A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bushwalkers. c/- Ingersoll Hall, 256 Crown Street, Sydney.
|Assists||Elsa McGregor, Norma Barden|
|Sales & Subs||Jean Harvey|
|The Record of the Rocks||“Trouper”||7|
|Points for Prospectives||“Dingo”||9|
|Members on the Move||10|
|News Behind the News||Gossip||11|
Second of two articles on a self-explanatory subject.
We have de-bussed at Wallacia once more, and my! what a mix-up. There is one grand melee as a mob of Sunday hiking types, bound for a big, tough weekend at Norton's Basin escape with our packs. Forthwith we holler out to them about their mistake, and with the matter rectified start out down the hill, once more on the way to Silverdale - and gold! On the bridge, we stop to change our clothes. All around is peace and silence, the Sunday hiking types having been side-tracked by a wayside kiosk. We wish that we could have the moon which last week lighted our path, but in its absence the Milky Way shines brilliant in the starry sky.
Of a sudden, there is a wham! crash! and a roar, as a lorry comes bolting down the hill. From both sides of the road we thumb our way towards Silverdale, and as it rattles past we scream, “How 'bout a lift?” The lorry lurches to a dead stop, the crashing dies down, and a voice bellows, “Whassat?”
“Goin' ter Silverdale, mate?”
But we are a wake-up, 'cos we've seen “Silverdale” in greasy letters on the truck. Facetiously we reply, “Oh, way to blazes back o'beyond.”
“Way to blazes, eh? Thit's too far wi'out a drink. 'Ere: 'aye a spot.”
At first we gaze amazed, but when we see 'tis the good old Corio Special, we feel by duty bound to accept.
Well, what a nightmare! Five miles on the back of a truck that's bucking like a bronco on a crazy road, the the driver drunk at the wheel! Lurch and crash, bounce and bash; lumme, can this vehicle buck! At frequent intervals it stops, and the fast emptying bottle is passed back. Soon, it is found to be empty. Aha! but this is no cause for dismay, for it is superseded by a bottle of the dinkum oil. With his own hands, he made it! So we swill it like the he-men we are taken to be, and whew! it kicks like a full-back and tastes like molten lava. It awakes us to the humorous side of the circumstance: last week moonlight; this week, moonshine!
The five miles takes an hour to do, and when eventually we arrive at the village, Mumma comes ambling out to meet the late home-coming pappy. When she sees he's stinko, she goes stinking on him. Undeterred, he realises that we must be just as hungry as he, and opines that we should come inside and share his meal.
But we are still sober, more or less, and Mumma's still rather hostile so we decline the offer. “Oh, well,” he says, irrepressible to the end, “Hear that music next door? There's a dance on at Resthaven and they're short o' men. C'mon in, and I'll introduce y'round”. Mumma intervenes and he is dragged inside, more or less by the ear. We wander round to the back door of Resthaven and barge in on the party. No need to ask where the dancing girls are - they mob us as soon as we appear. Luscious little bits of loveliness. Boy o boy! what a time we have. By midnight we realise the futility of begging to be excused and merely fade into the night.
Full of the personality of heroes, the next three miles takes but five minutes to do. Singing is a foregone conclusion. We reach the Monkey Ck-Warragamba junction in fine style, and before the wallabies have recovered from their fright, up goes the tent, out goes the fishing line, and into bed we go.
In the morning, we have to exert the full 45lbs breaking strain of the line to haul in a 4 lb perch. Grand beginning; nothing going wrong this weekend. At 7.45 we are away, and off for the upper Gamba to seek the elusive gold. Prior to this, all our enquiries about the area have been met with the answer that the going is rough and unpleasant, and not worth doing; even the Map gives it “Very Rough” in two places. Hence our surprise when we find that this is not so. Up to the Bend, which marks the end of the straight and narrow gorged course of the river, the sides are steep and rocky, with patches of scrub, yet nevertheless two miles an hour is quite possible. Towards the end, we do strike some rough stuff, but not enough to dampen our spirits. Apparently the really tough section of the 'Gamba gorge is that between Monkey Ck and the Nepean, the reputation having spread to the whole river.
Towards lunch, we emerge on greasy pastures, whore the river has freed itself of the influence of the dam, the water is clear, and there are rapids here and there. We stop for lunch on a flat, shady patch of grass: the first possible camp site since leaving Monkey Ck. When we start in the afternoon, the inner side of The Bend looks more negotiable than the outer, so we cross over at one of the rapids. Ron leads the way and suddenly goes waist deep in a hole. However, the tobacco is up in his shirt pocket, so there is no great cause for sorrow. The further we go, the more apparent it becomes that we are going to find no bars stocked with gold. Only bar of which we are sure is the pub at Upper Burragorang.
Now on the right hand bank, we leave the river for a while, choosing a track which climbs away from it. Here, we have excellent views of the cliffs ahead, framed by the trees along the path, and when we enter the last straight stretch of the 'Gamba, three miles from its birth at the junction of the Cox and Wollondilly, we stand speechless (almost), gazing into paradise on earth. By now, the valley is a mile wide, and though we still may stagger from last night's Backanalian biliousness, there is ample room for both of us. Everywhere are sloping grazing lands of brightest green, with fields of corn, scattered farms, abandoned fruit trees, eucalypts and she-oaks, bounded by mountain walls breached by intriguing, well-timbered creeks. Beyond all there is the distant valley of the Cox, past the end of which we can see right to Narrow Neck itself.
By now all thoughts of gold have gone and we nurse our shattered illusions (??) in silence. We eventually realise that the reports I read were old ones, and the district then known as Upper Warragamba is that now known as the Upper Shoalhaven and Wollondilly, near Tallong!
Here, the lazing really starts. Oh, boy! those mushrooms. We wander along on grassy lawns, darting from side to side as each new patch of fungus catches our eager eyes. Next come quinces, yellow and delicious. We eat them walking and whilst we are munching still, we came upon the figs! Scarce have these been introduced to our gaping gullets when we find the apples and apricots, and the blackberries! The best have gone, but a quart billy full in five minutes is deemed fair game. Pigs come trundling up to us, quite friendly like, just offering themselves as pork; but we can do nothing about them as we have no meat coupons.
We come to a farm house and call out to a woman in the garden: “Hullo!”
“Eh!” she cackles and starts to look round for the voice.
“Can you tell us how far it is to the Junction?”
She turns, and we both start visibly - a haggard old witch of about 94 with beady black eyes squinting down either side of a hawkish beak. Toothless gums are visible in her gaping mouth as she regards us with a stare of vacant incomprehension, “Eh?”
“Can you tell us how far it is to the Junction?”
The face betrays no sign of understanding; the squinting eyes stare vacantly towards us, and the awful mouth gapes on. She regards us thus for a full minute whilst we wait for the reply which staggers us: “Wha'd'you thay!”
We repeat. She gazes at us for another minute and then volunteers the information, “Long Way”.
Eventually, by patient questioning we elicit the information that it's a mile and a half and only a rough track, but we move off undaunted. She shuffles after up as far as the fence - whether she is suspicious of our motives, or concerned for our safety, we cannot say, but her frail voice trails after us with oft-repeated injunctions to cross the river and go along the other bank. We heed her not, but follow the cattle pad on the near side.
We cross over at the Junction, and pitch our tent on the grasses by the three rivers. Tea is the next item on the agenda. Blackberries - delicious. But what are blackberries without cream? At a farmhouse just across the Wollondilly, there are signs of milking in progress, so we meander over with threepence and a 1 1/2 p.t billy. Here may I digress to deplore the stinginess of Lower Burragorang farmers' daughters. You know how irksome is that breed of person who leaves about a 1/2“ to spare when he 'fills' your teacup? This lousy lassie leaves at least 1 1/2” of billy showing above the cream. But we give her credit for not taking the threepence.
Coming back from a swim, I cast longing eyes upon the corn fields. The temptation is too great; I wander over to procure some of the golden cobs - they'll be a magnificent prelude to breakfast. When we have polished off the blackberries and cream, we are as full as the proverbial tick, but mushrooms are such a delicacy as compared with dehydrated veg - well, what would you do? With groaning stomachs, we roll ourselves in the soothing down.
We awake in heaven; the green grass is wet with dew that glistens blue, gold and orange in a bright morning sun; we are ringed by grey and yellow cliffs and headlands, splendid in the morning light, with the valley mists rising steadily up their faces.
Three lines of exit face us: firstly along the road to Wentworth Falls; secondly, back along the 'Gamba; or out through the Burragorang via a bus which last night's farmer's lass told us left Binlow at 10 a.m. Although we don't like the idea of a morning bus, we have seen enough of the 'Gamba, and Wentworth Falls is a damned lot of road work if no lifts eventuate. Anyway, neither of us have been into the Burragorang, although we have gazed at it from afar; so we start for Binlow.
Paradise - paradise unbounded. The rolling fields sparkle with the dew; green, wooded slopes run up to the shadowed walls of Burragorang Tableland and the sun-golden walls of Binlow Plateau in a scene far more beautiful than anything along the Cox. Birdlife is here in profusion: two eagles glare at us from the stark limbs of a great gum; currawongs flash their white flecks among the foliage; there are willy-wagtails chirping everywhere, and fantails running their fans; diamond sparrows turn their red tails to the sun, whilst blue wrens and yellow finches tweet from many bushes. Honey-eaters and nuns add to the myriads, and where the road crosses the Wollondilly, a crane flies lumbering away. Plovers call from the banks, and swallows - varieties we have never seen before, line the fences. Oh, this can go on for hours!
The persimmon tree is quite a delicacy, after the figs, and when its bee-farmer owner presses upon us some pounds of honeycomb - my, my! for lunch! Mushrooms we gather still, but can find safe custody for about only 3lbs each - tough luck. And so we come to Maxwell's at Binlow as the bus is about to leave, laden with returning tourists. A murmur runs along the seats as all eyes gaze upon our prize mushroom: at least (10“) (12”) 14“ across (the mushroom has now stopped growing - Ed).
After we get going we enquire of the driver if there is another bus in the afternoon. There is, so we pile out and start walking again. For two hours, we laze on the grassy banks of the river; we swim, we eat blackberries, and we swim again, Glorious.
Then we hit the road again. We don't walk far before a car picks us up, and what a beauty! It rattles, it shakes, it wheezes and it chugs; but it goes, and as it is afternoon, now, and jolly hot, we welcome the ride. The driver is thin, effeminite individual with glasses and a girlish voice. He is about 30, and a Bible rests by his side. We ask no questions of his profession.
He stops to drop us by the Nattai coal mine, but as I go to open the door, it sticks. “Hit it”, murmurs the owner; I let out a wham! and with a reverberating crash, there are the door, side-curtains, hinges and all in a heap on the roadside! With dignified disgust, our benefactor surveys the damage; but it is Sunday, so he cannot swear.
Whilst walking around the buildings, we come across a miner bloke, gorging himself something awful on a wopping water-melon. Being a gentleman, he promptly offers us half of it. An being gentlemen, we accept. As he walks back towards the road with us, we ask our friend where we can get a drink. He insists that we come to the store to have one on him. Naturally we cannot hurt his feelings by refusing!
Once more on the road, for the sake of our health, we disdainfully refuse all further lifts. This is all for the best, for the views of the Wollondilly and Nattai, even from the road, are marvellous. The Burragorang, of which I've dreamed for years, but which has always seemed just beyond my reach, now lies below my hand, and I have actually felt the earth of its lower reaches, seen the sparkle of it dew-laden grasses, eaten of its luscious fruits, and gloried in its river. The valley stretches thirty miles to the further hills: tableland and precipice, timbered ridge and rolling pasture land, winding road and river reaches; we gaze at it thus for an hour, and feel almost sorry when the bus arrives.
Yes, it has to end. Our weekend in paradise draws to the eternal close; a jolting ride in a crowded bus and a sooty journey in a packed-out train! And on the morrow - work. Yes, we are paupers still, Ah me!
Note: The author has since organised two exploratory walks in the Burragorang, but his companions wonder why he assiduously steers them away from the particular region of plenty herein described. Surely he cannot completely have denuded it of its “luscious fruits?” - Ed.)
“Will the Federation pay us overtime?” The answer was in the negative, but S.B.W. was well represented at the Blue Gum working bee. Dot Lawry and Maurie Berry appeared as general overseers, the latter often wielding an axe to good effect. Arthur Gilroy took another puff at his pipe, then stood once more to the crosscut saw. The President called the tune of “Heave-ho!”, as an improvised dam went up, with the assistance of some willing help from the Tech. College party. R.R.C. were well on the go, with cross-cut, axe and shovel, and although we saw little of the Rucksacks, we saw plenty of their work in Govett's Leap Creek.
For your information, the Grose River changed its course, and is no longer cutting into the camp sites - well, that is how we figured it to be.
Yeola - nearly all of us know this haven, but most of us give scarcely more than a glance to the rocks from which we dive into the swimming pools. Indeed, it was the same with me; I had been there before, and I had been happy just to laze about on the grassy bank.
This time, as I took my plunge in the pool below the tent, something about the rocks arrested my attention. Previously, they had caused no mental comment. “Hm - slate”, I had thought in walking over them to the water's edge, “just plain ordinary grey slate.” Now, however, my eyes lingered, for there was something different; something that elevated them above the level of “plain ordinary slate.”
The common forms of slate are a fine, uniformly-grey powder compacted into a rock which breaks into flakes. Far from being uniform, the grey in this slate was full of long, narrow streaks, in an aggregate of intermingled lines running more or less along the direction of the river; a pattern not unlike that of the fine, green, slimy tendrils of the water weeds. I wondered if the pattern represented the remains of some such weed which had been growing amongst the muddy ooze from which this rock was formed in ages past. I stooped to examine them more closely, and as I did so, a pebble caught my eyes.
Normally, there is nothing unusual in a pebble - but this one should not have been there, for it was firmly embedded in the slate. Pebbles just don't occur in slate, as a rule; slate begins its existence as a fine mud on the floor of a lake or sea. Rivers flowing into the lake sort their sediments well. First, where the flow is fast, they drop their stones and pebbles, later to form conglomerate; next, where the flow lessens, sands are deposited, giving sandstones, and finally, in the placid waters where there is little or no flow at all, the fine clay in the water is dropped, and from this comes shale and slate. But never is a pebble carried out far enough to be dropped in the mud.
Then how did this pebble get there? I looked around; there was another and yet another - half a dozen of them. But how could they be amongst the mud? Nearly all were of the same colour as the slate, but definitely units of their own. No satisfactory explanation presented itself.
Now, here was one of a different colour; a pale bluish-grey, with a translucent appearance. Was it a pebble of smoky quartz? With my knife, I tried to scratch it - no, it was not quartz, for whereas a knife will not scratch quartz (which is too hard), this pebble scratched easily. Perhaps then, it was limestone? Limestone, why of course! A limestone fossil! and so were all the others; here at Yeola, the relics of luring organisms.
Eagerly, I lent to examine them anew, and found dozens of the relics! Yes, in those rock platforms, the fossils simply abound. There are two types of fossils in common occurrence, and both types were found here. In the first, the organism drops into the mud and begins to decay. Fraction by fraction, each decaying cell is replaced by minute particles of the mud, and as this process continues, taking years to complete, the mud retains part or all of the pattern of the animal, fish or plant which it is replacing. These were the “pebbles” which had the same colour as the slate - they were, in fact, of the same substance. It the second type of fossil, the actual bones of the animal etc. may be covered over by the muds, before they have time to decay. The skeleton changes into the pale grey, soft limestone, so distinctive against the dark grey of the slate.
It does not need a geologist to find these fossils, for they are easily seen in the rock platform above the pool in front of the camp site. They represent the remains of ancient shellfish, termed “spirifera” (singular, “spirifer”), and you may see the actual limestone of the shells, and in one or two isolated cases, there is, inside this limestone, the grey slate replacement of the internal organs.
Spirifera wore brachiopods - i.e. shellfish of a structure similar to cockles or muscles - which grew somewhat as shown in the drawing. The outer (limestone) shell remains in many places, and in one instance - about half way across the top of the rock step some six foot above the pool - is a specimen, some 3” across with almost the whole of the shell preserved, and a clear cast of the internal organs. The spiral shown in the diagram represents the secondary muscle used ,in opening and closing the turn shells; and in this particular specimen, there appears a clearly defined cross-section of this muscle, etched in slate.
There is yet a third type of fossil, or rather, strictly speaking, not a fossil - and that is a cast. Instead of replacing the animal, etc. the muds might make a cast of them, just as a dentist might make a cast of a jaw before fitting false teeth. These shell casts - numbers of them - may be found here, along with the fossils, some casts being in the grey slates, and some in the chocolate-coloured cliffs on the far side, One such cast is depicted in the drawing, which is approximately life-size.
Thus, when next you go to Yeola, with its buffalo grass on which to camp, blackberries to tickle the palate, and picturesque swimming pools in which to while away the hours, you may read a page of geology's history book; evidence from the seas of millions of years ago preserved in the rocks from which you dive.
Remember the beginning of our schoolday essays “The day dawned bright and sunny”. Well that's how our trip from Moss Vale to Berry began except that we started at 9 p.m., it was dark and there was definitely no sun. The first point that strikes our Prospective is the complete absence of noise as the Bushwalkers join the train. Each member takes a seat and reclines gracefully. This is often misleading to other passengers who quite often mistake our carriage for an empty one.
Moss Vale was honored by our arrival at 1 a.m and we pitched tents and snuggled into our bags shortly afterwards. This is where our Prospect begins his education. With previous party and dance experience he has already made friends with the daintiest and slimmest Bushwalkeress. Observe the hardened walker; it may just be coincidence but somehow or other he always seems to have as tent companions the larger and more robust walkers. The heat thereby generated is sufficient to ensure a comfortable night's sleep. Prospectives therefore may always be recognised by their tired appearance.
Prospectives may also know each other by comparing packs. When the food list is made up the Prospect usually finds his quota is not needed until the last day. In addition his walking friends ? may incidentally place some of their heavier gear in the pack. Usually error is rectified on the tram journey home.
One of the highlights of the trip is the halt called at Barretts. Mr. Barrett is noted for his prowess at palm reading and our Prospect duly lines up for inspection. Apart from a slight error, at the beginning, when he is mistaken for a miner; the interview goes smoothly. He has brains but doesn't use them. The mere fact of the poundage on the back guarantees that. Play up that gambling luck. This is just the time to make your fortune. You beaut, stop a minute though,. Mr.Barrett may have friends in the S.P. business. Prospects should keep away from Barretts.
Next lesson is conducted at Yarrunga Creek. Here our Prospect finds himself at the head of trio party and, determined to show to advantage he leaps from rock to rock and arrives on the far side just as the leader announces that the camp will be made before crossing the creek. Any Prospect who recrosses the creek without falling in several times will now raise the right hand.
On Sunday afternoon the party headed off in different directions. Some spoke of a milk wagon, the rest were just as determined on going to Kiama. After receiving the news that his horse had run last, our Prospect didn't care where he went, so they led him up on to a mountain and showed him the promised land, but being dead beat he didn't see a thing. In the morning he was lead down to Berry, muttering about resignations etc. After two milk shakes
When last heard of he was questioning a Bushwalkeress as to how to make custard, so there is hope yet.
Hollywood has its career girls but S.B.W. has its career man. Stuart Dryden graduated B.Sc. in Physics from Melbourne University 194l. After two years on optical research with the Municians Panel of Melbourne's Physics Dept., he came to Sydney to work on Electro Technology up at the National Standards Laboratory. C.S.I.R. decided to confer scholarships upon certain graduates who, owing to the war, had been unable to avail themselves of the normal means of going abroad to study. Stuart is to leave for England in early August, bound for a 2-year's sojourn at University of London, examining the behaviour of dielectric materials.
Interviewed by the staff, his comment was; “Maybe I'll starve or freeze; but I'll be looking forward to coming back to roam the wilds again.”
Here's cheers from us, Stuart.
Ira and Dot Butler (nee Dot English) are back on the Active Membership list once more. Ira went to England last year, as Government Economist on the Food Mission, and has now returned to Sydney and the Rural Bank. Dot, meanwhile, had been in Melbourne with baby, but we now see their faces in familiar surroundings again.
By no means connected with the above is the fact that the Iredale's moved out. Ken has started his own practice as an optician in Hobart, and Merle will be fallowing with the twins before this comes out in print.
Well, maybe not a hitch-hiker, but when Peter Allan wants a free lift, he does not stop at a mere car or truck ride to the nearest township. Coming back to Australia after service in England, the Duke of Gloucester's plane was his conveyance. Now transferred to a Quantas job in Darwin, his conveyance this time was a Sydney-England Lancastrian - and he gets paid for travelling thus!
The club room empty on Friday nights, because of holidays? No General Meeting for want of a Quorum? No matter - the Gossip Scout still got around, and here are tit bits from the trips.
A C.M.W. group by their camp-fire on Mumbedah Ck. started at a call ringing clear on the night air: “Hot Pie!” What? Pies on Mumbedah? Oh, no - just Fraser Ratcliffe bringing the crowd down from Guouogang. Bound for the Cox; but someone's astro-nav went wrong!
On Katoomba station, we found Hilma Ruby and others as the vanguard of Roley's party from Yeranderie, via Scott's Main Range, the Kowmung and Mt.Cookem, “Uneventful trip”, they reported, “Just three easy days”.
King's Birthday found Roley again off the beaten track, with 12 others rambling along the Colo. Jenny tried some artificial erosion by rolling down a hillside, whilst the boys had a most successful session at Armstrong's, where they bought lashings of fruit. “But we didn't pinch any”, they assured us.
Irving Calnan & Co. went down from Joadja to the Wollondilly. Violent sickness assailed the party on returning home. Some said, “Water”, and some said “Mulligatawny soup”.
We suggested, “Railway pies?”
“No, no!” they cried, “we came baCk in a car!”
A milling throng on Central: “About 50 of us”, they said. Truly, they made enough noise for such. They knew not whither they were going, but the President and Wife were present, so all was Quite Official. In one bunch they sallied forth from Moss Vale: in a bus, allegedly procured by Ron Eddes. Somewhere round about somewhere else, someone had an inspiration: “Milk wagons down the Kangaroo to Nowra!”
“Shame!” cried others, “we'll walk to Kiama”.
A third section thought they were following Rus Wilkins' footsteps to the coast. But Rus's feet aren't built like that, as was proven when they found themselves on a 20-mile road-bash to Berry!
The Play-night was considered a success. “This will be one amateur show that starts on time”, Joan had said. Indeed, the Town Hall clock had scarce finished striking eight when the curtains opened, and Gordon Ballard struck up the opening overture. We congratulate Joan Savage, Ray Kirkby and others who contributed to the evening's entertainment, not forgetting Norma Barden wielding the horse-hair bow.
Players explain that, if they staggered, it was not inebriation. They defy anyone to stand before a throng of fellow walkers without some shaking at the knees. Moreover, would the audience please refrain from discussing food-lists and walks plans whilst players are on stage?
Per medium of many tongues, we heard of the Official Walk across the Barren lands to Kiama. The party was “found” wandering around the swamps, in the last stages of delirium tremens, with tongues hanging out and gasping, “Food! Food! Even if its dehydrated!” However, Elsa Isaacs - sorry! McGregor informs us that it was simply a case of an overgrown track which was missed in the gathering dark. They tarried because they liked the company, and not because of physical exhaustion. Elsa pays tribute to Bob Eastoe, our one-legged prospective: “Far from us helping him, he was helping us”, she explains.
All the way from Hay, where the plains are vast and mountains not, a reader sent this response to the article, “Thermostats for Bushwalkers”. A drover conquered the problem of sleeping on the frozen ground, simply by pitching his camp where the cattle slept. When bedtime came, he'd kick a bullock in the ribs, and sleep on the warm spot where it had lain. When this patch froze, and he awakened with his body stiff and cold, he'd walk over to another beast and kick it into motion, once more going to sleep on the warm earth vacated! And so on until the dawn. Perhaps, we could install well-behaved cattle at Blue Gum, Corral Swamp, and other popular sites?
The Official Party on the Nattai yarned awhile to the Park Ranger. He was gunning for a couple of blokes laying waste to the countryside, poisoning rabbits in thousands, and committing untold outrages against fauna and flora alike. Verily, we agreed that such low specimens should be brought to heel for their disregard for conservation. Why! one of them was an ex-gaol-bird, even. The Ranger was in disguise. “This is Bill O'Brien's horse” he explained in confidence. “They'll think it's him coming - they're tot afraid of him.”
Coming home, a kindly truck driver offered a lift to,the weary walkers - you know with what eagerness such offers are accepted! Yes, so great was our gratitude, that never a word of reproach did we speak on discovering the identity of our benefactors; yes, our avowed enemies of that same morning!