A monthly Bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, C/- Ingersoll Hall, 256 Crown St., Sydney.
|Editor||Jim Brown, 103 Gipps St., Drummoyne|
|Sales & Subs.||Gladys Roberts|
|Typed by||Jean Harvey|
|Production & Business Manager||Brian Harvey (JW1462)|
|Editorial - Summer Is A'Coming In||1|
|At the October General Meeting||2|
|Go West, Tom Moppett!||By David Ingram||4|
|We Were Overdue||By Bruce Sibley||9|
|Sydney or The Bush||14|
|The Dillon Huts (Springvale)||By Allen A. Strom||18|
|Federation Notes||By Allen A. Strom||20|
|The Sanitarium Health Food Shop||3|
|Scenic Motor Tours||5|
|Leica Photo Service||9|
Under the old regime (for Walks Programmes) November marked the beginning of the Summer Programme, and this has been distinguished in recent years by the paucity of real walking activity. A glance through old programmes will prove that early members did not treat the summer months with such caution. Present members generally speaking, deem the summer “too hot” for energetic walking.
Actually, there is probably a fallacy in that argument. In Sydney the average January maximum temperature is about 79 degrees, and there are certainly many mild days when quite ambitious trips could be undertaken in comfort. At the same time, summer weather does introduce certain problems, and to disregard them would be foolhardy. Walking and climbing with a pack on a day when the mercury rises above 90 degrees may be not only disagreeable, but dangerous. Some seven or eight years ago a member of another Club died from heatstroke during a midsummer walk on Cox's River.
If a party embarked on a walking journey encounters really hot weather, it is certainly wise to take advantage of the cooler morning and evening hours, and to rest during the heat of the day, from about 10.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., even if it does mean really early rising - five o'clock or earlier for preference.
The other particular aspect calling for consideration in the summer is the question of fire. Walkers should not need to be told of the necessity for extinguishing fires before leaving a camp site, but as one who has seen the alarming speed with which a fire can get out of control in dry scrub if left unattended for a few minutes, we can only urge members to exercise the utmost care in picking the spot for their camp fire, and to see that it is under observation at all times, with a full water-bucket close at hand.
A little caution in summer time walking and camping may easily save some walker from being his own executioner.
With public holidays and celebrations, the General Meeting occurred about as late as it could without jostling the November Committee Meeting. About 65 members were present, and five were welcomed - Dorian McMillan, Barbara and Geoff Greethead, Jack Luursema and David Brown.
There was an enquiry whether we were “in the red” over the celebrations, and the President said, yes, probably to the tune of £20 to £40. Len Scotland remarked that complaints over illicit sales of wildflowers should go to the Local Government Department - not the Chief Secretary's - and the President added it had been found that the “pink boronia” now completely protected referred to boronia floribunda only.
To a Federation enquiry for Club views on an Annual Magazine, Brian Harvey commented that cost was a killing problem. Tom Moppett presented a verbal report 'phoned by Allen Strom, about the deputation to the Premier on Kurnell. The deputation had consisted of about 25 members, headed by Colonel Bruxner and, although the Premier had listened attentively, there seemed little hope of a reversal of the decision.
When the Editor rose to thank the production staff of the magazine for the work on the Anniversary Special, he started something; several votes of thanks followed, including one for the organisers of the celebrations, and a resolution to send a suitable present to the donor of the Birthday Cake.
After Gil Webb sounded Club opinion on inviting non-members to the Barbecue (see notice this issue), and it was decided to limit attendance to members and friends, there was naught left to decide, and we were free to fraternise from 8.50 onwards.
At Wal Roots' home, 93 Grosvenor Road, Wahroonga, on the night of Saturday, December 13th.
Camping space in the Roots' backyard, or the adjoining Kuring-gai Chase, for those who will be isolated by lack of late transport, or who prefer to stay over.
A day walk on Sunday to Bobbin Head on the following day (Edna Stretton's walk programmed for December 13/14th diverted to the Barbecue, and thence into the Chase).
Those attending the Barbecue should bring plate, pannikin, knife, fork and spoon, milk and sugar. It is intended to supply lamb, potatoes (or bread rolls), ice cream and tea.
Taking the place of the usual Christmas Party - to be held in the Club roam on the night of Friday, December 19th. Full details in December issue.
(The Moppett's Visit Don and Betty Gordon, and Broken Hill, and “The Gent in the Tent” comments, with his 1912 model Remington.)
No one was more surprised than I when Tom Moppett announced during our Queen's Birthday excursion to Roaring Wind Mountain that he and Jean and family were planning to visit Broken Hill late in August. I was due to leave Sydney for an indefinite stay in that unusual City of the West on July 19th, so arranged to meet him there when his party arrived. Actually, it is quite a rarity for Sydney residents, particularly S.B.W's, to venture so far out to see for themselves some of the wonders of the Western Darling.
During mid-August, I got in touch with Don and Betty (formerly Bell) Gordon, both well known to older S.B.W's, who are doing a three years' “stretch” at Broken Hill. We discussed what should be seen by the approaching visitors and the necessary contacts were made.
The Moppetts, and their caravan (I use the term in the oriental sense) seem to have taken a somewhat circuitous route after leaving Sydney, and their first telegram announced that they were at Rutherglen and were not likely to arrive in the Silver City before 25th August (they were expected on 23rd). Some of their deviations were caused by flooding in the Murrumbidgee-Murray River system. After some further delay at Ouyen, it became obvious that they'd arrive on 26th. At about 5 p.m. on that date, the “caravan” arrived and after one wrong turning wound its way through the City network to North Broken Hill, where the Gordon residence is situated.
After some re-organisation upon their arrival at this Western outpost of humanity (Civilisation is not quite the word), the festivities commenced. As I do not work on Wednesday afternoon, we were able to set out soon after 1 p.m. for a tour of local interest. Passing the very fine air-conditioned Hospital, we proceeded to Railwaytown Children's Park, which was being well patronised by holidaying school children. Then to South Broken Hill and through one of the best sections of the regeneration area to the aerodrome. Then to Rainbow Avenue, where homes, gardens, kindergarten and children's park are a credit to the mining company responsible, with much evidence of native tree planting. A quick glance at the Central Power Station, which supplies electric power for all mining activities of this field, and is said to be one of the largest diesel operated power plants in the Southern Hemisphere.
Our next objective was Penrose Park, Silverton, 16 miles away, This park is really a National Park for Broken Hill. It is situated beside a “gum” creek, that is a sandy creek which is normally dry, but lined with Eucalypts (E. Rostrata, I think). The park is fenced to keep straying stock out, and has been planted with many lovely varieties of dry country trees. All sorts of amenities are provided, particularly for children. A couple of gums, (E. Torquata) were just bursting into yellow blossom, making a lovely show. On the way out the distant hills of the Barrier Ranges were covered in patches with Red Hops (Rumex Roseas) in flower, and the hills appeared to be on fire, except that the dread bushfire smoke was missing. A really striking patch of colour in these rather barren areas.
After a thorough inspection of the Park, we pressed on through a small pass in the Ranges, descending to Mundi Mundi Plains, which impressed the visitors in their vast extent. The panorama from South West to North seemed quite flat, except for the Boolcoolmatta Hills, about 40 miles away in South Australia, looking very like a Hans Heysen painting of a Central Australian Range. Following round the edge of the Barriers for a couple of miles brought us to Umberumberka Reservoir, until recently one of the sources of Broken Hill's water supply (it will he used again in an emergency), in a rocky defile right on the Western edge of the Barrier Range. The sun was sinking, so we had to hurry back to the City, where Betty had dinner waiting for us. During the evening Tom and I visited 4 of the 41 hostelries doing business here. One is particularly interesting, as the interior decoration suggests a drinking saloon as depicted in “Western” American films and has attached to it an old theatre, now used as a billiard room. The whole arrangement must have been most convenient for theatre goers when Broken Hill was a rip-roaring mining town and hotels were open until 11 p.m. throughout the State.
The Thursday afternoon was spent under Betty Gordon's guidance in a visit to Stephen's Creek Reservoir and Pimping Station, where he City's water supply is now received after its 60 mile journey from the Darling River at Menindee, and then pumped into the local reticulation system. The Flying Doctor radio session goes on the air at 4 p.m., so the party arrived at the Base just before that hour, where Frank Basden, the chief operator, entertained them for 1 1/2 hours receiving and sending medical and business calls of the “great outback” by short wave. During the evening, I was able to join Tom and Jean in an inspection of National Regional Station 2NB, where the experimental radio telephone service connects with Darnick, Tibooburra, Radium Hill and Andamooka opal field, the latter two in South Australia.
The surface workings at the Zinc Corporation are open for public inspection every weekday. The conducted tour gives a good idea of the processes used in treating the various ores until the concentrates are actually in the rail trucks en route to Port Pirie for smelting. Our guests attended on Friday afternoon.
The “Caravan” was on the move again on Saturday morning with the Moppetts, and your scribe as guide, for the Mootwingee Ranges, 80 miles out on the road to White Cliffs. It was a lovely clear, bright day and the District was looking its best after a couple of good rainfalls. I was kept busy answering questions in this unfamiliar (to the Moppetts) country. We saw a couple of rather awesome looking lizards sunning themselves in the sandy road, and admired particularly the Leopardwood Trees with their almost willowy appearance and mottled bark. The curious shape of the Mulga Trees, the lovely carpet of flowers, which included Blue Bush (Kochia), White Paper Daisies (Heliptum Floribundum), Wild Hollyhock (Sida Virgarta), Yellow Buttons (Ixiolena), Blue Daisies (Brachycome) and, of course, the “Dead Finish”, an Acacia which looks as if it is almost dead, then shoots out again in a most unexpected fashion.
The fantastic shapes of some of the local ranges brought forth admiring comment. Just as we were approaching the Mootwingees, we met a party of high school students from Broken Hill, who had spent a week there with one of the masters, and were able to give some advice. At mileage 82, we reached the signpost “Rock Holes 2m.”, so turned off the White Cliffs Road just before reaching the ruins of the old “Mootwingee” Hotel, no doubt a coach horse changing place in the days when White Cliffs was a busy opal field. We successfully negotiated the first sandy creek crossing, noted a couple of good camp sites, and admired the fantastic colours and shape of the ranges, then bogged in the second sandy crossing. After half an hour's work, the car backed out easily and we retreated to one of the abovementioned camping sites and had a late lunch. Then we set off up a dry creek near our camp to explore. There were some lovely water holes with tadpoles in along the rocky course, left by recent rain, and the different types of unfamiliar trees growing near the creek were of great interest. Outstanding were flowering bushes of mauve and white flowers known locally as Rickey Caps. The ranges are light chocolate in colour. Most of the rock appears to have been molten at some time, while winds have eroded it into fantastic shapes. Some of the rock is full of water worn stones looking as if they have been cemented into the rock. After about 20 minutes easy walking, we saw a large cave on the rising ground above, which proved to be a red hand cave, much larger than the one at Glenbrook with fine specimens of aboriginal totem in it. Another smaller cave a little higher had even better specimens with less chalking of the outlines by enthusiastic photographers. A curious formation between the two caves could have been an initiation seat. Dusk was approaching so we climbed to the top of the hill and returned to camp along the hilltop.
Various parrots and other bird life were busy settling down for the night in the gum trees near the camp when we returned. When we had dined, the moon had risen and, as it was nearly full moon, shed a lovely light over the curious rock shapes and dry country trees and shrubs.
In the morning we awoke to all sorts of unfamiliar bird calls. Just as we were scrambling into the rather fresh morning freshness, the sound of an aircraft could be heard approaching. It was a small red Auster plane, used for private flying and for taxi work in these districts. It circled round the camp several times, so that it was obvious that the pilot was trying to attract our attention. Then, on his lowest swoop, a white object was dropped which we ran to pick up. It was a message from a Mr. Gall, whose property was some miles away, saying that Jean's Father had taken seriously ill in Sydney and suggesting that we return to Broken Hill. (Betty Gordon had 'phoned the message to Mr. Gall the previous night and this was his way of delivering it). We had breakfast and as one packed up, the others had a quick look at the surrounding country, including the famous water holes, which were probably the reason for so much aboriginal camping in these ranges during the centuries gone by. We made good time to do the return trip in four hours - the road surfaces in the Western Darling have to be seen to be believed. There was one Emu along the track, but no Kangaroo, although normally there are plenty about, unless the present open season has caused them to retreat into seclusion. At Yanco Glen, about 20 miles from “The Hill” we caught up with a fine mob of Hereford cattle being driven by an almost entirely aboriginal drover's outfit. My guess was that they had come from Western Queensland, as aboriginal drovers are not common around these parts.
Upon our arrival in the City, it became obvious that Jean would have to return to Sydney, so we organised her into a 'plane that evening. Then followed a couple of days of comparative quiet, while Tom looked after the family supervised by Betty. Don Gordon arrived back from Sydney, where he had been on business, and was able to arrange for Tom and I and three others to have an underground inspection of part of the North Broken Hill Mine.
On Thursday evening we assembled in our oldest clothing and were issued with hard miner's hats and electric lamps to wear on them; the hard hats in case a stone should fall or we should hit our heads on some of the low tunnels. Our guide, Harry Niemann, explained how the line of lode on this field is folded, and sometimes becomes difficult to locate. Then we went over to Thompson's Shaft and were loaded into a cage, four in each, which number included one of the Staff, who always rides in the cage in case of emergency. About 1,100 feet below the surface, we were led through innumerable tunnels, right to the face where ore is being mined. One party was getting ready to fire, while others were digging the ore out and loading it into trucks to be taken away behind an electric mule. As this area was part of one of the older workings, much of the journey was done by the light of our own lamps. They were also very handy for lighting up parts of the ore body for examination. We walked, clambered and slopped along many passages and finally were borne towards the surface on the North British Shaft. These cages travel quite fast, but are very draughty and rough in transit compared with lifts in most city buildings.
rThere were 20 points of rain overnight, but that did not deter the “Caravan” from moving off at 10 a.m. on Friday 5th September for Adelaide. Jean had returned the previous day from Sydney. I should explain that 20 points of rain, following a light fall 2 days previously could easily cause very slippery conditions on local roads for some hours after the fall. Whether the Moppetts can be induced to commit to paper their impressions of the parts of Inland Australia they saw during this trip, I cannot say, but I know that many questions were asked and notes taken, and confessions were made that they had very definite impressions of certain places. Now, Editor, see what you can do about their side of the story.
We think these facts about our Special Silver Anniversary Magazine will interest you. Its 44 pages were a record number. We turned the handle of the duplicator 13,627 times to print the 51 lbs. 9 1/4 ozs. of paper. If the sheets of paper used were placed end to end in Pitt Street they would stretch from the “Ship Inn” at Circular Quay to Anthony Hordern's corner in Goulburn Street, or to be more exact - 1 mile, 366 feet and 8 inches. And don't forget we have plenty of spare copies available. Send 9d. in stamps and your postal address.
Christa and Bob Younger on the Birth of a son (Ian Robert) on October 2nd.
Enid and Clem Hallstrom whose marriage took place on September 27th in Adelaide.
Dormie, guard your axe! On the Six Hour's Day Walk a new member was heard to enquire anxiously “Have you brought the axe?”
“What axe?”, asked the leader.
“The axe for breakfast”.
You won't want an axe“, said the leader, “there'll be plenty of wood”.
“No, no, I mean the soft-boiled axe”.
(Sorry, Jack, adds leader Don Frost, but couldn't resist the crack about your axe-cent.)
Arthur Gilroy's entry, adjudged best photograph displayed at the Annual Photographic Exhibition, is reproduced here. The negative has been made available by Arthur Gilroy, copies processed by Ken Meddows and John Bookluck.
By Bruce Sibley.
(On Anzac weekend-end of this year a party of six walkers were reported overdue in the ranges near Marysville, Victoria. Mr. Bruce Sibley, one of the members of the party, has supplied us with this story of the missing walkers. In the December issue we will publish the story of the search conducted by Melbourne Walkers, reported by Mr. Stuart Brookes of the Victorian Mountain Tramping Club. A map supplied by Mr. Brookes is reproduced in this issue. It will be noted from Mr. Sibley's account that their route does not tally with the “presumed route of the missing party” indicated by Mr. Brookes.
As many of our members carry out extended holiday walks in the high country of Kosciusko and the Victorian Alps, we believe the experiences of a party caught out by freakish bad weather in the mountains may be of considerable interest. - Editor.)
The Great Divide and its various spurs form a semi-circle to the south of Marysville, linked to the town by the Melbourne road in the West and Cumberland Valley road in the East. The main ridge, about 3,000-ft. high, is well timbered, with Mountain and Alpine Ash, and the undergrowth is fairly thick. Paradise Plains is a wide, flat section, on which the undergrowth is less dense and, because of the snow grass, some grazing is done. Before the disastrous 1939 fires the Divide, between Marysville and Warburton was fairly clear and, I believe, a popular walk for Melbourne Walkers. It forms the northern and western boundaries of the O'Shannassy Water Reserve which, we were to find, is almost impenetrable from the North because of the dense undergrowth.
Our aim was to climb Mt. Strickland spur from the road and follow the Divide to the east across Paradise Plains to the Cumberland Valley road. All but one of the party have been hiking for the past three years at least, and we were well equipped. Several had an abundance of food, a fact which was to help us later, but the majority had only food enough for the three days, as we expected to be back in Melbourne on the Sunday night. We had also a small kerosene stove and fuel to boil several billies of water. Besides three small tents, we had a 3-man tent in which we were able to congregate when ground space prevented the other tents from being pitched. Unfortunately this was not equipped with a fly, which would have been an advantage in the snow. We did not have an axe, and the lack of this item affected our rate of progress in the dense scrub.
Although Nigel Joyce and myself had been in the area before, we were acquainted with only a small section of the proposed route, namely the spur to Mt. Strickland and a portion of Paradise Plains near Mt. Kitchener.
We left Marysville about midday on Friday 25th, and spent the afternoon climbing the Mt. Strickland spur, along a number of old timber tracks. Camp was made at a spot several miles from the north end of the spur, amongst gum saplings, where the ground was clear of undergrowth. The sky had been overcast all the afternoon, but rain held off and the night was not cold.
On Saturday morning we continued south through more difficult country, as the pad which had once existed was, except for occasional stretches, completely overgrown, and we could only follow the general direction of the spur. We had lunch at a spot then considered to be just north of Mt. Strickland. After studying a Water Board map of the Reserve which we have since borrowed, I am of the opinion that we had already passed Mt. Strickland and were several miles south of the east-west ridge. Nigel Joyce, who had done this section before, but from the other direction, considers that we were just north of Mt. Strickland, and that our mistake was made that afternoon or on Sunday morning by dropping off the southern side of the east-west ridge.
Whichever view is correct, we wandered into the Water Reserve, and it was several days before we realised it. The views to our west were quite good but in the east the heavy undergrowth prevented us from seeing anything. After lunch we continued south a little further, obtaining good views of the Maroondah Reservoir to the west, and then turned off on to a prominent ridge which we thought was the east-west section of the Divide. The afternoon was spent in pushing our way through wiregrass and scrub but, by way of compensation, we were able to admire the magnificent stands of Mountain Ash.
Our views of the surrounding country were reduced to zero by the growth all around us and as the rate of progress had been a good deal slower than expected, it was decided to shorten the trip and to drop into Wilkes Creek valley to the Wolfram mine and thence to Marysville. Accordingly we clambered down to a creek which flowed in a northerly direction and camped for the night. The weather was not cold and no rain fell.
On Sunday we climbed over a spur to the north east into another creek flowing north and followed it down through a delightful fern gully. As the day wore on, the banks became a tangle of saplings and wire grass and we were forced to wade through the very cold water. The creek direction changed to north east and then to south of east, a fact which caused some misgiving. As darkness fell, we camped in a bend of the creek amid tall gums and ferns, a delightful spot. However during the night rain began to fall and continued to do so next morning.
We were not at all certain how much easterly travel we had made on the Sunday, and still hoping we were north of the Divide, decided to shorten the journey further by climbing the ridge to our north-east and following it. We spent all the morning doing this, having to force our way through a terrific tangle of wire grass. The ridge ran in a northerly direction and, not stopping for lunch because of the rain, we made our way slowly along it, occasionally getting glimpses of the surrounding country through the low cloud. To the east we saw the vague outline of a high ridge which we hoped was the Kitchener Range and so, because of snow which had begun to fall, and approaching darkness, made our way a short distance down a creek flowing to the east. Because of the limited space only the big tent could be pitched, and we all squeezed into it for the night, after cooking tea and drying our clothes.
Breakfast on Tuesday morning proved to be our last hot meal, and to conserve food lunches were dispensed with from now on. Several of us were out of food by this time. The weather had cleared somewhat and we followed the creek down through a layer of snow. After a time this creek began to swing to the south, which caused concern, so we struck north-east up a very low ridge, once more forcing our way through the closely growing gums. At the top we saw part of the very high ridge across the valley to the east and, as it was now late afternoon, we made our way to the bottom of the valley. Here we found the creek flowing due south, which proved beyond doubt that we were south of the Divide.
The weather now became very overcast and, after wading up and down the creek, we were able to find the only flat ground thereabouts, on a small island a few inches above the water. The large tent was pitched in several inches of snow and, as rain, and then snow, began to fall, and a fire was out of the question, we spread tents and groundsheets and crawled into our sleeping bags. We reckoned that the big ridge above us was either a spur from Mt. Grant or Mt. Observation and decided to climb to the top and make our way north until the Cumberland road was crossed. The remaining food, consisting of biscuits, salami sausage and small quantities of cocoa, chocolate, cake and fruit, was roughly rationed to last two days, the time estimated to reach the road. During the night more snow fell, necessitating attention to the tent.
On Wednesday morning we lay in because of the continuing snow and rain, then changed into our sopping wet clothes, packed, and after crossing the creek, began to make our way up the side of the ridge. The weather cleared somewhat, but after several hours hard work we had covered only about a mile and, as everybody was feeling very tired, it was decided to make camp. There was very little undergrowth but the young gum saplings growing closely together made an almost impenetrable wall, the only way to get through being to walk along fallen trees. However, the big tent was spread sufficiently to cover us all, and we used a smaller tent for a fly. Tea consisted of several biscuits and slices of salami sausage each, an apple and a piece of cake divided between us, and a mug of hot cocoa each, made by melting snow on the primus stove. This was the second night without a fire, but an each occasion we were reasonably warm in the sleeping bags because we were able to change into dry clothes which had been kept in our packs. The most unpleasant job was changing back into sopping wet clothes in the morning.
On Thursday morning breakfast was no larger than the previous tea, but the weather was clearing and the sun trying to came through. It was afterwards learned that the temperature in the vicinity was about 32°F. on Wednesday night. As we packed we coo-eed frequently, and suddenly received an answer from the ridge above. We were overjoyed, as we exchanged coo-ees with the unseen searchers until, as we were starting off up the ridge, they met us.
It was a party of local bushmen who had first heard us from the top of Mt. Observation on the ridge above, and they carried some very welcome food. It took nearly three hours to reach the road in spite of he fact that we were making our way along the track which they had taken out to reach us. The top of the ridge was in cloud, and we ploughed through a good two feet of snow, the deepest encountered on the trip. Cars took us to Marysville Police Station, and then to a boarding house, where we were wonderfully looked after and enjoyed hot baths and warm beds again.
On the following afternoon (Friday) we left for Melbourne in brilliant sunshine, the first for over a week. Three of the party were suffering from frost bitten toes, and we were all rather scratched about the legs and very tired.
The worst weather experienced, as already said, was light rain, light snow and, of course, the cold. Strangely enough, the snow fall was heavier around Marysville and in Melbourne, and the weather bitterly cold, with wind, heavy rain and hail, which made people more anxious than they might have been. We had enough food left for another day, and I am inclined to think our rationing was too severe as we were very tired on the last two days.
The maps carried, the only issues in general circulation, were :-
(1) A tourist map of Marysville, scale 2 miles to the inch, rather limited in its usefulness, because the ridges were by no means detailed enough.
(2) An Army survey map, scale 4 miles to the inch, which, although it extended well beyond the area, was hopelessly inadequate.
There is also a Water Board map of the Reserve, scale 1 inch to the mile, of which a few copies are to be had. This extends only as far as the Northern Boundary of the Reserve, and was not taken because we did not intend to enter the Reserve.
Report on the Club's 25th Birthday Parties.
“There was a sound of revelry by night
And S.B.W. had gathered then…”
Well, about 180 S.B.W. and friends gathered at the “Dungowan” for the more conventional City celebration on the night of 0Otober 17th. With the punctuality of walkers joining a train for the bush, there was an assemblage in Martin Place ready to storm the “Dungowan” at the tick of 9 p.m. We were welcomed by the President and his lady, and we were very taken with Malcolm's formal rig, complete with tails.
A goodly sprinkling of the old members appeared for the occasion. Apart from those who are still frequent visitors to the Club Room, we recognised Frances Ramsey, Frank Cramp, Ken Matthews, Harold and Win Chardon and several others whose names elude us at this critical moment. Bill Rodgers introduced a red herring by bringing his Mother and Father, and we were at first sorely taxed to identify them as old members. Dorothy Lawry and Charles Pryde sent their regards to the Club, and Paddy Pallin his regrets that he was absent on medical advice.
Clem Hallstrom opened the gustatory part of the celebrations by devouring a rose from our table. Ken Meadows didn't bother to bring a partner, having his newest love, his movie camera, to keep him occupied. For the cake-cutting ceremony a foundation member, Maurice Berry, and the most recently ordained member, Barbara Greethead, joined forces. The cake itself was a noble affair, a three-tiered structure with figurettes of bushwalkers, and surmounted by a minute green tent, a campfire, tripod and billy. It was a magnificent Birthday gift to the Club from a friend of Molly Gallard and Bill Rodgers, Mrs. Newton, who unfortunately couldn't be there to see the enthusiasm of S.B.W.
From the enthusiasm and comment of those better qualified to judge, the floor and band were adequate, and this time the “Dungowan” P.A. system functioned properly.
Practically all present remained to the last moment, when the band leader, in farewell, made the faux pas of the evening with his well-intended “Goodbye and happy HIKING”.
In all the tumult it is doubtful if there was any one so statistically minded as to take a count of the heads at the Bush Party. It would have been an unenviable job, for we recognised members of three Clubs apart from our own people and the hosts - the Caloola members. There were droves of children - in our immediate vicinity were the Noble kiddies, the Moppetts, the Gilroy daughter, Paul Barnes No.1 son and little Josie, the Bakers' children and Jack Gentle's lad - and there were others we never got around to identifying. In the absence of stockmen or tally clerks, we can only take a stab at the number and say about 150 were present for the Camp Fire.
Your reporter arrived with Colin Ferguson at the head of the batch off the 12.9 train: having slightly mislaid the short cut shown on Allen Strom's map, we arrived at Dillon's via the Basalt Quarry, to find the camp site was a lovely spot with cool green pastures, picturesque old shanties and some delightful cabbage tree palms. Already some tents were up, and we were waved in by Wal Roots and Bill Rodgers. The Putt motor cycle was down by the creek.
Throughout the afternoon people moved in steadily, and as each group descended the ridge from the huts, the old Era game of “identifications” was played. Shadows crept down from the timber on the slopes, and with it a strange caterwauling from a small secretive group hidden behind lantana in a tumbledown stockyard. After night had mantled the valley, a host of small fires ruddied the bank of smoke hovering in the calm, dewy air. A few belated ones made a torch-light procession down the slope.
Duly at 8 p.m. voices chanted “Fires Burning”, and it was aided by a libation of dieseline. As the throng gathered, we discovered that the S.B.W. Film Unit was there in strength, complete with pressure lamps, tins of oil, and flashlights. Dot Butler was clawing her way up a palm, but gave it away after some fifteen or twenty feet, and was heard to complain of splintery going.
We began with traditional campfire singing but, despite the best endeavours of compere Gil Webb, the community was indifferent and played hard to get, spending its efforts in calling directions to new arrivals and chattering volubly. It must be admitted, however, that a proper pin-dropping silence was observed while Joe Turner's younger daughter spoke some verse by Kendall.
Then the hush-hush colony from the hillside revealed their fell purpose. They were the S.B.W. Light Opera Company, with a musical offering - score mostly by the late Sir Arthur Sullivan, libretto by several members, notably Pat Sullivan (no relation to Sir A.,) and the McGregors.
From the performer's viewpoint, we seemed to be off the tune most of the time in trying to get the words over: at least the words apparently reached most of the audience, who witnessed a highly coloured version of the last Instructional Walk, complete with leader Eddie Stratton in strife with the Station Master (Brian Harvey) over her missing “tic-ticket, tic-ticket, tic-ticket”: also a “skulking great scoundrel with broad Scottish brogue” (President McGregor) who “pulled on the chain in the train” and incurred the wrath of the engine driver (“A most unattractive old goat, tra-la”): dietetic solos by Yvonne Renwick and Pat Sullivan told of their “breakfast in bed”: Ed. Stretton presented the first aid lecture, and Malcolm McGregor emphasised that “the contour is the thing” in the mapping talk: and, of course, there was the luckless Treasurer (played by Gil Webb in Phil Mason's absence) with Ross Laird for the vocal interludes: and the wicked villain (Neil Schafer) - “note my black moustache, my evil roving eye” - who smote the Treasurer with a rock, only to be foiled again. The opera did not draw the moral that Treasurers are hard-headed and hard-hearted, but threatened the audience “if we find a Treasurer dead, we'll nominate you instead” and all ended happily.
We resumed community singing with Ian Dalgleish leading and playing the guitar, and the voices were more animated this time. A Will Ogilvy verse by the other Turner daughter, more singing, then an interruption to allow Committee to hold an extraordinary Meeting - surely the most extraordinary meeting ever held. The assemblage must have been impressed by the dignified manner in which the Cat problem was dealt with, and the somewhat less dignified interview with a prospective member.
There were other acts prepared, but at this stage the Supper Committee, represented by Bill Rodgers, Molly Gallard and Colin Ferguson, indicated that the cake-'n-cocoa were to hand. At this stage, the organised part of the campfire came to an and, and the Film Unit commenced to operate. Producer/Cameraman Ken Meadows, with Director/Technical Assistant Keith Renwick, and a horde of counsellors, yes-men and critics in best Hollywood tradition, fluttered about the battery of lamps like so many agitated moths, holding light meters to necks, wind-jackets and noses, and calling conflicting directions. To a backdrop of old members eagerly talking with other old members, and newer members doing much the same, the Film Unit shot the highlights of the Opera. Some of the performers sang snatches of their limes, others mimed in silence. Then it was found that there wasn't enough light for the long shots, which were deferred until daylight, and the cameramen proceeded to film carefully staged applause by individual members of the “audience”.
The trek to bed commenced at this time - about 11 p.m. - and continued for the next eight hours. Some small campfires were built up and breakaway groups began their personal celebrations. Around the main fire the Pyrotechnics group took over, with several small explosions but (fortunately for the peace of the evening) the threatened big blast was a fizzer - only the detonator blew. Jim Hooper was seen taking surreptitious swigs from a bottle, and spitting it out over a lighted match, with convincing ignition. He was obliged to repeat several times before the cameras caught it, because he couldn't say “ready” with his mouth full of - was it only common kerosene, or Peter Stitt's jungle juice?
Between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. the group dwindled to the die-hards, who died exceedingly hard. All through the night and into the dawning they sang on and on, to the chagrin of some who tossed on their couch of turf unsleeping. There were rumours next day of some tents being let down during the night - not funny on a very dewy night.
Breakfast was generally belated and spread over several hours. Folk wandered about talking, some looking a mite dazed. Some time after nine o'clock we saw the Gilroys pull out, and presently others - the Deans bound back to Melbourne, the Turners for Armidale, and many of those with young families. Fraternising was the order of the day - a brilliant sunny day, with some woolly clouds driven up before a brisk nor'-easter. Presently the Film Unit resumed, and in a series of “takes” covered the chorus and action scenes from the Opera. The comment of the weekend came from villain Neil Schafer, after he had again “smashed down” the Treasurer: carefully removing the rock from the skull of the prone victim, he observed “Wonderful what you find when you turn stones over!”
A group returned from a visit to the swimming hole beyond the huts, Bill Kinley entertained with some pseudo-Shakespeare and the evergreen “Kinley Clam Clamp Closet” monologue, and a steady stream of re-uners retreated over the hill. All seemed resolved to get home early, so that by two o'clock few tents blossomed on the pasture of Springvale.
The big crowd went out in diverse ways. Some had their cars along the trail: some were given lifts: some travelled on the Caloola truck: and some foot-slogged back to Woy Woy. All in all there must have been sixty or seventy walkers dwelling on the first train for Sydney, and most of them managed to drag themselves into its crowded cars.
But ah! The train was stopped on the track, tra-la! - and not by some scoundrel pulling on the chain. A freight train had failed near Mt. Kuring-gai, and the Reuner Special came to a stand near Berowra… and stood… and stood… and stood… Some walkers crawled out, scrounged hot water from the engine, and made tea (one even caught up with his meals, by eating his breakfast corn flakes!). Altogether they waited over an hour, but of this we cannot give faithful report, for we fled the stuffy carriages, lit out for the road, and a truck load of fishermen did the decent thing as far as Hornsby.
It was a jolly good Re-union. The only trouble was, it was over. When shall we re-une like this again?
Did you bring your sleeping bag back from the bush party? Did you bring some one else's sleeping back back?
Some one did.
If you are the guilty one, please contact the Editor, who will arrange for the necessary exchange.
By Allen Strom.
(Republished from “Yarrawonda”, the magazine of the Caloola Club, by courtesy of Allen Strom. Members will probably be interested in these facts concerning the site of the 25th Anniversary Re-union.)
It is well over a decade since we first came upon this grassy glade hidden away in a sea of barren sandstone… Springvale!
A friend who had been studying geology with us said he had heard about two volcanic necks in the sandstone country west of Woy Woy and promptly drew forth a map to give us the “low down”. There and then we decided to investigate and on the appropriate weekend we were exploring the new region. Basalt Saddle came up first and this pleased us immensely. There were interesting contacts with the sandstones and all that we expected in changes of flora. From Basalt Saddle we set a compass course across the sandstone tops that we know now as The Dillon Heights and were impressed at the grandeur of the panorama - the Hawkesbury to the south and that attractive residual Mt. Woy Woy (Wondabyne Trig) to the north. We could see that here were fine primitive lands ready for the keeping. But this enjoyment was superseded when we came out onto the head overlooking Dillon's Valley - Springvale. We had not conjectured a neck of such dimension nor of the degree of habitation; at the time Mr. G. Dillon was still working the property. The valley in its usual green, walled with sandstone and the olives of the eucalypts, presented a striking picture to the new “discoverer”. We sat and looked for some time until awakened by the clatter of the family utility taking the Dillons into Woy Woy. With some reticence then, we descended into the valley and after a little exploration along the creeks, found volcanic breccia, some basaltic rock and numerous contacts with the sandstones.
Many trips were made through “Springvale” after that time. Some times we explored down Dillon's Brook and along Patonga Creek, or from Wondabyne across Mt. Woy Woy and later marked the track and mapped the route from Woy Woy to The Broken Bay National Fitness Camp. There have been few happier times in our roamings than that when we “discovered” Rocky Ponds, chocked with water (and crayfish) despite the drought year of '39.
Seeing the sandstone country around “Springvale” in fair weather and foul, in the heat of summer and the soft lush of spring, has convinced us that nowhere is there a better area for preserving our wildflowers. Here are native rose, boronia end waratah in magic splendour; at times we have waded knee deep in a yellow carpet of Dillwynia and Pultanea spangled with the white of wedding bush, the pink of Boronia, the scarlet of five corners and spider flower. Honeyeaters, Rosellas, Lyre Birds and all their kin are here: and even, when the dogs leave them alone, Kangaroos. The view from Mt. Woy Woy with its wide vista of Brisbane Waters and Broken Bay, is not readily forgotten.
This is recreation country par excellence: we must dedicate all the unalienated lands in this area to the nation and unborn generations, and without delay. To this project nature protectionists have given the name “The Kariong National Park” because it includes the Kariong Trig station (distinctly seen from Mt. Woy Woy) and the Kariong peninsula (the neck of land between Mullet and Mooney Creeks). Will you help? Every supporter for our scheme means an extra voice in the ear of authority… and before it is too late!
Our ramblings through these lands often brought us up with Mr. and Mrs. G.D. Dillon and their boys: we soon learned to know them as friendly folk who enjoyed the beauties of their surroundings as we did. Since our establishment of the Dillon Huts Scheme over 18 months ago, our contact with the Dillon family has become closer and interest in the early history of “Springvale” keener. Readers should therefore find the following notes supplied by Mr. G.D. Dillon at our request, of considerable value:
“As a boy of 12 I often by-passed the then bush farm, on my way to Patonga Creek, where we then lived.
Our way of transport was by pack-horse over the Woy Woy Tunnel to Gosford, travelling mostly through bushlands and having to go right to the head of Narara Creek to reach the town as there was no bridge in those days.
My brother, Mr. Lou Dillon, selected his farm, which can be seen on the hill opposite the Dillon Huts, in 1907 and four years later, my uncle, Louis Newton, selected “Springvale”. He held it for 12 months and erected the kitchen which you use today.
Two years later I took over the farm. It had gone back to its virgin state. We had only a bridle track from Woy Woy and carried out provisions on horses. We then constructed the present route so that we could take a cart into town. We commenced by cutting sleepers and timber which was horse drawn to Woy Woy, then cleared the bush, planted fruit trees and grew vegetables for sale in Woy Woy.
About 1921 we left the farm and followed the timber work to Singleton, as times were very hard, but after four years away, we returned and started carrying milk to Patonga, over the hill and thence by boat down the creek. In those days Patonga was only visited by steamer as there was no road connected with Woy Woy. We continued with our dairy until one of my sons was called to the war and restrictions forced us to leave and come to Paton Street. We shifted the house in which we now live from the farm by dismantling and re-building it.
The other huts which we used as bedroom and kitchen have since gone to ruin as no one has been living there for nine years, and they have been ravaged by hoodlums. Thanks to your Club, there has been considerable improvement in the huts in the last year.”
Seen on a recent test walk: the leader trotting briskly up the last fifty feet of Mt. Solitary towing a weary prospective by the hand. If the quote be forgiven, it was “vewy impwethive”, but could it be setting an unwise precedent?
Planned anything for the Christmas break as yet?
The Caloola Club is organising a tour of some of the Victorian National Parks… established and proposed. Kinglake (near Whittlesea), Central Highlands (near Kyneton), Werribee Gorge, The Otways, Wilson's Promontory, Bulga and Tarra Valley (East Gippsland), Mt. Buffalo, Mt. Hotham, The Bogong High Plain Area will be included in the itinerary. Some opportunity for walking in the districts traversed. From December 25th to January 13th. Cost about £15 for travel expenses.
Some vacancies still exist. Further details on request to Allan A. Strom, 6 Coopernook Avenue, Gymea Bay. WE 2520, WB25280 WB2529.
We find our opening comment about the Bush Party was quite wrong. Two amazing people independently took a tally of those at the camp fire and agree on a figure of about 160. As some of the kiddies were abed, we appear to have had 170 or more actually present. The kiddies we did NOT account for in the report were two young Butlers, 1 Woods, 1 Burke and 1 Ashdown. This still doesn't take into account several in the teenage group. All told, the tally seems to have been 22 children of members present, probably a record.
A special request performance of the opera “Instruction Plus” will be presented on the party night set down for November 28th. Don't miss the lovely soprano solos, the tenor aria and the baritone duet - Don't miss Neil Schafer (greater than Ivan Menzies! - greater even than Dracula!).
By Allen A. Strom.
A deputation has been arranged to wait upon the Premier on Thursday 23rd October at 2.30 p.m. Allen Strom will represent the Federation.
An attempt will be made to co-ordinate the efforts of the Federation Bushfire Patrol and the Bushfire section of the N.S.W. Ranger Patrol.
The Trust of this Park has succeeded in obtaining the permission of the Department of Lands to appoint an additional bushwalker representative on the Trust. Mr. A.W. Dingeldei was nominated by the Federation.
The Newcastle Technical College Bushwalkers and the Barrington Club are proposing to initiate a new move for the declaration of a Primitive Area in the Barrington and Gloucester Tops.
Will hold an Exhibition of drawings of Animals, Flowers and Cartography of Australia before 1760 until December 31st, 1952. The drawings include some by Roper, Lewin and Gould. The Library is open from 1 - 5 p.m. on week days and 2 - 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Supplies of the Section's pamphlet “Safe Walking” may be had from Paddy Pallin - this is particularly emphasised for new members. 5,000 copies were prepared and some have been forwarded to the Police and S & R bodies in Melbourne and Brisbane. The proposed S & R Weekend has been postponed until the New Year as there were too many difficulties and clashes at present.
Report by Committee showed a profit of £99.7.10 with 137 present. Efforts for a 1953 Ball have been commenced but the best booking that could be made was for the State Ballroom on Friday, October 23rd. Preparations are to continue.
Field weekends as follows have been organised:
November 8th and 9th: Field Notes and Tacheometry.
November 22nd and 23rd: Plane Tabling and Compass Traversing.
Both weekends will be at Era Beach with lectures commencing at noon on the Saturday. Further details from Joe Fletcher at B0259, ext.WF62 or WF23. A start will be made on the checking of details for the map of the Wild Dog Mountains.
Is compiling a list of Transport facilities and costs.
The position is again vacant. A volunteer is urgently required.
The President is to go ahead with the organisation of 1952 inaugural meeting of the Patrol to be held in the rooms of the Big Sister Movement, Sixth Floor, Scott's Chambers, Hosking Place. If you are willing to give some help during 1952-53 then contact Paul Barnes without delay.
Canberra Alpine Club and The Caloola Club.
Reported that explosions took place within the Bungonia Caves during a recent weekend, apparently caused by persons wishing to extend an opening from one cave to another. The Trustees will be asked whether they were informed of the proposed blasting.
It was agreed to call for the submission of designs for an insignia, such submissions to be with the Secretary of Federation before the December meeting.
It's a bit early…..
For Christmas greetings…
Paddy makes the request to all you good folk who contemplate going walking or camping over Christmas, to please let him have your orders for new gear - or your worn gear for repair - in good time to avoid the Christmas rush and to ease the strain on his factory staff.
And for those…
who don't know what Paddy sells - well - just run your eye over the decorated border of this page - then come right in and inspect the items for yourself.
There's always some new model or gadget to be seen in the shop!!
Paddy Pallin, Lightweight Camp Gear.
201 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. M2678