Production Manager||Frances Holland|
|Printers||Kenn Clacher, Barrie Murdoch, Margaret Niven, Les Powell, Tom Wenman|
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.
|Public Officer||Fran Holland|
|Walks Secretary||Bill Capon|
|Social Secretary||Elwyn Morris|
|Membership Secretary||Barry Wallace|
|New Members Secretary||Frank Grennan|
|Conservation Secretary||Bill Holland|
|Magazine Editor||Ray Hookway|
|Committee Members||Anthony Crichton & Spiro Hajinakitas|
|Delegates to Confederation||Jim Callaway & Wilf Hilder|
Alpsport front cover
Eastwood Camping Centre 9
Bogong Jack Adventures 3
Paddy Pallin back cover
U Relax 4 We'll Drive 10
Willis's Walkabouts 5
The June 1999 General Meeting
Reported by Barry Wallace
There were some 20 or so Members present when the president called the meeting to order at around 20.08. The call for apologies brought forth one response for Bill Capon, due to family illness. New members Helen Jones, Robert Robinson and John Slade were called for welcome in the usual way.
The minutes of the May general meeting were read and received as true and correct, with no matters arising.
Correspondence was comprised of a letter from Confederation providing a copy of minutes of a recent meeting, a return thanks from Hilda Turner, a letter from Frank Woodgate regarding Coolana and a letter from Ray Hookway regarding the purchase of a scanner and software for use in magazine production. There was a letter of condolence to friends and relatives of Jean Kendak together with a letter and donation of $50.00 to Australian Volunteers International. A letter of condolence was also sent to the relatives of Suzanne Garland. The club had also sent a floral tribute.
The treasurer's report indicated that we began the previous month with a balance of $15,525 and closed with a balance of $17,405.
In Bill Capon's absence Maureen Carter presented the walks reports. We began with a proactive apology for the misplacement of some of the walks reports submitted. Wilf Hilder's extended Great South Walk from the 10th. to 14th May saw a delayed start due to train problems. The walk was also extended somewhat for various reasons. Despite this they reached Yass on schedule and camped in the showground. There was no report for Ian Rannard's mid week walk out from Glenbrook on the Tuesday.
The 14, 15, 16 May saw Peter Kaye coping with some navigation problems on his walk out from Barallier. The party of 8 also encountered a cold change that brought a brief shower. They emerged onto the Wollondilly from Tomat Creek at 17.00 and the return to the cars at 19.00 was accomplished despite darkness. Alan Donnelly's Budawang walk involved a joyless cold evening huddled around the stoves on a high campsite. There was no indication of numbers present. Judi Jones and Colleen Hodder led a party of 12 on their Sydney Bridges walk on the Saturday in fine conditions on what was described as a good day. (See article by B.Bruce in July Mag.) There was no report for Tony Crichton's Sunday Blue Mountains walk although a body of opinion seem to believe it went. Phil Newman Jed his party of 19 through fine conditions on a mix of tracks, scrub, and cliffs for his walk out from Mount Colah, on the Sunday. There was no report available for David Robinson's Blue Mountains Sunday bike ride.
Eddy Giacomel's Saturday start weekend walk out from Carlons Farm over the weekend of 22, 23 May was deferred to a later weekend. Tony Crichton reported good weather after early overcast conditions for the 19 starters on his Saturday walk out from Pierces Pass. Morrie Ward had the 9 starters on his Sunday walk in the Watagan Ranges fighting off leeches and following the leader and his secateurs religiously (I think that's what they meant) -in some of the thicker areas.
Although the initial response for Carol Lubbers' weekend walk in the Gardens of Stone over the 28, 29, 30 May was a “no report” a conclusion gradually emerged that; yes it went, there were 9 people, and good weather. Jan Pieters had 6 on his walk in Ettrema Creek the same weekend. We are still wondering exactly what “a memorable walk” means. Will's Sunday walk from Bulli to Port Kembla was described in much less enigmatic fashion as 'good“ for the 9 who went along. Errol Sheedy's Sunday walk from Cronulla to Sutherland went alright but that was one of those reports we mentioned earlier.
Alan Wells' weekend exploratory walk in the Wollemi over the weekend of 5, 6 June opened the new walks program with a no report and Tom Wemnan's Saturday walk out from Carlons Farm was cancelled. Geoff McIntosh's Saturday walk from Otford to Waterfall went, but there were no details available. The Sunday walk in Marra-Marra National Park, led by Zol Bodlay attracted 15 starters and was described as a good walk with hotter than usual conditions. Maureen Carter led the other Sunday walk, at the opposite pole of the city, out from Otford. There were 19 starters but numbers fluctuated throughout with various comings and goings at the access points. It was described as a great day and ended at the pie shop. It's the tough ones you remember! Ian Rannard led the midweek walk on the Tuesday with a party of 9 enjoying a slimy day in the reserves and parklands of the Western Suburbs.
Bill Holland reported two 11 day segments for his Conducted walk in the Kimberley. There were 10 people, a range of conditions and at one Stage, Bill, standing pensively on a snake, all unknowing, while his companions fumbled to phrase the warning that would not make things worse. It all ended OK but we have no report from the snake. The walks reports ended about there.
The Conservation report indicated that we have lodged a submission on the proposed Grose Valley wilderness areas.
Although there has been a Confederation meeting our delegates, hampered by illness and business commitments, did not attend so we had no report.
The President reported the following committee activities to the meeting. The Coolana sub committee is progressing. It is anticipated the report will be included with the September magazine and a question and answer night will be programmed for 27th October.
Ute Foster has volunteered to assist with the sorting out of the archives. Committee, has discussed a letter received from the hon solicitor providing advice on competency standards for abseiling activities. A sub committee will be formed to review abseiling instructional processes within the club.
A new lens and an adapter unit have been ordered for the club projector.
General business saw passage of a motion that the club take out insurance cover through Confederation for Public Liability and Personal Accident. This may lead to a small increase in subscriptions next year, in the order of $2.00 per head.
There was no further general business so after announcements the meeting closed at around 21.16.
A Request for the return of missing SBW records
As reported in Barry's meeting notes, Ute Foster is assisting Bill Holland to organise SBW records for archiving purposes.
They have found that there is a dearth of records. for the period since 1994 and they request that former office bearers of the club conduct a search of their premises and forward copies of any SBW documentation they find to Bill Holland.
Records sought include: Copies of general correspondence such as letters to new members. Inward correspondence. etc. Confederation reports. Financial records ie. invoices, statements, (As an incorporated body financial records must be held for five years.)
The July General Meeting
Reported by Bill Holland
This article is published to bring the monthly reports up to date and make them more relevant, not as a comparison of literary styles. Ed
Your usual scribe had taken his pen to the snow country so President Eddy gave yours truly the task of recording the July general meeting and proceeded to open the meeting at 8-15 pm with about twenty members present.
Apologies were followed by an enthusiastic welcome to new members, Jennie Stillwell, Marie Rose and Robert Barrie. On to correspondence, nothing exciting, and the treasurer's report where a large rental payment indicated that we are either slow payers or the Kirribilli Centre is catching up on rental accounts.
Bill Capon was absent due to family reasons and was unable to deliver all those reports sent in by obedient leaders so Patrick James put his good ear to the fore and delivered the walks report.
The October long weekend started with Spiro's Mt Colong walk (nine members two prospectives) reporting cold conditions. It seems that late snow buried the note on the windscreen stating where car keys were hidden. This level of security is needed at Kanangra Tops car park? (Don't ask me I don't understand either! Ed). No report of Paul McCann's walk in Guy Fawkes River NP, Kenn Clacher had nine starters whilst Ian Rannard's walk (13 members), at Newnes, encountered really cold conditions on the last day. Eating at restaurants featured on Ralph Penglis' Sydney Harbour day walk. Beautiful scenery, lovely gorges and sore bottoms from a long water slide down the cascades were highlights of David Rostron's long excursion to Kakadu.
The reports continued; Wilf Hilder, spurred on by the chairman's grand prize of almond chocolate reported endlessly, a walk on each weekend and mid-week too! By this time my pen was running dry but I do remember something about Tony Crichton breaking his wrist (cracking ice in his swimming pool?), and the high cost of walking with Roger Treagus in Ku-Ring-Gal NP if you include the $61 parking fine that several members had to pay. Maureen Carter had 15 members on her Glenbrook walk on 4th July and Frank Grennan 19 members including 8 prospectives on his walk in the lower Blue Mountains on Saturday 10th July, starting at the respectable time of 10 am and finishing at 4 pm - definitely a lowering of SBW standards! Tony Crichton's walk on 11Th July attracted 22 with everybody confused by a train destined to go to Otford via Cronulla. Tuesday 13th July saw Ian Rannard, undaunted by a little rain, starting with 10 on his walk but 2 became daunted and quit early rather than endure what Ian described as his wettest walk since 1960.
Somehow the Confederation's Rogaining (Navshield) received a mention at this stage;(See article on page 7) 450 participants navigated their way through a part of Morton National Park. This rather upset the conservation secretary who pointed out that such events should be confined to State Forests Or Recreation Areas. However, it appears that the NPWS gave approval to ignore their own Plan of Management guidelines, so all was well.
On to the conservation report with letters from Govt Depts assuring us that all that was possible was being done to protect the environment. From the confederation report we learnt that access to Bonham Pic is still being negotiated and that Confederation (and SBW) are supporting a NPWS application for funding to improve the Coastal Track.
Then, finally to matters of general business which included advice that Duke Energy will close part of the Sassafras Road for the month of October. Unless you're travelling in a specified two hour period Monday- Friday you won't get to Ettrema, North Budawangs etc. This will still of course require Shoalhaven Council approval. We wait with bated breath. On this happy note the meeting closed at 9-30 pm.
Reported by Ken Smith
The 1999 Emergency Services Navigation Shield event organised by Confederation's Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue group was held on the weekend of July 3 & 4 in an area comprising Wingello State Forest, some of Morton National Park and some private properties, about two hours' drive south of Sydney. It was a very successful event. The base site was at a disused landing strip in the pine forest section of Wingello State Forest with some easy controls in the pine forest and the mid-range of the course in the native forest sections of the State Forest, some cliff-edge controls having spectacular views into and over the Bundanoon Creek and Tallowa Gully. The more distant controls were in, and on the southern side of Tallowa Gully in the Morton National Park with two sites overlooking the valley of the Shoalhaven River which in that area is Lake Yarruriga, formed by Tallowa Dam. In all, there were eight cliff-top controls of a total of 42, (plus three radio checkpoints), which was a bit of a luxury, but the spectacle was there to be shown off and enjoyed, so why not?
A total of 116 teams, comprising about 450 competitors took part in the events. No teams represented SBW although some SBW members as members of teams from other organizations used the event as an opportunity to test and improve their navigation skills.
The map was a printed A2 composite of the corners of four 1:25 000 sheets; Wingello, Bundanoon, Caoura, and Burner.
The weather was perfect, clear days and nights although the nights were rather cold with moonrise being about 9pm. At night the admin area was very adequately lit by a variation on the “moonlights” that came to prominence when used at the Thredbo landslide site.
The awards for the one-day event were presented by the local Police Commander and the awards for the two-day event were presented by Cannel Tebbutt, the Minister for Juvenile Justice, representing the Premier.
Results Points (The maximum possible point-score was 2290) Two Day Event Class 1 (top three) Springwood Bushwalkers 1600 Shoalhaven Ambulance Team 1400 Kangaroo Valley Bushfire Brigade 1380 One Day Event Class 1 (top three) Victorian SES Central 680 Wild Dogs Bushwalking Club 650 Berowra Bushwhackers 630
CONFEDERATION BUSH DANCE
Another important date to mark on your 1999 social calendar. The last Bushwalkers Confederation Bush Dance to be held in this Millenium will be held at the Petersham Town Hall on September 17th Why not organise a party?
Alex Colley's Birthday celebration
Reported by Ray Hookway.
Perfect winter sunshine bathed the rear lawn of 7 Terrigal Avenue Turramurra on Sunday August 1 where more than 120 people from as far away as Tasmania, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra assembled to help Alex celebrate his 90th birthday. Alex's daughter Frances, her husband David and Alex's two grandchildren, Louisa and Alexander flew up from Adelaide to participate but the prize for the longest distance travelled was to Heather and John White from Bridport Tasmania. Colin and Jane Putt popped in briefly, to wish Alex congratulations, en route to the hospital where Colin was programmed to have a hip replacement operation.
Newer members who attended, aided by the stick-on name tags, were able to put faces to the names of many past members that regularly come up in club conversation and club magazine articles, and the number of octogenarians and nonagenarians members present was a good advertisement for the healthy benefits of bushwalking.
Shirley Dean did a marvellous job of organising and supervising the smooth running of the proceedings assisted by willing volunteers.
Gourmet Chef Spiro excelled himself preparing and serving eight delicious legs of lamb, cooked on efficiently tended three Webbers by stoker Barry Wallace, grilled seasoned. The lamb was accompanied by beautiful salads and other trimmings followed by fruit and cake provided by many of Alex's`younger friends.
Helen (Rowen) Goldstraw stayed up late Saturday evening at the Austin's putting the finishing touches to several delicious chocolate cakes including two large ones in the shape of the numbers 9 and 0 decorated with large edible Flannel Flowers. These took hours to produce but minutes to consume. Short congratulatory speeches from our President Eddy, Colong Foundation's Keith Muir and Shirley Dean outlined Alex's past and, continuing contribution to the club and to the general conservation movement, Alex's daughter Frances spoke of her happy childhood with her parents. Alex responded to the speeches, Happy Birthday was played by Frances' niece, Georgia Hart, on the Flute and Helen's son Geoffrey Goldstraw on the cello, the candles were blown out, the cake was cut and Alex was toasted with Champagne.
A beautiful large birthday card containing one of Henry Gold's superb black and white photos of the central Budawangs, was presented to Alex by Henry, and was soon full of the signatures and best wishes of the gathering.
It was obvious that everyone had a most enjoyable day and in particular, the guest of honour. Congratulations Alex on reaching your 90th year in such an active and useful state and many thanks to all of those people who happily contributed to making the event so enjoyable and successful.
Letter to the Editor
Some Problems With Coolana
by Elwyn Morris
This letter is the only one received by me favouring a possible future sale of Coolana and for that reason it is printed in its entirety. It raises most of the matters being discussed by members and should be read in conjunction with the letters and articles on the subject in the April issue. Ed
The Club owns an 140-acre property, Coolana, in the Kangaroo Valley. If as is being proposed at the moment, a Voluntary Conservation-area Agreement (VCA) is made with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, with the agreement only being able to be rescinded by the Minister for the Environment an unlikely scenario this would greatly affect the value of the Club's most valuable possession. If only PART of the property is covered by a VCA, this would help protect its value for the future (rated by one local estate agent as round $200,000), but only if space is left for a house and garden. A partial VCA would also allow SBW itself to make improvements. A wide strip adjoining the track, and areas just below the cliffs (for a possible car-camping area) and from the hut to the toilet and water source could be excluded from the VCA, so that the Club would be free to improve these in future.
Such an important decision should only be made after thorough investigation, with a clear statement of arguments for and against, then there, should be a secret postal ballot, of all members, to be counted by an outsider. A Special General Meeting would be less democratic as many members couldn't get to it.
There are some ongoing problems with Coolana:
1. OWNERSHIP OF RIVERFRONT. The most used and attractive part on the river flats is NOT OWNED by the Club but is only held on licence from the Water Board. If the Board decides to revoke the licence or open its waterfront land to the public, who can land by boat or canoe, the remaining bushy, slope owned by the Club would lose some of its appeal.
2. CONSERVATION. To make Coolana a true conservation area, it would have to be enclosed with a high chicken wire fence against foxes and other feral animals. (Foxes are currently being baited there). This would be very expensive, and cut across access to the river flats, the most used part. It could be argued that the large Morton National Park not far away is more suited to Conservation efforts, as Kangaroo Valley is primarily agricultural, holiday and retirement territory.
3. NEVER-ENDING WORK. The Weeds on the Water Board land need money spent and constant attention, provided by a small, willing band of volunteers.
4. EXPENSES. Rates come to less than $2,000 a year, but could be reduced if part of the property becomes coveted by a VCA. Maintenance up to $2,000; The Water Board licence is cheap, a Coolana fund, now, $23 338, was donated to cover expenses but this investment no longer earns much interest.
5. LACK OF USE. Only a small proportion of club members regularly use Coolana. Some of the original supporters are now deceased, and some older and less fit members can't carry gear down and up the steep hillside.
There may be several reasons for its lack of use a) It is not on public transport, with the only bus stopping 8km away. It requires one and a half to two hours driving from Sydney, the last part on narrow winding roads into the Valley. b) There is difficult access, down a very water-eroded track, from the car parking area, (which is on Crown land off club land), to the river flats camping area. This makes it difficult for older and less fit members, families, and those with much gear to carry. Reunions require a four-wheel-drive to carry gear. It is unlikely that a cash-strapped NPWS would improve the road, as it only seems to invest where profit can be made from visitors. The track's base would have to be built up, and bitumen put down to prevent erosion. (a very expensive process). c) There is difficult, steep access to the river, with only one tiny. beach, so that any canoes have to be launched from the Bendeela Ponds campground opposite. (c.1) It is not quiet at peak holiday periods because of this very large, free camp ground opposite, with easy road and river access, flush toilets and cold showers, and river views e) There are few walks from Coolana itself; driving is necessary, Not many walks take place as people tend to stay at the bottom once they get there. f) There are many other camp spots on the Upper Kangaroo River and its tributaries, free, on river-banks, with good views. There are also farms with campingQuaker cabins nearby, and two campgrounds with cheap campsites, onsite vans, and hot showers (g) Sewerage. It is possible that the Water Board may object to two hole-in-the-ground toilets in a water catchment area, composting toilets would be expensive to install. (h) Training Weekends. Though socially successful and useful, there is a possibility that some prospectives and new members don't come back because Coolana isn't a weekend walk. They joined the club to bushwalk, not to do weeding and maintenance. Some may also have expected a cabin rather than a hut with a concrete floor, totally open to the elements on one side, and a hole-in-the ground toilet 200m away.
ALTERNATIVES? In the early days of the club, there seem to have been many well-attended weekend camps in places such as the best Royal National Park surfing beaches like Era, and to judge from the photos they also stayed at youth hostels and guest houses.
To unify the Club, to attract prospectives and new members, and to allow easier socializing, some have suggested a house in the Upper Blue Mountains within walking distance of a station: a) As a stopover on Friday on the way to weekend walks b) As a base for day walks, which otherwise involves up to five hours travel and c) As somewhere for retired members to use midweek with a financial contribution to rates, maintenance and electricity. Costs range from around $100,000 for houses and $25,000 for land.
This will probably never happen, but it's a thought.
I shall leave it to others to state the case for keeping Coolana and making all of it a VCA, but whatever happens, a postal, ballot is in my view the only democratic way to decide, with an option to cover only part of it with a VCA.
PS Reading a 1948 Bushwalker recently I noted that 25 SBW club 'volunteers' attended an Era Beach cleanup (on a wet weekend!) and 32 on an Era fence erection weekend. Plus ca change! Ed.
I understand that the Special Coolana Committee report will advise that the Coolana Trust Deed states that any change to the status of Coolana can only occur by a vote of a general meeting after all members have been advised of the proposed change by letter 14 days before that meeting. Ed.
Taking Teenagers Walking
by Christine Austin
Participants - the author (x) years, Craig Austin (y) years, Dane Austin (17) years and Noni Austin (14-15) years.
Taking teenagers walking (from Katoomba to Kanangra via the Kowmung River in April) first involved some hard talking. Their mother, seeing their independence as the next step, decided that an extended walk in the Blue Mountains would be beneficial to their future spiritual health. Reluctant daughter was especially dubious about her need for spiritual insurance, but felt heavy pack carrying would be the worst aspect of this trip she really “should do.” Athletic son thought it might all be a big bore! Noni's first problem was solved by Craig escaping for the state-election weekend with an old friend, Ian Olsen, locating 100 Man Cave and hiding three days' food. They had a wild and windy night in the cave while Sydney was engulfed in election fever.
Easter Sunday was a drizzly and uninspiring day in Blackheath as we waited for the taxi to take us to the locked gate on Narrowneck. Surprisingly, it arrived on time and soon we were deposited in this same drizzle on the fire trail. We all smiled wanly as the kindly driver took our photographs. Soon we passed groups of young Duke of Edinburgh award students retreating rapidly from the Mountains because of the dismal weather. I listened for the first signs of mutiny in our party but didn't detect a word. Were they determined to be stoical? However, all of us were relieved to lunch at the cave on the western side of Narrowneck, our parkas dripping from the sandstone pegs. Approaching Taro's Ladders, the drizzle unrelenting, a surprising interest was shown as I described my first meeting with this memorable man at SBW reunions when I was a child. Even more interest was shown at the ladders themselves which athletic son climbed several times just for the heck of it. Pausing for afternoon tea at Kennel Flat a new problem arose. Armies of leeches assaulted us and with evening approaching, we hurried to Mt Merrimerrigal, knowing a campsite was there and hoping the leeches were not.
Gone was the convivial atmosphere which had permeated this campsite where we had spent our last night on David Rostron's Mittagong to Katoomba walk last May. Here, by a cheery fire glow, Wayne Steele had materialised from the bushes with wine and Tim Tams. Now all was cheerless drizzle, the loneliness more evident with last year's memories so vivid. However, the troops worked hard and soon we had prepared a three course dinner and with little else to do, retired to bed early. As the rain had ceased, there was potential that night for a sound sleep, but this was not to be.
About midnight, a Hitchcock-like howl awoke me violently and there was reluctant daughter, sitting up and pointing wildly to her back. “Leech!” she shrieked, to which I replied, “Impossible.” But she was correct and I flicked the intruder into the darkness outside. She settled back to sleep but this happened once more during the night. Life was degenerating rapidly.
By morning, with the rain commencing seriously, things began to look even grimmer. Noni and I found ourselves floating in the tent on a therm-a-rest island. “I want to go home!” she whimpered. I was beginning to agree with her. Craig and Dane, under their fly, were also getting extremely wet, so a conference was called. We agreed to pack up quickly and back track to a small cave on the western side of M. Warrigal, which we had passed yesterday. This cave proved to be a godsend. Wood, collected quickly by four cold people, soon became a cheerful, warming blaze and billies were filled by the cascading torrents from the rocks above us. Smiles began to return, but also a strong hint of mutiny. However,logic prevailed as there seemed little point retreating in rain when we were so comfortable in our four man cave.
Then a miracle occurred. Whilst eating lunch and contemplating a quiet afternoon ahead of the sun appeared. There was a mad dash for Splendour Rock and then another miracle! They were impressed by the view and the quiet splendour of the place. This was the turning point of the trip. That night in the cave, so different from the previous one, we chatted happily whilst watching the stars and lights from the Hampden ridge.
The next day, Tuesday, sun glinting from the rain soaked trees, we farewelled our cave and descended to the Cox. Now all was easeful walking, the bush looking all the more beautiful for the rain. Crossing the full and flowing Cox proved to be quite easy using care and we set up camp early at Konangaroo clearing by Kanangra Creek. The latter was clear and clean, diluting the muddy Cox below their junction. I was amazed at the changes to Konangaroo clearing, having not been there for twenty years. A impenetrable tangle of ferns, weeds and vines covered the river banks and no longer did it deserve the name “clearing.”
It was now Wednesday and reluctant daughter's 15th birthday. She climbed out of our tent, surveying Strongleg ridge with a horrible look. Surprising herself with the ease with which she climbed the ridge, we arrived at Dex Creek in time for basked in the sunlight and enjoyed a cup of an early tea.
At Mt Cloudmaker, I noted that they both showed, quiet satisfaction in having succeeded in this climb and then it was down to 100 Man cave to find the food. During the descent, we saw numerous colourful fungi, their variety resembling an underwater scene. It seemed that all the recent rains had produced this plethora of fungi.
Afternoon light slanted invitingly into the cave as I beheld it again after twenty years. Having such a wide choice of sleeping places was a luxury. There was a rush for the food drop, cunningly concealed by Craig. And here was the reward for all her efforts! A box of birthday Belgian chocolates, Lebanese cakes and mud cake. It was a cheerful night spent in the cave, eating the goodies and reminiscing about all the people who had made this cave their temporary home.
The good spirits which surrounded this evening extended to the following day (Thursday) when a navigational oops was accepted with great equanimity. From Campagnoni's Pass, we veered too far to the south and this minor blunder found us descending steeply, nettle deep, into Little Gingra Creek, then having to claw our way to Gingra Creek. Fortunately the old cedar cutter's road was seen faintly. and soon we rested under the spreading, boughs of angophoras on Gingra Creek, this incident behind us. Camp was made that night beside the clean and gently flowing Kowmung. Last year it had been muddied- from the bush fires, but now its clarity revealed every pebble. Greatly disturbing it was however, to see the decrease in camp sites and the corresponding increase in weed growth since last seen the river. All manner of weeds were growing in profusion - croften weed, cobbler's peg and that insidious moth vine. We surmised that this must have been due to the cattle removal.
Friday arrived and we wandered slowly along the river, watching the morning light glisten on the trees and looking for that ideal swimming spot. But- dark clouds, then drops of rain appeared. Sitting under the fly at the bottom of Roots Ridge, we marked time as the day was too far advanced to attempt the climb. We ate our last dehyd meal whilst athletic son lapsed into dreams of barbeques and exotic delicacies.
On a casuarina backlit by low sunlight shone with the full spectrum of colours - a bush Christmass tree.
What person could fail to be impressed by their first ever view of Kanangra Walls? And so it was with our teenagers. There was a gasp of genuine awe and amazement as they beheld the mighty drop Kanangra Falls was thundering down and with it in view, we ate our final lunch, while I reflected that the walk had been a great success, and the hardest part had been in the persuading !
Footnote: Recently Reg Alder sent me an article from the June 1955 SBW magazine. Into the Cumulus by Alex Colley and Brian Harvey describes a wet 1955 Easter trip from Kanangra to Katoomba. Their experiences were so similar to ours that it shows that things don't change too much. It also recounts how Max Gentle discovered the 100 Man Cave while pioneering a route under the Tiwilla cliff line in order to rescue his pack which had rolled over a cliff above the then unknown Campagnoni's Pass.
SBW PHOTOGRAPH AND SLIDE COMPETITION Wednesday 24th November 1999. $300 total prize value
For full details see page 6 of the May 1999 Magazine or the rear page of the Winter or Spring Walks programs. There will be a $50 gift voucher, for the winner of each category.
Wilf's Great Illawarra Escarpment Walk
A PERSPECTIVE Part 2 (conclusion) by Roger Treagus
So it was that on the next walking day Bong Bong Pass wouldn't show itself until we had battled our way up to near the top in sticky weather when we encountered a bridle track followed by a well used walking track. Summit Tank, our next point of interest along the escarpment was where the train line reached a high point near the cliffs. The tourists were let out here to look at the view barely 50 metres away. So worried was the Water Board that the tourists might pollute the catchment on alighting (what could they do in 50 metres?) that they got the tour operators to build “sheep pens” between the train and the lookout along which the tourists could be herded. I suppose the occasional free spirit who escaped the pens could be easily, rounded up by a blue heeler. The railway was being re-ballasted when we walked through with its oil sodden aggregate dumps, fettlers camps and motorised plant posing a much greater danger for pollution. Another great moment in catchment management!
The next day was long and hot. We now had to cross the valley of the Macquarie Rivulet to gain the southern section of the Illawarra Range.
This proved difficult as our 'concept' map did not correspond to established tracks in many places. The amphitheatre of the Macquarie Rivulet has a series of open green benches running 300m above the valley floor. Our concept route used these benches to run round to the southern side gaining the range again at Caloola Pass.
We descended Calderwood Pass and walked along the grassy bench contouring around the north rim and western wall of the valley to the Macquarie Rivulet. To reach public transport for the trip home we needed to get to Robertson on top of the plateau. The idea was to leave the bench at Macquarie Rivulet and climb through a pass, (if one existed), near Macquarie Falls.
When we reached the Rivulet in Macquarie Pass NI) the ranger there said he thought there was a way up although he had not actually done it, himself (how well do rangers know their parks?). The dilemma was that if we attempted it and failed we would lose too much time and miss the only bus. (For one of our party the bus was the only connection to a plane to London the next morning!) The unpleasant but prudent option was taken of bashing on along the many kilometres of heavy traffic along the highway to the Robertson bus station. After hours of pavement pounding we arrived to find the timetable was wrong. But darkness turned to light when after a couple of beers the bus to Wollongong with connections to Heathrow actually turned up.
Summer came and went before we took up the cudgels again in more pleasant walking temperatures. We now moved along a discontinuous bench on the southern side of the valley past the disused Tongarra colliery and onto the abandoned but intact Caloola Hut once the HQ of the Caloola walking club (the club was absorbed into the NPA). It was set into a sandstone outcrop on a glorious site with the Caloola Pass above and a coastal panorama below. The actual Caloola Pass could not be found despite our best reconnaissance efforts. The score was now Passes 4, Walkers 0. We beat a retreat to Albion Park via the beginnings of the “Osbomes or the Butter Track” Pass (another pass that we couldn't properly locate). It took an assault from the top of the plateau on the next stage, walking in from the famed Robertson bus station, to pinpoint Caloola Pass with the aid of a sketch map and reconnaissance info generously provided by Robert Pallin and Barry Duncan.
We stuck to the lush basalt plateau from then on via Knights Hill heading back towards the coast via the Barren Grounds. Hoddles Pass provides the access off the Barren Ground to Saddleback Mountain and Kiama. And once again no obvious way down could be located in the enveloping mists, at least not until some substantial bush bashing brought us onto a veritable freeway of a track below the escarpment at 951587 on the Kiama sheet.
The penultimate stage of the Great Illawarra saw us based at Helen and George Gray's property near Woodhill Gap at the entrance to the Kangaroo Valley. Day I saw us back on the Barren Grounds, this time covering the Southern section and Drawing Room Rocks,
On day two we walked the ridges adjacent to Wedding Cake Mountain as far as Cambewarra Mountain. This left a final stage to the Shoalhaven at Coolendel where, on the opposite bank, a link could, he made to the two rivers track running south to the Clyde.
The route was from Cambewarra via Red Rocks NP and Bugong Gap with a camp at Coolana (this may have been the first time Coolana was used as a camp on a through walk - would this be right?) That final stage was like all the others, never straightforward. This time it was the rain, light on the Saturday but solid on the Sunday, damping our anticlimactic arrival on the banks of a swollen Shoalhaven where I believe several drowned rats were photographed to mark the occasion.
And so ended an 18 month long event. Many people took part for one or more stages over this period and I got to know some of the stayers well. It was rather like all being together on a ship which finally found port after a long time at sea.
I thank Gretel Woodward, Ian Rannard, Brian Hart and Richard Dark for their enthusiasm and good humour in the face of adversity. Thanks also to George and Helen Gray who so generously provided shelter at their property including a range of luxuries (how about hot home made soup for happy hour), and to Russ Evans for his 4 wheel drive backup plus an under cover afternoon tea on the wet final day of the walk.
Mention should be made of the efforts of City Rail in ensuring that track work was scheduled on many of the walk days. The vastly inferior replacement buses were a nightmare for Wilf's best laid plans. However, the public relations expertise award goes to the crowd that operate the Robertson bus. This is Countrylink who apparently never talk to the foreigners in City Rail about the novel idea of having their Wollongong to Robertson service connect with trains from Sydney. The Wollongong Station master scored several brownie points in getting things right for us on the day.
Finally I extend a special thanks to Wilf leader, creative navigator and chief entertainer who over 18 months never wavered as a constant source of ripping yarns. Wilf is the only person I know who can walk into the bush on any bearing and have a track materialise in front of him, a talent fully utilised on the Great Illawarra Walk.
Vale Greg Bridge
Bushwalkers were saddened by news of the death of Greg Bridge, a leader with NPA and SBW, and a confederation delegate for NPA. He was 50 years old and died from a brain tumour. At the funeral on Monday August 2, the eulogies were given by his sister, also by Stephen Bennet of NPA, and by Rosemary MacDougal of SBW. Confederation was represented by president Jim Calloway, secretary Prudence Tucker and vice-president Alex Tucker. Alan Mewett represented the Bush Club. It is at times like this that we feel part of the great fraternity of Bushwalkers a bond that goes beyond the limits of club membership. Alan Mewett
Budawangs, Pigeon House to Byangee Walls
April 30 - May 2 Wayne Steele (leader), Libby Hanington, Helen Jones (prospective), Bob Milne, Wendy Lippiatt, Greg (visitor) Libby's Story
The heavens opened with a vengeance as we left Sydney for the Budawangs with thoughts of a damp campsite. However after a few four wheel slides on the road to Pigeon House, we were greeted with a full moon, clear skies and the other half of our party who ushered us to our beds under the picnic shelter.
We woke to a beautiful crisp morning for the ascent to Pigeon House and breathtaking views of the Budawang area and our destination Byangee Walls. We had a full day ahead so onward down Landslide Creek where we scrambled over boulders, depositing bits of skin on dense vegetation and collecting the odd leech or two. However we were rewarded with many flowering orchids and beautiful watercourses. We gave up trying to keep boots dry as we negotiated several creeks and the Clyde River, and eventually reached Castle Gap at nightfall. Navigating a vertical cliff by moonlight! Not a problem for Wayne, so we pushed and shoved bodies and packs through slots onto the plateau and our very welcome campsite where we enjoyed a perfect calm night. Clear skies, full moon, good tucker and great company.
Sunday dawned another perfect day for our descent off the Walls at Pickering Point. A new experience for some as we made our way down 300 metres of vertical cliff face With the aid of rope, surges of adrenalin, and much swearing, reaching the Clyde River for lunch and a very brisk swim. Our final challenge was Longfella Pass back to Pigeon House. This was unknown territory and we were rewarded by the sighting of a large cave filled with Aboriginal rock art in pristine condition. There is apparently a community of Aboriginals who regularly visit the Budawang area to keep the tradition of rock art, bush craft etc. alive. What a treat!
We arrived back at the cars in moonlight with a wealth of memories and well exercised bodies. Thanks Wayne for another exhilarating weekend and Wendy, Bob, John, Helen and Greg for great companionship.
Vale Bill Hall
As reported in the July Bushwalker, long time early club member Bill Hall died in Wollongong on July 21 aged 87.
At his funeral service on July 24th Bob Younger read the following eulogy. 'A long time member of the SBW and the Bush club died on July 21 at Figtree near Wollongong. Bill was born in Inverell in 1911 and was the youngest member of a family of several brothers and sisters. Bill is survived by his son Peter and daughter Fiona.
Bill became a member of the SBW in the pre-war years and was member of a group of very strong walkers known as The Tigers.
Bill always took an interest in the lives of fellow members and it was a delight to see his face light up when talking to their children. He also went out of his way to help new members and kept an eye out for any stragglers who were having difficulty. At river crossings being tall and strong he would carry the more fragile members of the opposite persuasion to the opposite bank. He was a reliable leader and members of his party could trust him to get them home safely and on time.
Bill would not sleep in stockmen's huts. He had this ability to fall asleep anywhere and there are many photographs of him with his back against a tree or pile of rocks in this condition.
On Sunday walks at lunchtime Bill liked to collect water and firewood to boil his billy for the midday cup of tea. On these walks he would collect any litter left behind by others and carry it out for proper disposal.
Bill will be missed by his many friends and our sincere sympathy is extended to his family.