A Journal devoted to matters of interest to Members of the Sydney Bush Walkers, Sydney, New South Wales.
No. 20 August 1934.
Misses Brenda White, (Editor), Marjorie Hill, Dorothy Lawry, Rene Browne and Mr. Myles Dunphy.
Our last issue was published just after King's Birthday, and most people have not had a long week-end since then, but a few “chosen people” (Civil servants, Bank Clerks, etc.) are just recovering from the lawyer vine scratches collected last week-end on Mt. Victoria Creek, on their way to the Grose River for Peter Page's annual pilgrimage to the Blue Gum Forest.
This was, as always, one of the happiest of trips. The party consisted of twelve, including two visitors and several members of the Coast and Mountain Walkers.
These combined walks, several of which have been held in the last few years in conjunction with the Hikers' Club of Sydney, should do a great deal towards fostering a feeling of good comradeship between Sydney Bushwalkers and members of kindred clubs. Differing as we all do in personality, tastes and opinions, the big thing that holds us together is our love and appreciation of the bush in all her moods and changes.
And how she does change! The site near the shelter shed at the top of Mt. Victoria Falls was the scene of one of the coldest camps many of us could remember, but when the next morning's sun was shining, it did not take us long to thaw out and to forget our discomfort of the night. We overlook Nature's “peculiarities”, and surely this should teach us a wider tolerance towards our fellow humans.
By the way…
Have you all seen Peter's latest addition to luxury camping the sponge-rubber mat in place of his original “hip hole”?
But it has one disadvantage it can be usurped by one's tent-mate, and when he weighs as much as '“Fruity Frank” it's a bit of a job rolling him off it. Ask Peter!
Some months ago it was my good fortune to be able to spend ten enjoyable days in the vicinity of Barrington Tops which, as most of us know, is the name given to that portion of the Mount Royal Range which lies roughly 70 miles N.N.W. of Newcastle at the head of the Paterson River. This is also the source of the Allyn River which joins the Paterson lower down, and of the Barrington River which flows eastward into the Manning and whose upper reaches harbour many a fine trout.
It was Vic. Thorsen who organised the trip and he appeared to have quite a few prospective companions, but, as it often happens, the number dwindled down until finally Vic and I were left to ourselves.
Vic had managed to obtain maps of the district and since our time was limited to ten days we defied the resolve of the “true tramper” and plotted out our journey to include the Allyn River, Carey's Peak, Mt .Barrington, Stewart's Brook and the Paterson River.
With light hearts and heavy packs, we arrived at Paterson, whence a Service Car conveyed us some 14 miles to Gresford. Walkers who walk for pleasure are not numerous in this district and we created much interest among the “local peasantry”. Many were interested, in our ruc-sacs; each passed the inevitable remark about the size and weight of same, and each gave us the same old tolerant smile when we said we intended walking to the “Tops”. As it was but 3.30 when we arrived at Gresford we decided to move on a little up the Allyn River before dusk.
The Allyn River Valley at its lower end has a quiet and restful appearance with its sparsely-timbered grass-covered hills. We followed a country road, which crossed the river at frequent intervals and at dusk found ourselves outside a picturesque little town called Allynbrook, where we pitched our tent on a grassy bank between the road and the river A few light showers had fallen and had given the country that exceptional greenness and freshness with which we are all familiar, and as our fire blazed merrily, we took the opportunity of cooling off in the stream. Returning to our camp we heard a voice hailing us and found a couple of timber getters at our fire boiling their billies. They were jolly fellows and we heard many a yarn before they finally left us, when we were glad to slip into our sleeping bags.
Next morning, although we were out at 5.30, old Sol was already up, and after another dip and breakfast, we continued, up the Allyn River, keeping to the road, which gradually becomes less worthy of the name as it approaches Mr. Hancock's farm, which, I might explain, is the last house on the way up the river. Mr. Hancock showed us kindness typical of the people in the neighbourhood and went to great pains to see that we had sufficient information to see us as far as Carey's Peak. Immediately above the farm we plunged into veritable jungle of tree-ferns and creepers, through which the river dashed noisily onward over a rock-strewn bed. Four miles above Hancock's the track leaves the river, and we climbed the Eastern ridge and continued northward and upward until approaching darkness and falling mists pointed to the inadvisability of continuing further. Fortunately we had considered that a dry camp might be necessary and had carried two billies of water with us. A small spur covered with dry grass and rocks was the best we could find in the way of camping spots, and we spent half an hour clearing a space six feet square to pitch our tent. During the night a strong wind blew up and our exposed position very nearly cause the tent to be dislodged. However, the japara stood up to bad treatment and we slept as soundly as our uncomfortable beds would allow.
We rose early next morning to find, the valley full of mist and the mountain tops partially obscured by swiftly moving clouds. Carey's Peak (5200 feet) appeared prominently ahead with the Allyn River fallaway on our left. Continuing up the steep track we were not a little surprised to come out on a saddle which had evidently been used as a camping spot, while crystal-clear water trickled from a spring on the side of a hill, only a quarter of a mile above our uncomfortable camp of the previous night. Choking down our disgust we made a mental note for future occasions, and passed on up the ridge.
We had been hemmed in by trees for some time and it was not until we had gone the last few yards that we realised that we had arrived at Carey's Peak, the highest peak on the “Tops”. Before us, through the thinning mist, we could see the Allyn River valley winding away towards Paterson, and even as we stood watching, the mist rose rapidly in great clouds to reveal a scene which would be difficult to forget. Below us was the thickly forested Allyn River fallaway, and occasionally there came to our ears the screech of a parrot, borne to us on the still air as though the bird were only a few yards away. Although the sun was shining brightly, we soon began to shiver in the keen air, and we reluctantly shouldered our packs and started off for the hut, which lay about three miles away and could be clearly seen. This hut has been built for the convenience of visitors to the “Tops” but is not fit to sleep in in its present state.
The top of the mountains from Carey's Peak appears as a large plateau consisting chiefly of swamps, but split up here and there by low tree-covered hills. These swamps are reputed to be particularly treacherous and must be avoided by strangers to the “Tops”. Fortunately, there was no snow at that time of the year, and except for the swamps the ground was covered with dried and fire blackened snow-grass. We pitched our tent on the Northern branch of the Barrington River with the intention of spending a day exploring the plateau.
During the morning of the next day we returned to Carey's Peak and took photos of the Allyn valley, although the mist made this a difficult task. Some time ago an infra-red photo was taken from this identical place and published in one of the papers. I was particularly impressed by the mists on the “Tops”. These had a weird effect as they whirled and twisted over the swamps, to rise rapidly every now and then into the higher air, but they have a strange fascination which I have never seen exhibited elsewhere, and one never seems to tire of watching them. During the night a dense fog hung about our tent and obscured everything but a few surrounding trees.
Having spent a day and a half on the “Tops” we packed up and started off for Mt. Barrington where our map indicated a trig station. Sure enough we came to a rise which proved to be the top of Mt. Barrington and from which we could clearly see the two arms of Stewart's Brook. We stood for awhile studying this full-size map and then followed a very steep track downwards, dropping about 3,000 feet into Stewart's Brook. Eventually we arrived at the junction of the two arms of the creek and our map indicated that we were nearing the township. At last we located the one and only store where we replenished our supply of food. From a bag safe the woman in the store produced a bottle of not-too-cool ginger beer with which we washed down some of the dust we had collected during the morning.
Four miles upstream on the South arm of the creek, we came to Mr. Rose's farm where we were greeted warmly. The people in these parts see very few strangers and are glad to meet anyone from the city. Mr. Rose often visits the 'Tops' on horseback and has caught many a fine trout in the Barrington River. We camped that night in an old hut on Mr. Rose's property and slept as well on the board floor as we would have done on feather mattresses.
On the next day we said good-bye to these good people - but not before they had stocked us with fresh bread and milk - and started off on the last stage of our trip. Two or three hours' walking saw us over the range and heading down a ridge for Boonabilla Creek. Words cannot adequately describe the hundred and one beauties of this little stream as it ripples over its boulder-strewn bed on its way down to the Paterson River. Try and picture the tropical denseness of what we know as “jungle”, with a clinging vine or staghorn adorning every tree; giant rock-lilies clinging to their limbs, and here and there a plant bearing tiny brown-throated orchids. But while the walker drinks in this beauty let him beware of treacherous stinging vines which hang shoulder-high over the track.
Then rain, which had threatened us all the morning, commenced to pour down, and our fairyland was converted into a veritable forest of shower-baths. Each fern or tree which we touched retaliated with, roughly, a gallon of extra wet water, and we spent the afternoon thinking out new, unprintable names for them. At times we would stray from the correct track and find ourselves floundering about, “kneedeep in nettles”.
The first farm we came to on the Paterson River was that belonging to Mr. Joliffe where we obtained permission to camp in an old hut which we had seen on the opposite side of the river. Unfortunately for us, the river was deeper and swifter than anything we had yet encountered, and frequent crossings had made us careless. I will leave out the painful details; but our supply of precious bread was completely ruined before we crawled out on the opposite bank. The hut we found unsuitable for sleeping in, and as it was now pitch dark, “things looked very black”, as it were. Eventually we came to a fence. Now, on the Paterson River people have a nasty habit of allowing their cattle to stray about the countryside, and we fondly imagined that by climbing that fence we would be able to sleep unmolested. It took some time to pitch our tent, light a fire with damp wood and prepare a meal, so that we were glad when we were able to turn in. But here lies the catch. In climbing that fence to avoid the cattle we had tumbled right into a cow-paddock! Being a heavy sleeper, I slept on blissfully until about 3 a.m., when I awoke to find Vic stoking a roaring fire and saying most ungentlemanly things about cows in general. He had been awake for hours keeping inquisitive cattle away from our tent.
Morning came with a clear sky, and the sun quickly dried off our damp clothes. Incidentally, we had tied our tent to a large orange tree, and we had oranges on the menu for breakfast. Continuing downstream we came to a farm where we purchased eggs and milk, but we were unable to obtain bread to replace that which had been spoilt. Gradually the road improved and also left the river, a feature which distinguishes it from the Allyn River road. We were so far from the river at dusk that we were beginning to despair of coming to water, until at last we came to the camp of some men who were repairing the road. They were good fellows and gave us bread and water. At first they thought we were “on the road” and were surprised when we said we were tramping for the good of our health. Our Sleeping bags created much envy and we received many inquiries as to where they could be procured etc. Next morning we left our jovial acquaintances and started out for Gresford. The day was extremely warm, and we were glad to accept a lift in a lorry carrying oranges to Paterson. The driver dropped us about five Miles out of the town, and we camped that night at the junction of the Allyn & Paterson Rivers.
At last we arrived back in Paterson again, and with our packs bulging with oranges, we stepped into a Sydney bound train, and so, back to the “big smoke” with our minds dwelling happily on the thoughts of a holiday most enjoyably spent.
(From Dunc's a Diary)
Rene Browne, Iris Rockstro, Ray Bean, “Ben” Fuller, Ninian and Wal, Melville and myself.
Saturday, 6th. Jan. 1934 Left Sydney 2.28 p.m. train, with heavy packs, Roxy's 32 lbs., Rene 35 lbs., and mine 43 lbs., while the boys' ranged from 50 to 56 lbs. We arrived at Mt. Victoria in a terrific thunderstorm with lots of lightning and rain, and it poured. all the way to Lithgow where we landed at 6.30 p.m.
It was raining heavily with lots of thunder and lightning when we climbed to the street level at Lithgow. There were crowds of people about and we caused quite a stir as we climbed aboard our chariot in the main street. The chariot, by the way, was a “Chevrolet” lorry of fairly ancient origin, with a ridge pole and a piece of canvas stretched over it. We had to climb in over the front seat and sit flat on the wooden floor of the lorry together with our packs. Ben sat in front with the driver, Mr. Young, (the best tempered man I have ever met), Ray and Wal sat on the floor at the back on what they fondly thought were some empty bags but which they very soon found out contained tools. Ninian lay full length across the centre of the floor, and Rene, Roxy and I sat on the cushion up near the front, and off we started.
I think it was the roughest road I have ever travelled, it is 25 1/2 miles to Newnes, from Lithgow and Mr. Young said it would take him about four hours to do it. There were great ruts in the road and then rocks to even things up, it was raining like the dickens and spraying through the canvas on us all the time. We arrived at Wolgan Gap just as the rain eased off a bit, and Ninian asked Mr. Young to stop while we inspected the Wolgan Valley from the Gap. It was pretty late but we had a very good view of the whole Valley below us, with Donkey Mountain sitting up like an island in the middle. We loaded up again and started down the side of the Gap on a road with a very steep grade and only just wide enough for the lorry. In one place we had to dodge by a land slide and in another Mr. Young and the boys had to get out and shift a tree which had been blown down across the road; there were pieces off trees everywhere, and water rushing in all directions. Ray and Wal were leaning out the back with the torch, carrying on a lot of tomfoolery about being in a boat, and every now and then we would go into a pothole and we would all slide over on one side with the packs on top of us. Mr. Young said he thought he had better go as quickly as he could in spite of the roughness of the track, in order to reach the west arm of the Wolgan before the flood waters got down, or he would not be able to cross. The track we were driving along was like a creek all the way.
At 9.30 p.m. we reached the Wolgan, Mr. Young and the boys got out and inspected the river and it was decided to give it a go. We drove into the middle, the water came up over the running board and the engine conked out. By this time the rain was coming down in sheets. With lots of thunder and fierce lightning, and the river steadily creeping up. The boys and Mr. Young tried all sorts of tricks to start the engine again, they held a ground sheet over the radiator and wiped parts of the engine dry, lost a spanner in the flood, took the fan belt off and fiddled round for about an hour with the engine, then tried to hand crank it, then they tried to push behind but still nothing happened. Just about this time I got a bright idea, and suggested getting out and making tea, the idea met with unanimous approval, especially by Rene. It was still pouring rain as I started off with their best wishes and a box of matches, and waded through the river up over my knees; the water was then coming down pretty strongly. I found a big gum tree on the side of the road and collected some dead branches off it, then Ray arrived with his torch and watched me make a fire in the rain with wet wood, a piece of damp brown paper and one match. After that it was fairly easy, except that I nearly got smoked to death holding my raincoat over the fire till it got strong enough to keep itself dry, but we soon had a pretty good fire going. When I took the tea down to the river, the water had risen until it was coming into the bottom of the lorry, so I stood on the bank and blew them up for sitting waiting to be washed away, till they all got out and waded across to me. By this time the flood was running so strongly they could hardly stand up against it. While they were getting across, Ninian came up with me and put the tent up under my gum tree. Ray wanted to put his up on the opposite side of the river, but they eventually prevailed on him to come across to our side. By the time we had had a cup of tea and were ready for bed it was 12.30. Mr. Young, Ray, Wal and Ben slept in one tent, and Roxy, Rene, Ninian and I slept in the other. Ninian rolled over against the side of the tent and got his sleeping bag wet, Ray and Wal were on the outside in the other tent, they also got wet, but yours truly was also on the outside and didn't get wet; it rained very heavily all night.
Sunday, 7th. January. Ninian, Ray and Wal up at 4.45 a.m., drying their sleeping bags, I got up and had breakfast cooking at 6.30, fried tomatoes and chops, porridge and coffee with bread and jam. Mr. Young had breakfast with us. When we inspected the lorry there was driftwood piled over the bonnet, and sand and rubbish all up over the running board. While we were finishing our breakfast a man came along in a sulky and stopped and had a yarn to Mr. Young, he said we should have gone up to his house for the night, but Mr. Young said we were quite all right and didn't need to go anywhere as we seemed to have everything for our comfort. Personally, I think Mr. Young had the time of his life, he seemed to enjoy getting stuck in the river. When we left him he was scooping the sand from round the wheels of the car with his hands, he had his trousers rolled up above his knees and was paddling round with a grin on, his old round face like a schoolboy. He shook hands with us all and hoped he would see us again sometime. I don't think I have ever seen a better tempered old man, or a young one either, for that matter; he never growled even when we got stuck in the river, everything the boys suggested he let them have a go at, and fiddled round in Roxy's raincape with his trousers rolled up above his knees.
We left camp at 9.15 a.m. and walked six miles to Newnes along a very beautiful road. We met a man on horseback driving some cattle and a pretty wild bull which went for Ben, who slid down the bank of the river and lost his towel. We were told afterwards by the chap who was driving the cattle that the bull was pretty savage, he had had, up to then, three fights with the chap who owned him, and the score was two to the man and one to the bull.
In places along the track the trees met overhead, and the ground by the side of the road was blue with violets and bluebells. We followed the Wolgan all the way along the floor of the Valley, and all round were sheer rock cliffs rising about 2000 feet; Ninian pointed out the old Newnes railway line on the cliffs in places. We passed a house about half a mile from Newnes and a little girl waved to us, and about fourteen dogs, more or less, barked at us.
We arrived in Newnes at 11 o'clock, where most of the inhabitants had already heard that we had been stuck in the river by the flood. Newnes is a very beautiful place as far as scenery is concerned, but since the works closed down two years ago, most of the buildings have gone to ruin. We went to the hotel which is a large house with a wide verandah with a dirt floor. I believe the only customer the hotel has in Newnes is the policeman, but he has now been removed and only comes to Newnes periodically to pay the dole, - nearly the whole of the population of the place are on the dole.
Rene, Roxy and I sat on the doorstep, and drank lemonade out of glass mugs while the boys had beer. The publican, who I am told is a Scotchman, though he sounds like a son of Erin to me, came out and tried to persuade us not to go on with the trip, he said it was impossible. He asked us if we had a gun, we told him we would rather carry its weight in sure food; he said it wasn't food he was thinking about, it was protection; Ninian told him we could kill all the snakes we met without a gun, and he said: “There are other things than snakes, you never know what you might meet in a place like that. You should have a gun and had better try and borrow one.” An old man also chimed in and added his word of warning; he informed us he was a Scotchman, and he had been in Newnes for 25 years and had never seen such heavy rain or the river so high before.
We eventually got away from them and made our way across the river over a very shaky bridge to the railway station, which is falling to pieces and the trucks rusting on the lines. As we were walking along the lines, the postmaster called Ninian back and told him we were mad to attempt to go down the Colo because it was impossible. We sat in the shade on the line and enjoyed the view, and Ray took some photos while we waited for Ninian. Among other things the postmaster told him was, we would not be able to cross the bridge to Mr.Wilson's place (Mr.Wilson is the mine caretaker and we had to call there to pay for some telegrams he had sent for us), as the bridge was under water. We came to the bridge which consisted of a big log over the river, and although the water was up to the bottom of the log it was quite possible to cross. We climbed the hill to a bench beneath a sheer wall of rock 1700 feet high without a break in it. On the way up we were hailed by an old man with long white walrus whiskers, who told us that the track down the Wolgan had been washed away with the flood and we couldn't get down.
The house Mr. Wilson live in belonged to John Fell and is built on the bench; it is a nice old-fashioned place with wide verandahs all round it, covered with vines; there were great big tanks on stands and an orchard at the back with an old-fashioned flower garden Mr. Wilson, Jnr., and two boys were sitting an the wood-heap yarning and playing with a pretty little black dog. They laughed at Ninian when we told them where we were bound for; they told us the road down the Wolgan to Binney's Water-hole was all right, but we would not be able to get past the Capertee junction. Miss Wilson sent us out a wash-basin full of apricots and a billy of yellow plums. We then went down the track to Shale Gully, opposite the shale oil works, where we had lunch of bread and paste, chocolate, figs, bread and jam and tea, and finished up with apricots and plums. Roxy and I had a bath in the gully while Ninian took the boys over and showed them the shale ovens and works. There are enormous ovens and chimneys with pipes everywhere and great big tanks.
At two o'clock we started up the side of the mountain to see the Capertee Valley, leaving our packs in the gully. Had a very steep climb up for about a mile, and obtained a marvellous view of Newnes and down the Wolgan Valley. When we got to the top of the divide, Roxy and Ray went on strike and said they would wait for us. The rest of us went across the ridges to the cliffs overlooking the Capertee valley and had a wonderful view down Green Gully to the Capertee. The valley looked like a patchwork of different shades of green with Capertee River like a brown snake winding down the middle. One patch was a very vivid green, and Wal said: “I say Nin, is that Lucerne or wheat, I can't quite see from here?” It was fully three or four miles away. He and Rene amused themselves passing ratty remarks for about a quarter of an hour. When we got back to the track Roxy and Ray had left, leaving the Scout's “gone home” sign on the track.
Arrived back at Shale Gully at 6 p.m. hot and tired after a six mile walk, picked up our packs and made our way across to the oil works, and about a mile down the Wolgan past a big land slide to a dry gully by the side of the road, where we pitched our tents at 6.30 p.m., after an argument about camp-sites, Ray and Wal picked one, I another and Rene the third. Rene's won. Boys and I made beds of bracken while Rene cooked tea, curried mutton and rice, stewed apricots and custard, bread and jam. We used the road for a table and sat round the camp fire till 11.30 p.m., Rene and Ben talked and sang, the rest of us slept.
Monday, 8th. January. Up at 6.45 a.m., breakfast, eggs and bacon, porridge and coffee. Discovered bacon fly-blown all except the thin end of the ribs. All the eggs in the bottom of my billy broken, that is, badly bent; Ray said we should have given him all the eggs to carry as he had never yet broken any on a trip (more about this later). Had a bath in the Wolgan which was running too fast to go right in. Left camp at 10.20 a.m., walked about 5 miles to the end of the road, passed two bee farms, lovely grassy valley with pink Pretty Betsy, blue violets and bluebells everywhere, also tons of grass seeds, great big gum trees and beautiful views of the cliffs on both sides. Track left the Wolgan and wound in between grassy foothills, ground lovely and soft with fallen leaves. Had lunch at Rocky Creek on an island at 1.30, very beautiful place, the creek split up and was running very strong and fast each side of the island, locusts nearly deafened us. Roxy and I had a swin in a hole while Rene got lunch ready, had smoked mutton sandwiches, bread and jam and tea. Roxy and I got wet crossing after lunch. Fairly good track for about two or three miles, through lovely smooth little hills covered with fine green grass and gum leaves and patches of blue violets in all the shady places. Saw a mob of brumbies who snorted and went for their lives when they saw us. Came to some rough going, Ray stayed down by the river and the rest of us followed. Ninian up the side of the hill, very rough and prickly. At last I got tired of scrambling up over rocks, so went down the hill and met Ray waiting for us. Ninian kept on by himself up on the ridge and caught us up later on. Arrived pretty tired at Annie Rowan Creek at 6 o'clock.
We camped on a beautiful big grassy flat on the bank of the creek, all covered with fine green grass, and shaded with lovely big gum trees, black wattle in flower and a few quandongs and kurrajongs, with big mountains and tremendous rock cliffs all round. The flat was about a quarter of a mile along the creek and 100 yards wide, and would be a marvellous place for a Christmas camp, if it were nearer. Annie Rowan is a lovely crystal-clear creek running over little round stones and sand. (Wal and Ray speculated as to what Annie was rowing). We had a lovely camp-fire. Tea, stewed mutton and rice, spuds, stewed apples and custard. Had a sing-song for a while and then it started to sprinkle. We went to our tents at 10.15, the boys were wound up and kicked up a terrible row in their tent. Ray said it would be a good idea if we had to perform an operation on anyone to use bull-ants' jaws instead of stitches; we could let them bite the edges of the cut together and then cut their bodies off, and instead of saying how many stitches you had put in, you could say how many bull-ants you had. We had a good night's sleep. (To be continued in our next.)
by Bill Reilly.
(with the “Rushalong Austens”.) 8-Hour Day, 1933.
After the usual procedure that takes place to have one's name put on the Board, it was fitting sequel that the test walk should have as its leader Mrs. Jean Austen, by whom I was nominated for membership to the Club.
Having an excitable nature, my week of preparation was rather an ordeal, because time would not travel as fast as I wanted it, food had no attraction for me and in my dreams I could see myself carrying a huge pack, must have weighed about 100 lbs., and walking miles and miles, with a leader always saying, “Come along, don't lag behind”. Eventually I finished packing on the Thursday night, to the tune of unpleasant rain drops on the roof, but still the trip was to go on.
Meeting Mrs. Jean Austen on the Caves Express on the Friday morning, we began our trip in a driving rain, and as we commenced to rise in the mountains, it was very apparent that the rain was still very wet, and falling as fast as ever.
We arrived at Katoomba in a fine drizzle of rain and the town surrounded in mist, so, locating Mrs. Austen's brother-in-law, a Mr. Thomas, we proceeded to Katoomba Falls, where we had lunch in the shelter shed overlooking the falls.
Owing to the inclement weather, the original trip of going down Nellie's Glen had been cancelled, so we proceeded down the Narrow Neck Road, to a small but comfortable cave. After preparing our quarters for sleeping we accompanied Mr. Thomas back to Katoomba as far as Neale St. and returned to the cave to have tea. With a meal of bacon and eggs to warm us up, we again set off for Katoomba to meet the 6.30 p.m. train from Sydney. The rain had increased, so instead of changing into our “respectable” clothes, we proceeded through Katoomba St. with our shorts, shoes, capes etc., and if you have not been through Katoomba dressed for walking before, you cannot judge the type of people that laugh at you, but most of the laughs came from hilarious little flappers getting off the train at Katoomba, to spend a nice quiet week end at one of Katoomba's quietest hotels “The Carrington”. Ha! Ha! Ha! we should worry, so to show them we didn't mind how much they laughed, we went to a most fashionable restaurant, dirty, and dripping wet, and ordered two malted milks and a glass of water.
Finally we made our way back to our cave and turned in for the night; but about midnight we were awakened by a torch light, and it proved to be two men and women, looking for a shelter, but as there wasn't sufficient room in our small cave we couldn't accommodate them, but eventually they found a cave opposite, if one could call same a cave, but they would be the best judges of that, because they spent the night there. Again we were awakened about 4 a.m. by another party looking for Narrow Neck, this, I thought, by the number who were trying to find it in such weather and at night, must be a very interesting place. But my thoughts were not confirmed until I saw it at lunch time on Saturday.
After breakfast we again proceeded to Katoomba to await a wire from Ernie Austen as to whether the trip was on. Much to my excitement we got “Trip on as arranged”, so now to purchase some lunch and we would be on our way, and looking up towards the Station we perceived “Taro” all on his lonesome, so taking him out to our cave we all had lunch together, and it was then that I had my first glimpse of the mountains, and if ever you could find words to explain the magnificence of what saw, they still would be insufficient.
Upon cleaning up we started on our way to make camp at Diamond Falls in preparation for the rest of the crowd at night. Bidding good-bye to the “Duke of Clear Hill”, we slowly ambled over the Causeway, to drink in deep the beauties that everywhere abounded. Arriving at Diamond Falls at about 4 p.m., we pitched camp on a dry spot on the Southern hills.
Several parties now began to pass on their way to various parts of Narrow Neck and Clear Hill, and the first part of the official party to arrive was Rene Browne, Dunc, Barney, etc., then Ian Malcolm and many others, until we numbered in all about 22. When tea had been completed, preparations were put in hand for a camp fire, when down came the rain, and it was the same shower that was raining until 1 or. 2 a.m. on Monday morning; so we had some rain on the mountains.
Sunday morning we awakened to a heavy driving rain and mist, and after breakfast we walked out to Corral Swamp, where Ethel Hansard was laid up with a sprained ankle. Continuing on we walked out to 2nd. Narrow Neck, where we passed “The Duke of Clear Hill” on his way home, and he reckoned that we should all be in Callan Park, but Jean Austen told him something rather warm, and we continued on our way. We eventually returned to camp without seeing a thing except mist, and stayed there the rest of the day. The party had gradually diminished, until only Jean and Ernie Austen, Gwen Laurie, Betty Bell, Don Gordon, Rene Smith and myself remained.
At tea time on Sunday we made the best of a slight pause in the storm to have our tea, and it was here that Jean Austen suggested that we should all give a silent hope for fine weather, and if one could only put into a photograph Ernie Austen's hope, he would have a permanent record of something someone nearly did, but not quite. Anyhow, we put it down to that hope that on Monday morning we were greeted with fine weather. Up at 6 o'clock we had breakfast and packed and were at the head of the Golden Stairs by 8.20 a.m., not knowing what we had to do when we commenced, the pace was fairly smart getting down into the valley, and it was getting down here that I began to realise why experienced bush walkers get such a thrill out of these mountain walks, and become more enthusiastic after each visit to these fascinating parts, and the enduring beauty of the shaded tracks and by-ways and the magnificence of the “everlasting hills”. I would just like to emphasise my phrase “everlasting hills” - not until you have followed in the path of the “Rushalong Amstens”, and completed Mount Solitary in one day, with lunch at Kedumba Pass, can you realise the exactness of the phrase. These everlasting hills and glens, with their thick undergrowth, ferns and birds, revealed cadences of beauty that must be a joy for ever to the walkers of this country. On our dashing way we passed innumerable brooks and falls, as clear as crystal, from which we sipped the water of life, and which allowed us to get up to within speaking distance of the “Rushalong Austens”.
Passing the track to Ruined Castle about 10 o'clock we decided to continue up Solitary, so after several hours climbing we eventually reached the summit at 11.25 a.m. and were rewarded with a marvellous panorama of Katoomba and the surrounding towns, sitting on a white blanket of mist.
Pushing on along the top of Mount Solitary, we found that the top was longer than was anticipated. The Austens had now told us that we were going to complete the trip through to Wentworth Falls, as we had been good children, and not lagged behind on the first part of the journey, and that now we would actually have to move fast, because we were not going to have lunch till we reached the Katoomba Creek, at the base of Kedumba Pass, at 2 o'clock.
Finally we found our way along the top of the spur going down, and I must say that to me this was the hardest part of the journey, as in parts we slipped and tripped and fell over rocks, and eventually arrived at the bottom properly fatigued, and ready for a good lunch, and what a lunch, the tea had more flavour than any tea I have tasted before, the honey seemed “sweeter than sweet”, and the cheese and devon sausage were better than ever. Being only allowed 30 minutes for lunch, we bathed our feet and had a wash and continued up the pass.
The weather had taken quite a change and a storm was brewing, with heavy thunder and lightning. We found our way up until it commenced to rain, so to cool off our bodies, we walked for quite a while without our capes around us. Arriving at the top we were naturally tempted to look back on our achievement and even then it seemed a dream, as on the journey we hadn't had time to think of what we were doing, but just walked to that continued dirge of “onward, forever onward”, so you can just imagine how we felt to be on top of Kedumba Pass, with no more hills to climb, except a little easy going road to Queen Victoria Sanatorium. We were then assured that it would be no disgrace to drive the rest of the way to Wentworth Falls by car, so we rang for the car and were allowed to change our things, and had quite a nice chat to the inmates of the Homes while waiting for the car, and it was only a few minutes later that we were at Wentworth Falls, so purchasing some papers and biscuits we caught the 6.13 p.m. train for home.
When all nicely seated, Ernie Austen produced a packet of cigarettes he had just bought at Wentworth Falls, and to his displeasure the packet contained only one cigarette, how generous of them to leave one cigarette there! Still, after we had cleaned ourselves up we awaited Penrith, where a nice billy of hot tea put a finish to a most marvellous week-end.
Looking back now upon our adventure, I feel extremely sorry we had to rush it so, because we had no time to absorb the beauties that presented themselves, and the rush photographs which I took I feel quite ashamed of, but still it had to be done. It had been set down for two days and accomplished in one, and I can safely say that it was the leaders who made it look so easy, and to emulate them, we have done something that is quite unique as a test walk, and which I believe has never been done before in the one day, in the direction we went, as a Club walk.
A Bushwalker, perhaps better than any other person, knows the worth of Good Companions.
In town not much is required of us to be labelled a Good Fellow. In the Clubroom it is easy to be pleasant and sociable, but in the bush the veneer of conventional good manners comes off with our travelling clothes and true worth is soon discovered. We once heard it said of a Bushwalker “A good fellow… the sort of chap to have with you when things go wrong,” - in fact a Good Companion.
It is when things go wrong that the test comes. Will he lose his temper? Will he lose his head?
It is much the same with camping gear. On an easy trip in fine weather any old gear will do, but let it rain and see what happens, or carry 45 lbs. in your pack and scramble through needle bush and lawyer vines from dawn till dark and let the westerlies blow from snow capped mountains. Then you will see if your cape and your tent, your rucksack and your sleeping bag are good companions.
If camping partners do not come up to scratch, we avoid them next trip, but alas: our pockets do not allow a too frequent change of camping gear.
In designing and making gear, Paddy's constant aim is to create Good Companions. Tested materials, proved designs, careful workmanship all combine to make the finished article the best possible of its type.
Oh! the Burragorang's a valley grand
Midst mountains of a purple strand,
Away out west where the Wongas nest
And a gentle calm rests o'er the land.
The men have tilled for a hundred years
The deep rich loam, which always cheers
The hearts of such as eschew the touch
Of a city's life with its trials and cares.
There are sunlit fields and flawing streams,
And flowers and birds; and it always seems
That here in the end my way I'll wend;
Again to the Valley - my valley of dreams.
And I'd rest there awhile near the river-flow wide
And list to the Voice for which I have sighed,
The voice of the Breeze, and the Birds in the Trees,
The lilt from the Bush - the call to her side.
Continued from Feb. Issue (No.17) by H. Chardon. [Harold Chardon]
Boxing Day - Cloudy. Up at five and away at six, for breakfast must be caught. We headed downstream and turned into the Shoalhaven at seven. Five rapids followed, the last of which we were able to shoot. Just prior to this I had a shot at a fox from the boat. He was hit but the shot were too light to do much more than make him yelp. We landed to follow him up and saw three more, but they were well out of range and loping away fast. I shot a rabbit and we returned to the canoe.
After passing our fifth rapid we had three nice fish so we stopped on a sandy beach near Apple Tree Flat for breakfast, the time being 9.30 a.m. Eleven thirty saw us again on our way, passing through river flats, the mountains receding further and further. Several rapids were passed, one of which we were able to shoot. We continued steadily until 1 o'clock, when we reached Bull's Flat. Here we met Jim Baron and two other chaps proceeding upstream on horseback. We yarned for quite a bit, then said good-bye and shot another rapid which brought us to our lunch spot on the left bank opposite Bull's Flat.
We have not yet shaved so are sights to behold. But as we are approaching civilisation we will have to part with our natural fly veils. So here goes: Shaving completed we held a council-of-war and decided that a camp here would be in the best interests of the meat supply. We bagged a rabbit each before tea, mine had hydatids so we had to use him for eel bait. Tea consisted of rabbit stew, apples and rice, partaken after a further conversation with our friends of the morning. We propose to make an early start in the morning and try the spinner for some perch. Ducks flew over tonight but I couldn't get in a shot.
Tuesday - After writing the diary last night we caught an eel. This gave us an excuse for cancelling our proposed early start as we now had our fish for breakfast.
The morning dawned clear and still, a few fleecy clouds in the sky and the sun with a sting in it. We loaded up after breakfast and embarked at 9.50 a.m., determined to stop at the first deep pool for a bath and a swim. This we did at 10 a.m., and played round taking photos till nearly midday.
Five rapids followed before lunch, the first four were shallow and had to be waded. The fifth was shallow at the start but narrowed and deepened, flowing close to the right hand bank. We were able to shoot it after wading over the start, taking care to avoid decapitating ourselves on the overhanging branches- of the casuarinas. Whilst wading through the sixth rapid we were hailed by Mr. Thompson of Burrier who was out fishing. He had the billy boiling so we joined him at lunch and found him a very entertaining friend.
2.30 found us on our way again, rapids followed in quick succession and the pools were fairly short. We were only able to shoot 2 rapids, the first just after lunch and the second just before we made camp (4 p.m.) at Yalwal Creek. Both these rapids were long and narrow and gave us a good run, the waves at times being level with our gunwales.
Yalwal Creek is a pretty little spot and the site of our camp, in flood, it must be an island, the creek having two mouths. The creek itself flows through an arch of interlocking trees and is quite dark for some distance up. Tea consisted of rabbit stew, followed by apricots and sago and proved very good eating. Tom has just built up the fire to get coals for damper and then early to bed for tomorrow we want to get beyond Burrier and it will be a hard day.
Mr. Thompson passed us again on his way home, just as we were finishing tea.
Wednesday - Up early, breakfast was soon an accomplished fact. Washing up was postponed till we had a further look at Yalwal Creek. It is indeed beautiful. We went up through two mirror-like pools with perfect reflections. Several large perch were seen but could not be hooked.
Back to camp and away at 9.40 a.m. We were lucky in our first rapid, which was long, narrow and deep. Several more rapids were passed and we came upon a cornfield and a deserted hut on the left hand bank; this was soon followed by Fletcher's homestead on Bugong Creek. We visited them and were given apricots and eggs, very acceptable gifts.
Mrs. Fletcher was Miss Rumsey before she married, so of course, knew Marj.Hill. Several more rapids followed till we came to the largest fall we had yet encountered a drop of about 6 ft. in as many yards. The blacks call it Cooloodoo, which we were told means treacherous water. From this point onwards the willows became quite profuse and the river flats became larger in extent, indicating that the river was somewhere near sea level. We were ravenous after our long morning, so stopped at 1.30 near a homestead on the left hand bank. After lunch it did not take long to reach the farthest point penetrated by motorists - Burrier.
We wandered up to the “town”, had a look at the school and hall from the outside, then went into the Post Office and asked for letter cards. Only one could be found and that was so old we decided to leave it their. The mail had just left so will have to post our mail in Nowra.
Mr. Thompson's house stands on the upstream side of the town and is rather a fine building. We visited them on the way back and had a long yarn. Their property was one of the first grants made in the Shoalhaven Valley, and has been in the family since 1816. Two brothers are now living there with their families. Whilst talking they told us of Ettrema Creek which runs into Yalwal Creek and suggested that we come down again and they would take us to their property there for some shooting and fishing. On leaving they gave us bread and more apricots. We were very grateful for the bread as we used the last of our flour last night.
More rapids followed but we were able to shoot them all. This brings me to our camp for tonight. We seem to have reached the tidal limit but are not sure. The river is still fresh but appears to be falling. The river is very pretty, the banks lined with willows and casuarinas. Just after landing we went out on the flat behind our camp and I managed to shoot a rabbit. The weather has been fine although there are signs of a break. A Southerly sprang up whilst we were at Fletcher's, and besides making the going heavy, blew up banks of clouds.
Tomorrow we intend going on to Bamerang and visiting Young's farm. Paddy Pallin was there on his trip and voted them fine people.
Thursday - Up about the usual time we soon made short work of a breakfast of ham and eggs and were on our way early. The day was coolish and inclined to rain, with a Southerly wind blowing. Tide were now a problem, and we had an adverse one to contend with as well as the wind in our faces most of the time, which made the going doubly hard.
Just after leaving Burrier the river definitely opens out, and extensive river flats make their appearance. The river, also, becomes much wider, the banks being lined with Willows. We paddled downstream steadily making close on four miles per hour, sighting Pulpit Hill and the private punt on the way. The latter was the landmark we had to watch for, with Young's farm the next on the right.
Eventually we sighted the buildings, ran the canoe into a backwater near some casuarinas and went up to make ourselves known. They had received Paddy's letter the day before so were on the lookout for us. We yarned until lunch time and then went back to the trees and made camp. During the afternoon we had a visit from the ladies, and talked until it was time to go and look for something to shoot. We had no luck so returned to camp and prepared tea, after which we cleaned ourselves up and went up to the house where we stayed until it was time to turn in.
Friday - We made an early decision to stay where we were for the day as the Youngs were going to Nowra in the car and offered to bring back supplies for us. It was a frightfully hot day and we spent our time loafing in the shade of the trees. About 5 p.m. we crossed the river after bunnies. Tom bagged one and two fell to my gun. While we were coming home a thunderstorm broke and gave us quite a wetting.
Saturday - The day started off clear and very hot, but as the morning advanced the sky clouded over and the wind developed quite a sting. With the tide nearly at the flood we started off for a visit to Saltwater Creek. This is a very beautiful little stream, but unfortunately some motor campers had used it as a garbage dump. The trip was well worth while however, and filled in the time until the tide was well on the ebb. 3.30 p.m saw us on our way down the now broad stream of the Shoalhaven with about 17 miles to Nowra. Nothing of note was passed until we rounded Long Pt. in Humbug Reach when we came upon a spearpoint pump about 10 yds. from the water's edge. We tested the water, and on finding it quite fresh, decided to camp.
Sunday - As soon as the tide commenced to flow out we started off and after a visit to Cabbage Tree Creek pushed on to Nowra. On arrival we paddled up Bomaderry Creek and reconnoitered the route to the Station. Lunch was the next item on the programme, after which we held a conference to decide what to do with the remaining day of our holiday.
Eventually we resolved to make the trip to the mouth of the river, a distance of ten miles. This we did as soon as the tide commenced to fall, passing the various islands in this broad, shallow estuary which is in reality the delta mouth of the Shoalhaven.
The bird life in this part of the river is really remarkable, and water birds of all sorts, from great lumbering Pelicans to the snappy little Mother Carey's Chickens, including numberless thousands of gulls, duck and black and white swans. We camped the night on Comerong Island which, by the way, is no longer an island, as the real mouth of the Shoalhaven now consists of a string of sandhills connecting the island with Gerringong beach on the North, the waters of the Shoalhaven River finding their way to the sea by way of a man-made canal and Crookhaven Heads. That night we made camp beside the home of Mr. Bice in drizzling rain, to the accompaniment of the droning of myriads of mosquitoes, the first we had encountered on the voyage.
Monday - We headed for Nowra and home at 10 a.m., and on the way helped ourselves to some fine fish at the invitation of Mr. Bice who had a meshing net set on the edge of the channel. The trip to Nowra was uneventful and once again we paddled up Bomaderry Creek to the railway line. Here we drew lots for what was left of the provisions, shouldered the canoe and walked the 100 yds. or so to the station, arriving just in time for a train. Unfortunately the boat had to remain till the following train, as the luggage van was not large enough to accommodate it.
Rain commenced falling again just as we were leaving Nowra, and we had the intense satisfaction of seeing it fall in torrents as we sat in comfort in the train and smoked our pipes. We had timed our holiday to an hour, and we were satisfied.
Vic Thorsen and I set off for Mudgee on the 14th. July by train leaving Central at 9.46 a.m. The scenery looking down the Capertee Valley is something worth looking at. The train travels nearly half way around the valley, climbing all the way to 3000 ft. Arriving at Mudgee at 6 p.m., we visited “Hollywood”, an eat house, and polished off the usual steak and eggs. Then we set off at 7 p.m. north, which puzzled me as our way was south. Soon turned west and about a mile and a half along turned in our right direction until we struck a branch road, stopped and talked over which one to take, and decided on the wrong one. Only went a few paces and struck a camp called the “Four Mile Camp”, a father and son camping there for 3 years for the benefit of the old man who had a nervous break down. They made us welcome, put us right on the track, and we camped there for the night, having a good yarn at the fire in a small hut.
Sunday - a very hard day on a hard road with nothing to see. We dined at Grattai Creek and pushed on to Coorangore Creek and camped with very sore feet. Monday we started with a 3 mile climb to the top of Tucker's Hill. Had a yarn with an old resident who told us about Mrs. Tucker picking up a big nugget on top of the mountain. Call it a hills! Well, Kosciusko is only a mound on a high range compared with Tucker's Hill. Dinner on top and a dip in a waterhole by the road. Vic kept nit while I went in, and then I took his place while he washed the tiredness out of his legs. Hargraves was reached at 2.30. Called in at the Pub for a ginger beer as they did not stock anything stronger. We camped near an old cemetery for company. These cemeteries seem to have some attraction for me, as it is the third one I have camped in; so I made my wife promise she would have me cremated so that I could not worry her after I am gone.
Tuesday we took a 4 mile walk to Mt.Anderson and saw where the Louise Falls sometimes fall over the rocks, but they were very dry. We had dinner and I washed about 6 dishes of dirt, but not a colour, while Vic went out shooting with his camera with better results. Back to the cemetery for tea and bed with the spooks.
Wednesday - raining, so decided to ride in the mail car to Hill End, much the same sort of country as Mudgee-Hargraves section, only Green Valley made a pleasant change. Then we came on the historic spot where 30,000 Chows had been camped - Tambaroora. I don't, know if the name is Abo or Chow, but the number of them made it Chinese, and they didn't all grow peanuts, as there were some laundrymen amongst them. They had washed all the soil off the paddocks and left the place a wreck. I bet the Whites had a bit of fun pulling their pigtails. Then Hill End or the “End of the World” was reached - a place all turned over looking for the precious metal. The paddocks are bare and only roots of the grass left. They tell me that the sheep and cattle in the early days used to have their teeth filled with gold biting into the ground to get at the roots. We spent half an hour in that place while picking up a bit of fresh food, and dropped 1500 ft. into the Turon in a 1 1/2 miles, like Badgery's Crossing. I could not stand the cold on the hill. Made camp right on the Turon.
Thursday - we decided to stock up for 10 days and push on. Vic volunteered to climb back to Hill End for supplies, while I watched a flock of goats that they did not eat our tent and sleeping bags. I did a bit of washing and found my first nugget. No luck with the fish, I could not lose a bait, so came to the conclusion that they had gone West to their winter quarters. As it was Dole Day on the Hill, Vic had to fight to get served at the shops. The storekeeper nearly collapsed when he put a £1 note down to pay for the supplies.
Friday - pushed on through what was Root Hogg, a thriving township of 13000 souls, with 26 pubs, and a public school. When they went they must have taken the town and level ground with them, it must have been all gold, as I could not see where they could have had a township. Struck the Macquarie River after 3 miles of walking and the road had disappeared from view, easy going until a good camp site was struck at 3 o'clock. No fish, no gold, so pushed on.
Saturday - passed 2 tunnels where gold was found, but now occupied by unemployed looking for gold. Saw the remain of a crusher with 12 stampers for reducing the stone to powder for washing. Plenty of rabbits but no gun. I think this trip would be a glorious one in the right time of the year, when the fish are about. We saw plenty of remains of camps and fishing sticks in the river. With Old Sol shining, a perfect place for the Nude Cult. The stinging nettle only just comes above the ground and is very rare. The water was a bit too cold for much washing. The poor chaps who were washing had to have a fire going to warm their hands after every dish they washed. Another great blessing, there would be no women to worry about popping around the corner catching you sunbaking. We were on a wonderful road, soft under foot, dug into the aide of the mountain and built up on the other side sometimes 30 ft. of solid stones, lovely grade, a credit to its makers. Then the road disappeared away from the river, so we left it and stuck to the river.
Sunday - was spent walking further along.
Monday - it rained, so we slept in.
Tuesday passed some wonderful rock formation - rapids and fall which stop the cod from going further up the river, a splendid fishing place with several made rods standing up against a cliff. We overstepped our mark and landed at Killenbutter Station. They could not show us where they were on the map, but told us where the road was, or used to be. They used another road via Fremantle, as they were on the other side of the river.
Wednesday - we tried to find the road and got properly bushed as I don't think there ever was a road. We got the ridge and walked about 5 miles along until we came out on a trig station. Only being two on the map about that part, it had to be the Black Mountain or Mt. York. We could not make it the Black Mountain, and Mt.York seemed too far from where we thought we were. So we decided to make it down to the river again and follow it up to the crossing near Fremantle, thinking we had a good distance to go. Hunger set in at 2.30, could not resist a billy of tea and scones. Splendid going along the river, the miles flew past and the road crossing was reached at 4.30, greatly relieved as I wanted to land Vic at work on Monday. I felt that I had led him astray up the mountain. Up till now we had not troubled anyone for supplies. We barely had enough to see us through. Called in at the first house and purchased a dozen eggs and half a loaf of bread, and we were eyeing two lovely Turkeys. If I had been nearer Bathurst I would have brought one home. We were offered fish and other food but did not want it. Hillside sheep station was just down the paddocks, run by Mr. Prior whom we met on Friday. He gave us a lift 7 miles along the way, and told us we were on Mt.York and we ought to have called in on him and he would have been pleased to put us up for the night. We had a wash and clean up at Rankin's Bridge.
Bathurst was reached at 12 o'clock. A good look around, pictures at night and train at 12 o'clock. Home at 6 a.m. Saturday after a very enjoyable trip with a splendid mate. Vic could not have been better, as he was always considering me, and covered about 20 extra miles to find out just where our position was.
There have been a great many small dances held in the Club Room lately, as the majority of Members seemed to desire them. These evenings are usually productive of high spirits and general enjoyment among those who take part in them. This being so, the Social Committee have arranged to have at least one such dance each month.
The 5th. Annual Field Sports Day was held in exceptionally fine weather and at a particularly beautiful location. This year we met on the banks of the Nepean River 2 miles or so from Emu Plains Station. There was a large attendance of over 70, and there was a particularly interesting programme arranged for their amusement.
The 2nd. Annual Bushwalkers Ball was held at Hordern Bros. Ball Room on July 11th., and was, like its predecessor, an hilarious evening. Both financially and socially it would take a terrible lot of surpassing, and the organisers deserve great praise for working up such a function. The decorations were unique and both artistic and most suitable. The Male Ballet of Bushwalkers received a tumultuous welcome and were without doubt the hit of the evening.
RENE D. BROWNE, Hon. Social Secretary.