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A Journal devoted to matters of interest to Members of The Sydney Bush Walkers, Sydney, New South Wales.
No. 26. August 1935.
| Miss Brenda White (Editor).
| Misses Dorothy Lawry & Marie Byles,
|Messrs. Myles Dunphy, Graham Harrison & Jack Debert.|
There is a Club that's known to me
Of perepetetic people who
The open air and freedom woo
By mountain top and tumbling sea.
Each girds his loins in shorts and shirt
- Though others chuckle and deride -
And bursts upon the country side
Away from city's dust and dirt.
A motlier crew I've never seen
When they're all gathered in a mass;
'Tis hard to say who's man or lass -
They're long and short and fat and lean.
There's Bean, a youth of reedy girth,
A lad of misdirected humour,
Who - now list to local rumour -
Sneers at every scrounger's worth
By writing verses long and awful
'Bout that hairy Whiddon bird,
The lout with appetite absurd,
Who snares his neighbour's food till full,
A being as you will surely find
The scroungers' king - a walking void -
Most hungry, large, and un-annoyed,
And eating things of every kind.
And then there's the Berts, so large and well known,
The “Der” of that ilk for his laughter's renouned,
For the rafters do ring and the echoes rebound,
While struggles the “Her” with the President's Bone.
Now in come the youngsters with Wiff to the fore.
“You are old Father William” the youngsters assert,
“You must have hiked first with Burke, Oxley, or Sturt,
But how is it still you're young as of yore”?
And Wiff just smiles and answers them then:
“Its Era that does it with fresh air and sun,
With football and surf and plenty of fun,
And I'm wiry and strong as the youngest of men”.
There's a red headed blonde - a hard headed Scot,
A youth with never a minute to spare,
Who never is known to curse or to swear,
But swore just once - taboos forgot.
The Aunt a mighty girl is she
Who dresses all in gray, alack!
From head to toe and front to back.
Oh Lord! why doesn't she wear khaki?
Now Aunt was away with the crowd on “O'Hares”
And at night time the talk to language had turned.
Both rudeness and swearing were generally spurned
And the Aunt held the floor 'gainst Jack Bolton's 'jeers.
When up spake the Scot with voice mild and meek
And recited at length - Aunt's face quite a study! -
Regarding that Stockman all sunburnt and bloody
Who swam with his steed through a ruddy big creek.
There are deeds that are sung 'bout Kowmung and Cox
That stand out as epics and are told in great awe,
Of trails that were trod which one never saw
And many were lost by bush, creek, or rocks.
There's a story of some who yelled themselves hoarse
When Tarro was lost with the girls off Clear Hill,
And they yodelled and called and searched with a will
While Harold perfected the strangest of “Morse”.
There are tales of the coast and Kanangra Walls,
Of sunlit waves and of tumbling seas,
Of the whistling wind and forests of trees,
And rock-strewn paths where the lyre bird calls.
Now fame on its scroll has the 'Rangutangs writ,
And Hippos and Jaguars and others who've reigned,
With Bargers and Foxpaws all closely arraigned,
Being well known for talking, their scrounging, or wit.
They all have their day and pass like the mist
'Neath sun's rising beams - for new members live
And they on the wane have but memories to give,
But their tales of the past will always persist.
Be this as it may, our Club's just as fine
As back in the days of its youth, for just
When the elders are stooped and starting to rust
The youngsters are eagerly toeing the line.
They're long, they're short, they're fat and they're lean
And their clothing would oft make a mendicant weep,
But they're Bushwalkers all with traditions to keep
And their spirit is young as it always has been.
Now Frank, he was a guide of fame and far renown,
And Harry was a younger guide who hailed from Christchurch town,
And Margie was a mountaineer, though this she did deny,
And Marie really wasn't, but she thought she'd like to try,
And they all wept together, as the rain it streamed down!
|By Marie B. Byles.|
We arrived back from the Mahitahi mountains to Condon's farm boarding house to find a huge gathering of people there. The new-comers were engaged installing a hydro-electric plant to work a new sawmill which had recently obtained the right to fell the timber over an area between Condon's and the sea. The hydro-electric installation would mean that Mrs. Condon would have an electric range to lighten her labours, and what it would mean to the forest the motor ride from Hokitika to Weheka had shown us only too well. When the New Zealand forest is cut down, it does not regrow itself like the Australian bush, nor does it turn itself automatically into pleasant pasture lands. On the contrary unless the blackberry and gorse are sedulously kept in check it becomes a wilderness dominated by these pests, a desolation not of loneliness but of man'a destruction, “a land of deserts and of pits, a land of darkness and the shadow of death, a land that no man passed through and where no man dwelt”. I asked the young surveyor if it did not give him a guilty conscience to think that he was indirectly the instrument of making that hopeless desolation.
The first night we sat down ten to dinner, to say nothing of the Condon family who fed in the kitchen. How Mrs. Condon managed to look after us all, I do not know, but she never seemed flustered or bothered. Of course every one helped, but still I cannot understand how one woman managed all that work.
The day after our arrival Harry went up with horses to bring our stuff down from the cache. The rest of us washed clothes! Towards evening the clouds gathered once again, and the rain descended. As I was still feeling pretty ghastly from the effects of carrying too heavy a load, I was not altogether sorry for an extra day's respite before setting forth up the Otoko Valley for fresh mountains to conquer. The only trouble was that the one day lengthened to six, none too long for my recovery, but sufficiently aggravating none the less. Day after day it teemed as only the West Coast can. One morning we had a flood. The creek at the back changed its course so that the house was practically surrounded by rushing water. To me it looked as if the farm would inevitably be swept away. But to my amazement the family were worrying only about the potato and gladioli beds. It seemed to me strange to worry about potatoes and gladioli when we and the house were about to go to destruction. But the Condons knew better. The West Coast river flats are so wide that they can carry off almost anything. They are used to floods; in fact floods are an almost daily occurrence for them.
The evening before, Frank had bet Marjorie that it was going to be fine; I am not sure which said which or whether Marjorie took on the bet in the first instance, but I do know that when the flood swept round the house Frank said he had won the bet, and Marjorie said he had lost it. Anyhow, the bet being two packets of chocolate Frank magnanimously preceded to pay Marjorie in my chocolate which all worked out excellently, because Marjorie would carry the choco1ate instead of me, and I would do the eating just as before!
On the sixth day, Saturday, the rain showed signs of departing, and it was decided that in the afternoon Frank and Harry would go ahead with Mr. Condon Junior and the horses, the idea being that they should make a base camp up the Otoko Valley, the next valley south from Mahitahi, that the following day Marjorie and I would hike over to Paringa about ten miles, be met by Mr. Condon and taken up on the same horses to join the guides.
Mr. Condon senior was going down with his dray to the “town” that day, and he offered to take us with him. Neither Marjorie or I are too blasé to reject the novelty of any new experience, even dray-riding, so of course we accepted the invitation with alacrity. Mrs. Condon thoughtfully provided us with cushions which we used as praying mats when the bumping seemed a trifle likely to disintegrate the human anatomy, and off we jolted, firstly through pasture lands and then through the virgin bush which in a few months would be no more. We crossed the Mahitahi river near its mouth. It was running muddy and deep, but the same blue-grey river rushing over grey shingle flats towards a grey sea.
We jolted and bumped along the shore on the narrow cart track to the “town”, two rows of brand new shacks erected by the timber company for its employees, a brand new store which sold chocolate at city prices, and oranges at 4d each, a rather alarming price for a Sydney person who prefers them at forty for sixpence, but a price not unduly high for New Zealand. The mill folk had been laying down a tramline and had taken up the roadway for this purpose, but when we came along they obligingly laid it down again to let us pass!
Opposite the mill-to-be was a weird kind of wharf in the process of erection, and beyond it again a weirder wharf still which has served the West Coast for miles north and south ever since the white man came there. It is constructed at the least unsheltered part of a very unsheltered, surf-swept beach. The beach is there partly protected by a rocky headline and is euphemistically called “Bruce's Bay”, though it takes imagination to find the “bay” part of it. The wharf runs out from the high land onto a high rock on which stands a derrick. This rock is connected by a rope with a rocky islet further out still. Obviously no steamer can come alongside, so the cargo is discharged into a surf-boat which is rowed in and held in place 'by means of this rope, while the derrick up above relieve it of its burden. When you remember that this is the only way other than horseback of getting stores to this part of the West Coast, you marvel, not that oranges are so expensive, but that chocolate is so cheap. You also marvel that the steamship company calls its boats by such inauspicious names as the “Storm” and the “Gale”. And you do not marvel that the “Calm”, I think it was, was wrecked!
From the wharf we looked down the long monotonous reach of grey shingle shore stretching as far as the eye could see. Behind the shore was the stretch of coastal plain, flat as the ocean itself, and behind it again were the mountains shrouded in mist. Around us were wave-worn boulders of schist, looking smooth and greasy like polished logs of fine-grained wood, and I could never make up my mind whether they were really slippery or only looked so. We tramped back by the track along the shore to the mouth of the Mahitahi, and looked through gaunt grey flax bushes at the grey sea breaking on the grey sands. Grey sands are not as lovely as golden ones, but they have a fascination of their own.
Frank and Harry had departed with Mr. Condon junior by the time we arrived back, and we packed our rucksacks ready to follow on the morrow. It dawned a perfect morning, clear and cloudless with a crisp snap in the air, and a dew so cold it seemed like frost on the bare feet. Mr. Condon senior put us across the Mahitahi river in the dray and thence we hiked along the main West Coast road, a cart track which is practicable only for horses except in the winter when the snows are frozen and the rivers shrunken, so that even cars may sometimes cross them. For anyone who loves bushwalking there could be no more delightful tramp than down the West Coast bridle track. Between Mahitahi and Paringa it passes through virgin forest land; ever and again clear rills come sparkling out from the dark mysterious forest aisles, dance across the road and ripple in again among the tree-ferns and falling creepers. We dawdled along pleasantly, Marjorie removing her boots at every stream and I taking photos and endeavouring, quite unsuccessfully of course, to impress her with my recently acquired geological knowledge which enabled me to locate an igneous intrusion when the pebbles on the road changed abruptly from schist to granite.
We arrived at the Paringa river about 2 p.m. The flats here are fully a mile wide and stretch in alternating shingle-mud-grass and stream channel. We made a fire to keep the sandflies off and dry my stockings. And then, while the clouds heaped up in the sky again, we speculated whether Mr. Condon or the rain would arrive first. At 4 p.m. both arrived together. We got on the horses and crossed the wide blue-grey waters, but the bottom of this river bed was smooth and easy compared with the upper reaches of the Mahitahi, and the horses gave none of those alarming plunges when you wonder whether they, you and the ruck-sacks are about to go bobbing down the grey-blue waters never to be heard of again.
The Paringa homestead had not been lavishly stocked against the possibility of a prolonged rainy seige, but there were sheep grazing in the fields and potatoes growing in the garden so, when the rain increased, we could regard the possibility of being marooned as simply another adventure.
We were not marooned, but it teemed so continuously during the night that Mr. Condon reckoned if he did not put us back across the Paringa river at once, it would be impossible to do so later, and as for the guides, well, even then he was doubtful if he could get them down safely. The Otoko is a more difficuly 2) valley than the Mahitahi, for it offers no exit on foot. You start up an the south bank of the Paringa, that is, the bank opposite to Mahitahi, to the aeroplane landing-ground and to civilization. You cross the Paringa, and continue up the Otoko, its tributary, still on the south bank. Thus in summer it is impossible to get out without horses to assist you across the rivers, and by reason of the rivers rising you may not be able to get out at all. Had I realized these difficulties at the time, I do not think I should have consented to the Otoko trip when there was only a week left, and the certainty of missing the Sydney boat if the usual West Coast rain fell at the critical time. We had now only about four spare days, so we sadly agreed to return, debating who was the most to be pitied:- Frank and Harry who had packed up all that stuff in vain, Mr. Condon who had wasted two days away from his work, Marjorie who prefers high-climbing and had given it up this year to go exploring with me, or myself who had waited six years for a holiday and had so far had only four days on the snow, ice and rock.
Mr. Condon put us back across the river whose waters swirled far above the stirrups, and went back to get the guides while we hiked tack to Mahitahi between sun and shower, often wondering, when the sun momentarily lit the mountain, whether it was cowardice or wisdom which had turned us back from the quest of unclimbed peaks. When Frank and Harry arrived back that evening they said that, so far from expecting us, they had not even expected Mr. Condon, and had quite resigned themselves to some days in a wet camp, for the sunlight that had occasiona1ly lit our pathway had never showed itself in the mountain fastnesses, where the storm had raged with unabated fury all night and all day. They had had a difficult time getting out, and once when the water was above his horses head Frank said he had all but made up his mind to jump into the river to save his life, but his foot caught in the stirrup and prevented him. They arrived lack wet and weary, but cheered by the thought of unlimited supplies of hot water in the Candon's bathroom to make up for some of the uncalled for cold baths which nature had meted out during the last twenty-four hours. Frank turned on the hot tap in eager anticipation - and cold water ran out! It was the last straw!
In the meantime there was precisely a week left till the date of my departure from Weheka for Christchurch and Sydney, and I did want unspeakably to feel my feet on the snow and ice once again; besides I wanted Marjorie to have at least one decent high climb to take back with her. So I decided - with Marjorie's full concurrence, for Marjorie, as I have said, is the most unselfishly obliging of people - to go back to Weheka at once, and from there to a civilized alpine hut whence we could retreat on the due date even if bad weather came up. Of course we wanted to return by aeroplane, but we found it was booked up for the Tuesday, and, as we did not want to waste that day, a horse and trap to Karangarua river, and horses thence, were ordered. Once again the moon rose clear and cloudless in a cold, bright, frosty sky with every promise of a perfect morrow. And once again we woke to the sound of rain! It was not serious, but clouds continued to hang over the mountains all day, a consoling thought, for mountaineers, although they frequent haunts nearer heaven than ordinary mortals are nevertheless no more angelic, and it would not have been pleasant to think that other folk were climbing when we were not. The horse and trap took us along the grey shingly shoreline where gaunt flax leaves flapped in the wind and the forest was bent low and compacted, and looked like hedges in old-fashioned English gardens. At intervals along the coast were shacks inhabited by gold-washers, mostly Maoris and half-castes. The streaks of black sand among the grey are prolific in gold and they wash it in races leading from the numerous streams. Some had cultivated small gardens in the thick rich soil, but for the most part, I was told, they are a happy-go-lucky people with the heretical view of household economy that money should be spent as soon as it is earned and without regard to the future.
We crossed many small rivers, the Mahawhio among them, the only West Coast river I saw which flows between proper banks instead of over wide shingle flats, but the one that remains in my memory is Steve's Creek, whose sinister, black waters swirled out from a dark, forested swamp. Then we emerged on the grey shingle flats of the Karangarua River, flats far wider than those of the Paringa, but nothing compared with those of the Cook's we had yet to meet. Here we parted from Mr. Condon, I with a double feeling of regret, the first part due to the loss of a cheerful person who had shared so many of our vicissitudes, the second to the fact that I would now have to travel on horseback. Each time I mount a horse I seriously wonder whether bumping in a dray across shingle flats is not to be preferred!
This was a pleasant enough road to ride, and I being the least experienced rider, was relieved of all luggage which the others placed on their horses fore and aft and also on their own backs. In due course we reached the Cook's river, and now I learned just why Frank had taken such pleasure in laughing at it from the aeroplane. This river drains the largest glacial region on the western side of the Alps, and is consequently full of treacherous quicksands in addition to the usual hidden holes lurking below the opaque waters. I followed the tail of the guide's horse and all went well, but a stranger not knowing the river's vagaries would feel very chary of venturing into those rushing, blue-grey waters whose gods have received so many human sacrifices that the shingles are painted red with what looks like lichen, but which is probably the blood of those victims. The Fox Glacier Hostel at Weheka lies at the head of the Cook's River flats. Thus, after crossing the main stream of the river as well as many side ones, there follows a seemingly interminable stretch of glaring grey shingles, followed by an even longer stretch of flat meadow lands. As we were riding up the latter in the late afternoon, the clouds swept off the mountains for a few minutes, and we caught a glimpse of the fairy peak of Aorangi, twelve thousand feet above, splendid, glorious and unearthly!
We left the Fox Glacier Hostel next day for Chancellor Ridge hut, which stands in lonely majesty on grassy alplands high above the broad sweep of the Fox Glacier, a pure white highway from the green of the plains to the regions of eternal snow. About two miles up the glacier we came to the famous ice-pinnacles.
“Not much this year”, said Frank disdainfully, “not more than sixty or seventy feet high. Most years they are ninety feet high!”
They may have been inferior to those in other years, but to me they formed temples of the ice-goddess, blue and silver spires gleaming against the dark sky; I could have worshipped among them for ever.
From there we passed under Paschendale, a scree-slope named after the fatal region on the French Front. Before the Great Earthquake these slopes were scrub-covered. Since then the whole hillside has been falling away continuously. And in the night we could hear the thunder of the bombs falling onto the glacier moraine from the heights above. Paschemdale is a dangerous spot and one does not linger long beneath it, but like many dangerous things it is tempting, for it brings down fresh-faced geological specimens of immunerable 3) varieties all ready broken for the collector. Coming back I collected a large number and trustingly gave them to Harry to transport for me. When we rested to take off our crampons Satan led Harry's mind to other matters, and the lovely fresh specimens - fully 10 lbs of them - were left behind, a matter in which I suspoet the reader's sympathies will be with Harry rather than with me!
From Paschendale we cut across the glacier again and up Purgatory Creek, so-called because Frank first made his way up it when the snow was deep and the sun was hot. This day it was merely a semi-dry gully and beside it grew lingering mountains lilies with their snow-white flowers and their cupped leaves already gathering the rain which had started to fall once more.
When the alarm woke us at some ghost-haunted hour the rain was heavier and we turned over to sleep again. However, half way through the morning it stopped, and though a damp mist blanketed everything, Frank was not the one to waste a “fine” day. So out we went into the piercing wind and a world of white, and climbed Chancellor Dome, a snowy summit 7000 foot high, while the mist gradually changed to drizzle. The only things we saw were gardens of golden mountain lilies, edelweiss and gentians, and a fleeting glimpse of a shodowy 4), flooded river flowing into a silver sea.
All that night, all next day and the next the storm increased in fury, and the dread thunder of Paschendale's bombs echoed up the valley. Each gust of wind shook the anchorage of the hut and it seemed impossible that it could not break loose and go hurtling over the precipice. The gale rose higher and higher, water flooded in under the close-fastened doors, and we had to shout to make ourselves heard. And yet there was a water-shortage! Any receptacle placed under the pouring eves would have been blown away as soon as it had been placed there, while to have gone down to the creek a few yards away would have meant getting wet to the skin. Whenever there was a lull Frank and Marjorie continued their arguments about traverses and keas, along with a new one about booking up guides. Harry read dilapidated magazines, and I tried to make up limerics 5) with a suitably pathetic note, for example:-
“They tell Me that Chancellor Ridge has a view,
And that sometimes the heavens above it are blue
Perhaps this is true,
But all that I knew
Was a landscape of misty, white, watery hue!
Then an the evening of the third day the mists thinned above the Western horizon, blue sky broke through the clouds and a rainbow arch rose from the darkening hills. I went up the ridge at the back of the hut to see the rocky peaks at the head of the Fox Glacier, peaks about which Marjorie and Frank had been arguing for so long, but which I had never seen. But there were no rocky peaks. The storms had coated the mountains in ice, and there they stood sharp and pointed yet white, ghostly peaks not of this world, and below them the white pinnacles of the glacier tossed like frozen waves. Away to the west the ocean of mist hung above the ocean of the sea, cumulous waves sweeping against dark hills below a serene forget-me-not sky.
It was clear and cloudless when we left at 3.45 a.m., and a crescent moon hung above the hills casting a dim light on the snow and the silent white mountains which looked more ghostly than ever in the pale half-moon light. When we reached the head of the glacier the first rays of the sun stepped across the ranges, and far away the blue sea's faint horizon gleamed with an alpine dawn, when blue and primrose shaded into rose and violet above the mystic bank of clouds, a ghostly horizon hung far up in the heavens to match the ghostly mountains. Then we reached the vast snow-fields from which rise the highest of the Alps, and down which runs a clear blue rill between the white hills. The snow-fields were threaded with labyrinthine mazes of crevasses between which we laboriously made our way. There were several steep pinches, but we did not rope. It is much pleasanter to climb without the rope to look after, and even with it I sometimes wonder whether it would be of much use on a steep ice-slope if anyone slipped. I have come to the conclusion that the only thing to do on such slopes is not to slip!
Bic Mac was about the only mountain fairly free from dangerously hanging ice, so we decided on this. It is only a small peak, but the summit rocks proved about the most difficult climbing I have ever done on account of the icy conditions. The first eighty feet of the rocks took us three hours! After Bic Mac, we climbed Du Fresne, only a snow-hump, but it provides a wonderful view of the precipices of Mount Cook and the ice-ridge of Mount Tasman, this day mountains of stainless white against a heaven of stainless blue.
After a twelve and a half hour's climb we arrived back in a peaceful afternoon to see small black specks moving up the hillside, and some while later a party of seven men and one woman dumped their rucksacks down in our quiet abode which was quiet no longer. They were probably all very nice people, but nature mislaid the gregarious instinct when I was born. Anyhow, as it rained next morning, it did not matter that we were prevented from going to sleep till about five hours before it was time to get up. As a matter of fact we did get up when the alarm rang, but, as it started to rain soon after, we made our way down the glacier to Weheka instead of up the mountains, for it was my last day.
And that is the end of the quest for unclimbed mountains in New Zealand. And such is the exhilaration of those high places that, in spite of the weather and the folly of carrying too heavy a pack, I arrived back superbly fit, with that delicious feeling when food is supremely interesting and irresistibly fascinating. After six years without a proper holiday it was a feeling I had forgotten existed!
look as if
his money's worth
But if this
that you will
your money's worth
|'Phone. B.3101||F. A. Pallin,
312 George St.,
Opp. Wynyard Station.
When George Dibley, Arthur Yardley and I started out from Bexley at 4.30a.m. on Saturday 29th. Dec. 1934, we were not aware that such a thing as a Great Kowmung Conspiracy existed. But we do now; and if you read to the end of this article you will become a member of this conspiracy, and as such bound to keep your mouth shut. For it is a conspiracy of silence.
As we had only 4 days for our trip, we went by car direct to Yerranderie, arriving at 8.30 a.m. We gave the little mining town “the once over”, ate a second breakfast and at 10.30 moved off in the direction of Byrne's Gap.
The Church Creek route to the Kowmung was our choice, but meeting a bushman named King, we accepted his advice and branched off at the Cedar Creek turnoff, following a good track down to the river, which we reached at 1.30 p.m.
Two or three miles downstream we came to the entrance to the Bulga Denis canyon, where camp was made, between Sunset and Sunrise Bluffs. Thus far, and indeed throughout the entire trip the weather was perfect, being warm and fine. We were loath to leave this lovely spot; but with the dreaded canyon before us we rose early to our task and were away before 8 o'clock on Sunday morning. The canyon proved a disappointment - and a relief. At no time was the going really rough and though the river was above the usual summer level we had no difficulty in making the ten or twelve crossings necessary to expedite our progress. We were out of the canyon in about 3 hours and had our lunch on a beautiful stretch of the river somewhere near Roots' Route. A pleasant stroll down the easygoing middle Kaomung to the Cedar Road completed our day's walk.
On the following day history repeated itself. We had heard terrible tales of the lower Kownung - how rough it was, etc. etc. Again the party moved on its way expecting the worst - and the worst never came. Starting about 8 o'clock - and allowing an hour for swimming in the delightfully warm river, we reached the Cox at 12.30, in a little under 2½ 6) hours of easy walking. Only the last mile and a half was at all rough and even that was not so bad.
From the Cedar Road for two or three miles there is a broad easy track (which seems to be a continuation of the road) then a crossing, recross, then stay on the left bank till you reach the Cox.
(By the way: a tip for all intending voyagers - always cross the river where cattle cross. They, being resident in the district, know the best crossings).
As we munched our lunch and stared at the muddy waters of the Cox it gradually dawned on us that there was a reason for these Kowmung yarns - about it being rough and so forth. It keeps the Kommung exclusive for real walkers. You see, the Cox is a kind of highway for anybody who humps a pack from Katoomba or Wentworth Falls; and so it happens that when adventurous youths reach the juncture, they recall the terrible tales, shudder and pass on. The lower mile or so being a bit rough adds colour to the tale and gives an appearance of authenticity.
So much for the Kowmung Conspiracy. We toddled down the Cox and encountered some young men loafing just below Black Dog. They enquired about the Kowmung, so we entered into the spirit of the game and told them - just enough to make them give up any idea of tackling it. Their chief concern seemed to be a desire to shoot kangaroos and wallabies so we felt quite justified.
Our final camp was on the Cox at Cedar Creek and on New Year's Day we set off over the back track (not marked on Blue Mountains - Burragorang map) which climbs the ridge at the lower side of Cedar Creek and skirts Koorowall Buttress, to Maxwells in Kedumbah Valley. This track is easy to negotiate from the Cox, and cutting off Kill's Defile, saves at least a couple of miles.
So our journey draws to a close, 7) Most of you have shaken hands with Mr. Maxwell - if not, do so. It's an exciting experience (especially for girls). Kedumbah Pass is still much the same, thank you, rather warm on a warm day; but we eventually got to the top and so to Wentworth Falls, where ended a really notable trip. You see, everything worked out perfectly, weather, walking conditions, scenery, company, food were all ideal. And no women, either. I've come to the reluctant conclusion that Wally Roots is right - a buck's trip is best. Let men go walking alone for enjoyment, women's place is in the home.
P.S. About that Kowmung Conspiracy. Keep it dark!
Why should terrible things happen to Bill Cawood and me at Easter?
Easter 1934 we walked further, had more blisters, and contracted more ptomaine poisoning than all the other Bushwalker's put together.
Easter 1935, Ouch!!! Someone convinced me I should go down the Upper Cox River, there were only shout 200 going and one more was required to make a nice sized party.
Of course at Easter, as usual, the party left Sydney on Thursday night, I worked on Saturday morning and followed on with Bill in the afternoon.
Arriving at the station two hours before the train was due to leave we walked up and down the platform eight or nine times and then parked ourselves in the only available space, the empty guard's box.
Clem Armstrong said we could sit on the arm of his seat, but we kept away from Clem, he led the walk that things happened on last Easter.
Well, our guard's box was pretty swell and Bill set right in to demolish a hatful of meat pies, when along came a porter or something with a dog and he tied the dog up in our box. That wasn't so swell, and to add insult to injury the porter or something told us to get out, but we just remained dumb and he probably thought we were a couple of damnations or perhaps sealyhams and he let us stay there.
Bill, being overome with a wave of generosity, pushed half a meat pie under the dog's nose and was immediately sniffed at and treated with utmost contempt.
I have had similar experiences to that when attempting to make conversation with a fellow traveller on a long distance train, and somehow that dog's action told me that this trip was not going to be so good Well, about half past the time the train was due to leave it looked as though it had taken two Seidlitz powders without mixing them first, the pressure of people inside bulged it almost to bursting point,
After much blowing of whistles, clanging of bells and “get aboards” the train began to stir itself. Whether it was the tiresome journey or the fact that Bill had surrounded the pies, I don't know, but the dog began thawing and when we reached Penrith three hours after leaving Sydney we took him in and introduced him to Clem and party, the act apparently not being appreciated by the other members of the compartment.
At Valley Heights the blow fell, I knew I should turn back in the direction of home, but alas I didn't. The blow came in the form of a guard. Yes, he wanted our box, he looked at us, then at the dog, decided it was to be the dog's company, and then in the polite manner usually adopted by a public servant he asked us to leave.
The other forty people in the box compartment that we were transferred to left us at Katoomba, and Bill decided to change into shorts in the compartment when the train had about 100 yards to go to Blackheath Station. I hurriedly convinced him that his actions were unwise and he postponed the operation. Our compartment stopped at the foot of the steps and there was quite a crowd standing outside our door waiting for friends. I have never timed anyone changing his pants, but I'll bet Bill could only have done fifty per cent of the job by the time that our compartment had reached the foot of the steps.
Arriving at Mount Victoria we set out along the Great Western Road and were just passing Balley Heights again when we found we were going the wrong way. After retracing our steps we eventually returned to Mount Victoria and asked a fruit shop proprietor if we were going the right war; we were.
Well, everything was O.K., we knew the way, we had plenty to eat, and had plenty of time to do it in. Everything was lovely, so it started to rain, and it rained some more, and then it blew; and it blew cold, and along came a motor bike and many motor cars, the contents laughing at us, and more motor bikes, hundreds of them, thousands, millions ——– damn near fifty anyhow. Bill painted pictures of apple orchards we would pass where we could get some fruit and we cheered up a little, I had dreams of hot soup etc., that would be consumed when we met the party,
Outside a farm stood a large sign, and on that sign was one word CIDER —- Cider! Can you imagine it? Cider! When the freezing rain water ran down your back into your boots and the icy blast whistled around your legs. Can you imagine anyone drinking CIDER? As ridiculous as travelling for ice chests in Greenland.
At Little Hartley stood another sign and on that sign was “Six Miles to Cox River” but it didn't say what type of miles they were. They were the longest, coldest, wettest and most miserable miles in existence. When about five of those miles lay behind us we began to go down into a valley, and when my teeth ceased emulating a castanet's band I told Bill that the line of trees in the valley was the Cox and he said “I know”, but how he knew puzzles me because he had never been there before. Neither had I.
Now that hill was catching the full force of the icy wind and a fair share of the driving rain, we noticed the trees had not a leaf on them to protect themselves or us and they were not ring-barked. No Sir, the leaves were just plain “fruzz” off them.
At this juncture I heard a slight disturbance behind me and looking around saw Bill pivotting at terrific speed on the wet clay, he created a grand finale by throwing his feet in the air, making a forced landing, to lie prone upon the ground with the rain falling on his upturned face.
When the profanity had cleared the atmosphere and warmed it a little we saw along the bank of the river (where the road crosses) some large camp fires, but we knew they did not belong to our party because that's where they said they would be. We found than a mile down river, a mile that took us an hour to cover owing to nettle forests and rabbit warrens as big and as deep as a well. At long last we arrived in camp and ate and ate, just pausing long enough to tell the rest of the party what we thought of the trip.
Having been told not to bring my tent I foolishly left it at home and had to sleep in a 6 x 8 tent with —— well, I don't know how many, but I asked them to number from the right and when it got to eight Arthur Hellyer didn't say anything, I don't think he knows what comes after eight. What does anyhow? And at last I slept spasmodically.
SUNDAY. Getting breakfast over without any serious mishap I set off behind the party as usual, moved painfully forward and after travelling half a mile my stiffness wore off, the weather brightened a little, and shortly I heard the rich song of a bird and the long clear note of another, a rabbit scurried away almost from under my feet, while a small flock of timid sheep bounded up the hills to be lost to sight 'midst gaunt relics of a forest that has succumbed to the axe, ringbarked, a curse on the scenery of our beautiful country.
I could see on my left, mile after mile of ringbarked trees, the only mar on the scenery of the whole trip, and on the right the rippling boulder-strewn waterway singing its way around small islands, through an avenue of tall casuarinas, to rest in pool or billabong and then hurry on its way again.
I was anxious to see the marvellous saddle that one can cross in a few minutes to meet the river again on the other side, thus making it unnecessary to walk about two miles around the hairpin bend of the river. It was all that I had heard said of it truly as Jean Trimble described it “a real neck o' the woods”.
After lunching under casuarinas on a typical Cox River bank we set forth again to absorb the peaceful scenery that gradually changed from soft grassy banks to cold hard granite none the less beautiful in spite of the ubiquitous ringbarked trees.
In a granite gorge the water gurgled and gushed while we slowly made our way over and around mighty pieces of granite that had at one time held a more austere position far up on the hillside to look down on its present lowly resting place.
We crossed the river on to a large flat timbered bank, and by the time the receding sunlight rimmed the top of the ridge opposite tents were erected, fires were blazing and the odour of grills filled the air.
A few happy hours were spent around a blazing log fire while voices were raised in song or we listened intently to a lone story teller. At length the sleeping bag lured us away, the fire sent a mellow glow up through the trees, and the sound of the bubbling river with the noises of the night replaced those of song and laughter.
It was decided upon to climb over the ridge 500ft. on the right hand bank, and to meet ths Cox on the other side, a decision that we all complied with because it was suggested by our able leader, “Dunk”.
From the top of the ridge we looked down into the Cox And could see the Jenolan Track winding away towards Megalong, while away in the distance Mount Colong could be seen garbed in blue mist while the Tin Pot Mountains, Black Dog Range and many other mountains, ranges and ridges could be defined.
The trip dawn the other side called for a lot of seat work and hobnails would have been a great asset. Crossing the Cox on to the Jenolan Track we progressed slowly along owing to the time saved by crossing the ridge and eliminating the rough granite-strewn distance around the bend.
Considerable time was spent in lunching near the church in Megalong Valley, then we repacked for the last time, set out for Nellie's Glen and thence into Katoomba.
It is a beautiful trip down the Cox, making one oblivious ef anything but its beauty, charm and interesting points. I only wish I could say the same about the road walk out, but I suppose it doesn't always rain, always blow, and millions of motor bikes and motor cars can't pass there eternally, that's just my Easter luck.
I have been asked to write about the Federation, which should by now, like Bushell's Tea, be able to speak for itself, and would if only rough justice be done to it. And anyway, you, whatever you are, and whatever funny name you call yourself buskwalkerily, should all know what there is to be known, though the merit of it is largely a matter of opinion, about your recreational relation - The Federation. Perhaps it is only a phantasy to you. Certain it ts that we are sometimes spoken of gratefully, and even perchance proudly, yet again a bit contemptuously, and often with utter scorn.
Well now, who are, the Federation? These that follow are they, the Highlights, the Big Noises, the Strong and not Silent Ones, the Wielders of great Power and Influence.
First - The Mighty Myles, King of Garawarra (Uncrowned), and a Primitive Man. Worker and Schemer and Shrewd Head. Always wears a hat on his head, and in the hat a badge. Otherwise natural except that he will write letters.
Second - should have been first I suppose - Wally the President. Think he was the real inventor of the Federation. Signs articles that Great Myles writes. A Bush Walker of Bush Walkers. Nice looking and loved by everyone. Oh You.
Third - Harold Buckland - Past President. Enthusiastic worker. Now married. Nunc Dimittis! Yes alright.
Fourth - Joe Perrott, Vice President. A Worthy Man.
And Fifth - The Secretary. Well, he's just a Hiker. “A what?”
“A HIKER”. Don't mention that word, don't Mention it I say, DON'T MENTION IT. Haven't I told you you've been well brought up. What's good enough for England and all America, is not good enough for us. We are superior. We are - - - “Oh go and burn up your Rubbish. And get bushed on the trail!”.
Thus the Federation - born Thursday - July 21st. 1932. And now add the combined wisdom (My Word) of the assembled Council, mix well together, and enjoy the result. For there has been a result, and even results, the first of which is that the Federation is now known as a Great Power in the Land.
And secondly - if you'd had no Federation, you wouldn't be able to travel on the 8.25 on Sunday mornings to Lilyvale. Perhaps you didn't know that.
And all the people who have weekend residences in National Park would be putting the sewerage on, laying on the electric light and telephone, and arranging about hot water systems, and similar things. Nay more. If the Federation hadn't suddenly found it had lost heat in its feet, there might, by now, have been great business with the Removalists down Audley way, and a second Great Exodus. Whoopee!
You would all still be orphans, and unable to get possession of YOUR rightful heritage, and none would even, as now, look at you in the tram or bus, with your ridiculous Pack, and even more ridiculous appearance, and say to someone else - in a half whisper - and with an indulgent smile - “Busk 8) Walker”. And could you, by any other name, look half so sweet?”
For, little Bush Walkers and Hikers (Oh sorry, it slipped out), you are now definitely, by the Federation's aotivitias, On the Map. See that you stay there. And be thankful to your Auntie Federation. And so, when your grandchild, say 1985 frolics in the surf at Burning Palms, probably wearing the latest 1985 costume of a gum leaf and a brassiere, she may look up the old slopes and say “Dear old Grandaddy. Now if he hadn's 9) belonged to the Federation, and Grandma hadn't been one of those funny hikers (Oh Dear, there it is again), and they both hadn't fought together at Garawarra, what might have happened to me? Oh well, let's have another surf roll, or as the dear old things used to say in those days 'A Shoot' - Bless them”.
And then your great great grandchild. What are we thinking of now, and to what dim and distant date are we projecting our minds? To none other than the lst. of April, 2035, and the occasion of the Official Opening, assisted by the latest and most up-to-date squadron of aeroplanes, of the Great Western National Park and Primitive Phantasmagorical Area. The aeroplanes will be used to locate the original pioneering body of surveyors who set out to put the Area onto paper away back in 1958 10) Legend will have had it that they paraded along Narrow Neck one wintry day, and after due ceremony set out with a fierce desire to be really primitive. Their old marching anthem has been lost sight of, but it ended up somehow like this - “We all can be primitive, primitively primitive, (Whoopee). We all can be primitive now”. Oh, these raw bloods!
But I quite forgot about your great grandchild, and her survival is a little uncertain. It seems to be a toss up between her and the mosquitos at the Battle of Maitland Bay. If she wins, and she may do, for all things are possible, she will probably be found waving a bisouit in one hand and a piece of cheese in the other, and singing -
'Though the 'mossies are a'riling 11),
I'll keep the pot a'Byleing,
For see what my great grand aunt's done for me.
At mountains ever smiling,
Or with Bush Walkers a'miling;
My Word, she was a knock-out, Marie B'.
And now I think that is enough about the Federation. It does its doubtful best. Be thankful for small mercies. And to us all - be kind.
On Wednesday 12th. June, the First Fancy Dress Dance in the annals of the Sydney Bushwalkers was held at the Arts Club, Pitt Street, Sydney. The Variety of costumes and the ingenuity displayed by Members was exceedingly creditable and gave great satisfaction to the organising Committee.
On Friday 5th July, the Sydney Bushwalkers held a Social Evening in aid of the funds of the forthcoming Annual Bushwalkers' Ball. This was attended by a large number and the guests enjoyed a programme of dancing, musical items, games and a 1-Act Play, the whole evening being voted a great success.
On the 12th. July about 26 Members of the Club visited the Shanghai Cafe for supper. Great amusement was caused by the attempts of most to use the chop-sticks provided by the management, but as no other implements were supplied the Members had to do the best they could. On 19th. July the first production by the Dramatic Society was put before the Club Members. This took the form of 3 1-Act Plays which were very creditably rerformed and thoroughly enjoyed by a very large attendance.
On the 26th. July, Mr. W.J. Cleary gave an intensely interesting talk to the Members on four of his recent camping trips. Mr. Cleary's style is particularly humourous and very attractive and as a result the talk was voted among the best.
The Bushwalkerst Ball, held on 30th. July was a great success.
We extend our heartiest congratulations to Irene Smith and Bill Reilly on their engagement. May every happiness be theirs and every wish of their hearts.
For the Social Committee,
Hon. Social Secretary.