A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, C/- Ingersoll Hall, 256 Crown St., Sydney. Box No.4476 G.P.O Sydney.
|Co-Editors||Dot Butler, Boundary Road, Wahroonga (JW2208). Geof Wagg, 19 Mary Street, Blacktown.|
|Business Manager||Alex Colley (XAl255)|
|Sales & Subs||Jess Martin|
|Typed by||Jean Harvey|
|Production||Alan Wilson (FY2047)|
|The February General Meeting||2|
|60 Years A–Growing||Taro||3|
|Federation Notes - February||Allen A. Strom||6|
|Our Trip to Bogong High Plains||Bon-oh||8|
|Annual Swimming Carnival||14|
|The Infernal Combustion Engine||Alex Colley||16|
|The Laird Barbecue||Dot Butler||18|
|Siedlecky's Taxi & Tourist Service||3|
|The Sanitarium Health Food Shop||5|
|Scenic Motor Tours||9|
|Leica Photo Service||11|
|“Tents Moments” (Paddy's Advertisement)||20|
12th and 13th March 1955 at Woods Creek.
All members past and present welcome.
(Prospective Members of the Club are NOT permitted to attend the Reunion. )
Arrangements have been made for a bus to connect with the 12.33 train from Sydney (about 2 p.m, at Richmond). A bus will also meet the 5.16 or 5.46 trains from Richmond on Sunday afternoon - arriving Sydney 7.11 or 7.28 respectively. Fares: Bus: 2/. each way.
We made a tardy start this general meeting night, and it was 8.30 before our worthy President could make his voice heard above the clamour.
The minutes were read and the correspondence, which included a letter from May and Paddy Pallin, thanking all for their happy send off. The President took this chance to thank all and sundry for this social success, particularly the toilers who paddled around all Saturday afternoon putting up shelters.
In our Federation report mention was made of a recent feud between the manager of Barrington Guest House and walkers going to and from Carey's Peak. Jim Hooper who lately investigated the situation (at Paddy's request) explained that the trouble arose out of a misunderstanding between this rather touchy manager and some Newcastle Tech. College walkers and, averred Mr. Hooper, “a polite approach makes all the difference”. Young bushwalkers please attempt!
As the first of our general business the President gave the list of offices becoming vacant for our timely consideration. – Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Walks Secretary, Social Secretary, and Membership Secretary.
Mr. McGregor moved and everybody seconded a motion that we book the R.S.L. Hall for our Christmas Party and also arrange for the time to be extended to 1 a.m.
Alex Colley, on hearing in the Conservation Report that the Surveyors' Report on the proposed Blue Mountains National Park had been made available to the local governing bodies concerned for their consideration, moved that we ask the Minister for Lands if we can have one to look at. Tom opined that we hadn't much hope, but we decided there was no harm in asking.
Mr. Ashdown had a word of complaint about people who collapsed tables while visitors are addressing us, saying that he considered this most bad mannered. Our President, as tactful as ever, suggested that this was possibly brought about by other visitors who didn't realise the delicate equilibrium of our furniture. Malcolm made the point that it was time that we were house trained and didn't sit on the tables anyway.
Jim then called for those who intend to present an item at the Reunion to make themselves known to Ken Meadows or other members of the appropriate Committee, all of whom would be glad to hear about it, and Jim Hooper announced that the date of the S & R weekend had been changed to the 18-20th March to coincide with police and RAAF who are to take part. Also he would like to know how many intend going as the Bobbies are arranging some transport.
Finally, with a report on the last swimming carnival and a reminder of next year's, Kevin Ardill finished the business of the meeting which closed at 8.55.
“Come to Rene's Party” said that whimsical folder with the strong Bean flavour. Sounded simple enough - such parties are always happening. Knowing Rene so long and well made it a must. I expected to find the usual roll up of a Club night - but just the reverse - only a few of the young fry were there. But it was a grand party of early members, surely the finest compliment Rene could wish to enjoy.- No reunion can I recall with such a warm glow of feeling - maybe t'was the beautiful mellowing of a quarter century. (Fashion note: light tinted hair seemed to be the mode.) As the Man in the Corner - given to observation - I'll say it was more than a birthday party - it was a demonstration of the real meaning of the S.B.W. Surely the founders never imagined the extent of the pairing to be, and the fruit thereof could be seen playing around in dozens. Lucky kids all, to have a bushwalking background to grow up in. And what of the Roots' branch! A child of a child of a S.B.W. couple, all produced within the life of and the material of the Club. And what better testing ground could there be for the final long walk through life. Out in the Bushland the real person comes to the surface for all to see, mark and remember. From the first, and on every walk I've shared, I cannot recall one hot argument or disturbance, which, humanity being what it is, makes a fine performance. Better give the Bush the credit!
Back on the main track - the Rene affair. What a party! And what a place! - not to be sought afar, but right here at home in Rootsie's backyard, with enough bush, tracks and trimmings for a test walk and a rock climb! I had a couple of simmering hours watching 'em arrive. The setting was perfect - a track winding down to open suddenly on the camp site. And thus they dramatically appeared - actually a mannikin parade of pals, some not seen for 20 years. Most of the cast of the Mouin affair were there, including Norm Coulton and Alan Rigby, the actual finders of the delectable quintette. Yea, even Harold Chardon, the inventor of modified Morse.
Having socked us into a swamp at Paddy's party the weather, noting Rene, was kind. The moon watched us through the leafy curtain, but the unfortunate victims on the spit took most attention - could we actually surround and annihilate those yards of mutton?
There's lots of fun (and anguish) to be had watching mug carvers massacre elegant joints. No matter - our salivary creeks were in full flood and any chunk would do. Henry Woolfe would have had a fit at the doings. Don't ask me who Henry Woolfe was! I'll tell you. In the nineties Henry Woolfe, tall, fairish, spotless, had a smallgoods shop in George Street just below Liverpool Street. He served and carved near the front window, and always a crowd was to be seen watching and admiring his superbity. His judgment in cutting skinned goods in one go! Tick on the dot every time! And when he carved a ham (2/6 lb. then!!!!) he showed all the grace of a ballerina, with the surety of Athos. 'Tis said (by me) he could cut a slice so thin you could read a paper through it. AND - get this - he was official carver immaculate at all Government House functions, at the board - not down in the kitchen. Ah! gracious days! His window, like the tinkling bells of the old waxworks, was one of the sights of Sydney - lovable old Sydney. Yes, you've guessed right - the Henry Woolfe you see about the City is the identical original. And don't go writing to ask me who was Athos, 'cos I'll tell you now: He was the aristocrat of Dumas' immortal three, and acknowledged the finest swordsman in Europe.
Lemme see - was I at Rootsies? I was. About that feed - the tasters - gallons of 'em, were beautifully flavoured by tricks known to dieticians (did Wally show judgment). Came tea and trimmings, and then THE event: The Cake.
I found the cutting of the cake most moving in spite of the crackle of interjection, which the sincerity of the occasion brushed aside. Tom Herbert, in his capable way, said all the things we were thinking, and Rene's response was not without emotion. For the benefit of absentees (bless 'em - we would not have had so much had they been there), the cake was rectangular - about 16“X12”X4“, and entirely built by Rene's sister. It was deeply, evenly iced, decked with wattle and Xmas bells, with a billy on a stick, with a milestone and the inescapable score on it, and inscribed in perfect script - all adding up to something too good for destruction.
So much for the outside - this being the age of glamour, one should tread warily. However, the first cut revealed a richness of fruit and colour with even texture and taste - taste! What a miserable word for such a magnificent chord of palatal emotion! Cheers for Rene and her Authors for so thoughtfully providing such a birthday! Quite without the aid of an electronic brain the caake was portioned to give every one of the 100 odd a reasonable sample.
Then began the lighter side with that master compere, Ian Malcolm. No one could accuse the S.B.W. of now having musical evenings, and Ernie Austin's songs drove home the extent of our loss in the legitimate field. Remember Peter's fine tenoring? Gordon's chesty deeps? Edgar's truly lyrical offerings? and I've never heard anyone do “Trees” better than Joyce Demmer.
And Rene herself - our one time maestro - yes, the S.B.W. once had an orchestra and at least three members were at the party: Rene, the conductor and accompaniste; Olive Greenacre, first violin; and a certain flautist who has played with the world's great conductors (chipping in on radio) - but don't tell them for the fluter would not like to meet assassination in the very flower of youth! And listen, you yodellers - Rene used to be our coloratura soprano and sang with a fine clear tone and intonation that still remains square on the note. She once gave a great exhibition of sang froid (I don't know how to spell sang froid and I'm not sure what it means, but it seems to have some song connection - even looks like something been in a pan - so in it goes). Half way through an aria Rene clean forgot the words; quite coolly she turned and told us so (now there was news!) and tripped happily off stage as the vast audience in a metropolitan theatre clapped madly, and everyone was happy. BUT – if Cursedcardus had been there he would have made Rene look the dead spit of the spitted ones half way through the blitz. Another star at tat show was languorous (of G. string!) passionate Hilda McCartney with her violin, and everytime I think of the dress she wore that night - I see red!
And listen, you whiskery hillbillies, for their stage appearance the gentlemen of the Sydney Bush Walkers wore evening dress and had a tailored shave on the day of the concert. Also at Rene's party were the two who put on, at this concert, the finest spot of tragedy in the Club's theatrical history. They were young aristocrats awaiting the tumbril for the trip to Madam Guillotine. Their names - Marion Sutton (now Moroney), and Ian Malcolm. Yes, Rene's party waked up a host of memories. There is one deeply etched memory - on the banks of the Grose, one summer night in the long ago, when four girls standing back to the fire, face to the river, sang “Sweet and Low”, as written, and sang it perfectly. One at least of the four was with us at Rene's party - Win Chardon. And what a lot of faces Jean Austin's one candle power lightens up. Since the vanishment of Stoddie's Melody Maidens hill billy seems to be King Billy around the camp fire. I'm sure Mr. Schubert would not mind us having a half hour of “Lilac Time”, the net that snared so many of Schubert's lovely and simple melodies. And every camp fire should have at least a half-hour of Gilbert and Sullivan quite unadulterated. (I move that the Canoe Club be raided and Roy Gaddelin - fiddle and bow - be forcibly taken and welded to the S.B.W.).
Bean, of course, did some surprising things, and that bright spark of other days, Gordon Pritchard, was more flashing than ever. (A sad loss to the Club when G.P. dropped out.) The surprise of the night was Joan's Puppet Show - how that gal is sure steeped in the theatre! I can see some dreadful shocks coming when she puts S.B.W. puppets on the payroll.
One black spot of the night was the absence of Myles - the father - the core of the Club.
As usual Time was the enemy, and midnight arrived before half a dozen words had been exchanged. Then Ho for the bushwalk up the track to the house and gate where hundreds of posh waggons were awaiting their owners to take 'em N.S.E.W. presto! (A change from '27 when a few push bikes comprised the rolling stock of the Club.)
A truly great night, and Rene's cheery invite to her birthday party in 1965 just put the philosophic crown on everything.
Allen A. Strom.
It was agreed to make a donation of £2.2.0 to the fund.
The Practice Weekend will now be held on weekend March 18/19/20th in the Policeman Range Area. Club Contact man will want to know who will be attending so that he can report to the meeting of S & R to be held on March 9th. During the illness of the S & R Secretary, Mr. Norman Allen will be Acting Secretary. 'Phone numbers are: Business FY6292. Private FW6456.
Will be held on March 26/27th at Morella Karong. The special task allocated to the S.B.W. is cleaning up of the Campfire. Ken Stewart and Geof Wagg will be the Campfire Leaders. Name tags will be supplied. A circular will be forwarded later to Clubs outlining Reunion details.
Following a report that Bushwalkers were being directed not be camp in the Catchment Area of the Warragamba Dam, it was agreed that the President should seek a personal interview with the President or Secretary of the Water Board in order to clarify the position.
A conference of a number of interested bodies was held on Saturday, February 12th, to discuss a means of implementing the establishment of The Kariong National Park. It included a representative from the Conservation Department and the Fauna Protection Panel. The resolutions agreed upon covered the following:
(1) The Government to be pressed to take action to establish the National Park for the preservation and study of flora, fauna and aboriginal relics.
(2) The Trust for the Park to include representatives of Government Departments and interested Conservation Bodies.
(3) Any agreement on this Kariong Project shall not prejudice the achievement of general reservations along the Hawkesbury River.
A Committee was appointed to implement the resolutions. It will consist of Miss Crommelin (Warrah Sanctuary), Mr. G. Moore (Hawkesbury Scenic Pres. Council), Mrs. T.Y. Stead (W.L.P.S.A.), Mr. Myles Dunphy (N.P.P.A.C.), Mrs. Sourrey (Gosford Flora and Fauna Pres. Soc.) and power to co-opt.
It was agreed that it would be a good thing to arrange similar conferences on other matters of interest. Mr. F.J. Griffiths, Chief Guardian of Fauna, agreed to undertake the organisation of this work.
The Minister for Lands has directed that since the administration of the Reserve is being carried out by the Trust in a manner that satisfies the purpose of the dedication, there should be no alteration of the position. If at any time there are contemplated decisions which will change the status quo, then the Fauna Protection Panel shall be called upon for an expression of opinion.
The outcome of this Ministerial direction is as follows (pro tem):
(1) The Forestry Department will not be given any rights over the Reserve.
(2) The Fauna Protection Panel's request for the Reserve to become a Faunal Reserve is refused.
(3) The threat to M.P.R. has been temporarily averted.
The greatest danger lies in a change in attitude or personnel of the Trust.
Reported that the proposal for a Fauna Reserve is now being studied by the Mines Department to determine any implications.
The District Lands office at Goulburn is prepol2ing a map of the area pursuant to presenting a report to the Department of Lands.
(Cowan Creek, Kuring-gai Chase). A report that the Kurin-Gai Motor Yacht Club wants to erect a Club Boat-House, Pier and Baths at Hallet's Beach has been followed up.
A report that the Royal National Park Trust proposes to hand over portion of the N.W. corner of the Park to the Sutherland Shire Council is being investigated.
A work party will be held on the weekend February 26/27th. Transport to the Park has been arranged for Friday evening, February 25th. Cost 17/6d. As in this project would be deeply appreciated. There is still an urgent need for Ranger Patrols through the Park. Delegates are asked to bring the matter before their Club Meetings.
If you want to interest your friends in our Conservation Projects, we can help with the organisation of transport and trips.
March 18,19,20th: The Budderoo and Barren Ground Areas.
March 25,26,27th: Morton Primitive Reserve (Meryla Pass section)
We can also help with propaganda leaflets and showings of colour transparencies.
Firstly, let me introduce you to the members of the trip. Our party consisted of six all told, Tine Koetsia, Grace Aird and Beverley Price, and the boys, Don Mathews, Geof Wagg and myself.
Now that we have our starters I can proceed to tell you something of the whereabouts of the Bogong High Plains. They are found about 50 miles south-east of Albury, their average height above sea-level being about 5,600 ft. with several higher peaks: Mt. Bogong (6,506'), Mt. Cope (6,025'), Mt. Loch (6,114') and Mt. Feathertop (6,267'). As to the extent of the High Plains, the northern section is dominated by Mt. Bogong, the southernmost peak is Mt. Hotham, and Mt.Feathertop is on the western boundary. The total length is approximately 26 miles.
Our plan was to climb Mt. Bogong from Tawonga, then proceed south to Mt. Hotham, then double back in a NNW direction to Mt. Feathertop, thence down to Harrietville. From Harrietville we planned to have a look at the Mt. Buffalo National Park for a couple of days, then hitch to Albury and home by train. The plan allowed us six days walking on the High Plains.
We left Sydney on Christmas night. We will dispense with the unnecessary details of our train journey to Albury. Our next step was to board a bus to Tawonga. After a certain amount of searching the bus depot was found. Our transport was due to leave at 9.30 a.m. or thereabouts (it turned out to be thereabouts), which gave us 2 1/2 hours to see Albury. It was Boxing Day. The only place open for breakfast was the Railway Refreshment Room. After breakfast a walk down the main street and to the Botanical Gardens gave us time to digest our steak.
Our bus rolled out of the shed at 9.45 and proceeded very cautiously along the main road, with the driver clearing his throat to tell us all about the local sights. “On your left…” he would say, then “On your right..”, indicating the numerous attractions that presented themselves, such as the butter factory and the football ground. His next remark was, whilst crossing the bridge across the Murray River “In a moment you will be in Victoria”.
Towards midday we had our first glimpse of Mt. Bogong. It looked exciting from the road towering above all other ridges, and being clear of vegetation it seemed to stand out from the surrounding ridge.
We reached Tawonga and found it boasted a store and a pub. I didn't see the horse and dog, but it was a friendly place. The local storekeeper gave us all a lecture on how to “tickle” trout. He assured us that more fish are caught this way than any other, that is if one's hook is bitten off by an eel. We had lunch on the banks at the Kiewa River, then some little time was spent taking pictures of Mt. Bogong to the chatter of “There's a good foreground” - “Not much light, is there?” - “Is that the right exposure?” Looking at a map we could see the horrible details that confronted us, meaning, of course, that we had a road bash of 10 miles to the base of the Staircase Ridge which was to be our ascent ridge. “Well, let's get it over with” was the general cry. Don and Tine not being interested in the art of photography went on ahead and set us a most difficult task during the afternoon to catch them. The sun beat mercilessly on our backs as we walked along the road. And we walked and walked. Oh, poor feet on this first day out! At long last we crossed Mountain Creek and spotted a tent on a clear space near the stream, smoke from the campfire announcing the presence of a billy of boiling water for a cuppa. Although this spot was some 4 miles short of the base of the ridge it was good enough for us, and a swim in the creek settled it. As we cooked the evening meal the sunset gave us a fine display of clouds racing across the sky, propelled by some unseen wind, tinted golden red as they passed through the sun's last rays.
Monday morning found us up at 5 a.m. and away by 7 a.m. We soon got rid of the four miles of road and found ourselves at the base of a ridge. The map showed the Staircase Ridge commencing at the end of the road, and as we were at the end of the road with a track leading up the ridge we presumed it was the Staircase Ridge. Our hard work had now started - 4,500' to climb in 4 miles to the summit. We climbed steadily for 3 hours and lunched in sight of the summit with a mile left to go. The trees had now given way to grassy slopes, as we had passed the timber line. Snow daisies grew in great confusion, and a fine display of colour they gave to the ridge sides. The summit hut stood like a sentinel just below the trig which we reached by 4.30 p.m. Absence of firewood on the bleak mountain top made cooking a longish procedure. As the sun went down the wind arose and the flight of the Bogong moths began - literally millions of these small moths flew round in crazy circles above us.
Before continuing I must explain the ridge system: from the summit of Bogong two ridges can be seen leading to the summit, and it was apparent to us, when we looked back, that we had not come up the Staircase Ridge at all. Since the map was made the road has been continued on to the base of the Eskdale Spur, which is about 2 miles past the Staircase Ridge. The ridges are very similar but it is much further by the ridge we took.
A howling wind was the feature of the night. The intrepid members of the party, Don and Tine, Geof and Grace, slept on the mountain top next to the trig, and were rocked to sleep by the constant flapping of the defiant little tent against the unrelenting wind. The summit hut offered a deceitful shelter to the two remaining members, but alas, how the chill wind penetrated all night.
The sun's rays commenced the thawing out process once it had gained a little height above the ridge tops. After a late start of 9.45 the first of the walking on the High Plains began. Two hours saw us at the Cleve Cole Memorial Hut. This was built of stone and looked as though it was built to withstand severe blizzards. One could imagine how cosy it would be during the winter months, but now was not the time to go sheltering in huts, so after sweets and drinks we made our way onwards to another smaller hut a mile away. The watches showed 1 p.m. and a lunch stand was called for, all being unanimously in favour of it. While the billies boiled we lay basking on the snow grass. The customary hour was taken, but before pushing on, noses were lined up for an application of sunburn cream from Tine.
Tuesday afternoon turned out to be a scrub bash down the T-spur which led down to Big River. The scrub got thicker as we got lower on the ridge. We were all glad when the river was reached. After much discussion we decided to camp here, although it was only 3.30 p.m., rather than attack the Duane Spur that leads from the river up to the High Plains. The High Plains is dissected by this river, and to walk along the plateau means going down to the river and up to the same height on the other side.
Boys and girls moved upstream and downstream respectively to swim and wash. Soon after, Geof was busy making his daily damper while our dried veges soaked and the Mellah set in the cold water of the river. There were actually three food parties, one being Geof, Grace and Beverley, another Don and Tine, and then myself, a last minute starter of the drip, but my own food list. However I was well looked after by Don and Tine.
The stillness of the night was broken by a lot of noise coming from the fireplace. Torches cut a beam through the darkness to show a possum nosing through the billies and other things lying around. It was amusing to see him sitting on his hind legs with his front paws holding some of his stolen food, eating away most unconcernedly. His huge goggle-eyes seemed to reflect the torch beam back at us. The drama was broken by a rock hurled by Geof. The night marauder scampered away and we were at last able to go to sleep.
We arose at some unearthly hour next morning and hauled on our rucksacks for a 6.30 a.m. start. We crossed the river in the first hundred yards of the day's walk, carrying our footwear across so we could have dry feet for the rest of the day. Beverley swayed slightly in midstream, and Bev's new camera looked like getting a ducking, when she shouted “Catch this!” and next moment to our surprise a camera was making its way through the air to be brilliantly caught by Don on the bank. “Well caught, Sir” we shouted, much to Bev's relief.
The ridge went upwards and onwards - seemingly endless,like all ridges on hot days. We beat the rising mist to the top and it was good to look back across the valley, the mist hiding its depths with a soft white floor. Flowers showed themselves everywhere, especially trigger plants and snow daisies. Here and there were clumps of golden yellow buttercups, and bushes of pea flower added splashes of yellow to the ridge.
Snow poles marked the junction of the tracks on top of the High Plain, with notices pointing in all directions. If you ever find yourself at this point don't do what we did and proceed to Timm's Lookout. I don't say that Timm's Lookout isn't very nice, but it is in the opposite direction to the route that is normally taken past Mt. Nelson. After discovering our humiliating mistake, we retraced our steps for the two miles we had come and then proceeded once again along the Mt. Nelson track, but this time it really was the Mt. Nelson track. We had lunch a mile or so past Mt. Nelson under the welcome shade of some snow gums.
The distance was consumed fairly rapidly after lunch, and when we reached snow pole 241 the workings of heavy machinery at the State Electricity Commission camp could be heard. Unfortunately this camp has been built right on the track, which meant that we went right through the middle of it. As we walked through the camp, heavy earth moving equipment rolled by, turning the once peaceful High Plains into a mechanical nightmare. It was good to leave the noise and dust behind as we climbed around Basalt Hill. This hill seemed to be the centre of interest to the camp, the huge mechanical shovels biting into it and loading the basalt into trucks to be carted away.
Wallace's Hut was a mile from Basalt Hill, and within another mile of this hut were three others. The huts were, with only one exception, the “Scout Hut”, (i.e. a ski lodge presumably built by scouts) all in a most disreputable condition and only in a severe blizzard would one pluck up enough courage to camp in one.
Camp for the night was set up just before Cope Hut, the last one of the bunch. The weather looked threatening, mist gradually surrounding us as we pitched camp, but looking out of the tent in the morning blue sky greeted us, so breakfast was hurried and we were on our way at 7.50 a.m. Cope Hut to Mt. Cope is a distance of 2 1/2 miles. The main track by-passes Mt. Cope by a half mile. That meant a half mile walk from the track to the summit, so packs were dropped at the junction and cameras were shouldered. Grace had a blister on her heel so decided to walk on slowly, while the five remaining bods continued up the mountain.
The view from Mt. Cope is probably the best on the High Plains, or I should say the most extensive view, due to the fact that Mt.Cope is situated approximately in the middle of the High Plain. After identifying some of the surrounding peaks and taking the necessary pictures we beat a hasty retreat to the main track. The climb there and back had taken 3/4 hour, those with cameras taking one hour, the snow daisies being irresistable close-up shots.
Catching Grace took a little while. The track now went around Mt. Jim,. on whose southern side we made our mid-day halt. As we had lunch we could see Mt. Feathertop towering above the High Plains, the West Kiewa River valley between us and the mountain. Don, Tine and I left 30 minutes before the others. Dropping down 1,500' brought us to the Cobungra River. As the afternoon wore on Geoffrey came down the ridge, but no Grace and Bev. “Where are the girls?” I asked. “Aren't they here?” Geof queried. “No”, said I. Geof told us they left a while before him as he had gone to take a photograph of Mt. Feathertop.. We gave them a little while longer but they did not appear, so we retraced our steps up the ridge track off down the first spur, and there we found our lost walkers sitting down waiting for us.
It was shaving time before tea that night, because we were being scolded for looking like tramps, so we lathered our faces and the blade hacked into our now tender. whiskers. Don was rewarded, with a cheek rub with Tine to prove how smooth his beardless face now was.
We crossed the Cobungra at 8.15 next morning and commenced the climb up to Mt. Loch. The weather was blowing a treat and clouds raced across the heavens at great speed. Mt. Feathertop lived up to its name, the top being clothed in soft white clouds. The ridge was long and steep, but quite good underfoot. From Mt. Loch to Mt. Hotham was unfortunately a road bash. Diamentina Hut was to have been our camp spot that night, but one look at it and we moved on, dropping down a small gully to Diamentina Creek. We made camp at 12 midday. Please excuse our early camp, but it was New Year's Eve.
Don suggested that for a little celebration we should have tea at the Chalet at Mt. Hotham. This suggestion was thought a wonderful idea by all. So at 3 p.m. we made ourselves look reasonably respectable and walked round the road leading to the Chalet. From the roadway the ridge, or Razorback as it is called, can be seen extending from Hotham to Mt. Feathertop, a distance of 6 miles. We soon reached the Chalet and the Manager was consulted by our Business Manager Don, who arranged the evening meal at a cost of 10/- per head. It was 4 p.m. and tea was to be served at 6.30 p.m, - 2 1/2 hours to fill in. Geof went back for Bev who had decided to rest instead of walking to the Chalet, meanwhile we other four took a walk along the road past the Chalet, returning by 5.45. Geof had just beaten us back.
At 6.30 p.m. we were seated at a large table in the dining room, with Geoffrey placing on the table the mysterious little box he had carried all the trip. To our surprise it was a box of sweets, and very delicious too. The meal was most satisfying to our dried vegetable constitutions, the plates of cheese crackers diminishing rapidly before the soup. It was a real 3-course meal, supplenented by the sweets from Geof's mysterious box.
A golden-red sunset lit the sky as we made our way back to our camp. By 9 p.m. we had a fire burning brightly for a brew. The darkness of the hillside was interrupted by the light of a torch as someone made his way down the slope towards us. It turned out to be one of the chaps who was building a ski-hut about 200 yards from where we were camped. “Like to come up to the hut for a little celebration” he asked. To this we all agreed, it being New Year's Eve. Midnight found us singing Auld Lang Syne and saying to our hosts that we really must be going. They saw our point of view, being ex-bushwalkers now turned to the pleasures of skiing and they sympathised with us. So we made our way down the slope to the tents in happy frame of mind, and sleep was soon upon us.
The first day of 1955 dawned upon us. Away by 7.50, our objective was Mt. Feathertop by lunch time. The ridge leading there was a continuous narrow ridge 6 miles long and inclined to be bumpy in parts. The track sidled the ridge most of the way making it reasonably flat, and our progress was rapid. We reached the foot of Mt. Feathertop by 10.15 a.m. The best part of an hour was spent at the saddle looking at the memorial cairn, photographing and resting. Don started to climb the mountain before us. Beverley decided to carry on to Feathertop Bungalow and wait for us there. By the time Geof, Grace and I had started, Don was on his way down. We met half way, muttered a few words, and Don scrambled on downwards to Tine who was waiting at the bottom for him. Meanwhile we continued our climb to the top. From the trig the view was mighty. Mt. Hotham showed up on the horizon, and the Mt. Buffalo plateau could be clearly seen.
Lunch at the but was good, due to the stimulating properties of tea. Our hunger was temporarily assuaged by Vita-weets or Rye-vitas, whichever you could stand the most, then off for Harrietville. There were two tracks on the ridge leading down into Harrietville. There must have been because Don, Tine and I followed a track, and Geof, Grace and Bev followed a track. Unfortunately we three ended up three miles short of the town and had to road bash back to Harrietville, whilst the other three came down a steep pinch and ended up right in the town. I am still trying to convince myself that the map was wrong.
A reunion was held at the milk bar in Harrietville, and after teeing up transport for the Mt. Buffalo trip we made our way along the road looking for a side track to take us to the river. The eastern branch of the Ovans was only half a mile away and a spot was soon found on the river to camp. Earlier in the afternoon a thunderstorm had gathered giving us a shower for ten or fifteen minutes, but now as we camped the clouds seemed to melt away before us, revealing blue sky once again. It was the finale of our Bogong trip, and if Mt. Buffalo could offer us the same amount of enjoyment and picture taking as did the High Plains, then Mt. Buffalo here we come!
Half a dozen or so young members camped at Lake Eckerslie on the Saturday night, but the main bulk of competitors arrived at irregular intervals on Sunday morning. We were sorry to see our President departing about 10 a.m., but Jim had an appointment with a tubful of nappies - a priority on the list of most new fathers I'm told. That left us with no President past or present to win the Underwater swim, but it was won by maybe a President-to-be.
Everybody was happy to wait till Bill Henley turned up. He had been to Rene Brown's Birthday Barbecue the previous night and had missed his train connections, consequently did not arrive till after 11 a.m. People put in the time swimming and lazing on the sand, practising underwater swimming, or enticing a friendly little fish out of his rock hiding place with crumbs.
As soon as Bill arrived there was swift action and the first race the Men's Championship, was run off with half a riverful of competitors. There were not so many in the Ladies' Race, but everyone who could swim put up an enthusiastic showing. Jenny was sad because she could find no one to gossip with her as she swam.
There were more men than lady starters for the Mandleberg Cup, so lots were drawn and many unlucky moles eliminated through lack of partners. A bit of a problem arose when the race was won by Roy Bruggy and his partner, Rona Butler, a member of the S.B.W. by minus five years. However Bill ruled her a legitimate starter.
The lung power of some of the men in the underwater swim was little short of incredible. We can understand Kevin Ardill showing up among the winners, but how do you explain the fact that the best effort was made by one of the least vocal of Club members, the quietly spoken George Grey?
The Peanut Scramble came just in time, as lunch was overdue and folk were getting hungry. Everyone went in, just for the peanuts.
It was a very satisfactory Swimming Carnival, ably conducted by Bill and Kevin. Appended are the results :-
|Men's C'Ship||1. Kevin Ardill||Ladies' C'ship||1. Grace Aird|
|2. Roy Bruggy||2. Heather Joyce|
|3. Alan Walker||3. Dot Butler|
|Men's B'stroke||1. George Grey||Ladies' B'stroke||1. Grace Aird|
|2. Don Newis||2. Dot Butler|
|3. Alan Walker||3. Elsie Bruggy|
|Mandleberg Cup||1. Rona Butler - Roy Bruggy|
|2. Heather Joyce - Don Newts|
|3. Grace Aird - Ken Meadows|
|Long Plunge||1. Kevin Ardill||Underwater Swim.||1. George Grey|
|2. John de Bavay||2. Alan Walker|
|3. Alan Walker||3. Kevin Ardill|
|Relay Race||1. The Ardill team|
Peanut Scramble (Men) 1. George Grey (39):(Ladies) 1. Dot Butler (29)
Henley Cup: Kevin Ardill 7 points, Grace Aird 6 1/2 points
- Alex Colley.
Who is primarily to blame for it is obscure, but a German named Otto is discredited with one of the basic ideas. He invented a means of compressing a mixture of air and gas in a cylinder, igniting it, and driving a piston with the resulting explosion. The invention is known as the Otto four stroke cycle, and the idea is simple enough. But to make it work, means had to be provided of mixing the air and gas thoroughly and in the right proportions. Electric sparks had to be generated and explode the mixture at the right instant. The heat generated had to be reduced or the engine would seize up. It had to be oiled or it would heat up and wear out in quick time.
The resulting contraption was complex, noisy and dirty. It sucked in good clean air and expelled it as carbon dioxide, oil fumes, poison gas and goodness knows what else. But it didn't need bulky fuel and could usually be started in a few seconds. First it was used in stationary engines, later to drive a “horseless carriage”, aeroplane propellors, tractors and other machines. It spread on to the roads, into the quiet countryside, into the air, until no place was remote enough to escape the “put-put” of the smaller engines or the roar of the larger ones. Forests, long inaccessible were laid open by bulldozer-made roads. “Sportsmen”, too lazy to walk far, could drive near to their victims.
One of the effects of fast mechanical locomotion along roadways was that the relaxing and health giving pastime of walking along country roads became a thing of the past. This was partly because of the noise, dust, smell and danger of the whizzing vehicles, but perhaps more because people became obsessed with a craze for moving fast on wheels; whether there was any real need to be somewhere else; or whether the place reached was better than the one left, didn't matter. What instinct is satisfied by movement, in cars I don't know, but at least it is not peculiar to man; most dogs love riding in cars. To many, fast movement for its own sake becomes an obsession. I have observed some 70 drivers on a reliability trial speeding one after another along a once quiet country road, raising clouds of dust and grit, and oblivious of some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. Some like doing this sort of thing for weeks on end. Walking for pleasure is now confined mainly to bushwalkers who are regarded as peculiar, if not demented.
The movement of a vehicle by means of the internal combustion engine introduced problems beyond the production of power; it had to be steered by a complex mechanism; on corners one back wheel had to be driven faster than the other; the jolting of iron tyres on roads, though endurable by the human frame, would soon put a complex engine out of action, hence pneumatic tyres, soft springs, shock absorbers to cushion the rebound, stabiliser bars and the rest. To these were added other refinements, some useful, some merely decorative according to the style of the day. In order to harness the power of gasoline to move a person or persons on four wheels, a vehicle weighing a ton or more, costing a full year's earnings for most, and having some 4,000 parts, was necessary.
The vibration caused by the explosions in the cylinders, together with the jolting from the roads, were reduced as engines, suspension, tyres and roads improved, but they were never eliminated. Hence the 4,000 parts, even if welded or bolted together, are always tending to work loose, crack or break. Heat, grit, air, water and other erosive elements are constantly at work on the sensitive parts. It is not therefore to be wondered that there is always something wrong with a motor for car and that, if it is to work at all, constant attention is necessary. The things that stop it are seldom major breakages, except in accidents. A loose screw, a little bit of wear, a bit of dirt on contact points, or something too small to be noticed, as, for instance, a hairline crack in a bit of porcelain, will stop it as surely as a brick wall, and may take even a mechanic hours to discover.
Let us imagine a newly fledged motorist, having invested years of savings or mortgaged his future earnings in acquiring an automobile, and having endured the tortures of learning to drive, setting forth to enjoy himself. His driving will, of necessity, be done mainly at weekends, and he will probably yearn for the open country. There are four direct routes he may take - The Princes, Hume, Western or Pacific Highways. Setting off along one of these routes he will, if statistically inclined, be reminded that there are some 700,000 vehicles registered in N.S.W., and that a good proportion of the owners have the same idea as himself. Hence his drive is not, as he may have imagined, a pleasant country excursion, but a constant vigil to avoid running into the car in front, being run into from behind, avoiding the ones who pass and “cut in”, getting round large, slow moving vehicles without banging into an oncoming car, and so on. He will not have driven long before other statistics, and their cause, are impressed on his mind. If he keeps his eyes on the road, drives carefully and is constantly alert, he has a fair chance of avoiding an accident, providing he doesn't meet a drunk or a speedster on the wrong side of the road, or a vehicle out of control. He cannot look around and enjoy his surroundings. Unless he is a very, experienced driver he cannot even converse freely without risking that fraction of a second's reaction delay that could spell disaster. The trouble is that the driver is moving at a speed much faster than his intellect is designed to handle.
If there are passengers in the car they too will be under tension, particularly if they can drive. In their steel-encased confinement all are vibrated, jolted and swayed together. Tempers rise, and families nag, while the effort of concentrating above the hubbub adds to the driver's trials. Amongst friends, boredom is the first sign of strain, even though open skirmishing may be restrained.
Perhaps, though, it is all worth while to reach some panorama or sylvan glade far from the city's turmoil. At every panorama there will be dozens of cars and hundreds of people. Seasoned motorists anticipate this, and I have often observed them burying their heads in newspapers on arrival at lookouts. Sylvan glades are all occupied by kiosks and tables, or littered with garbage. Perhaps our motorist decides to take a little bush track. If so he will find it lined with bottles, tins and other rubbish.
But it is on the journey back that the motorist is truly sorry. He and his fellows, determined to get the thing over as quickly as possible, speed along the four highways, and, quite frequently, congeal into an unbroken queue on the outskirts of the city. Miles of progress in short crawls may ensue as darkness falls.
Then come holidays, and he is free to roam the roads. Setting off with caravan or tent, he heads for the open spaces. Surely along those vast distances good campsites abound. If our motorist is a bushwalker he is in for a shock. By bushwalking standards there are no good campsites. Every otherwise pleasant site is already occupied, littered with rubbish, or camped out. Private property, though usually available on request to bushwalkers, is usually closed to motorists who must camp with their cars near the roadway.
During the week traffic is often sparse enough to allow the motorist to relax - provided he can stop worrying about those 4,000 parts. Unfortunately, as the distance between 'phones and garages increases he will become ever more aware of them; it is surprising how sensitive the ear becomes to squeaks, rattles, whines and niggles that may herald the loosening or imminent breakdown of an important part. That hiss - was it a tyre subsiding, or a bit of wet road? On long journeys the tension may be lower, but it can be cumulative.
From the foregoing it may be construed that I don't own a car. This is correct. I have a vehicle, but even the Transport Department doesn't call it a car. It is, however, well equipped for modern traffic. In front there is no flimsy chrome wafer to serve as a bumper, but a large steel girder. The back has no bumper, being mainly flat steel plating from which a flange projects horizontally at mudguard level. The lower bodywork is of aluminium which bends easily both inwards and outwards, and, however much paint is removed, it will not rust. It has a canvas hood (like a covered waggon) which cannot be washed or polished. Safe speeds are ensured by the noise of the engine, which emits a high pitched whine at anything over 40 m.p.h. and at lower speed gives the passengers the illusion of speed without its dangers. The pringing is bad, the seats upright, and upholstery meagre. This assures that we never motor for the alleged pleasure of it, and that neither of the regular passengers will ever suggest a prolonged tour.
We think the excuse for the party was the fact that Ross has recently moved into a new house at Gymea Bay.
We met in mass quantity under the electric clock at Central at 7 p.m., then emigrated to the platform and caught our train. We completely filled one compartment, but were unfortunately invaded by an inebriated gent who lurched all over us and sang for us in a raucous bellow as far as Hurstville. At length we could bear it no longer and led him off by the arm to the adjoining compartment. Sad to relate, he chose to fall over two or three times in transit, which didn't help any.
At length we emerged and stepped out at a smart pace for outer suburbia and the Laird domicile. Before long some 40 odd bods had arrived. The Admiral took charge of the bar and dispensed beer in a highly professional manner to all takers, while Dave and Dot, who have now some sort of a reputation as fruit punch concoctors, were set the job of producing a bowl of same. Meanwhile folk milled around and played quoits or hurled a couple of medicine balls furiously at each other. The little dog called Harley, who was intended to be a boxer but turned out to be a dachshund and goodness knows what ese, bounded madly in fifty directions at once chasing the ball, being at the highest pitch of his lungs, and a good time was had by all.
The cooking of the slabs of steak and sausages was a masterpiece of ingenuity. A wire bed frame was erected over the fire, a sheet of small mesh wire-netting spread on top to prevent the sausages falling through, then all the meat was laid on and cooked to a turn in about 20 minutes - a much better method than spitting the beast whole and taking ten hours to render it to cinders outside while the inside remains red raw.
The eating and festivities continued till 2 a.m. when the party took to its sleeping bags under a large canvas which Ross' father spread over the outsize rotary clothes hoist. Morning revealed to the astonished neighbours slumbering bodies by the dozen. As soon as Geoffrey awoke there was no sleep for anyone any more, and in self defence they got up for breakfast. Some folk brought their own, and the rest were fed from the communal supply of Cornflakes, blackberries, icing sugar and cream.
Then Brian tried to leave to go home. Stitt was going to drive him to the station per motor bike. Oh, how that poor boy suffered! First they took his bag away and hid it. Then he somehow regained possession and was making a dash for the motor-bike he was seized bag and all and carried bodily out to the back lawn again. So Peter got an offsider to open the side gates and drove in to rescue the victim. Unfortunate move! Geof now padlocked the gate and they were prisoners. A kind-hearted Mr. Laird gave Brian the key, and at the psychological moment he frantically fumbled open the gates and they were away.
The remainder of the party now went down to the local creek for a swim. As we followed the creek down through the bush we were suddenly confronted by a ferocious gentleman with a black stubble on his chin, who forbade our further passage. I have heard some unusual complaints levelled at walkers, but never one to equal his for sheer amazing incredible inventiveness! I would blush to have to record, it so I won't. Seeing he was out numbered 20 to one it hardly seemed cricket to surge past him regardless, so we retraced our steps to the other side of the creek and continued on to the swimming pool. A swim, then back for lunch. (Poor Mrs. Laird, can't she get rid of her guests!) A quarter of a mile from home a most appetising smell suggesting roast dinner assailed our nostrils. “And we're going back to cold left-over sausages and watermelon”. We went into the kitchen and behold the delicious odour belonged right there - Mrs. Laird had built the remains into a really remarkable goulash! When we stand round with our mouths full thanking Ross for the really super party we must remember to congratulate him especially on his happy choice of parents.
Are our past tents better than our present, tents? Well, we often see an old timer bring in a tent he bought back in '37 and reckon “they aren't as good these days”. Well, of course only time will tell, but we have always endeavoured to keep the high quality and venture to say that our present tents will be spoken of just as proudly in the future.
Right now we have a small stock of the latest and most wonderful tent cloth we have ever seen. The cloth is called “Wyncol” and was specially made for the successful Everest expedition tents. A mixture of nylon and cotton it will resist winds up to 100 m.p.h. and is waterproof while still retaining its “breathing” qualities, i.e., it will not sweat. Now just get out the smelling salts while I quote a few prices :-
|Two Man “A” 7' X 5'||£20.2.6|
|Glen 6'6 x 4' wall tent||£20.17.3|
|Era 7' x 5' wall tent||£25.19.6|
Blimey! What is it lined with, gold? Well, no, but it is at least a golden colour and would make a tent that would last for generations. Just think of Mr. Laird patting his grandson on the back - “Yes, Ross III, I bought that tent back in '55 but they aren't as good these days”.
Paddy Pallin, Lightweight Camp Gear, 201 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. BM2685.